The Patriots added another name to the tight end competition Thursday, trading for Lions third-year tight end Michael Roberts, a league source confirmed to the Globe. The Patriots are giving up only a conditional seventh-round pick in 2020, per ESPN.
Roberts, listed at 6 feet 5 inches and 265 pounds, was a fourth-round pick out of Toledo in 2017, but didn’t make much of an impact in two seasons in Detroit.
As a rookie, he had just four catches for 46 yards in 15 games, and was held out of the season finale by then-coach Jim Caldwell, reportedly for skipping a team meeting. Last year Roberts had nine catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns, but landed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury after eight games.
Roberts gets a fresh start and a new opportunity in New England, where the Patriots are trying to cobble together a tight end group as they move on from Rob Gronkowski. They didn’t sign any major free agents or take a tight end with any of their draft picks, instead acquiring a handful of value veterans: Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, Austin Seferian-Jenkins (since released), and now Roberts.
Roberts comes to the Patriots with two years of minimum salaries and no guaranteed money on his contract, meaning he will have to win a roster spot. He will make $645,000 this year and $735,000 in 2020.
But with Watson (PED violation) suspended for the first four weeks of the season, Roberts has an opportunity to join LaCosse on the opening day roster. Practice squad player Stephen Anderson, 2018 seventh-round pick Ryan Izzo, and undrafted rookie Andrew Beck are also competing for roster spots.
The Patriots likely aren’t done looking for tight ends, but a big name came off the board this week when the Vikings agreed to a restructured contract with Kyle Rudolph. One player available is former Texans tight end Ryan Griffin, a six-year veteran from Londonderry, N.H., and the University of Connecticut who was released last month.