The loss of future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski was apparent last season. The hole in that part of the offense was nonexistent with Ben Watson at the lead last season.
The Ravens become a great trade partner in this scenario, Hurst wants to be more vital to the offense in 2020 by catching more than the 30 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns like he had last season. With tight ends Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle already ahead of him in the depth chart, don’t be surprised if he is moved regardless of the interest from an AFC rival.
The Patriots were interested in Hurst ahead of the 2018 NFL draft, with Bill Belichick meeting with the University of South Carolina prospect during the pre-draft process. Hurst is an all-around athlete, spending two seasons in the minors for the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school before he decided to return to football.
According to Eugene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union. The Jacksonville Jaguars are also interested in adding the 2018 first-round pick, and whether the Ravens deal Hurst or not will depend on what draft capital teams are willing to give up, according to Frenette.
The Patriots have a nice collection of 2020 picks, so they should have the capital to swing a deal for Hurst. That is, as long as the Ravens are willing to help a team trying to catch them in the AFC. The 26-year-old is set to make around $3 million in 2020, which would be around the cost of Watson last season, with a higher upside.
Sure, expecting Hurst to be the immediate solution to the team’s woes at his position would be naive given his previous two years in Baltimore. However, if the Patriots feel good about his potential in their system in combination with the cost of investment — likely a mid-round selection at best given Hurst’s limited passing game production in 2018 and 2019 — he could very well become one of the pieces of the puzzle that is New England’s new-look tight end group.
There are also rumors floating around of the Patriots interest in former Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed, as well as Chargers Tight end Hunter Henry. While Henry would be the more formidable of the two, Reed would be a nice backup option who can gain yards and cause some attention from defensive backs to create openings in other sides of the field.
Reed missed all of 2019 with severe concussions, who was hands down their best pass catcher in 2018. While his status is still a question mark, which is why he was released from Washington earlier this week, he is definitely a Bill Belichick type of player. The low-risk, high-reward players have worked out in the past, but will that be enough to entice Brady to return?
Hunter Henry had a great 2019 season, his 55 catcher, 652 yards and 5 touchdowns with Phillip Rivers has made him one of the best tight ends on the free agency market. Hence, why he should be a top priority for the Patriots if they do in fact choose to go that route to fill the position. The 25-year-old missed all of 2018 due to a torn ACL, and this past season, Henry was sidelined for four games due to a tibial plateau fracture in his other knee.
Of course, the big thing when it comes to Henry is what type of contract he will get. He is not a durable specimen like fellow free-agent tight end Austin Hooper, so teams will certainly be more leery about giving him a lucrative long-term deal. But no team seems to need Henry more than the Patriots. Obviously, New England can poke around at other options (like Hooper and possibly Eric Ebron), so there is no guarantee that the Pats will focus on Henry. However, there is no denying Henry’s talent, and there is no doubt how much he can elevate the Patriots’ passing game so long as he stays healthy. Look for New England to make a concerted effort to try and nab Henry in March, regardless of what its situation is under center.