As was first reported by Justin Rogers of Detroit News, the New England Patriots have reached a deal with the Detroit Lions to acquire third-year tight end Michael Roberts for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2020.
The Lions had drafted Roberts in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft out of Toledo. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Roberts has played in 23 regular-season games over the past two years, totaling 13 catches for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns. His 2018 campaign was cut short with a shoulder injury, which landed him on Injured Reserve. Despite lingering injury concerns, Roberts has shown flashes of potential during his tenure in Detroit. He has the ability to be a threat in the red-zone, as well as possessing impressive skill as a blocker. With the Lions’ decision to draft tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Isaac Nauta, as well as signing free agents Jesse James and Logan Thomas, Roberts faced an uphill battle to make their roster.
Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots inherit Roberts’ contract, which has two years remaining. Roberts is due to earn a base salary of $645,000 in 2019 and $735,000 in 2020.
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More so than in previous years, the eyes of Patriots Nation have been somewhat fixated on the tight end position. The extra attention to its depth chart is undoubtedly due to the absence of Rob Gronkowski, who announced his retirement in March. At present, Roberts looks to join Matt LaCosse (who was taking reps with the first team during mandatory minicamp), Stephen Anderson (who spent the 2018 season on New England’s practice squad) and 2018 seventh-round pick Ryan Izzo in competing for a roster spot.
Veteran Benjamin Watson figures to be a prominent piece of the Patriots corps of tight ends in 2019, as well. However, he will miss the first four games of the season due to an NFL suspension. As a result, the acquisition of Roberts provides the Pats with additional depth heading into training camp in July.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC