Patriots gridiron news: Tyler Eifert a considerable option at tight end

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 29: Tyler Eifert /

One of the top tight ends hitting the free agent market this season is Tyler Eifert.  Should the New England Patriots take a shot at the talented, but injury-prone tight end?

If Rob Gronkowski does retire, the New England Patriots will have their choice of replacement.  One of which will be current Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert.

Highly regarded as one of the top tight ends in the league when healthy, Eifert would be a risk for any team.  Like Gronkowski, the 27-year-old tight end has an injury history that may prevent him from earning a big contract, which will likely make him affordable to a team like the Patriots.

Playing alongside Gronkowski or replacing him, Tyler Eifert is a terrific pass-catching tight end who also has the ability to block in-line.  Those attributes make him very attractive, as would potentially catching the ball from Tom Brady.

Just imagine.

On a one-year, prove it type deal, he could strive in New England.  Again, that is if he is healthy.  On the flip side, he could turn into a younger version of Jake Ballard in the Patriots’ offense.  That’s why, in my opinion, he wouldn’t a replacement for Gronk, but instead a compliment to Gronkowski or another top-tier tight end.

I am not alone in my assessment or even wishful thinking.  Pro Football Focus listed Tyler Eifert as a Patriots addition they would want to see for fantasy, stating the following:

"“The Patriots have shown the ability to prop up two fantasy tight ends at the same time multiple times in Tom Brady era.  Eifert and Gronkowski lined up in the same formation in the red zone would be borderline cheating.  He could serve as a situational player if Gronkowski returns and potentially soften the blow if Gronkowski were to decide to retire between now and September.”"

The question is, will Eifert take a lesser role in order to prop his value up again?  Depending on how the market for tight ends flow, the answer is likely.

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Alan Branch weighs in on Malcolm Butler

Following Devin McCourty’s assertion that the team knew beforehand that Malcolm Butler was not starting Super Bowl LII, defensive lineman Alan Branch claims he didn’t know anything.

In an appearance on Dale & Holley with Keefe on Tuesday, the veteran run stopper said he was oblivious to what was going on or even why Butler was not playing.

"“I didn’t know anything, honestly,” he said, via WEEI.  “On our team, gossip doesn’t travel.”"

Branch is correct, but during the 2017 NFL season, there seem to have been more loose lips than typical for a Bill Belichick led team.  He did go on to say that he noticed Butler standing on the sidelines and not getting in the game.

"“I noticed he wasn’t in the game, but then again you never know the reason for what is going on at certain times in that organization, especially.  It’s neither here nor there.”"

Branch is likely to be cut following a season in which he spent most of the time nursing a knee injury or inactive.  So, if anyone would offer more than what has already been told, it would be him.

Next: New England Patriots: Top 5 pass catching tight ends of all time

Despite his lack of playing time, he had nothing bad to say about Belichick, the situation or the organization.