Patriots gridiron news: Troy Niklas could be more than a depth signing

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 27: Tight end Troy Niklas
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 27: Tight end Troy Niklas /

The New England Patriots agreed to a one-year deal with free agent tight end Troy Niklas giving the team more depth at the position.

In what appears as an under the radar move right now, the New England Patriots have added some depth to the tight end position with the signing of former Arizona Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Niklas and the Patriots have agreed to terms on a1-year deal that on the surface appears to be nothing more than a depth signing.

With Rob Gronkowski expected back in 2018 along with current tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister, the 25-year-old Niklas would likely have to fight for a roster spot.  If healthy, he certainly has the talent and size to make a case for a roster spot.

At 6-foot-7, 270 pounds, Niklas was drafted 52nd overall in the 2014 NFL draft out of Notre Dame.  Coming out as one of the top tight ends that year, Niklas has been slowed by injuries during his four seasons in the NFL.

He played in jut 7 games his rookie season and 3 games in 2016 mostly due to an ankle injury and a broken wrist.  He has also dealt with hamstring, hip and back issues during his tenure in the NFL.  While he has only totaled 19 catches for 203 yards and three touchdowns, he does have the skillset to be more effective if healthy and given an opportunity.

Prior to the 2017 season, Troy Niklas addressed his bad luck so far in the NFL and expressed optimism in finally living up to expectations with Arizona.

"“It would really mean the world to me,” Niklas said, via  “Obviously when you come in as a second-round pick, you’ve got a lot of expectations on you, and I really haven’t delivered.  I know that.  The only way I can change that is by coming in work every day and getting better.  It’s about being that guy that they [Cardinals] drafted three years ago – becoming the guy that they wanted me to be.”"

Flying under the radar, he will get that opportunity with the Patriots.  Playing with and behind Rob Gronkowski (if he does return) and catching the ball from Tom Brady should motivate him even more to be the type of tight end he was coming out of Notre Dame.

While the team will likely draft a tight end, Niklas could just show enough to take either Allen or Hollister’s roster spot.  If he does, it would definitely be a bonus for the Patriots.

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More offensive line help 

According to the team’s website, the Patriots also added offensive line help with the signing of OL Luke Bowanko.

The 26-year-old veteran played four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens.  At 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, he has started 14 games at center and one game at left guard.  Although mostly a reserve, he appears to be the type of versatile offensive linemen the Patriots like.

Like Niklas, he will have to fight for a roster spot in 2018.

Around the AFC East

Miami Dolphins:  New defensive end Robert Quinn says he was shocked by the trade that sent him from the Los Angeles Rams to the Miami Dolphins.  While he is excited for a new start in a new city, Quinn opened up about his initial reactions to the trade.

"“Honestly, you don’t realize you’re suffocating until you can’t breathe no more, so I was just glad I could have a new breath of fresh air down here in Miami,” Quinn said during his conference call Wednesday.  “It’s allowed me to clear my mind and have a fresh start and a new beginning and new possibilities.  I’m excited for the new start.  I think this was best for me and my family.  Sometimes things work out funny, but they always work out for the best.”."

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