Rob Gronkowski's production at the tight end position, but the New England Patriots have taken their biggest step to date in filling the void left by Gronk's retirement, reportedly signing Austin Seferian-Jenkins to a one-year contract.
As ESPN's Field Yates reported Wednesday, Seferian-Jenkins has a "great chance to be a factor" in the Patriots' passing game as the team's most notable addition at tight end post-Gronk. Per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the deal includes a $50,000 signing bonus, with an additional $40,000 in future bonuses. Altogether, it's a "minimum salary benefit contract" that gives the veteran a "chance to produce and hit the market again."
Originally a second-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014, Seferian-Jenkins is no sure thing as a starter, missing all but five games during his one-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018 and never eclipsing 350 receiving yards. But the 6-foot-6 target is still just 26 and has 29 games of starting experience. After a three-year run with the Bucs that ended prematurely following a 2016 DUI arrest, the former Washington standout latched on with the Jets and caught a career-high 50 passes to go along with three touchdowns in 2017.
While durability remains a concern, Seferian-Jenkins at least gives New England a veteran presence at TE ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, which could see the Patriots target a true starting-caliber successor to Gronkowski. The team also signed former New York Giants and Denver Broncos backup Matt LaCosse in March.