Should the New England Patriots Sign Trey Burton?

Trey Burton

The New England Patriots could use a good tight end, and the NFL Draft probably won’t provide much help. This is one of the weakest tight end classes in recent memory, and it’s hard to see any singular player making an immediate impact. Fortunately for the Patriots, help may be on the way. The Chicago Bears recently released tight end Trey Burton, and New England should try to make a move for his services.

Why the New England Patriots Should Sign Trey Burton

Patriots fans probably remember Trey Burton as the guy that threw the ball on the Philly Special back in Super Bowl LII. Burton initially entered the NFL with the Eagles and flashed the ability to be special, if ever given the opportunity. However, since Zach Ertz was already there, Burton never had a chance to shine with Philadelphia. In 2018, Burton signed with the Chicago Bears, ready to show the world what he could do as the top tight end on the depth chart.

Burton never turned into the transformative star some thought he could be, but he had a solid first season in Chicago. Starting in all 16 games, Burton ended his season with 54 receptions on 76 targets for 569 yards and six touchdowns. He probably could have done more with a better quarterback, but this was still solid production. Burton notably recorded nine receptions for 126 yards and one touchdown against the Patriots, and Bill Belichick has a history of going after players that perform well against his teams.

Financially, New England should receive Burton’s services at a bargain rate. The Bears released Burton with $4 million guaranteed remaining on his contract. It’s hard to imagine a world where Burton gets more than $4 million on a new deal, so the Patriots could sign him on a one-year, league-minimum deal.

Disadvantages

Trey Burton has been in the league for six seasons now, and it’s safe to say that he’ll never develop into anything more than an average tight end. However, average is a lot better than what the Patriots have now. New England has perhaps the worst tight end grouping in the league with Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo, and Burton would still represent a significant upgrade.

Of course, Burton would not be a long-term fix at the solution. Considering he’s going to make $4 million this year no matter what, Burton will probably want to sign a one-year deal and hit free agency again in 2021. Burton battled through injuries in 2019, and the salary cap is supposed to explode in 2021. Even if the Patriots sign Burton, they should still invest at least one of their mid-round picks in someone like Adam Trautman, Hunter Bryant, or Devin Asiasi.

Ultimately, going after Trey Burton is a low-risk, medium-reward move that should help the Patriots in the 2020 season. Jarrett Stidham needs somebody to throw the ball to, and Burton is a dramatic upgrade on what the Patriots currently have. The Patriots should still draft a tight end, but having Burton means there won’t be any additional pressure for a rookie to contribute right out of the gate.

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