New England Patriots: Could Daniel Graham Return to the Pats?

Aaron DodgeAnalyst IApril 8, 2017

Former New England Patriots' tight end Daniel Graham would like to continue his playing career "with a winning organization" according to the Boston Herald. The Patriots' heightened interest in the position this offseason could open the door for a reunion. 

Graham was a first round pick of New England back in 2002 when the franchise made him the 21st overall selection. While he never panned out quite as the team intended, Graham did develop into a leader on and off the field, evidenced by his selection as an offensive captain in 2006. 

He left following the 2006 season, signing with the Denver Broncos whom his father Tom had played for in the 70's. Graham played his four years of collegiate ball for the the University of Colorado where he was named a consensus first-team All-American as a senior, winning the John Mackey Award which is awarded to the nation's best tight end in 2001.

Graham signed a five-year, $30 million contract with Denver in 2007, but received his release in 2011. The 6'3'', 257-pound blocking specialist spent the 2011 season in a diminished capacity with the Tennessee Titans and was again released following the season. 

Now a free agent going into this season at 34, one has to wonder if he's got enough left in the tank to garner a look from the team that introduced him to the league. Production-wise, there's not much left here. Graham's never been known for his prolific receiving skills, but Alge Crumpler only produced six receptions in a purely blocking role for the Patriots in 2010. 

It seems unlikely that New England would dedicate a roster spot for the 2012 squad to a one-dimensional veteran in the twilight of his career, but the chance still exists. Graham would have to earn a roster spot and prove his value is greater than that of a fourth running back, a fullback, or a special teams contributor. 

With the amount of depth and versatility currently stocked on the Patriots offensive line, it would appear the team has plenty of options already on the roster to fill the role of a blocking specialist. Marcus Cannon is unlikely to start this year and will likely be freed up to fill the role of swing tackle. 

If Graham does receive interest in Foxborough it'd likely be as a camp body at the position. However, the recent acquisition of Jake Ballard and the signing of free agents Daniel Fells and Bo Scaife just doesn't leave much room for the likes of Graham.