The New England Patriots further depleted their tight end corps. on Thursday, releasing backup Chris Baker.
The move comes off the heels of the news that New England has no intention of bringing back starter Benjamin Watson, who is an unrestricted free agent. That leaves the Patriots with second-year players Robbie Agnone and Rob Myers, both of whom were on the practice squad last season, left at the tight end position.
While the Patriots have seen players without much playing time shine—think Matt Cassel and Julian Edelman—this is a huge void that you should expect them to fill.
The release of Baker intensifies and legitimizes the rumor that the Patriots are looking to acquire Bears tight end Greg Olsen through a trade.
Rumors sprouted when the Bears signed Mike Martz as their new offensive coordinator.
Historically, Martz does not utilize the tight end much in his scheme. Olsen was aware of this and requested a trade.
Olsen, 24, would be a huge upgrade, even from Watson and Baker, if they could land him.
Olsen is a much better pass-catching option.
He has been in the NFL half as long as Watson (three years to six) but has almost matched him in touchdowns, 15 to 20. Watson was at a disadvantage having to share receptions with wideouts Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but Olsen is still considered a more skilled receiving tight end.
The Patriots usually use their tight end to help block more, but it might be smart to go after Olsen to help bolster the passing game. Welker is expected to miss time with a torn MCL and ACL. Moss claims that this season will be his last as a Patriot.
After those two, the other options are question marks.
Edelman surprised many last season, but most of his production came in only three games. Can he do it over the entire course of a season?
New England brought in free agent and former Patriot David Patten, but he is 35-years-old and is not a long-term solution with the current question marks the unit since leaving the Patriots the first time.
He has played all 16 games only once; has amassed over 250 yards receiving once (792 in 2007); and has caught only four touchdowns in those four seasons, three of them in 2007.
So being able to get a player with Olsen’s skills would be wise. They also have the necessary pieces to make an appealing offer to Chicago.
The Pats have four second-round picks, so one or two could be spared to land Olsen. The Bears do not have a pick until the fourth round, and the 7-9 teams needs all the additional help it can get.
Olsen will also not be a costly addition, as a New England Sports Network piece has his reported salary at $550,000 in 2010 and $650,000 in 2011.
If the Patriots franchise shook its magic 8-ball asking if Greg Olsen is the right move, all signs point to yes.