Of course, as soon as I finish my tight end rankings, a trade goes down that shakes them up. In case you missed the news, earlier today the Patriots traded interior lineman Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for tight end Tim Wright. Wright had been outside the top 20 tight end’s in Tampa, but with this trade he becomes a very intriguing sleeper option.
Wright immediately brings the Patriots depth and versatility at the tight end position and will most likely fill in the “move” TE position that the Patriots used with efficiency when Aaron Hernandez was on the team. Tampa signed Tim Wright as an undrafted free agent before last season and he put up solid numbers finishing with 54 catches for 571 yards and five touchdowns. Wright played wide receiver at Rutgers where New England has strong connections going back to Greg Schiano’s time as head coach of the Scarlet Knights.
Wright isn’t a prototypical blocking tight end, and the Bucs rookie Austin Sefarian-Jenkins had quickly moved past him on the Tampa depth chart. However, what Wright does bring to the table is good hands and plenty of size. He’s a big target at 6’4/220 and could definitely be a nice fit as a red zone threat for Tom Brady since his wide receivers are generally not big targets.
While this is an unexpected move for New England, I don’t think it’s in any way a referendum on the health of Rob Gronkowski. Gronk and Wright are different players with completely different skillsets. While they may be on the field at the same time in dual-tight end sets, Gronk is much more of an end-of-the-line blocker with great receiving ability and explosion while Wright is more of a pure receiving tight end who could add another element to the Patriots attack much like Hernandez did before his off-field issues derailed him.
Even with the potential I see in Tim Wright, I don’t think he’s someone you have to look at drafting anywhere before your last pick except in the very deepest of leagues. He does bring some intriguing potential to the table, but he has to adjust to the new playbook and find his role which at this point is still extremely undefined.
I would rank him as my #19 tight end right now, which means in most leagues he belongs on the waiver wire. Wright definitely has upside and deserves monitoring since obviously Bill Belichick sees something in the second-year player. Belichick just gave up a six-time Pro Bowler to get Wright, so watch closely to see when and where he schemes to use him.