Free-agent fit: Tight end

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
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Second in a multi-part series on free-agent fits at various positions leading into the start of free agency March 13.

Position: Tight end

[+] EnlargeBilly Bajema
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesBilly Bajema's size (6-4, 259) would make him a good insurnace policy for Rob Gronkowski.
Players under contract for 2012: Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez

Level of need: Moderate

Projected top targets: Billy Bajema (Rams), Daniel Fells (Broncos), Bo Scaife (Bengals)

Why Bajema fits: He's a bigger tight end (6-foot-4, 259), adding a layer of insurance in the event of injury to Rob Gronkowski at the "Y" spot. He also played in Josh McDaniels' system last year with the Rams, which would ease the learning curve in New England.

Why Fells fits: The Patriots visited with him in 2010 free agency, but Fells elected to stay with the Rams on a one-year deal. Perhaps there is interest again, this time as a depth option behind Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, assuming Fells would be interested in such a role. He could be a cross between the "Y" and "F" positions (explanation here).

Why Scaife fits: Could be an undervalued asset on the market after missing last year with an injury, assuming he's healthy. More of an "F" option.

Other names of note: Martellus Bennett (Cowboys), John Carlson (Seahawks), Scott Chandler (Bills), Leonard Pope (Chiefs), Jeremy Shockey (Panthers), Stephen Spach (Rams), Jacob Tamme (Colts)

Market conditions: The draft is considered light at the position, which was reflected in only 14 players working out at the combine. That could lead to more aggressive action in free agency.

Questions to answer at position: How important is a third tight end, given the Patriots' usage of offensive linemen in that role in 2011? ... When does the team start thinking about extensions for Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who are both under contract through 2013? ... Does Dorin Dickerson return after spending time on the practice squad late last year?

YOUR TURN: Which of these would you like to see in a Patriots uniform? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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