Justin Rogers The Detroit News
Published 9:32 AM EDT Jun 13, 2019
Allen Park — The overhaul of the Detroit Lions’ tight end room is complete. According to a league source, the team is trading Michael Roberts to the New England Patriots for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2020.
Roberts was the remaining holdover from last year’s group, which fell well short of expectations. The team already allowed Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo to depart via free agency.
Given the resources the Lions put into revamping the position this offseason, Roberts’ path to sticking on the roster had been cloudy. The team invested a first-round pick in T.J. Hockenson, snagged Georgia’s Isaac Nauta in the later rounds of the draft and signed Jesse James and Logan Thomas in free agency.
Roberts, a fourth-round selection by the Lions in 2017, struggled to establish a consistent role during his two-plus years with the team. After catching 16 touchdown passes his senior year at Toledo, the Lions focused on building up his blocking during his rookie year. He caught just four passes for 46 yards in 15 games and was suspended for the season finale after missing a team meeting.
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He shined through the early stages of the offseason program a year ago and appeared primed for a breakout, but his momentum was derailed by a training camp injury. He flashed some potential during the regular season, including his first three touchdown receptions, but was ultimately limited to eight games after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
The deal with the Patriots is the latest in a series of trades general manager Bob Quinn has made with his former employer. In 2016, he sent a conditional draft pick to the Patriots for linebacker Jon Bostic. A few months later, Quinn shipped a linebacker back, trading Kyle Van Noy in a pick swap.
Additionally, Quinn traded former special teams standout Johnson Bademosi to the Patriots for draft consideration. The teams also have made a couple of deals during the draft, one trade up and one trade down, resulting in Detroit’s selections of Kenny Golladay and Kerryon Johnson.
Roberts enters a great situation to contribute in New England, following the retirement of All-Pro Rob Gronkowski this offseason. Additionally, veteran Ben Watson, who re-joined New England this offseason, is suspended the first four games of the year. The team’s other four tight ends have combined for 63 career catches.
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