New England Patriots

Could Patriots be team to watch with free agent tight end Dalton Schultz?

Schultz is the best free agent tight end in 2024.

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The New England Patriots have zero tight ends signed for the 2024 NFL season.

Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki and Pharaoh Brown are all able to hit free agency when the legal tampering period begins March 11. New contracts can be signed when the 2024 league year starts March 13.

If the Patriots aren't able to bring Henry back -- he ranked second on the team in receiving yards (419) and first in receiving touchdowns (six) last season -- then it makes sense to check out the free agent market.

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What about Dalton Schultz? He is No. 1 on our ranking of the top 10 free agent tight ends.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler had an interesting note on Schultz in his NFL Scouting Combine notebook published Sunday.

"Dalton Schultz didn't get his big payday last year due to a deep tight end class, but it should come this time after a good season with the Texans," Fowler wrote. "Enough teams expect him to clear $10 million per year. New England is one to watch here potentially, as is a return to Houston."

Schultz tallied 59 receptions for 635 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games for the Houston Texans last season. He quickly became a trusted target for rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, who helped lead the Texans to an AFC South title and AFC Wild Card playoff win over the Cleveland Browns.

If the Patriots select a quarterback with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, they would be wise to surround him with a tight end who can be a reliable target on key third downs and the red zone. Schultz could fill that role.

Schultz has been pretty consistent, too, posting at least 57 receptions, 577 yards and four touchdowns in each of the last four seasons.

Keeping Henry wouldn't be a bad plan of attack at tight end, either, but if the Patriots do look at the open market, Schultz is the best option available.

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