Patriots could consider Keller for TE depth

Patriots could consider Keller for TE depth
April 14, 2014, 12:00 pm
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If you’re an NFL veteran without a home, this is your blue period.
 
The first burst of free agency and all the little afterbursts are over. Teams are turning their attention toward the draft, going to pro days, hosting visits and poring over tape.
 
You’ve got nothing to do but wait. And address whatever it is that’s kept you from finding a team.
 
One intriguing player in that situation is Dustin Keller. The former Jets tight end signed last year with the Dolphins but never made it out of the preseason thanks to a devastating knee injury.
 
It was an awful hit by Houston’s D.J. Swearinger where he went directly at Keller’s knee as Keller pulled in a pass and began to turn. If you think T.J. Ward’s hit on Rob Gronkowski was avoidable and borderline, this hit puts that to shame.
 
Anyway, the fallout was that Keller’s knee was destroyed as he tore the ACL, MCL and PCL and dislocated his knee.
 
Fortunately, Keller avoided nerve damage so there is a likelihood that the rest can be rehabbed and he can return.
 
His agent, Eugene Parker, recently said Keller will be ready for 2014. That being the case, anticipate Keller being on New England’s radar post-draft.
 
New England is in the market. The team kicked the tires on former Houston tight end Owen Daniels but passed. The Ravens subsequently felt comfortable enough with Daniels’ health to sign the pass-catching tight end.
 
Keller doesn’t turn 30 until August. He signed with Miami after a disappointing 2012 with the Jets when New York’s quarterback chaos reigned. Prior to that, though, he was one of the league’s best pass-catching tight ends. Fast (he ran a 4.53 at the Combine coming out of Purdue), smart and a solid teammate, Keller caught 120 balls and averaged 12.5 yards per catch with 10 touchdowns over the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
 
Even if the Patriots secure one of the higher profile tight ends in the draft – Jace Amaro of Texas Tech being the most likely – a long look at Keller would make sense.