With some down time before training camp, we're inspecting the Patriots roster position by position. Today, an examination of tight ends.
LOCKS: Rob Gronkowski
BUBBLE: Dwayne Allen, Troy Niklas, Jacob Hollister
LONG SHOTS: Ryan Izzo, Will Tye, Shane Wimann
BREAKDOWN: Given the at-time bizarre nature of the offseason for Gronkowski, even the All-Pro's situation isn't quite clear. Assuming he isn't traded or retired, Gronk will be his normal dominant self as the focal point of the offense.
Allen had a solid spring after a difficult first season in New England. He might need to come down from his $5-plus million salary but he should remain as a backup. Hollister had a strong spring as well and was more impressive than Niklas at OTAs and mini-camp. Might only be room for one on the roster.
Izzo, a seventh-round pick, could be fighting with Tye and Wimann, an undrafted rookie out of Northern Illinois, for a job on the practice squad.