In trading for Buccaneers tight end Alex Smith, the Patriots further load up at a position in which they already had strong numbers with five players.
The 6-foot-4, 258-pound Smith is considered a combination type tight end, who is a factor as a blocker and in the passing game, although he is not overly physical at the line of scrimmage and is more of a "move" option. His versatility should help the Patriots in both the running and passing games.
At 26 years old, Smith enters his fifth NFL season and was deemed expendable by the Buccaneers after they acquired Kellen Winslow in a trade.
The athletic Smith enters the final year of his contract, and is set to earn $1.55 million this season. He entered the league as a third-round draft choice (71st overall) in 2005.
As for the situation that Smith enters, the Patriots signed veteran Chris Baker in free agency this offseason, inking him to a five-year deal, with an option bonus after two years. He's seemingly a lock to make the roster.
Benjamin Watson and David Thomas, the top two tight ends on the depth chart last season, have contracts that expire after the 2009 season. Longer shots Tyson DeVree and Brad Listorti fill out the rest of the roster.
Competition at this spot on the roster figures to be fierce.
Tight end breakdown (with year contract expires)
Chris Baker (2013, option bonus after 2010)
Benjamin Watson (2009)
Alex Smith (2009)
David Thomas (2009)
Tyson DeVree (2010)
Brad Listorti (2009)