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Pats pick up another tight end in trade with Lions

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots, thin at tight end since the retirement of Rob Gronkowski in March, have acquired third-year tight end Michael Roberts in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

The Lions are getting a conditional seventh-round pick in 2020 in return, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

In the search to replace Gronkowski, four-year veteran Matt LaCosse was taking No. 1 reps in mandatory minicamp. He had a career-high 24 receptions with the Denver Broncos last season.

Veteran Benjamin Watson figures to be part of the mix, but he will miss the first four games of the season due to an NFL suspension. Stephen Anderson, who spent the 2018 season on New England’s practice squad, rounds out the top of the depth chart along with 2018 seventh-round pick Ryan Izzo.

The Patriots inherit Roberts’ contract, which has two years remaining. Roberts is due to earn a base salary of $645,000 in 2019 and $735,000 in 2020. The Lions selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft out of Toledo. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Roberts has played in 23 regular-season games over the past two years, totaling 13 catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns.

After Roberts struggled with injuries last season while appearing on the cusp of a breakout multiple times, Detroit worked to revamp the tight end room over the past six months. That included drafting T.J. Hockenson in the first round and Isaac Nauta in the seventh and signing free agents Jesse James and Logan Thomas. The quartet of new faces left Roberts in a tough spot in order to make the roster.

“Obviously with the tight end position, kind of in the conversation here, we have good competition in the room right now,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “We had an opportunity to move on from Mike and hopefully, potentially get something for it. So it was a good opportunity for us as a team to do that and build our team long term. There’s always situations, too, when roster movement happens that may affect the overall total number. We are currently at 89, we are not at 90. So we do have an open roster spot at the moment.”

This is the latest in a litany of trades made between the Lions and Patriots since former New England staffer Bob Quinn took over as Detroit’s general manager in 2016 — including trading linebacker Kyle Van Noy to New England and making moves during various NFL drafts.

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Redskins TE Jordan Reed still in concussion protocol, almost 6 months after hit

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ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed remains in the concussion protocol, nearly six months after a helmet-to-helmet hit in the third preseason game, according to coach Ron Rivera.

Rivera told The Athletic about Reed’s status at a yard sale in Charlotte, North Carolina, to benefit the Humane Society of Charlotte on Saturday. It’s long been expected that Washington would eventually cut Reed, saving $8.5 million on the salary cap. He would count $10.3 million against the cap if he remained. Reed has two years left on his contract.

Reed, 29, missed all of last season because of the concussion, his seventh documented one since he started playing college football. But his career has been marked by multiple injuries; Reed has never played more than 14 games in a season.

Reed had struggled for two seasons because of ligament damage to his big toes, but he looked good in training camp this past summer. But in the third preseason game, Reed suffered a concussion after Atlanta safety Keanu Neal delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit. Reed nearly returned in Week 2, after getting cleared by the team. But after symptoms returned, an independent neurologist did not clear him. Reed did not practice after Sept. 12 and was put on injured reserve on Oct. 14.

The Redskins made Reed the focal point of their passing attack under former coach Jay Gruden. He responded with a big season in 2015 when he played a career-high 14 games. That season, Reed caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns — all personal bests.

After that season, the Redskins signed Reed to a five-year extension worth up to $46.75 million and he made his lone Pro Bowl after the 2016 season. But from 2016 to 2018, thanks to injuries, he averaged only 49 catches per season with a combined 10 touchdowns. He has 329 career receptions with 24 touchdowns.

Washington selected Reed in the third round out of Florida in the 2013 draft. He caught 45 passes in nine games as a rookie before injuries ended his season. Reed proved to be a mismatch for linebackers or safeties in particular, especially when aligned in the slot. The Redskins loved his ability to quickly win vs. a defender, making him an ideal target.

The Redskins have a definite need at tight end, with Reed likely out and Vernon Davis having retired. They visited recently with Greg Olsen.

The Redskins already have released two former starters: corner Josh Norman and receiver Paul Richardson. After those moves, the Redskins have approximately $54 million in salary-cap space.

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Lions have spoken with teams about trading CB Darius Slay

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The Lions have spoken with multiple teams about a trade involving Darius Slay, but Detroit will be adamant about what it will cost to acquire the Pro Bowl cornerback, a source told ESPN Insider Adam Schefter.

Conversations with teams include a new contract for Slay as part of the deal, Schefter reported. Slay, 29, is entering the final year of his contract in 2020.

Slay has been Detroit’s best defensive player and made three straight Pro Bowls.

Slay’s potential to be traded goes back to last year’s deadline, when Detroit dealt safety Quandre Diggs to Seattle. Slay was bothered by the move and said he knows that “nobody’s safe” from being traded.

“Anybody can go,” Slay said after the Diggs trade. “So that’s it. You know, at the end of the day, I just see it as there’s no loyalty to nothing. No matter how much you put in, they feel like it’s a little different, they can get rid of you. So I just play ball.”

At the time, he said he would be OK if he got traded and OK if he stayed in Detroit.

Slay has been open on social media about wanting to get a new contract and recently said on Twitter that $15 million to $16 million per year might be too low when a reporter suggested that could be a fair deal.

With the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft, Detroit could be a destination for corner Jeff Okudah out of Ohio State. But the Lions have long searched for a reliable No. 2 corner opposite Slay, and if they traded him, they would have two cornerback spots to fill.

Schefter reported that other teams believe Slay will be dealt this offseason. The Lions’ asking cost, though, will be something to watch.



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Lions have spoken with teams about trade for CB Darius Slay

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The Lions have spoken with multiple teams about a potential trade for Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, league sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Any team that trades for Slay would have to compensate Detroit and Slay with a new contract.

Other teams believe Slay ultimately will be traded this offseason, according to Schefter.

Slay, a three-time Pro Bowler, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season. He will make $10 million in base salary this season.

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