The Los Angeles Chargers have signed a tight end, but it’s not one many have heard of.
With Hunter Henry (torn ACL) out for the 2018 season, it’s important for the Chargers to add more depth at tight end.
The team already signed the 29-year-old Virgil Green to a three-year deal in the offseason, but his primary duty is to help in the running game. As for the other tight ends on the current roster–Sean Culkin, Braedon Bowman, Ben Johnson and Cole Hunt–none of those guys have a single catch to their names.
They need a pass-catching tight end. Re-signing longtime Charger and future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates, who is an unrestricted free agent, isn’t a bad idea. Philip Rivers recently said he’d be happy to see Gates back with the Bolts.
But the Chargers have added another tight end for the time being, and that is former UCLA Bruin Austin Roberts.
The Chargers have signed a tight end: Austin Roberts, the son of running backs coach Alfredo Roberts.
The UCLA product worked out at rookie minicamp three weeks ago. Chargers made room for him by waiving long snapper Anthony Kukwa.
— Jack Wang (@thejackwang) May 30, 2018
The undrafted Roberts wasn’t a full-time starter for the Bruins, but he thrived as a pass-catcher when called upon. According to Bruins’ official website, Roberts saw action in 21 games (six starts) and combined for 34 catches, 481 receiving yards and three touchdowns over his last two seasons (2016-17).
But at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Roberts is a bit on the small side. He’s more of a tweener who would have to gain at least 10-plus pounds to play tight end in the NFL.
Many fans will shake their heads at this signing, but what’s the harm in signing Roberts? He’ll likely be nothing more than a camp body, but it doesn’t hurt to add him to the roster and see what he can do on the field. And as we all know, the Chargers have had much success in finding undrafted free agent gems. RB Austin Ekeler and WR Tyrell Williams are the most recent ones.
That said, replacing Henry is going to be tough, and the Chargers shouldn’t stop at just signing an inexperienced tight end like Roberts. Like I mentioned before, Gates is an option. Julius Thomas, who had back-to-back double-digit touchdown seasons not long ago, is also on the market. He’s only 29 years old, too. General manager Tom Telesco could look to add one when cuts come around as well.