The Patriots need some help covering tight ends, and they might have found a solution. Obi Melifonwu is joining the team’s safeties club with Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon.
The former UConn product and Grafton native, reached Monday, couldn’t be more thrilled to be a Patriot.
“It feels like a blessing, honestly. I’m just glad to be back home with my friends and family. It’s a team that I’ve grown up watching,” said Melifonwu, the former second-round pick of the Raiders. “They’re such a great organization. I’m just so proud to be a part of it.”
Melifonwu, who agreed to terms on a contract with the Patriots, according to his agent, Sean Stellato, could be a potential answer to coverage issues they’ve been having with tight ends. The 6-foot-3, 224-pounder is a freakish athlete.
Melifonwu played in just five games with the Raiders. Injuries severely hampered him during his time in Oakland. He had knee and hip problems. He was waived off injured reserve earlier this year, making him a free agent. He had visits with a couple of other teams, the Cowboys being one, but in his heart, “being a Patriot was the best thing for me.”
The former UConn star indicated he was healthy now, and could jump right into practice, and play this weekend against the Titans if needed.
“It won’t be my decision whether or not I play right away,” he said. “I just know the Patriots will have my best interests at heart. I’m definitely going to be ready for the opportunity, but I know for me, I need to make sure I get accustomed to the playbook and the organization and the way they run things.”
Melifonwu said he could see himself in a lot of different roles, but did feel marking tight ends could be in his future, along with playing special teams.
“I think now in the NFL, there’s a lot of tight ends that are more athletic, bigger, stronger, faster,” he said. “One of the key roles is covering tight ends, and being matchup for them, and helping the team that way.”
Melifonwu was at the Patriots-Packers game Sunday night. He enjoyed that along with the pregame celebration honoring the world champion Red Sox.
“The performance the Sox had against the Dodgers was unbelievable. Being from Massachusetts, how great New England sports are, it’s incredible,” said Melifonwu, “So being at Gillette (Sunday night) was extremely special to me. I’ve lived in Massachusetts my whole life, really. The Patriots have been my favorite team since I started watching football. I’ve always wanted to go to a game but never had the opportunity . . . to watch a game before I got to play there, especially seeing Rodgers vs. Brady, 12 vs. 12, that was incredibly special.”
Stellato was thrilled to help make it happen for Melifonwu in New England: “I think he has unique traits that can help them win. No one does a better job than the Patriots in this business of identifying those type of guys. I think it’s going to be a great fit for everybody.”
Source: Boston Globe