Michael Hoomanawanui is entering his fourth year as a tight end in the NFL in the 2013 season. His best season, statistically speaking, came as a rookie in 2010 with the St. Louis Rams. He totaled career highs in receptions (13), receiving yards (146) and touchdowns (three).
Hoomanawanui spent just one more season in St. Louis, before playing for the New England Patriots in 2012. His numbers from a year ago, five receptions for 109 yards, did not reflect his true importance to the offense. At 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, Hoomanawanui is a great blocking tight end. With either one of Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez seemingly injured at all times throughout the season, Hoomanawanui was constantly asked to fill the void in for one of the star tight ends. The offense never missed a beat with the physical Hoomanawanui placed at tight end, who also presents an underrated element in the passing game with his good hands.
With Hernandez no longer on the roster, Hoomanawanui’s role will assuredly increase. Pile on that Gronkowski may miss anywhere from two to six weeks (if he is placed on the physically unable to perform list), Hoomanawanui must be ready to step up at tight end. Jake Ballard will enter the season as the No. 1 tight end (until Gronkowski returns to action) as his receiving skills are superior to Hoomanawanui. But Hoomanawanui will have just as important a role in the Patriots’ offensive schemes that features two tight ends lining up across one another as blocking and receiving outlets.
Like any other player in the league, Hoomanawanui seeks stability in terms of a long-term contract with a team. The Patriots owe him $1,323,000 in salary in 2013, before the tight end becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2014. With the Patriots re-sign him after this year? It all depends on what Hoomanawanui can provide offensively with his blocking and catching abilities in 2013. If Hoomanawanui hopes to spend more years in New England, he must develop his game as an all-around tight end, especially with his role enhancing this season.