11:07am: The Patriots, always on the lookout for tight ends, have added a new one from the 49ers, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, who reports that San Francisco has traded Asante Cleveland to New England. The return for the Niners isn’t known, but it’s hard to imagine the team getting more than a late-round pick, perhaps one that’s contingent on Cleveland making the Pats’ roster.
Maiocco reported earlier today (via Twitter) that the 49ers had been getting calls from teams interesting in trading for a tight end, with those clubs targeting Cleveland and Derek Carrier in particular. Even after moving Cleveland, the Niners may decide to trade another tight end, since the team is still carrying seven players at the position.
With Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler heading a depth chart that already featured six tight ends prior to the acquisition of Cleveland, the Patriots have no shortage of players at the position either. However, we’ve seen the New England offense put a strong emphasis on tight end play in recent years, so it makes sense that the club would want to stockpile as much talent and upside there as possible. In Cleveland, the Pats are getting a player who spent time on the 49ers’ roster and practice squad last year, and has yet to record his first NFL catch.
Meanwhile, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (Twitter link) hears from a source that the Patriots are cutting linebacker L.J. Fort today. We’ll have to wait for the official announcement on both transactions, but it looks as if Fort’s release could be the corresponding move for the acquisition of Cleveland.