The Tight End Conundrum: Evaluating the Top Free Agents in a Thin Market

Having a great tight end can be a huge positive in the NFL. The tight ends in the final four of the last NFL postseason were Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and Sam LaPorta. It’s not coincidence that many of the league’s elite teams have an elite option at tight end.

The problem is there aren’t enough top-tier tight ends to go around.

This year’s free agency class shows the problem. There isn’t one standout tight end among the group. The thin class got thinner when the Houston Texans signed Dalton Schultz to a three-year, $36 million extension. And then even thinner on Friday when the Patriots came to an agreement with Hunter Henry on an extension.

Yahoo Sports is ranking the top five NFL free agents by position. (Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

There are some decent stopgap veterans available, and here are the top five tight ends in this free-agent class:

Unlike some other highly drafted Iowa tight ends, Fant’s career hasn’t taken off. He was a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos, part of the Russell Wilson trade when he was sent to the Seahawks, and was underwhelming everywhere. Last season he had 414 yards and no touchdowns in 17 games. Still, he’s just 26 years old with a strong draft pedigree.

Everett has posted between 408 and 555 yards in each of the past five seasons. He’s capable of some good games but hasn’t been a featured part of an offense and is unlikely to be at age 29 and beyond. He can be a starter for some team, like he was for the Chargers, but won’t make a huge impact.

If you want a blocker at tight end, Gesicki isn’t your guy. But he can catch the ball. He wasn’t the right fit with new coach Mike McDaniel and the Miami Dolphins in his final season there, then didn’t put up big numbers in a bad situation with the New England Patriots last season, but he was a franchise tagged player in 2022. That was after two straight 700-yard seasons. Maybe in the right situation he can return to that level.

Thomas was released by the Commanders and is 32 years old but he could still be a good depth option for some team in the short term. He had 72 catches, 670 yards and six touchdowns in 2020, and while that type of production is unlikely to happen again, he still put up 496 yards and four touchdowns last season.

Hooper did have back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, but that came back in 2018 and 2019. Hooper has been with three teams over the last four seasons without a lot of impact, and is going to turn 30 years old during the upcoming season. Still, the tight end market is thin and Hooper has a lot of experience for a team looking at adding some veteran depth.

2024-03-08 15:55:58
#NFL #enticing #options #among #top #tight #ends #free #agency


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