Super Bowl 50 is barely in the rear view mirror, yet fans and critics are already scheming and dreaming about winning Super Bowl XLI and claiming bragging rights for the year over their friends and rivals. The beautiful part about spring is that every team can reshuffle the deck and gather as many offensive and defensive weapons as possible. With Free Agency due to open tomorrow, we take a position by position look at the best available free agents who could be the missing piece that catapults your team to a Lombardi win next season. Here we look at available tight ends.
- Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
- 2015 stats: 56 rec, 630 yds, 5 TD
The oldest tight end on the free agency wire, but arguably the best out there too. He may be 35, but Gates can still put in a shift as a team’s number 1 tight end. However, his advancing years and reduced productivity in 2015 may see him better suited to helping bring on a young tyro. But the big question is whether there’s a team out there willing to give him the inflated salary he’ll no doubt command in spite of his trouble with PEDs at the start of last season.
- Vernon Davis, Denver Broncos
- 2015 stats: 20 rec, 201 yds
In a similar boat to Gates, but three years younger and coming off a Super Bowl-winning season. However, he also had one of his least productive seasons on a personal level, with not a single touchdown to his name. That said, he was playing in a system geared around Peyton Manning and star wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. If he’s to remain in the league, he’ll want to play for a coach who recognises the importance of a receiving tight end.
- Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints
- 2015 stats: 74 rec, 825 yds, 6 TD
Yet another elder statesman, Watson nevertheless had the best stats of all the tight ends entering free agency. Stepping in for Jimmy Graham meant Watson had a career year catching passes from Drew Brees, but with his age against him and leaving Brees behind in New Orleans, will Watson be able to continue to produce at the same level? But then again, his cap hit in 2015 was only $1.9m, and with the salary cap being raised dramatically for 2016, could a team like the Ravens spring for him? UPDATE: Watson is reportedly signing with the Baltimore Ravens
- Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
- 2015 stats: 54 rec, 491 yds, 3 TD
With the Colts re-signing Dwayne Allen to a monster $29.4 million, 4-year deal, there wasn’t much room for another top tight end on their roster, especially with Allen displaying greater ability at run blocking. But a premium is put on pass-catching tight ends in the modern NFL and Fleener should fall somewhere. With all that extra cap room in the league, chances are there won’t be many teams balking at his expected $4 million-a-year salary demands.
- Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
- 2015 stats: 34 rec, 439 yds, 5 TD
Miller has attracted interest from the Miami Dolphins early in the negotiating period. Expected to operate in a two-tight end system with the recently re-signed Jordan Cameron, Miller could provide a useful one-two punch counterpart. His age currently counts against him (he’s 31), and he’ll be looking to get paid after only commanding a $660,000 cap hit in 2015, but after producing decent numbers in 2015, he may be worth every penny to the right team.