Free Agency: Tight Ends on the Move

Justin Bruni

Free Agency: Tight Ends on the Move

Tight Ends have been all the rage this week on social media, so I felt obligated to join the party with some Free Agency banter. We’re just 11 days away from the start of the official signing period, and there are many NFL teams in need of a Tight End. We’ll see a few notable names like Rob Gronkowski and Robert Tonyan most likely stay on their respective rosters, but there will be some new faces in new places come the start of training camp. Let’s jump into this diverse group and give them some new homes!

Hunter Henry
Chargers.com

Hunter Henry – Cincinnati Bengals

The last time the Bengals had a Tight End catch over 50 passes was back in 2015. The Tight End was Tyler Eifert, and it was his third season in the league; he would finish that year with 13 total touchdowns. This Cincinnati team would sacrifice a goat for that kind of production from a Tight End, but I think signing Hunter Henry will be easier!

Hunter Henry would fit right into this pass-heavy offense and provide Joe Burrow with a reliable and trustworthy target in the middle of the field. He’s averaged 11 yards per reception and totaled 115 receptions the past two seasons across 26 total games.

Henry has a lingering injury history, but I think it’s worth the gamble to sign him. Cincinnati has plenty of cap space, and Henry is still at the ripe age of 26. The Jaguars also have a huge need for a Tight End and will offer a very competitive contract, but the Bengals are a better spot for Henry, especially with how often they pass. Burrow averaged 40.4 pass attempts through ten games of his rookie season; Henry could easily grab 5-7 catches each week in this offense. Someone tell Mason Schreck his days of wearing #86 in the Orange and Black are over!

 

Gerald Everett
LATimes.com

Gerald Everett – New York Jets

The New York Jets are another team that has been lacking success at the Tight End position for an extended time. It could be tough to sign one of the more prominent names like Hunter Henry and Jared Cook without an identity at the quarterback position, so I like an under-the-radar move to sign Everett, who still offers a ton of upside.

Adam Gase’s offense didn’t prioritize the Tight End position, but I wouldn’t expect the same from coaching upgrade Robert Saleh. Saleh is coming from San Francisco, where he’s had the privilege of watching George Kittle at the Tight End Position up close. Everett is similar to Kittle in athleticism and speed; and can do a lot of damage after catching the ball; his career YAC is 5.5 yards.

Everett would be a perfect fit for this offense with Sam Darnold or a rookie QB at the helm. His ideal usage is receiving targets in motion within a handful of yards off the line of scrimmage; he’d be a big help to any young game managing QB (Cough Cough Jared Goff). Everett wasn’t prioritized in the Rams system, but the Jets would put him in a position for his career to…Take Flight!

 

Kyle Rudolph
Whodatdish.com

Kyle Rudolph – Baltimore Ravens

It’s no secret that the Baltimore Ravens were hurting after Hayden Hurst’s departure in 2020. The Raven’s were regularly using three Tight End Sets in 2019, and it played a role in the success of their ground game and blocking schemes. Signing a wide receiver will be priority #1 for the Ravens; however, I don’t think they’ll take long to get Rudolph or another journeyman Tight End on their roster.

Rudolph is coming off a very underwhelming season as he flirted with career lows in Receptions, Receiving Yards, and Touchdowns. To be fair, the Viking’s offense was super reliant on their rushing attack, and once the passing game picked up, Justin Jefferson emerged as a more appetizing weapon for Kirk Cousins. Simply put, there weren’t enough targets to keep Rudolph’s production steady.

Rudolph had also been fending off the upcoming Tight End Irv Smith, who is more of a receiving TE than blocking. Rudolph had the advantage given the team’s focus on running the ball; however, when Rudolph missed time, Irv Smith was excellent. Smith would finish as TE #4 in production across the four games missed by Rudolph.

Rudolph would fit into the Ravens scheme and play a ton of snaps. He wouldn’t be relied on to catch the ball often but still holds that upside despite his inability to earn yards after the catch. Plugging Rudolph into this lineup will also free up more opportunities for Mark Andrews, who should be running more routes than laying blocks; those two would be quite the pair!

 

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