Ranking the 2013 Free Agents: Tight Ends
Every day this week we’ve been breaking down the top free agents at each position. It’s more than just looking at our grades, but factoring in longevity, age, injuries and so much more in order to tell you who we think are the best gets out there.
We’re not going to insult your intelligence though when it comes to guys unlikely to hit the open market because of the franchise tag, so don’t expect to see names like Joe Flacco or Ryan Clady in these pieces. Instead we’re focusing on guys with a real shot at dipping their feet into the free agent pool and making your team better.
1. Martellus Bennett – to CHI: 4-year, $21m
2012 Grade: +12.5
2012 Snaps: 945
Summary: After spending the first part of his career as a backup in Dallas, Bennett signed a one-year, ‘prove-it’ deal with the Giants, and, by season’s end, he proved he could do it all. He had already shown himself as a great run blocker, and this year proved he can support the passing game as well, as he posted 70 or more yards in four games. While he may never lead the league as a receiving tight end, it is rare to find someone who can truly do it all at the position.
2. Anthony Fasano – to KC: 4-year, $16m
2012 Grade: +4.2
2012 Snaps: 921
Summary: Another multi-talented tight end who is coming off a down year. He went through a rough patch midseason with six straight single-catch games. However, he has been incredibly consistent with just three dropped passes over the past three years. From 2008-2011, he ranked in the Top 6 each year in terms of run blocking. He wasn’t as dominant in 2012, but that is more likely an exception rather than a new trend.
3. Fred Davis – back to WAS: 1-year, $2.5m
2012 Grade: +2.0
2012 Snaps: 413
Summary: Over the past two years, Davis has shown he can be a top receiving tight end. In the 19 games he has played over that time, he has 83 catches for 1,121 yards, and has forced 16 missed tackles. The main concern with him is injuries, as he is coming off a torn Achilles’ tendon which cut short his 2012 season. He doesn’t provide much in terms of run blocking, but there is no denying his talent as a receiver.
4. Jared Cook – to STL: 5-year, $35.1m
2012 Grade: +0.3
2012 Snaps: 485
Summary: After seeing little playing time his first two years, Cook has spent the past two seasons playing exclusively in passing situations. Despite an underwhelming passing game in Tennessee, Cook has maintained a 1.52 Yards per Route Run over those two years, which is 15th-best among tight ends with at least 500 routes. While Cook has rarely been used in blocking situations, he has been decent on the small sample size.
5. Delanie Walker – to TEN: 4-year, $17.5m
2012 Grade: +6.0
2012 Snaps: 589
Summary: If you want a receiving tight end, Walker isn’t your man, as his nine regular season drops tied for third-most in 2012. However, if you want a tight end for the purpose of run blocking, then Walker is your man. He is one of just three tight ends to maintain above a run block rating above +5.0 in each of the past three years, and his +10.7 run block rating was second in the league in 2012.
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