It may not seem like a glamourous position, as tight end is still viewed by many as a job that is as much about being an offensive lineman as it is a wide receiver. But that’s a notion that is quickly changing, becoming more and more outdated with each passing season.
Across the NFL, tight ends are a major part of passing attacks. And their role isn’t just as a possession receiver trying to move the chains; throughout the league, they are turning into players who can help stretch the field.
It’s the evolution of the position, from Mike Ditka to Kellen Winslow to Shannon Sharpe to Tony Gonzalez to Jimmy Graham. Tight ends have gone from blockers to pass catchers to glorified wide receivers.
As a result, every team wants someone who can be dynamic in this position; they’re looking for a game changer. While they are hard to come by, they can be found; and free agency is a good place to start looking.
Who is on the market that can help a team? Here are the top 10 free agent tight ends:
10. Ed Dickson
During his four-year career, Dickson has never been the No. 1 tight end; he’s always played second fiddle to the likes of Dennis Pitta. Thus, teams interested in him will have to extrapolate his numbers. He and his agent will want them to focus on 2011, when he hauled in a career-high 54 passes, for 528 yards and five touchdowns. That shows some potential.
9. Kellen Winslow, Jr.
It may be over for the soon-to-be 31-year-old tight end, coming off of two very mediocre seasons. But some team may still be intrigued by the potential, something four different franchises have tried to tap into since he came out of Miami in 2004. But Winslow has shown a pattern for making more news off the field than on it, which doesn’t fly when you’re 30-plus.