2020 Free Agency Positional Preview – Tight Ends
Leading up to the beginning of free agency (3/18 at 4pmET), we’ll be looking position by position at the available free agent pool and discussing the state of the pool (for gems, sleepers, busts) and making some throwaway predictions on the landing spots of the top free agents.
Today, we look at: Tight Ends
There are a few tight end free agents that have name recognition, but there are only really two free agent tight ends of note/hot desire for 2020 – Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper. One of them will likely stay with their team and the other is likely gone unless they franchise tag him.
Austin Hooper will likely remain an Atlanta Falcon. The Atlanta head coach and GM are still fighting for their lives/careers and have an older/established team – they do not want to go forward in another prove it year with disruption at tight end. Even if it is illogical…the Falcons will overpay to keep Hooper.
On the other hand, Hunter Henry has the chance to flee the sinking ship that is the Chargers…and he will…but I bet the Chargers apply the tag to block anyone from fleeing. I am going to keep saying this to ingrain it within all of our souls, but when you think of the really bad NFL teams that no one wants to play for you have certain teams coming immediately to mind – the Jets, the Browns, the Bengals. We have to get used to the fact that the Chargers are moving onto that list because they have no real home field/fanbase/interest in the team and they have the worst QB situation in the NFL and a head coach not many free agents would covet to play for. LAC isn’t the lowest on the food chain, because of weather/LA living -- so they are the best of the worst places for free agents…especially offensive ones, especially ones tied to Anthony Lynn’s nonexistent passing game.
With that… Hunter Henry would be a fool to stay in L.A. What? He wants to stay and play with Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick? Will the organization draft a legit QB? Not likely…they seem convinced Tyrod Taylor is aces. Unless Henry is overpaid dramatically to stay, and he might be or just franchise tagged…Henry will go elsewhere in free agency. Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England are the strongest contenders for his services if he’s available.
This 2020 draft is weak with tight end options, so Henry is going into free agency at a perfect time to have a bidding war…which means the Chargers would be smart to tag, even if just to trade him.
As for the rest of the group, let’s look at the Best, the Bust, the Sleeper and Deep Sleeper of the group…
BEST = Hunter Henry by a nose over Austin Hooper. Henry is better, in general, but he has a bad history of injury. If I were an NFL GM, I would not have any interest in laying out big money for Henry or Hooper. But contenders under pressure are going to chase them.
BUST = Eric Ebron is one of the worst tight ends in the league and was completely miss-scouted by football people coming into the league. He was nothing like the next Jimmy Graham. He has bad hands and doesn’t block…and that’s why he gets with a team and then they don’t want him after they paid for it. Some sucker team will still buy the ‘next Jimmy Graham’ crap from 5+ years ago.
SLEEPER = Jordan Reed…if he’s back healthy, he’s arguably the best tight end talent in free agency. That’s a big IF.
DEEP SLEEPER = Robert Tonyan, a former WR turned TE who is getting to be a better blocker and is a very decent+ pass receiver (has those WR skills). He played a decent amount for Green Bay last season. He was underutilized.
PREDICTIONS on some of the top names:
Hunter Henry = Franchise tagged by LAC or signs with Indianapolis
Austin Hooper = Re-signs with Atlanta
Vance McDonald = Should be back with the Steelers unless they have had enough of him, for the cost. If he hits the market, he’d be in some demand due to a weak TE market, especially if Henry gets tagged and considering this weaker TE draft class.
Darren Fells = Signs with a contender, my guess is Pittsburgh if Vance McDonald is not brought back. The Patriots might be in play.
Eric Ebron = Signs with a bad organization with bad scouting…he’ll sign with Cincinnati
Tyler Eifert = Signs with New England
Robert Tonyan = Signs with Dallas
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