Unrestricted Free Agents
Jacob Tamme (Atl, 31) – The Falcons’ tight end situation is actually going to be an intriguing secondary storyline to track this offseason. Both Tamme and Levine Toilolo are free agents while Austin Hooper will be a second-year TE with a lot of promise. Tamme, who is 32 years old, is coming off of a season-ending shoulder injury, which robbed him of his final eight games. He finished the year with 22/210/3 receiving on 31 targets (71.0% catch rate, 9.5 YPC) in eight games. Tamme played on 63.4% snaps and averaged 7.6 FPG, ranking him 27th at the position. The Falcons believe that Hooper is the future of the position for them, so Tamme will have to look elsewhere if he wants to start or re-sign back as the #2 TE.
Larry Donnell (NYG, 28) – The once promising start to Donnell’s career in New York will end with a whimper this off-season. After basically redshirting as a rookie in 2013, he broke out early in 2014 with a 3-TD performance on Thursday Night Football and finished the year with 63/623/6 receiving. He’s become an afterthought since that season, combining for just 44/223/3 the last two years, including just 15/92/1 in 2016. Donnell lost his starting job Will Tye, and he didn’t have a catch after Week 7 when he also fell behind rookie Jerell Adams. The NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported in the middle of February that the Giants were poised to let Donnell walk in free agency. He’s proven to be a weapon down by the goal line, but he’s a major liability as a blocker and is unlikely to find starter’s work in free agency.
Gavin Escobar (Dal, 25) – The one-time heir apparent to Jason Witten’s job has been a colossal failure as a former #47 overall pick back in 2013. He’s never reached double digits in catches for a season, and he’s been the #3 TE in Dallas for the majority of his career. He finished with just 4/30/1 receiving while playing 15% of the snaps in 16 games. Escobar had the necessary frame at 6’6”, but he never filled out enough to make an impact at the position. He still has a lot of the tools (hands, athleticism, size) that teams want at TE, but some other team will likely take a one-year flier on him to try to develop him.
Tim Wright (Det, 26) – The former Rutgers star has been a fairly frustrating, inconvenient, and unpredictable TD-dependent fantasy player since he came into the league. Wright has just 89 receptions for 907 yards in three seasons from 2013-2015 (with three different teams), but also has 13 TDs in that span. For comparison, Zach Ertz had 169 receptions for 2024 yards but just 9 TDs in that same span. Wright tore his ACL in May of last year after he was resigned by the Lions and sat out the entirety of 2016. He can certainly play in the NFL, but he’s entering career-saving mode right now. He could be a serviceable No. 2 TE for NFL purposes, but not for fantasy.
Jordan Cameron (Mia, 28) – Cameron’s two-year stay in Miami turned out to be a huge bust and his career is very much in jeopardy at this point. He played in just three games after suffering a severe concussion, and he had major issues with concussions during his time in Cleveland. Back at the end of November he said he would make a decision on his future after the season, and he would become a free agent if he decides to keep playing. He definitely won’t back in Miami next season, and he’ll likely only see a one-year deal as a free agent because of his concussion issues.
Clay Harbor (Det, 29) – Harbor had a sports-hernia surgery in January of 2016, but he was picked up by the Pats, released by the Pats, and then picked up by the Lions in early October. Harbor is 29 years old, but his shift towards insurance option and special teams player puts a damper on his fantasy future. He’ll find a home for 2017, but his role is anything but guaranteed.
Jeff Cumberland (LAC, 29) – Jeff Cumberland Farms now has two torn Achilles’ injuries during his career. After spending the first six years of his career with the Jets, he was picked up by the Chargers last year before tearing his Achilles’ in the preseason. He’s not exactly going to have much of a market coming off another major Achilles injury, and he’s a backup option at best.
Chris Gragg (Buf, 26) – Gragg’s ACL tear in August last year was unfortunate, as he was having a good preseason for the Bills. A good receiver but rather poor blocker, Gragg could have been a nice complement to Charles Clay’s TE blocking abilities. Gragg now has a rather extensive injury history, which is concerning, but his price tag will be extremely cheap. He is only 26 years old and he does have some talent as a receiver, so some team will give him a look.
Brandon Myers (TB, 31) – Myers has spent time on the Raiders, Giants and the last three years in Tampa Bay. He put back-to-back 45+/500+/4 receiving seasons in 2012 and 2013 (Oak and NYG) but settled into a No. 2 TE role the last couple years. Cameron Brate is the man in Tampa Bay at the TE position, so if Myers is re-signed, he’ll have little to no value. He’s also no spring chicken. Still, it’s not like Myers has been irrelevant his entire career and he could be serviceable somewhere that uses 2-TE sets.
John Phillips (NO, 29) – The blocking TE was signed by the Broncos prior to last year’s preseason and was released in November, only to be picked up by the Saints a couple days later. He’s no receiver, but does bring value to a backfield for his blocking abilities and he should find a one-year deal in free agency.
Jim Dray (SF, 30) – Dray is a blocking TE who has spent time in Arizona, Cleveland, Buffalo and now San Francisco. He was signed by the Niners last December after Blake Bell went on the IR and he’s nearing the end of his uneventful career.
Kellen Davis (NYJ, 31) – A blocker who’s limited receiving chances were sucked down in the oblivion that is the Jets’ anti-TE offense, Davis was targeted just once in all of 2016. He can’t expect to see more than one-year contract, especially at 31 years old.
Restricted Free Agents
Trey Burton (Phi, 25) – An intriguing athlete, Burton played in 15 games in 2016 and posted 37/327/1 receiving on 60 targets (61.7% catch rate, 8.8 YPC) and ranked 42nd among TEs with 5.0 FPG. Though Burton played just 31.3% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps overall, by the end of the year Philly was flexing him out as a WR given their lack of options at that position. Burton actually had two top-12 TE weeks on the year, and he topped out with 7 catches for 65 yards in Week 14 against Washington. A gifted player, Burton may not be fantasy relevant to start 2017, but he’s worth keeping an eye if something would happen to Zach Ertz ahead of him.
Logan Thomas (Buf, 25) – The former quarterback out of Virginia Tech hasn’t been able to find secure footing in his short career, spending the majority of his time either on waivers or on a practice squad. Thomas made the switch to TE because of accuracy issues, to name one, but he’s also yet to prove his worth at the new position. He’s a good athlete with great size (6’6”, 250 pounds), so we’d expect some team to spend this off-season and preseason trying to develop Thomas as a TE.
Brandon Bostick (NYJ, 27) – Bostick was signed to a reserve/future contract in January of 2016 after spending 2015 on the practice squad. He appeared in all 16 game but registered just 8 catches. It’s possible he re-signs on a lesser deal, but there’s no need to expect any fantasy potential as long as he remains on the Jets.
Sean McGrath (LAC, 29) – He’s 29, has already taken a hiatus from football back in 2014, and is behind a future HOFer in Antonio Gates and the future TE of the team, Hunter Henry. McGrath did have a min-breakout in Kansas City in 2013, catching 26 passes for 302 yards and 2 TDs on 40 targets, but there’s nothing left for him here in Los Angeles.
Exclusive-Rights Free Agents
Erik Swoope (Ind, 24) – Dwayne Allen (35/406/6), Jack Doyle (59/584/5), and Swoope (15/297/1) combined for 19.4 FPG. The best tight end season since 2010 is owned by Rob Gronkowski (20.7 FPG in 2011), meaning Colts tight ends combined for the second-best tight end season of the past seven years in 2016. There’s no denying Andrew Luck loves to get his tight ends involved, no matter who they are. Even Coby Fleener posted a pair of top-15 scoring years in 2013 and 2014. The Colts really could have one of the most tight-end friendly fantasy options in the league if they just decided to roll with one main tight end. Doyle clearly led the way among Colts’ tight end trio in 2016. Doyle led both Allen and Swoope in top-12 (TE1) scoring weeks (Doyle: 5; Allen: 3; Swoope: 1), snaps (68%; 64%; 22%), and targets (75; 52; 22). Doyle is headed towards unrestricted free agency while Allen signed a four-year deal last off-season. Before getting axed, former-GM Ryan Grigson went out of his way to mention that Doyle should be re-signed. Doyle is easily one of the better options in a bad TE market, and he could easily find more money and a starting gig elsewhere, which Swoope could be line for the #2 TE job behind Allen.