Free agency is barreling toward us and it’s time to start wishing and hoping your favorite team makes the right choices. Below, I have our Top-10 unrestricted free agent tight ends for 2020. Some of these players will be re-signed or might get the franchise tag, so the odds of the whole group moving on to other teams isn’t good, but nobody wants to pay up for a running back nowadays, so we could see quite a bit of player movement.
The franchise tag may be applied starting February 25th and ending March 10th. “Legal tampering” is March 16th-18th, which means teams can start entering contract negotiations. Then, at 4pm eastern on March 18th free agency officially begins, and teams may begin signing players or trading players who are still under contract.
1. Austin Hooper
Hooper broke out in 2019 and is a player the Falcons would like to retain, but they have salary cap trouble with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones sucking up a big chunk of that cap. Hooper’s 75 receptions for 787 yards and six TDs in through 13 games in 2019 despite playing with Jones and Calvin Ridley will get him plenty of interest on the free market.
2. Hunter Henry
Henry once again had injury trouble in 2019, but he was solid when on the field yet again. He’s a decent blocker and a great offensive weapon that could flourish as a No. 2 or even No. 1 target in an offense. The Chargers have parted ways with Philip Rivers and could very well do the same with Melvin Gordon. Henry is a player they should try to keep, but he will draw a lot of interest from teams looking to make a playoff push.
3. Eric Ebron
Ebron will not be re-signing with the Colts after he went on injured reserve despite the team’s objections. His 2018 was huge, as he had 66 receptions for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns, but 2019 wasn’t as kind even before his ankle injury. He still makes bad drops at inopportune times, but he is a dynamic player who can help a team.
4. Greg Olsen
Olsen and the Panthers have gone their separate ways and now he’s visited Buffalo, Washington and Seattle. He is currently deciding on if he’d rather continue playing or start his career as a broadcaster in earnest. Pairing with the Seahawks would be my choice, but we shall see. He should make his decision soon.
5. Tyler Eifert
Eifert made it through a full season! The Bengals didn’t give him a full workload for obvious reasons, helping to a full 16 game season where he caught 43 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns. The Bengals would probably like to keep him around after finally getting a season out of him and he didn’t put up enough numbers for teams to be clamoring for him, so Cincinnati probably has the inside scoop.
6. Jason Witten
Witten looks like he might want to play another season and I’d expect the Cowboys to give him that wish after he had 63 receptions for 529 yards and four touchdowns in his first season after coming out of retirement.
7. Darren Fells
Fells was a touchdown machine in 2019, but those seven touchdowns were the highlight of an otherwise mediocre season. DeShaun Watson’s ability was the driving force between those scores, but the Texans will again have a mishmash of tight ends to deal with in 2020 and may want Fells back to work in a similar committee as he was part of in 2019.
8. Marcedes Lewis
Lewis was a role player with the Packers, but also is the highest PFF graded run blocker of all the free agent tight ends. At 36 years old, he’s closing in on retirement, but the Packers could still use him as a run blocker and I expect they try to keep him.
9. Seth DeValve
DeValve is a good blocker and decent situational receiver. He should find some suitors at just 27-years old.
10. Charles Clay
Clay has had a tough career due to lingering knee issues. When healthy, he was a strong offensive weapon, but at this point his knees are mush.