The tight end position is evolving greatly in today's NFL. I'm just not sure the Miami Dolphins have one capable of keeping up with the demands of the position at this time.
We have a very nice tight end in Anthony Fasano, but he is a free agent this year so a decision on his future with the team has to be made. Fasano has a couple of strengths, but he also has a couple of weaknesses. He is a very good blocker and a nice red zone target. He has good hands and excellent footwork for a big guy. His problem is that he isn't the seam threat that we need in the new west coast offense that Joe Philbin is installing. He's just not fast or quick enough to get the separation needed to make the big plays required from that position. So, he may only be resigned as a second tight end option, which might not be a bad thing depending on the value of the contract.
I know the Dolphins invested a third round pick in a tight end last year in Michael Egnew. I think that as of now we may have to realize that we made a mistake. All reports are that he has a couple of issues. First of all he doesn't appear able to grasp the playbook. Second, he plays soft, which is unacceptable for that position. He was only a rookie this past season so I would hate to say he was a bust, but it sure doesn't look like he has done much to earn anyone's trust enough to get on the field. When a third round pick is inactive 14 out of 16 games that has to mean something. We fans may not know exactly what it means but I'm sure the coaching staff does.
There are a couple of tight ends available through free agency that may fit what Coach Philbin is looking for (if we so choose to take that route). There are also a couple of tight ends that are projected as first or second round talents in the upcoming draft. I seriously doubt we take a TE that early, but that's just my opinion.
Listed below are the top free agent tight ends that are going to be available:
Number one on the list would be Tony Gonzalez. The only problem here is that if he doesn't return to Atlanta it's because he wants to retire. So, we won't have a chance at him, but we can dream.
Jared Cook, Tennessee
$800,000 in 2012
25 years old and has all the tools. Suffered a torn rotator cuff and missed the last couple of games in 2012, but he should be fine for start of 2013. He averaged 12 yards per reception in 2012.
Fred Davis, Washington
$5.4 million in 2012
27 years old and banged up a lot. Suffered a torn achilles in October. Davis is a great blocker and pass catcher, an offensive coordinator's dream weapon. Averaged 13.5 yards per receptions in 2012 before the injury.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets
$4 million in 2012
28 years old and injury prone. Only played eight games in 2012 due to ankle and hamstring issues. Did average 11.3 yards per receptions in a rather vanilla Jets offense. I'm not too keen on getting a Jet leftover, but he's not a bad player when healthy.
Brandon Myers, Oakland
$600,000 in 2012
27 years old and had a career year in 2012. Myers had 79 catches for 806 yards and 4 touchdowns and averaged 10 yards per reception. It was a breakout year compared to the prior three years where he only had 32 catches for 250 yards and zero combined touchdowns.
Dallas Clark, Tampa Bay
$2.7 million in 2012
33 years old, but still very productive. Had 47 catches for 435 yards and 4 touchdowns and averaged 9.3 yards per reception. Probably not exactly what we are looking for, but I thought I would throw him in with the rest.
There are two tight ends that have 1st round grades that will be available in the draft come April, but there are several more with second through fourth round grades.
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