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The fourth installment of the 2018 NFL free agency preview of available players, cut candidates, and landing spots, here is a look at the tight end position around the NFL landscape:
2018 FREE AGENT tight ends
- Antonio Gates
- Troy Niklas
- Zach Miller
- Darren Fells
- Crockett Gillmore
- Marcedes Lewis
- Richard Rodgers
- Ed Dickson
- Luke Willson
- Nick O'Leary
None of these options have much of a chance to land a starting gig in 2018. Troy Niklas has the most draft pedigree of the bunch as a former second-round pick, but an oversized blocking-centric build yet to show much as a receiver. Gates, Miller, and Lewis are former producers on their last legs in the NFL. Luke Willson has flashed at times and could be an upside play if landing a No.2 role.
- Eric Ebron ($5.2 mil)
- Julius Thomas ($6.6 mil)
- Coby Fleener ($3.2 mil)
- Dwayne Allen ($5 mil)
- Vance McDonald (4.6 mil)
- Jason Witten ($6.5 mil)
- Jordan Reed ($8.5 mil)
These tight ends have cut potential with their contracts. Listed next to each underperformer is how much the team would save if moving on from their current contract.
Eric Ebron progressed through his first three seasons before turning into a shadow in 2017, playing fewer snaps than Darren Fells most weeks and averaging less than three catches per game. Vance McDonald has no dead cap remaining on his deal with Pittsburgh, which has been a lost season with injuries keeping McDonald's opportunity at bay. McDonald has the physical tools but has been one of the more inconsistent options in recent years. Witten and Reed are the big names on this list. Witten, the long-time Cowboy and future hall of fame selection, is eroding and a year-to-year basis contract-wise. Reed's injuries have mounted over the years but is one of the difference-makers of the position when healthy, which has not been the case in a lost 2017.
2018 tight end LANDING SPOTS
Landing spots are based on projected free agents, offensive strength, and potential cut candidates.
In terms of passing games without a strong No.1 receiver and possessing a good quarterback (the best equation for top fantasy production for tight ends), the Ravens and (maybe if they get a quarterback upgrade) Jets/Jaguars stand out. Denver and Miami offer the worst combinations of the aforementioned criteria on the list for a tight end to thrive at present.