The trend toward receiving tight ends not only makes game sense, it also makes business sense. TEs cost half (or less) of what WRs cost. When a team can get a guy who is a physical mismatch at half the price of play-making WR, what’s not to like about the guy?
Jermaine Gresham: signed through 2014
Gresham is a microcosm of the teams’ offense. Inconsistent. Laden with potential. Under-performing. MIA at times. He ought to dominate the middle of the field with his size, but his hands stop that from happening. He will make a fantastically tough catch on one play only to drop an easy catch on the next. The team will stick with Gresham as the lead TE through the off-season and well into the regular season. If he does not show clear signs of progression by the midpoint of the season, they ought to begin relying more on Charles and think about moving on this time next year. But hopefully it doesn’t come to that. He needs to study guys like Tony Gonzalez, Heath Miller and Owen Daniels, and find the little things they do that would bring his game closer to their level of play.
Orson Charles: signed through 2015
To me, Charles is a microcosm of the lack of creativity in the offensive scheme this year. He had 8 receptions all year. I’m not saying he should have had 50 catches, but 8? Dual tight end sets could be a bigger portion of how the Bengals attack opponents next season. He is reported to have the hands to make an impact over the middle and in the red zone, but we have little from his rookie season to confirm or deny those reports. That tells me the team either wouldn’t or couldn’t open the playbook as wide as the better offenses in the league do. That problem in on the coaching staff.
Richard Quinn: unrestricted free agent
He was never active for a game with the Bengals. That can’t be an encouraging sign for a 4th year player. He will either take a minimum contract with the Bengals and battle with practice squader Bryce Davis for the 3rd spot, or else seek his fortunes elsewhere in 2013.
Free Agent Wish List
The team has its two active TEs in Gresham and Charles, so why drop big money to bring one in? So as fun as it would to banter over a Martellus Bennett, it just isn’t going to happen. But they need depth in case one of their guys gets injured.
As a Purdue fan, I’d love to bring in Dustin Keller. The Jets are seriously overspent (nearly $20M over the cap) and will have a hard time keeping him. But again, money will make his name a non-starter. At best we are probably looking at a guy like Jared Cook of the Titans, and maybe more along the level of an Ed Dickson. Woo. Hoo.
I don’t see the team investing a high draft pick at this position, so guys like Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz will be long gone by the time they look for a TE. I would be happy if they address it early enough to get Travis Kelce, who strikes me as coming from the Dallas Clark mold. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they wait even later and go for guys like Levine Toilolo from Stanford or Joseph Fauria out of UCLA.