Free agency is always an exciting time and it seems each year there are certain positions that seem to have more movement than others. This year, the tight end position has been extremely active in terms of players either being released or switching teams. Sure, Jimmy Graham moving from Seattle to Green Bay is significant, but there were several other players who have either signed with a new team or have been released. Let’s run down the list of some other players affected by the free agent flurry at the tight end position.
Trey Burton, TE CHI
Many dynasty owners stashed this former Eagle in hopes he’d land in a favorable situation as a bona fide starting tight end destined to be featured in a dynamic offense. In the end, that’s not exactly what happened. Burton joins a Chicago team that also has Adam Shaheen at the position and is also in the middle of attempting to develop a young quarterback in the form of Mitchell Trubisky. Burton has shown well in limited opportunities, posting 63 catches for 629 yards and scoring six touchdowns over the past three years. He’ll have a chance to overtake Shaheen but his signing in Chicago both deflates Shaheen’s value and likely caps his own. While his ADP will surely climb a bit, it’s hard to see him as anything more than a lower-end TE2 with upside for more.
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Ed Dickson, TE SEA
The Seahawks lost Jimmy Graham to Green Bay and moved quickly to replace him with Ed Dickson after reportedly missing out on hometown kid Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Dickson should help in the blocking department but it’s hard to see him being a big threat in the passing game. His presence likely hurts the sleeper value of Nick Vannett, though he shouldn’t just be forgotten at this point, either. Fact is, we need to see what else the Seahawks may do at the position before really formulating any solid opinions on just what to expect. At this point, it’s just hard to get excited about either tight end from the Emerald City.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE JAX
The aforementioned ASJ had a relatively active market that resulted in him signing quickly with the Jaguars. As I mentioned on our player news page, he had a really nice bounce back season with the Jets, recording 50 catches for 357 yards and three touchdowns. More importantly, he’s been able to stay sober for an entire year. This is a player with real talent in an offense with sudden firepower. While he’s not exactly a tight end to build a dynasty team around, there’s some real intrigue with ASJ as a TE2 with the ability for more. There are very few tight ends who are truly dominant in dynasty leagues and he could be a target to have who is clearly in a large group of players who have value but also one with athletic ability and potential for quite a bit more. I like Seferian-Jenkins as a player to target after getting an established target at the position. Expect his ADP to climb a bit over the next few months.
Julius Thomas, TE FA
Remember when Julius Thomas scored 24 touchdowns in just two seasons with Peyton Manning at the helm of the Broncos? The days of “Orange Julius” are clearly over as he’s scored just 12 times over the past three seasons and has seen his yards per catch drop down to fewer than ten. After flaming out with Jacksonville, Thomas was released by Miami this week. He may find it very difficult to find a job. Jason Witten may be considered the “Dad Runner” of the NFL but Thomas has looked nearly Grandfatherly of late. Thomas really doesn’t belong on dynasty rosters at this point.
Eric Ebron, TE FA
Once a top ten pick in reality and coveted asset in dynasty leagues, Ebron has simply disappointed in his four years in Detroit and was subsequently released. After posting just 2,070 yards and scoring 11 total touchdowns in his four seasons, the Lions simply felt the cost for Ebron outweighed the production they believed was going to come. Ebron will undoubtedly find a job but his ADP is suffering and it’s clear at this point he can’t be counted on as a TE1 and looks more like a player stuck in that large group of good, but not great players at the position. The chance to sell here has come and gone.
Tyler Eifert, TE CIN
Once one of the most coveted tight ends in all dynasty leagues, back injuries have absolutely destroyed Eifert’s dynasty value. The good news is the Bengals re-signed him to a one-year deal worth as much as $8 million. However, dynasty owners should consider this a true one-year, prove it deal as Eifert will have to prove he can make it though an entire season – something he hasn’t done in his five NFL seasons. In fact, he has only appeared in 24 of a possible 64 games over the past four seasons combined. When he’s on the field, he’s one of the best (as indicated by his 13 touchdowns in 2015) but those chronic back issues are a serious concern. If you own him, I’d be hoping he posts a few good games to start the year so you can attempt to move him for some type of value.
Keep it here as we continue to break down all the exciting happenings in NFL free agency.
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