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Several big-name tight ends are set to hit free agency this offseason and teams should have a good selection to consider, whether they’re looking for blocking or receiving help. Here are PFF’s top 10 tight ends hitting the free agent market:


Antonio Gates

2015 team: San Diego Chargers

Gates is getting up there in age, but still managed to haul in 56 passes in 2015. He finished with a player grade of 82.5 — seventh-best among tight ends. He doesn’t offer much as a blocker at this point after three straight seasons with a negative grade in both pass protection and run blocking. Nevertheless, Gates shouldn’t have much trouble finding work as a short-term receiving threat, whether back in San Diego or elsewhere.


Dwayne Allen

2015 team: Indianapolis Colts

Allen had a rough 2015 in every aspect, posting the second-lowest overall grade among tight ends before ending the season on IR. He struggled as a blocker and even saw a diminished role in Indianapolis’ passing game with just 26 targets (16 receptions) — down from 60 targets in 2014 and 70 during his rookie season in 2012. But what puts him so high on this list is both his age – 26 when the season starts – and that he’s shown that he’s more than capable as both a blocker and receiver in previous seasons. It’s especially difficult to overlook Allen’s ridiculously good rookie year, where he played 70 percent of the team’s offensive snaps and finished with the top overall and run blocking grades among tight ends.


Ladarius Green

2015 team: San Diego Chargers

Another player who will be 26 at the start of the season, Green graded well in limited snaps over the last three seasons. He was on the field for 686 plays in 2015, lining up both inline and in the slot with a career-high 37 receptions. Green provides a solid threat after the catch – his average of 6.0 yards after the catch ranked in the top 15 at the position, as did his five forced missed tackles. Slightly inconsistent as a blocker, but has shown capability there, particularly in 2013.


Zach Miller

2015 team: Chicago Bears

Miller is an interesting case — he was drafted in 2009 but to this point has only logged 1109 career snaps, and in 2015, he saw his first regular season playing time since 2011. He enjoyed a solid year in Chicago, posting the seventh-highest receiving grade among TEs while catching 81 percent of passes thrown his way and forcing 11 missed tackles – both figures ranked among the top ten at the position. Miller was particularly great late in the year with 18 of his 34 catches coming during the three-game stretch from Week 14 to 16. It will be interesting to see what happens given that he’s over 30 years old with a somewhat lackluster career resume and last season graded negatively as a run blocker. Teams could see his low mileage as a positive trait, however, and based on his play in 2015, Miller can definitely contribute in the passing game.


Craig Stevens

2015 team: Tennessee Titans

Any team looking for a run-blocking specialist should consider Stevens, who’s graded positively as a blocker for six straight seasons and in 2015 ranked second among TEs there. He’s also coming off of a career-high receiving grade after catching 12-of-13 targets, although this is the first season he’s graded positively in the passing game. There are few tight ends who provide the blocking that Stevens does, so his skill set should garner some attention even if he doesn’t offer much as a receiver.


Coby Fleener

2015 team: Indianapolis Colts

Another Colt coming off of his rookie contract, Fleener caught more than 50 receptions and 80 targets in each of the last three seasons. He’s graded mostly above-average as a receiver, though had a down year in 2015 and is less of a threat after the catch than several other players on this list. As a blocker, he’s been inconsistent, looking more adept at blocking in space on screen passes than at the point of attack in the run game.


Jermaine Gresham

2015 team: Arizona Cardinals

Gresham is back on this list after playing one year in Arizona, where he was far less involved in the passing game than he’d been in Cincinnati. Last season he caught just 18 passes, down from an average of 58 over his first five years. Even with that production, Gresham still finished with a below average receiving grade in five of six seasons, although he consistently ranked among the most elusive tight ends with 56 broken tackles in his career. He graded much better as a blocker over that span, and maintained that consistency in 2015 with solid grades in screen and run blocking. Age is a factor as well – he’ll be 28 at the start of next season.


Rhett Ellison

2015 team: Minnesota Vikings

Much like Green, Ellison has graded well with a somewhat low snap count over the last four seasons. What makes Ellison different is that he’s more of a blocking specialist, spending most of his spans lined up inline or in the backfield with solid run blocking grades over his career. When the ball is thrown his way, he’s been roughly average. Notably, Ellison tore his patellar tendon in week 17 which will likely scare some teams off. Also concerning is that he’s graded a bit worse each year after an outstanding rookie campaign in 2012.


Ben Watson

2015 team: New Orleans Saints

The offseason departure of Jimmy Graham from the Saints resulted in a career receiving year for the 35 year-old Watson, who caught 74 of 102 targets for 825 yards and six touchdowns in 1,003 snaps (all career-highs). Much of his work came as a blocker early in his career, but he’s fallen sharply there over the last two seasons and in 2015 ranked as the third-worst run blocker of 73 qualifying tight ends. Even so, Watson clearly still has something to offer at his age after a season during which he made several spectacular catches for the Saints.


Marcedes Lewis

2015 team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Lewis declined slightly over the last two seasons, posting below-average grades as both a blocker and receiver, but prior to that was consistently positive from 2007 to 2013. He’s elusive in the passing game with an average of more than eight yards after the catch per reception over the last three seasons (9.9 in 2015) and over his career forced at least 10 missed tackles several times. His blocking has been even better, whether it’s in pass protection or run blocking. If he can regain his early season form, Lewis should provide a solid short term option in all facets and at worst can still provide value as a blocker.


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Watch: I've a feeling that The Broncos could release TE Davis--so they can fit most of that incredible defense under their salary cap. (If doing so doesn't hurt their cap).

(This is not a rumor or a report, but my opinion)

Edited by Rise
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I've been thinking for a while that Gates was going to hit the wall soon and be done.  So far, he's proven me wrong, but it would be our luck that he'd be done if we signed him.

I also think the Chargers keep Green and let Gates walk.  They're not in a position to compete in the time Gates has left, so I think they'll keep their young guy.

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1 hour ago, Ezekiel 25:17 said:

Can we just roll with Moeaki???

And Tamme.

I believe we will. I believe Tamme showed his worth and Mo started to get some snaps at the end of the season. If we pickup a TE I'm guessing it will be from the undrafted pile. 

Here's a guy I'm hoping we give a shot to. 


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21 minutes ago, The O.D.B said:

I believe we will. I believe Tamme showed his worth and Mo started to get some snaps at the end of the season. If we pickup a TE I'm guessing it will be from the undrafted pile. 

Here's a guy I'm hoping we give a shot to. 


Yeah, Moeaki was a pleasant surprise late in the year! Would love to see a full season out of him with the way Ryan likes to check down.

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