With the news of tight end John Carlson's retirement, the Arizona Cardinals are lacking in experience at the position. Between Troy Niklas, Darren Fells, Ted Bolser, Ifeanyi Momah and Gerald Christian, they have 17 regular season games played in the NFL. All of those come from Fells and Niklas this past season.
So you have to figure the team will want to add some sort of veteran presence to the group. While that player doesn't necessarily need to be a big contributor, having someone in the room who has been around the league a while and knows how to approach the offseason is essential. In fact, that was one of the things the coaches and teammates liked most about Carlson -- the way he went about things and the way he worked.
Who are the available tight ends?
According to Spotrac, these are the unsigned players at the position: Jermaine Gresham, Zach Miller, David Ausberry, Alex Smith, Michael Palmer, Chase Coffman, Nick Kasa, Andre Smith, Fendi Onobun, Brett Brackett, Gabe Miller, Matthew Mulligan and Mike McNeil.
The names people throw out there the most are Miller and Gresham. Gresham, though, had back surgery in March. Miller played in only three games in 2014. Ausberry only played in six before landing on injured reserve. Smith played in only two last season.
The most productive guys on that list have injury concerns.
An interesting possibility is Matthew Mulligan. He is a six-year veteran who doesn't need the ball. He is a blocking tight end. He was signed by the Cardinals last November when Troy Niklas was placed on injured reserve. He only was on the roster two weeks, though. When Matt Shaughnessy was activated from IR, Mulligan was the casualty. He is still available. The question is whether he was cut after two weeks simply because of the numbers game or if he didn't do well enough to keep.
On paper, Mulligan is a good match. We will see what happens. With media access on Friday for rookie camp, the questions will surely be asked about the position.