We took a few days off of the positional reviews, but I am back with the tight end position, a position that doesn't get a lot of stats in Bruce Arians' offense but is very important to the success of how the offense runs. it was actually a solid year for the tight ends this season. It wasn't flashy, but they had moments.
Looking back at 2015:
Week 1 started with a bang, as Darren Fells put up numbers we had not seen from the position since the 80s. He had four catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. There was talk of his being the "answer" at the position. He ended up with 21 catches and three scores. Free agent pickup Jermaine Gresham had 18 and a touchdown. Troy Niklas caught four passes, two for scores.
Jermaine Gresham: He will be an unrestricted free agent, as he had signed a one-year contract with Arizona.
Darren Fells: He just signed his one-year exclusive rights free agent contract. He will be a restricted free agent after the 2016 season. He earned $525,000 this season.
Troy Niklas: He enters the third year of his rookie contract. He is signed through the 2017 season. He will earn more than $785,000 in 2016 and will count almost $1.1 million against the salary cap.
Gerald Christian: He enters Year 2 of his rookie contract. He will earn $450,000 in 2016 and count more than $463,000 against the cap.
Ifeanyi Momah: He is not currently under contract. He is an exclusive rights free agent and will be with the Cardinals again if they want him back.
Looking ahead at the offseason:
It would not appear as this position is a critical one. Christian and Momah were on injured reserve all season. The team was really intrigued by Momah, but he suffered a torn meniscus. One would assume they both will be back in camp this offseason. Fells still is learning the nuances of the position, but he will be 30 years old this next season. Next season is a big one for Niklas. He will be expected to play a big role in 2016.
Gresham could come back, but I would be surprised. He will likely look for a bigger paycheck and a bigger role in an offense. His offseason last year was hampered by back surgery. He proved he can produce and stay healthy. He should get a decent deal somewhere.
I would expect the team to bring in a veteran tight end. It could be a back of the roster guy, but someone to give some experience to the room. Could they draft a guy? It is possible. But it is completely possible that they roll with the four guys they have. But I expect a veteran and a young guy to be added to the mix.