Over the last two decades, tight ends on the Cardinals roster have not filled up the stat sheet.
Maxx Williams worked his way into the starting lineup after being a late offseason addition. Though the 25-year old is not much of a threat in the vertical game, he made an immediate impact as a blocker and earned a 79.0 overall grade by Pro Football Focus.
Williams finished the year with 15 receptions, 202 receiving yards, and a touchdown. After a breakout 2019 season, he was rewarded with a two-year $7 million extension.
After him, the Cardinals have intriguing but inexperienced depth with Dan Arnold and Darrell Daniels being the other tight ends under contract.
Arnold was claimed off waivers in early December and was Kyler Murray’s top target in the regular season finale against the Rams, when he caught four of six targets for 76 yards and a touchdown. There is no doubt he got the attention of Kliff Kingsbury and might have worked his way into receiving more playing time in 2020.
Just in case people do not know how athletic Arnold is, take a look at his impressive Pro Day stats in 2017.
40 Time: 4.63 seconds
Bench: 12 reps
Vertical: 39.5 inches
3-Cone: 6.81 seconds
Daniels has been a solid special teams contributor but will likely be battling for a roster spot. Charles Clay is an impending free agent and is not expected to return.
For so many years, the team has downplayed the position by limiting the involvement of tight ends in their gameplan. Take a look at last season’s Super Bowl participants in the Chiefs and 49ers. Travis Kelce and George Kittle were nearly unstoppable all season long. Even the impact of a Rob Gronkowski-less Patriots was significant.
Maybe it is time to add a legitimate playmaker to the position to take the offense to the next level, considering none of the Cardinals tight ends finished with more than 250 yards last season.
The Cardinals could certainly bolster their depth via free agency or the draft. I do not expect the team to splurge money on players like Hunter Henry or Austin Hooper when there are more pressing needs to address. A more realistic (or not) and less expensive option is Tyler Eifert, who might be looking for a one-year prove-it deal. But, signing a player like Eifert depends on how Kingsbury utilizes the position moving forward.
Some potential draft targets include Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam and Dayton’s Adam Trautman.
As of now, the Cardinals are very comfortable with Maxx Williams and Dan Arnold as their top two tight ends. Let’s see what happens in the next couple weeks when free agency arrives.