Before free agency officially begins, TGH will be giving you our picks for the top free agents at every position in 2020. Keep in mind, these are our opinions for the top players and will not list every free agent. As of writing, all of the players listed are currently still un-signed.
Today, we’ll look at the best tight ends on the free agency market in 2020.
Hooper is an emerging red zone nightmare in the NFL.
Although he missed three games in 2019, he still had his best season since entering the league in 2016. Collecting 75 of 97 targets for 787 yards and six touchdowns, Hooper was an important part of the Atlanta offense. Even though the Falcons fell short of expectations and missed the playoffs, he still found ways to shine.
A rangey, athletic tight end like Hooper will be highly coveted as the rest of the NFL tries to find their George Kittle or Travis Kelce. This could lead to some huge offers by contending teams thinking he can put them over the top.
He has mentioned he would like to stay in Atlanta, but after paying Julio Jones it is up in the air how much money the Falcons will be willing to spend on another pass catcher. Expect interest to be high, as he can be a double-digit touchdown threat in the right offense.
Henry, like Hooper, came into the league in 2016 and has played his entire career with the same team. The Chargers tight end has yet to play every game in a season, however. He even missed the entirety of the 2018 season due to an ACL tear suffered before the season began.
During 2017 he left the Chargers’ Week 15 matchup with a knee injury, only to find out he also had a lacerated kidney. In 2019 he dealt with a tibia fracture that kept him out of four games. So durability is the main concern with Henry.
While he is on the field, however, he produces well. In his 41 career games he already has 17 touchdowns, 1,709 yards and a catch percentage of 71.2 percent. If he can stay healthy, he can be one of the league’s best in short order.
It is unclear what the Chargers will do with Henry. They may want to keep him, but with their question marks at quarterback it is tough to pay him what he may deserve. Phillip Rivers (also a free agent), has moved his family to Florida, which is a sign he does not expect to be re-signed by Los Angeles. The Chargers reportedly may go after Tom Brady, but his situation is one of the most nuanced and confusing of all the free agents.
With those questions hanging over the franchise, the Chargers may want to hold off on throwing a lot of money at an injury-prone tight end. If that is the case, there are plenty of teams who need a pass-catcher like him on the roster, especially if they have a reliable backup.
Speaking of injury-prone tight ends, Tyler Eifert may be the godfather of them all in today’s NFL.
Eifert entered the league in 2013. In the possible 112 games he could have played, he has taken the field in only 59 of them, which is 52.7 percent. Of those 59 games in which he did play, he was only able to start in 36.
In order, Eifert has missed time to two shoulder injuries, an elbow tear, a neck stinger, a concussion, a grade 3 ankle tear, bruised vertebrae, lumbar strain, a knee strain, a vertebral disc bulge and a truly horrific ankle fracture.
So, why make him a top free agent in 2020? Mostly due to the truly awesome potential he has when he is healthy.
In his healthiest and most productive year, Eifert hauled in 13 touchdowns on 52 total targets. His yards per reception for his career is a massive 11.6 and he has never once fumbled the football. If his health was more reliable, he would be a top-flight tight end in the league without question.
As the injuries pile up and he enters the 2020 season at age 30, someone is going to have to take a big chance on Eifert. His payday will not be huge, but he can be an asset to most any team. The Bengals probably have designs on keeping him, due to the likelihood of them signing Joe Burrow. If not, a couple teams will absolutely come calling.
Featured Image courtesy of John Bazemore/Associated Press
Check out Eli and Ben’s Podcast “Courtside Ramblings” on SoundCloud or iTunes — TGH Podcast Feed
“From Our Haus to Yours“