Breaking down the Redskins options to upgrade the tight end position
Coming into free agency, there were a few big-name free agents set to hit the open market. They were Austin Hooper, Hunter Henry, and Eric Ebron. However, Henry was slapped with the franchise tag by the Los Angeles Chargers and is set to stay there on a one-year deal.
Quickly, the team saw Hooper go off the board as the Cleveland Browns made him the highest-paid tight end in the league. While Hooper is talented, the Redskins were likely smart not to overpay for his services.
Ebron lingered on the board for a while longer. But on Friday, he signed a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers worth $16 million over two years. That’s a fair price for Ebron, who has had some issues with drops and inconsistency throughout his career, so the Steelers may have gotten a steal.
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With those three gone, the market is now slim pickings. But here are a few players that the ‘Skins could consider signing if the price is right.
Delanie Walker, Titans. If the age doesn’t matter for the Redskins, then Walker will get consideration. The team is reportedly interested in the 35-year-old despite the fact that he has played in just eight games over the course of the past two seasons. When healthy, Walker is one of the better-rounded players at the tight end position and should be able to serve as a good security blanket for Dwayne Haskins and a mentor for a younger tight end. If the price is right, perhaps grabbing Walker would be a good move for the Redskins.
Ricky Seals-Jones, Browns. Seals-Jones was supposed to be a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Browns didn’t tender him a contract. The undrafted free agent in 2017 converted to tight end from receiver and found success at the end of that campaign with the Cardinals. He could really stick as a starter for them last year or the Browns this year, but he has averaged 12.9 yards per catch during his career, has eight TDs on 60 career receptions, and just turned 25. If the Redskins want a player with upside, Seals-Jones certainly would fit the bill.
Tyler Eifert, Bengals. Another player who has dealt with injuries in recent years, Eifert actually stayed healthy last year and played in all 16 of the Bengals games. He caught 43 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns and while he’s clearly not the same player he was before injuries took their toll, he still has the size needed to be a middle-of-the-field threat at 6-foot-6. It may be worth adding him short-term to see if he can find more success as he gets further removed from his injury woes.
Nick Vannett, Steelers. I’ve written about Vannett as a potentially underrated option at tight end for the Redskins. He’s not a top-tier player, but the 27-year-old has an excellent 6-foot-6, 261-pound frame that should afford him the opportunity to be a good contested catch player and a great blocker. Last year, Vannett played with both the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers and totaled 17 catches for 166 yards. If given an opportunity to play more than 39.2 percent of the offensive snaps, he could’ve produced more, especially if he had more time to learn the team’s offense.