Chris Wesseling

Offseason Low Down

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The 2011 Tight End Market

Tuesday, May 24, 2011




3. Evan Moore, Browns

Scouting Report: The former Stanford basketball player may be designated a tight end, but he's been utilized as an over-grown wide receiver in Cleveland. Moore was split out wide on 87 percent of his 193 snaps last season -- nearly 30 percent more than the next closest tight end. A vertical seam stretcher, Moore averaged a team-best 20.1 yards per reception before hernia surgery landed him on injured reserve in December. He's fully recovered as of May.

Availability: Moore was tendered at the second-round level, an indication that the Browns still value him highly as a situational complement to Ben Watson. Moore has only been in the league three years, so his free agency will be restricted regardless of the labor outcome.

Prediction: Browns

4. Daniel Fells, Rams

Scouting Report: Don't let the career-high 41 receptions, 395 yards, and 63 percent catch rate fool you. Fells chips off the line for dump-offs, but he was targeted deep only 7.7 percent of the time. Offering little as a blocker, Fells also has subpar after-the-catch skills, and he was pushed down the depth chart every time Michael Hoomanawanui recovered from an injury. Fells is purely backup material.

Availability: Although Fells drew the original-pick tender in early March, there's now speculation that the Rams may rescind the offer after drafting Lance Kendricks in the second round. Curiously enough, Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick have both flirted with the idea of adding Fells in the past. McDaniels has since done a 180 in his valuation of tight ends, so Fells' fit in the Rams offense is dubious.

Prediction: Rams

5. Dante Rosario, Panthers

Scouting Report: Rosario can get downfield and flashes intriguing pass-catching ability, but he's never been able to beat out the pedestrian Jeff King for the starting job. Although Rosario established a career high with 32 catches last year, his per-play effectiveness fell off with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback. Rosario does contribute on special teams, so he has value as a No. 2 tight end.

Availability: A four-year veteran, Rosario drew a tender offer from the Panthers in early March -- likely of the original-pick variety. Jeff King, a five-year vet, also drew an offer. With Jeremy Shockey now on board as the presumptive starter, the Panthers may only keep one of their restricted free agents. Rosario offers more value as a pure backup to Shockey.

Prediction: Panthers

Other three- to five-year restricted running backs: Jeff King, David Thomas, Leonard Pope, Matt Spaeth, Scott Chandler, Brad Cottam, Gijon Robinson, Tom Santi

Trade Candidates

1. Martellus Bennett, Cowboys

Scouting Report: A former hoopster at Texas A&M, Bennett was widely considered the most talented tight end in the 2008 draft. The Cowboys staff spent last summer hyping John Phillips, ostensibly as a message to Bennett. Consider that message received. After Phillips tore his ACL, Bennett responded with a career-high 33 receptions while excelling as an in-line run blocker for a second straight season. He remains valuable Jason Witten insurance in Dallas.

Availability: The Cowboys missed their window to maximize Bennett's value when they turned down a "significant offer" from the Bengals at the 2009 trade deadline. Bennett is once again hearing rumors that he's on the block, but Dallas won't get fair value for their talented 24-year-old. He'll battle Phillips for the backup job behind Witten.

Prediction: Cowboys

2. Greg Olsen, Bears

Scouting Report: Olsen's snap count stayed the same under coordinator Mike Martz, but he finished just 21st in the league in tight-end targets while his receptions and yards dropped by 19 and 208 respectively. It's a credit to Olsen, though, that he managed to top 40 receptions, a feat never accomplished by a tight end under Martz. Olsen can stretch the seam with the best of the league's tight ends, as evidenced by his three-catch, 113-yard performance against Seattle in the playoffs. Though he's Jay Cutler's most reliable target in the passing game, Olsen figures to be under-utilized again in 2011.

Availability: Olsen was shopped around prior to the 2010 draft. A potential trade to New England fell through, and the Patriots ended up grabbing Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez instead. Martz and GM Jerry Angelo are both suggesting that Olsen's role will grow in the Bears offense this season. Even with agent Drew Rosenhaus seeking a "lucrative extension" for Olsen, it seems the Bears will hold on to their tight end in hopes of another playoff season.

Prediction: Bears

Release Candidates Alge Crumpler, David Martin, Jim Kleinsasser

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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