The Cardinals need to upgrade the roster after a poor 2018 season, and while the No. 1 overall pick awaits in April, first comes free agency. General Manager Steve Keim has significant cap space to use for the first time in his tenure and could be aggressive. We will take a look at each position group in the days leading up to free agency, which begins on March 13.
Free agent primer: Tight End
Cap hit of players under contract for 2019 (via OverTheCap.com): Jermaine Gresham ($8.25 million); Charles Clay ($1.91 million).
Scheduled free agents: John Phillips; Ricky Seals-Jones (exclusive rights); Darrell Daniels (exclusive rights).
Notable tight ends scheduled to hit the open market
Analysis: The Cardinals’ switch from a traditional NFL scheme to coach Kliff Kingsbury’s more pass-friendly style could have an impact on the type of tight ends they covet, and it will be interesting to see if the position evolves this offseason.
Keim already made one move, signing Clay, the versatile veteran, to a one-year deal after he was released by the Bills.
Gresham is the only other tight end under contract at this point. He missed the first two games of 2018 while recovering from a torn Achilles and didn’t make a huge impact upon return, finishing with nine catches for 94 yards. He has a salary cap figure that outpaces last year’s production.
Seals-Jones had 34 catches for 343 yards and a touchdown a year ago. The Cardinals can bring him back cheaply as an exclusive rights free agent and he seems to be in their plans. Daniels was claimed off waivers from the Seahawks in late November and can also be retained for a low price if the team so chooses. Phillips is a block-first tight end but had a couple of nice catches in the regular season finale in Seattle.
The addition of Clay helps tamp down the need at tight end, and the draft has a surplus of talent at the position. The Cardinals could use some more depth, but a major move in free agency seems unlikely considering the need at other positions.
Notable past free agent tight end signings: Gresham (2015); John Carlson (2014); Jake Ballard (2013); Darren Fells (2013); Todd Heap (2011); Jeff King (2011); Freddie Jones (2002); Chris Gedney (1997).