Cardinals tight end Darren Fells makes a leaping touchdown catch against the Bengals in November.
His career took longer than most to get started, but Darren Fells has found a home in the NFL, and the Cardinals are making sure to keep him around.
After his first season as the team's No. 1 tight end – albeit at age 29 – Fells signed his exclusive rights tender offer Monday, keeping him in place on the roster.
It was one of two signings by the Cardinals. The team also brought in cornerback Shaun Prater, who since being a fifth-round pick of the Bengals in 2012 has also spent time with the Eagles, Vikings, Colts and Broncos. He has one career interception in 21 career games.
Fells has moved up the depth chart since arriving as a practice squad player in 2013. With the retirement of John Carlson last season and the slow development of 2014 second-round pick Troy Niklas, Fells was given a chance to be the top tight end and grabbed it, even after the training camp signing of veteran Jermaine Gresham.
Fells finished the season with 21 receptions for 311 yards and three touchdowns, and added a touchdown catch against the Panthers in the NFC Championship.
His return was expected, in part because as an exclusive rights free agent, it doesn't take much for the team to bring him back. Fells, after not playing college football in lieu of basketball and starting his professional athletic career as a basketball player overseas, has just two accrued NFL seasons.
The Cardinals have another exclusive rights tight end Ifeanyi Momah who could be brought back. Gresham is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Niklas is under contract through 2017.