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Free Agency Primer 2016: Tight End

With Gresham hitting the market, Cardinals could look to bolster position

The Cardinals' front office is surveying the free agent landscape, hoping to complement a core which went 13-3 last season and advanced to the NFC Championship game. Free agency begins on March 9, and we'll break down the team's needs at each position leading up to the signing period.

Free agent primer:Tight End

Cap numbers of players under contract for 2016: Troy Niklas ($1.1 million); Darren Fells ($600,000); Gerald Christian ($463,195)

Scheduled free agents: Jermaine Gresham (unrestricted); Ifeanyi Momah (exclusive rights)

Need: Medium

Images of some of the top tight ends scheduled for free agency

Analysis: The Cardinals re-signed starting tight end Darren Fells this offseason, and he should be a major contributor in 2016. The offense uses two tight ends regularly, and the other starter is up in the air heading into free agency. Troy Niklas is a former second-round pick with considerable physical gifts but was used sparingly in 2015. While the team would like him to seize a more significant role, it is no sure thing.

Jermaine Gresham was the other starting tight end and he will likely test the free agent waters. The team could want him back, as Gresham was a capable blocker despite a dip in his receiving statistics, but if Gresham finds a more lucrative deal or a better opportunity elsewhere it wouldn't be a surprise to see him move on. Ifeanyi Momah is an exclusive rights free agent, and he should be back. Momah was expected to contribute in 2015 but was placed on injured reserve with a knee ailment before the season began.

Gerald Christian, the last pick of the 2015 draft, was also placed on injured reserve before the season and will compete for a roster spot in training camp. The Cardinals could dip into free agency for another piece at tight end, especially if Gresham doesn't return. If they do so, coach Bruce Arians prefers a well-rounded player who can block as well as catch passes.

Notable past free agent TE signings by the Cardinals: Gresham (2015); John Carlson (2014); Jake Ballard (2013); Fells (2013); Todd Heap (2011); Jeff King (2011); Freddie Jones (2002); Chris Gedney (1997).

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