The Cardinals are embarking on a new era under Steve Wilks. In the ensuing months, they will identify their new starting quarterback and fill other positions of need. The first crack at re-shaping the roster will come in free agency, which begins on March 14. We’ll break down each position as it draws near.
*Free agent primer: *Tight End
*Cap hit of players under contract for 2018 (via OverTheCap.com): *Jermaine Gresham ($7.2 million); Gabe Holmes ($630,000); Ricky Seals-Jones ($555,000)
Scheduled free agents: Troy Niklas, Ifeanyi Momah (restricted)
Images of some of the more notable tight ends scheduled to hit free agency
Analysis: The Cardinals signed Jermaine Gresham to a lucrative four-year deal a season ago and he will be back, although a torn Achilles suffered in the regular season finale could put his early-season availability in doubt. Ricky Seals-Jones joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and made a nice impact down the stretch, hauling in 12 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns in the final seven games. He gives the Cardinals a nice mismatch through the air, but the converted wide receiver is still improving as a blocker.
That duo is a nice starting point for the group, but the Cardinals need to add some depth. Gabe Holmes was added late in the season and is a candidate to push for a job this offseason. Former second-round pick Troy Niklas is scheduled to reach free agency after an injury-plagued tenure with the Cardinals, although he did play in 15 games a season ago. Ifeanyi Momah is a restricted free agent, and the Cardinals must decide whether or not to extend him a qualifying offer.
Some of the more notable free agents scheduled to hit the open the market include Jimmy Graham, Trey Burton and Tyler Eifert. The Cardinals’ previous regime favored tight ends that were strong blockers, and new coach Steve Wilks said he also wants to have players that can hold up at the point of attack. The team will likely add a couple more tight ends to the roster, whether through free agency or the draft.
Notable past free agent tight end signings: Seals-Jones (2017); Gresham (2015); John Carlson (2014); Jake Ballard (2013); Darren Fells (2013); Todd Heap (2011); Jeff King (2011); Freddie Jones (2002); Chris Gedney (1997).