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Free Agent Primer 2024: Tight End

McBride is the face of the room, but a veteran TE2 is lacking


After finishing his first season as a head coach with a 4-13 record, Jonathan Gannon said that while he was pleased with the teams’ fight, it simply wasn’t good enough. Now that those in the locker room and throughout the league have an idea how a Gannon-Monti Ossenfort regime operates, they'll look to build a playoff contender through free agency and the draft. The new league year begins on March 13, and with that comes free agency. Here's the 10th of 11 position breakdowns.

Free Agent primer schedule: TE March 7; OLB March 8

Other free agent primers: DL, OL, QB, ILB, ST, WR, CB, RB, S

Cap hit of players under contract for 2024 (via Trey McBride ($1,718,089), Elijah Higgins ($915,000), Blake Whiteheart ($915,000), Travis Vokolek ($915,000), Bernhard Seikovits ($795,000)

Scheduled free agents: Geoff Swaim

Need: Medium

Analysis: Raise a hand if you thought back in August that Trey McBride would finish the 2023 season arguably as a Top five tight end. There wouldn't be tons of hands up for the second-year playmaker out of Colorado State. This season he became the first tight end in 34 years to eclipse 100 yards in a game and became the franchise record holder for most receptions in a season at the position with 81.

Zach Ertz was the Cardinals starting tight end prior to being placed on injured reserve and ultimately released, opening the door for McBride. Geoff Swaim is a suitable backup for McBride, being the elder statesman in the room full of youth. His veteran leadership and experience helped but Swaim is a scheduled free agent. The Cardinals need a veteran presence, whether it is Swaim or someone else.

Switching from wide receiver to tight end, Elijah Higgins grew in the role, especially once Swaim joined injured reserve. A full summer training as a tight end will allow Higgins to evolve within the position.

Notable past free agent tight end signings: Charles Clay (2019); Maxx Williams (2019); Jermaine Gresham (2015); John Carlson (2014); Jake Ballard (2013); Darren Fells (2013); Todd Heap (2011); Jeff King (2011); Freddie Jones (2002); Chris Gedney (1997).

A look at some of the top tight ends across the NFL who are scheduled to become free agents in mid-March