It isn’t exactly news the Seahawks aren’t likely to bring Jimmy Graham back for 2018. Let’s look at the best free agent targets at tight end.
Jimmy Graham had, let’s say, an interesting career for the Seahawks. He started with disappointing first year, came close to expectations in his second, then had his weird year three. At his price, there will be no year four. Nick Vannett is the only tight end under contract and he’s caught all of 17 passes in two years. Seattle certainly needs another tight end, even if they bring Luke Willson back – and I really hope they do.
First, one guy they don’t need. Tyler Eifert. He’s been a great tight end, when healthy. And that’s the issue; he’s basically never healthy. He’s played in 10 games in the past two seasons, and only had two starts. Spotrac pegs his next salary at $7.6 million. That seems a bit pricey for a guy that’s missed 40 games in the past four years. Even if none of it was guaranteed, the Seahawks can’t afford close to that contract.
And now a player I’d love to get. Trey Burton. The only issue with Burton is Seattle can’t afford him either. Spotrac estimates he’ll haul in $7 million per year. According to Pro Football Focus, he only dropped one catchable ball last year. You may remember Graham dropped seven. But at 6’3″ and just 235, Burton isn’t much of a blocker. As much as I like him, there are better fits for the Seahawks and their budget. So what are we waiting for?
Best tight ends for the Seahawks
Ben Watson. Yeah I know, he broke in with Johnny Unitas. At least it seems that way. He’s 37, and will turn 38 before the season ends. But he caught 61 passes with only three drops, and scored four touchdowns. Perhaps best of all, he’s missed one game in the past five seasons. That hardly fits the injury expectations of an older player. Oh, and he definitely fits the Seahawks culture. He should come relatively cheap.
Zach Miller. He isn’t as old as Watson, but at 33 he isn’t the youngest kid around, either. He only had 20 catches in 2017, but at least he had sure hands, as he had just one drop. Miller had 47 receptions in 2016 and 11 touchdown catches over the past three seasons. Remember, the poor sap has been playing without a quarterback (Chicago Bears, don’tcha know). Pro Football Focus graded him at 75.9 overall last year, and he’s graded well over 70 at run blocking each of the last three years. Due to his age, he should be significantly more affordable than Burton.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins. What, a 25 year old kid makes the list? Austin (sorry, not typing that last name again) had a breakout year with the New York Jets last season with 50 catches. He only caught three touchdown passes, and managed a pretty awful 7.1 yards per reception. He averaged 16.1 yards per catch with Tampa in 2015 and was never below 10.5 before last year, so I’m not too worried. He’s also a decent run blocker and just dropped two passes. Again, he should be relatively affordable.
Don’t forget this guy
That’s it for the tight end market, as far as I can see. I’ve already said the Seahawks need to bring Luke Willson back, so no point in including him again. Okay, fine, let’s talk about Willson. Here’s an extra fun fact: he’s had six touchdown catches on just 30 receptions over the past two years. Willson had two drops on catchable balls last year, after dropping only one in 2015 and 2016 combined.
He’s an excellent run blocker, of course. Add in that bringing Willson back to CenturyLink will keep the Vancouver contingent happy, there’s only one answer. Bring him back, Seattle!