2012 Offseason Movement: Tight Ends
By Maurile Tremblay
July 18th, 2012

The offseason movement feature makes yet another appearance. It's one of the few staples of football that you know isn't going anywhere since there will always be players changing teams. Some will end up in better situations, some in worse ones. It's up to us to tell you which ones look good or bad from a preliminary look below. And it's up to you to continue to return to our website over the summer to see how some of these guys look to be panning out with their new teams. If nothing else, this will provide you with a refresher course or keep you informed on something you may have missed in April.

We wish we had a crystal ball to tell you exactly what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, and how much turnover there will be statistically. But the truth is, it's very early in the offseason. The key directive we can give you right now is to stay informed. Players change teams almost daily during the summer months, and a seemingly insignificant move in late August can have a huge impact on both the real NFL and your fantasy league.

We all want to know how Player X will fit in with Team Y. We all want to know how a superstar will react to the first major move of his career, or which journeyman on their last legs will resurrect their stat lines with a move elsewhere. And we can help you with that over time. For now, though, educate yourself on what you see below. Get a good base for how the moves should impact each team, and we'll continue to let you know how they are impacting each team. In the meantime, you can be assured that you won't be that guy at the bar saying something like, "I like Sidney Rice but just don't trust Tarvaris Jackson." while your friends give you blank stares and wonder where you were all offseason.

Tight Ends by Maurile Tremblay

  1. Jacob Tamme - Denver (from Indianapolis)
    • What happened: Tamme played out his rookie contract in Indianapolis, became a free-agent, and then followed Peyton Manning over to the Broncos, where he signed a three-year, $9 million deal this offseason. Along with fellow free-agent signee Joel Dreessen, Tamme will replace (and be a significant upgrade over) last year's primary Bronco tight ends, Daniel Fells and Dante Rosario.

    • What it means: Although his production tailed off in 2011 with the Kerry Collins-Curtis Painter-Dan Orlovsky trio at quarterback, Tamme came on strong down the stretch in 2010 with Peyton Manning at the helm. In his last 10 games with Manning, Tamme averaged 6.7 receptions per game. While Tamme spent much of his time in Indianapolis in Dallas Clark's shadow, Tamme is younger than Clark, and at this point in their respective careers is certainly a better blocker and likely a better receiver. He'll be Peyton Manning's security blanket in Denver. With the Broncos tight ends expected to play a much bigger role in 2012, Tamme should be on the field most of the time, edging out Dreessen in snaps. As long as Manning stays healthy, Tamme should be a solid fantasy TE2, with some TE1 potential.

  2. Kellen Winslow - Seattle (from Tampa Bay)
    • What happened: New Buccaneers head coach was displeased that Winslow missed the early offseason workouts and OTAs this year, and decided to replace him with free-agent acquisition Dallas Clark. The Buccaneers traded Winslow to the Seahawks for a conditional draft pick — either a sixth- or a seventh-rounder, depending on Winslow's performance. Winslow has three years left on a six-year contract, with no further money guaranteed.

    • What it means: Seattle ran a lot of two-tight-end sets last season, but used both tight ends as blockers much of the time. (Zach Miller led all Seattle tight ends with just 25 receptions on the season.) Winslow is a better receiver than blocker, so it would make sense for the Seahawks to try to get him into the pattern more often, while Miller is used more as an in-line blocker. Winslow has played a full 16-game season in five out of the last six years, but he has had six surgeries on his right knee, and some scouts believe he has begun to slow down. He can still be productive, but the presence of Zach Miller, along with the Seahawks' previous history of largely ignoring the tight ends in their passing game, limit Winslow's fantasy value to that of a middling TE2.

  3. Dallas Clark - Tampa Bay (from Indianapolis)
    • What happened: When the Buccaneers traded Kellen Winslow to Seattle, they signed former Indianapolis Colts TE Dallas Clark to a one-year deal in his stead. The contract is for $2.7 million (all base salary), $1 million of which is guaranteed.

    • What it means: Dallas Clark is a similar tight end to Kellen Winslow. He is a better receiver than blocker who has been super productive in the past (Clark has a 100-reception season in 2009 on his resume) but has been slowed by injuries more recently. Clark is currently health, and will try to regain his pre-injury form. The Buccaneers' new offensive coordinator, Mike Sullivan was formerly the quarterbacks coach with the Giants, and it's worth noting that the Giants did not target their tight ends much in the passing game. If Sullivan instills an offense in Tampa Bay that is similar to what he ran in New York, Clark could fall well short of the 119 targets that Winslow received last season. Clark's past productivity, however, makes him a high-end fantasy TE2, although his age and recent injury history keep him out of TE1 territory.

  4. John Carlson - Minnesota (from Seattle)
    • What happened: Carlson missed the fourth year of his four-year contract in Seattle after he injured his shoulder during the 2011 preseason and had surgery to repair a torn labrum. He became an unrestricted free agent in 2012 and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings. The contract is structured such that it could become a two-year, $11 million deal, however, so the Vikings' commitment to Carlson is not as great as the contract's face value might suggest.

    • What it means: The Vikings are expected to run a two-tight-end set as their base offense this season, and John Carlson will complement last year's second-round pick, Kyle Rudolph, as the second tight end. Carlson had a productive start to his career in Seattle, catching 50+ passes in each of his first two seasons. He had a down year in 2010, however, and then missed the 2011 season completely, but should be fully recovered from his torn labrum for the start of training camp in 2012. Carlson has good size (6'5", 251 lbs.) and decent hands, although Rudolph is a bit bigger and more athletic. As long as both TEs stay healthy, Carlson will not have much fantasy value in his own right; his primary influence will be to limit Rudolph's value to mid-TE2 territory.

  5. Martellus Bennett - NY Giants (from Dallas)
    • What happened: Bennett played out his rookie contract with the Cowboys and became an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Giants.

    • What it means: With Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum each recovering from a torn ACL, the Giants needed to shore up the tight end position, and Martellus Bennett was one of the more athletic options available in free agency. He played in Jason Witten's shadow in Dallas, but the former second-round pick will get a chance to start for the Giants. He lacks the speed to get deep, but has decent quickness, leaping ability, and hands, and he is a willing blocker with a large frame. Bennett did not fully live up to expectations with the Cowboys, but he is just 25 years old, and could still have a bright future in the NFL.

  6. Joel Dreessen - Denver (from Houston)
    • What happened: Dreessen played out his contract with the Texans, where he spent the last five years as the primary backup to Owen Daniels. As an unrestricted free agent, he signed a three-year, $8.5 million contract ($2.5 million guaranteed) with the Broncos this offseason, joining fellow free-agent signee Jacob Tamme in replacing Daniel Fells and Dante Rosario.

    • What it means: Tamme and Dreessen represent a huge upgrade over Fells and Rosario. Dreessen is a solid blocker and has sure hands, but is not as athletic as Tamme and will probably not get as many targets. Nonetheless, with the Broncos planning to use two tight ends in their base offense, Dreessen will be on the field plenty, and has an outside chance to produce fantasy TE2 numbers even if Tamme stays healthy.

  7. Kevin Boss - Kansas City (from Oakland)
    • What happened: Boss signed a four-year contract with the Raiders in 2011, but was released after one unproductive season, making him an unrestricted free agent in 2012. The Chiefs signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract, including $3.2 million in bonuses.

    • What it means: The Chiefs are among the teams embracing the league's latest trend: the double-tight formation. With Tony Moeaki slated to return after missing the 2011 season with a torn ACL, Boss and Moeaki should be on the field a lot together in 2012. Boss will play the more traditional tight end role, with Moeaki often going in motion and likely being a higher priority in the passing game. As long as Moeaki comes back healthy, Boss will have little to no fantasy value.

  8. Daniel Fells - New England (from Denver)
    • What happened: Fells spent three years with the Rams before signing a one-year deal with the Broncos prior to last season. His contract with the Broncos was not renewed, and Fells became an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract with the Patriots, with $2 million guaranteed.

    • What it means: Fells has decent size, but lacks speed and athleticism. Mostly a blocker, he received little interest in free agency this season. Fells should make the final roster as the Patriots' third tight end behind Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but he will have no fantasy value.

  9. Leonard Pope - Pittsburgh (from Kansas City)
    • What happened: Pope's contract with the Chiefs was not renewed, and he became a free agent this offseason. Pope signed a one-year, $725,000 contract with the Steelers.

    • What it means: Pope was originally a third-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals. As Todd Haley went from being the offensive coordinator in Arizona to the head coach in Kansas City to the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, Pope followed Haley each step of the way. Pope will compete with Weslye Saunders for the No. 2 job behind Heath Miller, but Pope will have a head start while Saunders serves a four-game suspension to start the year. Although Pope has fine size, he is not a dominating blocker, and has underachieved as a receiver as well. He has no fantasy value.

  10. Dante Rosario - San Diego (from Denver)
    • What happened: Rosario played on a one-year deal in Denver last season, but his contract was not renewed, and he became an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Rosario signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Chargers.

    • What it means: Rosario signed before this year's draft with the expectation that he'd compete with Kory Sperry for the third tight end spot. But with the Chargers' selection of Ladarius Green in the fourth round, Rosario is now a long shot to make the final roster.
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