The Footballguys staff was asked to mention their most significant veteran tight end who changed teams over the offseason. Most significant can have a lot of meaning, so - in this case - it means we just asked our guys to pick the tight end they most wanted to write about. Here are the results.
Jordan Cameron - 6 mentions
Feery - Jordan Cameron left an offensively challenged team with question marks at quarterback to join a team potentially on the rise. Ryan Tannehill has shown continual improvement each season. The Dolphins offense as a whole looks intriguing, with a trio of young wide receivers with the potential to stretch the field. Cameron has potential to return to his 2013 form – 80 catches for 917 yards and 2 touchdowns – and should become a favored red zone target for Tannehill.
Hester - Jordan Cameron signing in Miami as part of an overhauled receiving corps is interesting not only for the uber-athletic former basketball star but also for his new quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. Cameron joins the acquired-via-trade Kenny Stills, 2014 rookie standout Jarvis Landry, and 2015 first-round draft pick DeVante Parker to give Tannehill the most complete stable of weapons he’s had thus far in his career. Some ripple effect moves of Cameron’s signing are Charles Clay signing in Buffalo and Rob Housler signing in Cleveland. Clay will be a valuable safety valve for either a shaky young player (EJ Manuel) or a journeyman veteran (Matt Cassel). His competition for targets in the middle of the field will be lacking as Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin will do most of their work outside. Housler becomes Cleveland’s starting tight end and only realistic pass-catching option at the position. Even including his team’s wide receivers — Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline – his competition for targets is quite underwhelming.
Hicks - One of the more interesting off season moves was the arrival of Jordan Cameron in Miami. Outside Jarvis Landry, the Dolphins have jettisoned every other wide receiver or tight end that caught more than 25 balls last year. Rookie Devante Parker, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and Jordan Cameron will all be fighting for their share of the ball behind the impressive Landry. Miami though have an offense that clearly uses their tight end with Charles Clay posting consecutive 50+ catch, 600 yard seasons. Few will doubt that Cameron is more talented than the departed Clay, but Cameron's injury issues - especially concussion related - cannot be understated. As usual his price will dictate if he is worth the risk to draft, but he will be one of the few guys behind the elite few that has the potential to break into the Top 5.
Holloway - Jordan Cameron got a nice paycheck signing with the Miami Dolphins for two years and $15 million, with $12.5 million guaranteed. Cameron joins a young but talented (Landry 22, Stills 23, Parker 22) wide receiving corps that provides Ryan Tannehill abundant targets. Camron had an incredible season in 2013, catching 80 passes for 917 yards and 7 touchdowns, but averaged only 33 catches for 400 yards and 2.5 touchdowns over his four years in Cleveland and missed 17 games. He definitely has durability issues, including concussion concerns. With the continued growth of Tannehill, but now with several quality players to share the targets, can Cameron bounce back to being a Top 5 tight end?
Parsons - Jimmy Graham is the low-hanging fruit for tight ends changing teams in terms of name value. However, Cameron is an uber-talent toiling through bad Cleveland offenses to date. Now with Ryan Tannehill and functional Miami receivers around him, Cameron can exploit single coverage and see quality targets over the middle. There is a strong connection between top tight end production and the level of quarterback play and Jordan Cameron will see a strong upgrade for 2015.
Simpkins - When Charles Clay was stolen away by Buffalo, Cameron was certainly a more than fair consolation prize for Miami. Admittedly, Cameron hasn’t been the picture of health, but his lack of output last year cannot be blamed completely on his injuries. The Cleveland offense turned into a dumpster fire during the portion of time that Cameron was actually healthy in 2014. Cameron will be the big, athletic red-zone target that Tannehill has been missing. Look for Cameron to have a big resurgence this year.
Jimmy Graham - 3 mentions
Haseley - The trade acquisition of Jimmy Graham by Seattle was arguably the biggest splash of the offseason. The Seahawks don't boast the best passing game. In fact, few teams have passed less than Seattle in the last few years. The success of the running game has allowed Russell Wilson to pass when needed and let the ground and pound philosophy move the chains. I don't expect Graham to come close to his numbers from his days with the Saints, however I do see him being a key contributor on offense with plenty of scoring opportunities. The tight end rankings are top heavy this year and Graham should still be among the best fantasy tight ends in the league, but don't expect him to dominate like he has in the past. I expect a big drop in overall targets and wouldn't be surprised if he finishes outside of the Top 3.
Pasquino - Without question, Jimmy Graham’s departure from New Orleans and arrival and Seattle is about as earth-shattering as you can get when it comes to the tight end position. Drew Brees loses his biggest target and best touchdown receiver on the team while Russell Wilson suddenly has not just a true playmaker at tight end but arguably the best one in the NFL (with some apologies to Rob Gronkowski). The Seahawks have been looking for an option at tight end for years, and now they not only got one but he will likely be their top target in the passing game in 2015.
Wimer - The highest-profile movement among veteran tight ends this offseason was, without question, the trade of Jimmy Graham to Seattle. However, the most significant relocation from a fantasy perspective may wind up to be Jordan Cameron landing with the improving Miami offense/pairing with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Cameron will be available far later than Graham in most fantasy drafts (and far, far later than Rob Gronkowski), but he should rival their production in his new role as Tannehill's safety valve. Cameron was hampered by pathetic quarterback play during his years in Cleveland - now he gets to play with a quarterback who is maturing into a top-tier fantasy talent. He'll provide upside for his fantasy owners, while Gronkowski and Graham will cost a premium pick.
Owen Daniels - 2 mentions
Alexander - The tight end position in a Peyton Manning offense has been predictably lucrative for fantasy purposes over the last seven years. If you throw out the 2012 season, in which Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen split snaps, and combine the 2010 production of Tamme and Dallas Clark (who was placed on injured reserve after six games), the average year-end stat line of Manning's top tight end since 2007 looks like this:
74.5 receptions, 804 receiving yards, 9.7 touchdowns, 138.6 standard fantasy points.
For context, only three tight ends eclipsed 138 fantasy points last season – Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and Antonio Gates. This year it's Owen Daniels' turn to enjoy the Peyton Manning bump, and as an added bonus he's (once again) hitched to Gary Kubiak's play calling. Daniels has played in Kubiak's tight end friendly scheme his entire career. His familiarity with the system, combined with Manning's history, Julius Thomas' defection, and Kubiak's tendency to target tight ends in the red zone, makes a double-digit touchdown season entirely possible.
Tefertiller - Yes, the Julius Thomas signing by Jacksonville was huge for both the Jaguars and the team he departed, the Broncos. However, Denver replaced the very talented Thomas with veteran Owen Daniels. This was expected ever since Gary Kubiak was hired to be the head coach for the franchise. Daniels has played for Kubiak every year of his career. While he is now more apt to injury and does not move as well as in the past, Daniels will be able to get open for quarterback Peyton Manning. The plethora of receiving options should benefit the tight end as was the situation in which enabled Thomas to thrive. Daniels has a legitimate shot to be a fantasy starter most weeks.
Julius Thomas - 2 mentions
Bloom - It was pretty clear from the beginning that Thomas was not going back to his plum spot in Peyton Manning's pass offense, but Seattle was interested in him and definitely considered a player for his services in free agency, which would have been a good landing spot compared to the other rumored suitors such as Jacksonville and Oakland. Seattle traded for Jimmy Graham and Thomas agreed to a deal in Jacksonville, the lowest scoring team in the league, and one that is changing identities to a power-running "bullyball" attitude on offense. Thomas is going to be very inconsistent this year and he should be well outside of the top 5 tight ends drafted if owners are being honest about the effect that this move has on his volume.
Brimacombe - Thomas has caught 24 touchdown passes in 27 games the last two seasons thanks to being a big redzone target for the one and only Peyton Manning. Now with no Manning anywhere in sight and going to a fantasy wasteland such as Jacksonville, he is going to have to prove that he deserves the big contract and once again be that big redzone target but this time for second-year quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jaguars are slowly growing their offensive passing game and Julius Thomas could play a big part in that development as he can be a nice outlet for Bortles in the redzone.
Scott Chandler - 1 mention
Hindery - One of the more intriguing under-the-radar free agency moves was the Patriots signing Scott Chandler away from the Buffalo Bills. Chandler was highly sought after by both the Patriots and Ravens and settled on the Patriots offer of 2 years and $5.3M with $3.25M in the first year of the deal. While clearly not huge money, the contract does indicate that the Patriots value Chandler and have a plan to get him involved in their offense. Chandler has averaged 574 receiving yards per season over the past three years in the moribund Bills passing attack and has the upside to produce more in the TE-friendly Patriots offense led by Tom Brady. The Chandler signing is somewhat reminiscent of last year’s move to add Brandon LaFell in that it flew well beneath the radar of nearly all fantasy owners, but the contractual details indicate an intent to heavily involve the players in the Patriots passing offense. Do not be surprised if Chandler is able to put up Top 15 tight end numbers as the Patriots' second tight end and he has real upside in the case of a Rob Gronkowski injury.
Charles Clay - 1 mention
Howe - With the imports of Rex Ryan and LeSean McCoy, the Bills offense certainly looks to be heavily run-based. But it’s unlikely the team ponied up the league’s highest guaranteed money total for a tight end to ask Charles Clay to block. And while Matt Cassel is nobody’s idea of a quarterback whose receivers should be targeted in fantasy, his addition could bode well for Clay. Cassel is a dink-and-dunk passer whose forays into the deep-ball game tend to be disastrous. Considering his contract, Clay might enter 2015 with the inside track on a solid share of the intermediate action over underwhelming third-year man Robert Woods and limited slotman Chris Hogan. But Clay’s true value will come from his red zone production. Since 2013, only three tight ends (Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, and Martellus Bennett) have seen more looks from inside the 20 than Clay’s 34, and only two (Graham and Antonio Gates) have seen more from inside the 10. If Clay remains a huge part of Buffalo’s red zone package, you’re drafting the potential for 7-10 touchdowns outside the first 11-12 rounds.