With the first day of the 2023 NFL calendar now just three months away, it's time for most teams around the league to turn their attention to NFL free agency in a bid to improve their rosters for a new campaign.
Here are the top free agents at tight end, taken from PFF's list of the top 50 players set to enter free agency.
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1. TE DALTON SCHULTZ, DALLAS COWBOYS
Free agent rank: 21
Schultz had a very slow start to the year, perhaps in part due to residual frustration over the lack of extension negotiations following his franchise tag, but came on strong in the middle of the season. From Week 7 to Week 12, his 83.5 grade ranked third among tight ends, including a 76.8 receiving grade and an 82.5 run-blocking grade to go along with 2.11 yards per route run (fourth), 230 receiving yards (fifth), three contested catches (tied fourth) and three touchdowns (fifth).
Schultz’s ceiling may not be the highest, but he’s a reliable pass catcher who can find soft spots in zone coverage and a plus run blocker in a league that has very few of them at the tight end position. He could turn into a good value as a second-tier signing a bit below the top of the market.
2. TE MIKE GESICKI, MIAMI DOLPHINS
Free agent rank: 34
The Dolphins’ decision to place the franchise tag on Gesicki made very little sense given the implementation of new head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense that represented a terrible fit for his skill set, and those exact fears played out. As frustrating as it probably was for Gesicki to get tagged — as it is for any player — in hindsight it wasn’t the worst thing for him to earn $10.931 million and stay healthy heading into free agency once again. He certainly isn’t facing a tag again, and Miami should let him go to a team that can utilize his “big slot receiver” playing style much better.
3. TE EVAN ENGRAM, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Free agent rank: 50
Engram landed in Jacksonville on a one-year, $9 million flier for the 2022 season after a rocky tenure with the New York Giants marred by some inopportune drops. The Giants were asking Engram to block as an inline tight end and do a lot of things that didn’t match his skill set very well, but Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson had a much better plan for him in Jacksonville, and he put up a career year in the process.
Engram’s 73 receptions were tied for the third most among tight ends, his 766 receiving yards ranked fourth and his 481 yards after the catch placed second. Even with an uptick in targets, Engram had a career-low 3.9% dropped pass percentage, good for a top-15 mark among tight ends with at least 25 targets on the season. The former first-rounder will look to cash in on a multi-year deal after making the most of his opportunity, and while there are some limitations to his game, teams could do a lot worse in the free-agent market at tight end.