The Arizona Cardinals could look to improve at the tight end position when free agency gets underway in a couple of months
For a countless number of years, a certain position has been a forgotten part of the Arizona Cardinals offense. While a bevy of other NFL squads have featured their tight ends in their passing attack, the team from the desert has used those individuals primarily as blockers. Throughout the existence of the Cardinals franchise, the offensive unit’s play-callers have elected to throw mostly to the wide receivers and running backs.
Things did not change much this past season with new head coach Kliff Kingsbury at the controls. Veteran Charles Clay tallied a mere 18 receptions, while Maxx Williams hauled in just 15 passes. Dan Arnold, who was added in December, contributed a total of six catches during his three appearances with the Cards.
Willams was signed to a two-year extension back in November, and Arnold was impressive as a waiver-wire pickup from the New Orleans Saints. Clay has an expiring contract, however, and will likely move on. Could Arizona general manager Steve Keim look to free agency for a replacement?
Austin Hooper appears to be the cream of the crop of the free agent tight ends. In the 13 games (10 starts) he played in for the Atlanta Falcons this fall, the 25-year old tallied 75 catches, 787 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Hooper, another from a long list of Stanford tight ends to make it to the NFL, was a second-round draft pick of Atlanta back in 2016.
The oft-injured but talented Hunter Henry will also be looking for a new deal this spring. In four campaigns with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, the former second-round selection has missed a total of 23 matchups. Nevertheless, Henry is a viable weapon when healthy, and would look fantastic in a Cardinals uniform.
Eric Ebron spent his first four seasons with the Detroit Lions, and the past two with the Indianapolis Colts. In 2018, the former 10th-overall choice of the 2014 draft, found the end zone 13 times and was voted to the Pro Bowl. Ebron has had an up and down professional career, but would be an intriguing addition to the Cards “Air Raid” scoring attack.
Tyler Eifert of the Cincinnati Bengals appeared in all 16 contests in 2019 after missing a ton of time in previous seasons. The 29-year old totaled 43 receptions for 436 yards and three scores for the 2-14 Bengals, his best numbers since 2015. Eifert may be ready for a change of scenery, and it’s possible that Arizona could have some interest in the red-zone threat’s services.