Miami Dolphins looking at thin tight-end free agent class

Sep 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (84) runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (84) runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Dolphins will be in the market for a tight-end when free agency begins but the list of potentials at the position is rather thin this year.

Many are predicting that the Dolphins may try to address the tight-end position during the first two days of the draft. Something we discussed earlier this month. Miami can’t afford to address the position in round one given their needs elsewhere. The need for a tight-end could be addressed in free agency.

Unfortunately the class of tight-ends this year is thin at best. Expensive at the top and a big drop off afterwards. Miami has two TE’s who are impending free agents. Jordan Cameron who is dealing with career concussion issues and Dion Sims who has yet to take a big step forward. The Dolphins reportedly have interest in re-signing Sims but not at the level of a starter.

Here is a look at some potential free agent options.

Martellus Bennett

Bennett is coming off a Super Bowl season with the New England Patriots. The same NE Patriots who have redefined how tight-ends are being used in this modern NFL. Bennett’s numbers were solid given the fact that Rob Gronkowski missed almost all of the season. Bennett set a career high touchdown mark with seven but his targets (73) and receptions (55) were less than what was expected in New England.

Bennett will be looking for his 5th team in his nine-year career and is considered the number one tight-end in this free agent class. has put a market value of $6 million per season for the 30-year-old tight-end which may be a little more than Miami is willing to spend.

Jared Cook

Cook was a target of the Dolphins in 2012 when Joe Philbin took over as head coach. Cook opted to sign with his Titans head coach Jeff Fisher when he took the Rams job in St. Louis. Cook proved to be a free agent bust for the Rams and was released a short three years later. He joined the Packers for the 2016 season but only started 5 games and caught 30 passes.

Cook will come cheap and at the age of 31 still has some minimal life left in his career. Cook is not however and answer to the Dolphins needs but may be a fallback option if nothing else works out.

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Jack Doyle

The market value has been set on Doyle at around $6.2 million and Doyle is likely going to get it given the small TE market this off-season. Doyle is only 26 years old and has played very well for the Colts.

In 2016 Doyle was targeted 75 times and registered 56 receptions and five touchdowns while starting 14 games. Doyle is still reaching his potential but like Bennett may cost more than the Dolphins are willing to spend. Especially given the fact that he has yet to breakout as a game changing tight-end.

Doyle is the best 2nd option at the position depending on where his market value actually does fall and it’s someone who the Dolphins may show some interest in early. Doyle is consistent which the Dolphins could find appealing.

Gavin Escobar 

Escobar is intriguing in that he was drafted in Dallas to replace Martellus Bennett and was supposed to be the heir apparent to Jason Witten. The only problem is that Witten hasn’t retired and is still playing near top-level. Escobar has struggled but some of that could be due to a lack of opportunity.

To showcase the differences between how the Cowboys use their tight-ends, Escobar has seven starts in his four-year career with Witten starting the rest. He has 30 receptions for just over 300 yards since arriving in Dallas in 2013. Witten on the other hand has almost 3,000 yards and 283 receptions in those four years. The Cowboys lack of spreading the ball to anyone other than Witten was one of the reasons that Martellus Bennett wanted out of Dallas.

Escobar is not a top tight-end by any stretch but he was highly regarded coming out of college and has been sitting behind a three down future Hall of Fame tight-end. He may be worth a look.

The Rest

As stated the field of TE’s is not deep this year but there are other options outside of those three. They simply are not at this point viewed as game changing tight-ends.

Jacob Tamme – Atlanta – 31

Larry Donnell – NYG (will be released) – 28

Levine Toilolo – ATL – 25

Mychal Rivera – OAK – 26

Visit for more impending free agent tight-ends.