Tight end is one of the toughest positions to play in football. Not only do you have to block like an offensive tackle but you have to run and catch like a wide receiver. A great tight end can be the difference between a winning team and a losing team as great tight ends are typically too fast for linebackers to cover and too big for safeties and cornerbacks to cover one-on-one.
Here is a list of the top-five free agent tight ends for the upcoming offseason.
Keller is coming off of an injury-plagued season. He only played in seven games in 2012, but in those seven games he was one of Mark Sanchez's favorite targets. Due to the uncertainty of the quarterback situation in New York, Keller will likely be a top priority for the Jets to re-sign, but if he is able to test the market, he could be a good pass-catching tight end option for any team needing one.
Miller is coming off the best season of his career for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He racked up 816 yards and eight touchdowns. He has been with the Steelers for all of his eight years in the league and the Steelers are unlikely going to let him go. Miller, however, would supply a team with an excellent run blocker, a good team leader and a nice down-field threat at the tight end position.
Gonzalez is the only sure-thing future Hall of Fame tight end on this list. He has made a career of making linebackers and secondaries look stupid. He racked up 930 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012 and the only reason he's not No. 1 on this list is because 2012 was his 16th year in the league. Retirement likely looms for Gonzalez, especially if the Falcons win the Super Bowl.
Davis is an extremely physically gifted tight end who has good speed for a player his size and is still young enough to have several good years left in the league, especially with a team that uses their tight ends quite a bit. Davis only played in seven games in 2012, but he successfully took over the job for long-time Redskins tight end Chris Cooley a year before. With Robert Griffin III calling the shots now in Washington, the Redskins will likely want to keep Davis around.
Cook may be the best pure athlete on this list. He is capable of making huge plays from the tight end position and can be a matchup nightmare for any team that knows how to use him. Cook is a good blocker and can outrun linebackers and run over safeties. If he stays in Tennessee, he will likely become one of Jake Locker's favorite targets for the next several seasons. On Friday, reports out of Tennessee suggested that the Titans were leaning toward applying the franchise tag to Cook.
-Delanie Walker: Walker is a talented pass-catching tight end who could be a deep threat from the tight end position. The 49ers are focused on Vernon Davis, which means Walker could easily become available.
-Ben Watson: Watson has been a solid option for the Browns over the past three years and before that for the Patriots. He has flown somewhat under the radar in his career, but he is a very talented pass-catching tight end.
-Dallas Clark: Clark is obviously a talented tight end, we all know that from his days with the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning. He signed a one-year deal with the Buccaneers for the 2012 season, but it's currently unclear as to whether or no the Bucs will re-sign him. I'm willing to bet that Clark is a good tight end and not just a product of Manning's prowess.
-Brandon Myers: Myers had a breakout year in 2012 with Carson Palmer under center for the Raiders. He would have been in the top five, but his only good season was in 2012. However, it came at the right time for Myers as he was set become a free agent. Teams may worry that 2012 was a fluke, but he'll probably get another shot with either the Raiders or another team in 2013.