With NFL free agency approaching, the Washington Football Team needs to set its sights on the tight end position.
After losing out on Austin Hooper to Cleveland in last year's free agency period, Washington recalibrated and found a cheaper option in Logan Thomas, who signed a low-risk, high-upside prove-it deal valued at $6.14 million over two years.
It proved a savvy investment. Thomas had a career year in 2020, finishing second on the team in receiving — behind Terry McLaurin — with 670 yards on 72 catches. He led the team with six receiving touchdowns and tied running back J.D. McKissic for second with 110 targets.
Outside of Thomas, Washington got next to nothing from its tight ends — Temarrick Hemingway, Jeremy Sprinkle, and Marcus Baugh combined for three receptions for 18 yards on the season. Washington needs another contributor and a top-flight tight end could really take this offense to the next level.
Here are the top options available in free agency at the tight end position (if they don't end up franchise tagged).
**All figures according to Spotrac.com**
2021 Free Agent Tight Ends:
Hunter Henry, 26, Los Angeles Chargers
2020 Salary: $10.6 million AAV
Calculated Market Value For Next Contract (CMV): 4 years, $43.77 million | AAV: $10.9 million
2020 Stats: 14 GP, 60 Catches, 613 Yards, 4 TDs
Hunter Henry is the biggest name available in free agency at the tight end position. The former Arkansas star has been a more-than-reliable weapon during his time with the Chargers, and outside of the ACL tear which cost him the entire 2018 season, he has been one of the top players at his position and his play shows it. If the Chargers decide to move on from Henry, he will have plenty of other suitors ready to bring him on board. With the Chargers using the franchise tag on Henry last offseason, it's likely he'll actually hit the open market this time around.
Jonnu Smith, 25, Tennessee Titans
2020 Salary: $776K AAV
CMV: 5 years, $40.3 million | AAV: $8 million
2020 Stats: 15 GP, 41 Catches, 448 Yards, 8 TDs
Jonnu Smith is going to cash in during free agency after his breakout 2020 season. With Delanie Walker long gone from Nashville, Smith was elevated to TE1 and had his best season thus far. The 6-foot-3, 248-pound former third-round pick terrorized opposing defenses and is just getting started.
Gerald Everett, 26, Los Angeles Rams
2020 Salary: $1.51 million AAV
CMV: 3 years, $22.05 million | AAV: $7.3 million
2020 Stats: 16 GP, 41 Catches, 417 Yards, 1 TD
Gerald Everett has yet to put up eye-popping numbers in his four-year career, which makes him a more affordable option in free agency. A high-upside signing, he'd surely be an upgrade at the position for the majority of NFL teams. Everett has played in all but three games since 2017, and his receiving numbers have steadily increased each year.
Robert Tonyan Jr., 26 Green Bay Packers (RFA)
2020 Salary: $660K AAV
2020 Stats: 16 GP, 52 Catches, 586 Yards, 11 TDs
It is widely expected Robert Tonyan will remain with the Green Bay Packers, but in the off-chance he hits the open market, teams will look to pounce on one of the breakout stars of 2020. Tonyan was snubbed from the Pro Bowl, but his numbers will stand the test of time. The undrafted red-zone threat became one of Aaron Rodgers' most trusted weapons, trailing only Davante Adams in receiving touchdowns, while hauling in 52 of his 59 total targets.
Jared Cook, 33, New Orleans Saints
2020 Salary: $7.5 million AAV
2020 Stats: 15 GP, 37 Catches, 504 Yards, 7 TDs
Jared Cook is still putting up solid numbers towards the tail end of his career and can provide instant help to any team needing contributors at the tight end position. Cook trailed only Travis Kelce, Robert Tonyan, Darren Waller, Jimmy Graham, and Jonnu Smith with his seven touchdowns on the year. Cook has been a beacon of durability throughout his 12-year NFL career, missing only 14 games since he arrived in the league in 2009.