The tight ends in the NFL are finally getting the respect they deserve, as we’ve seen several of the top-tier players in the position land big contracts during the offseason. Tight ends have always played a huge role in different variations of NFL offenses, but the position as a whole has evolved over the years as today’s NFL players have really defined the value that has the position. Considered a quarterback’s best friend, tight ends have become a valuable asset over the years as the position as a whole has progressed.
Let’s focus on the careers of Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe and Antonio Gates and give them credit for bringing versatility to the position and why tight ends are considered an essential piece in the game now. These Hall of Fame players accomplished a lot and did everything from blocking in run support and pass protection to catching difficult passes in midfield while constantly adding up consistent numbers while playing a vital role for their respective franchises. . These extraordinary players were the vocal leaders and the heart and soul of their teams, as they left the game as 3 of the best to play the position, giving young prospects entering the league a blueprint for success and someone to. who will model their careers.
NFL general managers are finally opening their wallets and paying these elite players after the shock they had last season. The tight end position has evolved and these players are being well compensated for their contributions.
After his performance last season, and helping the Kansas City Chiefs to a Super Bowl title, Travis Kelce was awarded a 4-year contract extension that will allow him to earn between $ 14 and $ 15 million a year. . The terms of the agreement were for $ 57.25 million with $ 28 million guaranteed. Kelce has had 4 consecutive seasons with over 1000 yards receiving as an integral part of the Chief’s offensive attack.
George Kittle has wowed with his game for the past 2 seasons while recording back-to-back 1000-yard campaigns. His efforts were rewarded with a 5-year contract extension worth $ 75 million, making him the highest paid player at the position. Kittle has been a misfit for both linebackers and defensive backs due to his size and strength and he also plays an important role as a receiver and pass blocker in the 49ers offensive scheme.
Another player who had an outstanding season at tight end was Austin Hooper. As a member of the Atlanta Falcons last season, Hooper posted a career-high 75 receptions, 787 yards with 6 TDs. During the offseason, Hooper signed a lucrative deal with the Cleveland Browns for $ 44 million with $ 23 million guaranteed over a 4-year period. Look for Hooper to join new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offense as a run after the threat of catching and the bona fide target in the red zone.
Still playing under his rookie contract, the Baltimore Ravens traded Hayden Hurst to the Falcons as they will try to make up for Hooper’s loss by going to Cleveland in free agency. Hurst has many advantages and could be the next tight end in line for a big payday. Hurst possesses the ability to stretch the field and create separation and accumulate yards after the catch. Look for him to build a strong relationship with quarterback Matt Ryan en route to an outstanding season.
Arguably the best player to ever play the position, Rob Gronkowski will join forces once again with Tom Brady as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in hopes of continuing to be the lethal combination defensive coordinators once feared and had trouble containing. . Gronkowski retired from the NFL after winning Super Bowl LIII, but has decided to reunite with his former quarterback as they will try to continue their success and make another run toward a Super Bowl title. Gronkowski should be renewed after taking a year off, as he has suffered numerous injuries throughout his career. You should see more one-on-one matchups rather than double-teaming as a result of being on the field with 2 Pro Bowl receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
After spending his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Witten will change uniforms and don silver and black in Las Vegas for the Raiders as he begins a new chapter in his illustrious Hall of Fame career. The addition of Witten will give the Raiders 2 dynamic options at tight end, as Darren Waller had a great season last year with a total of 1,145 yards as the Raiders’ top receiving threat. Witten will become an asset to whoever starts behind the Raiders center and will be a leader both on the field and in the locker room as they try to create a winning culture in Las Vegas.
It is quite possible that this upcoming season will be the year of the tight end, as we can all expect more to emerge as important contributors to their teams.