Team who may be looking for another pass catcher should pay attention to the tight ends that are available in the 2023 free agency class. Tight ends are such an interesting position in the NFL today. Many of them are almost exclusively used as blockers while others are almost exclusively used as pass catchers.
There are very few that truly excel at both, and I think offenses are adapting to the point where the true receiving threats at tight end are getting much more spotlight and attention.
The free agency class for this position is not great, but there are most definitely some talented players at the position who should get paid.
Ranking the free agent tight ends in the 2023 class
5. Hayden Hurst
Hayden Hurst has played in the NFL for five seasons with three teams. Most recently, he was with the Cincinnati Bengals this year. His most productive season came in 2020 with 571 yards and six touchdowns. Much like the next player on this list, he can serve as some quality depth but does not possess qualities that will scare defenses.
He has caught 50 passes in two of his five seasons.
4. Austin Hooper
Austin Hooper is a pretty average tight end who has had stops at a few teams and will once again hit the open market. His best season came with the Atlanta Falcons back in 2019 where he had 788 yards and six touchdowns.
He’s never been able to hit the 500 receiving yard mark since. Teams aren’t going to be lining up to sign Hooper and he likely won’t get more than a one year deal, but he can serve as solid depth for a team needing a veteran presence.
3. Dalton Schultz
Dalton Schultz really did not make any noise until the 2020 season. His most productive year came in 2021 with 808 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed that up with a 577 yard and five touchdown campaign in 2022.
Schultz is a middle of the road TE1 but was also getting the benefit of playing for one of the more potent offenses in the NFL over the last few seasons. He should ink a multi-year deal somewhere but I don’t think I’d break the bank for him.
2. Mike Gesicki
Mike Gesicki’s usage in 2022 was way down due to playing in a Shanahan style offense where the tight ends are called to block more. Well, Gesicki is not much of a blocker, but you may not find a better athlete at the position than him.
Gesicki has caught at least 50 passes in three of his five seasons and had back to back years with at least 700 yards in 2020 and 2021. He’s an insane athlete and should find a home with a multi-year deal somewhere.
A team like the Chicago Bears who need pass catchers all over the field could snag Gesicki to further bolster Justin Fields’ development.
1. Evan Engram
The best tight end in the free agent class and one of the better tight ends in the NFL is Evan Engram, who had another solidly productive year in the NFL, this time with the Jaguars.
In 2022, Engram had 766 yards and four touchdowns. He’s had no less than 408 yards in every season of his career and has caught at least 44 passes in each year. He’s struggled with drops for some time but has proven to be quite productive when he steps on the field.
He’s got insane speed for tight ends, in fact, speed that is more commonly seen in wide receivers. Engram is listed at 6’3″, 240lbs, and he kind of has a WR/TE hybrid look about him, which I think helps with the production that we’ve seen.
I’d think that he could land a multi-year contract with the right team. Perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals come knocking, as they have cap space and a need at the position.