One in a series of free agent stories by position and which players may warrant pursuing. Today – a look at tight ends:
Cam Cleeland, New England (unrestricted): There’s never been a question regarding Cleeland’s pass-catching skills. Durability, however, is the biggest issue.
Ernie Conwell, St. Louis (unrestricted): Despite playing in the shadows of stars such as Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, Conwell has turned into a reliable receiver for the Rams. Conwell is a versatile and experienced player.
Rickey Dudley, Tampa Bay (unrestricted): The 6-6, 255-pound Dudley has the physical skills to be a weapon but has never parlayed that talented into consistency. Raider fans should know that better than anyone.
Reggie Kelly, Atlanta (unrestricted): Kelly and fellow Atlanta tight end Alge Crumpler complement each other quite well but the Falcons are going to be hard pressed to be able to afford keeping both.
Jim Kleinsasser, Minnesota (unrestricted): The Vikings may possibly place the “transition” tag on Kleinsasser. That means he is free to pursue offers from other clubs but Minnesota can match any offer. Kleinsasser has always been viewed as a first-rate blocker but also established career-highs in receiving last season.
Pete Mitchell, Jacksonville (unrestricted): Not the kind of tight end that will preoccupy a defensive coordinator. Mitchell, however, would be a solid pickup as a receiving tight end.
Jeff Thomason, Philadelphia (unrestricted): Quality veteran backup who would be a good pickup for a team needing a threat inside the red zone.
Jerame Tuman, Pittsburgh (unrestricted): Not a guy that excels in any one particular aspect but is an athletic pass catcher. He’d be a good pickup for a team looking for depth.
Wesley Walls, Carolina (possible salary cap casualty): Even though his production declined last season, Walls is the best of this lot. When healthy, he’s a reliable security blanket.
Vince D’Adamo can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com