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Best fits for top five tight ends

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The tight end market looks thin on paper. There are only four surefire starters on the market, and one of them (Charles Clay) doesn't exactly have a position.

In reality, this is a better crop of talent than we usually see. Julius Thomas is the best free agent tight end to hit the market in a long time. (Jared Cook, anyone?) Jordan Cameron has red flags, but he's young and made a Pro Bowl in 2013. Clay is a compelling pick up for a creative offensive coordinator. (Miami used the transition tag on Clay, but any team could sign him to an offer sheet without giving up compensation.)

Let's take a look at the best fits for the top five available, and then break down the rest of the list:

1. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos


It's not a great sign that the Broncos essentially showed no interest in bringing Thomas back. Still, his physical gifts are impossible to miss. It's rare that a player this talented and productive hits the open market during his prime. He'll never be a Gronkowski-like blocker, but there are few "move" tight ends with his red zone skills.

Free agent fit: Jacksonville has a ton of cap space and needs to find more weapons. Their interest in Thomas has been no secret, and it would be a surprise if Thomas doesn't land with the Jaguars.

2. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns


Cameron would have been in our top 10 overall free agents if he hit the market a year ago. Now he's outside the top 30. No one will deny Cameron has a Pro Bowl ceiling if he stays healthy, but a season marred by serious concussion problems cloud his value.

Free agent fit: We haven't heard a lot of buzz about where Cameron could land. Oakland needs weapons and many of the top names are being taken off the market. The Raiders make a lot of sense here.

3. Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins


The Dolphins will pay Clay $7 million on a one-year contract if no other team tries to steal Clay away. If a team like the Bills want to sign Clay to an offer sheet and the Dolphins don't match, Buffalo won't owe anything in compensation.

Positional breakdowns

Free agent fit: Clay isn't a free agent, but we suspect he will get offers elsewhere. The Broncos and Bills have both been mentioned as possibilities. We suspect the Bills will wind up with him.

4. Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals



Gresham is a fine blocker and has made plenty of difficult catches in his career, but he never developed into a true receiving weapon. Still, he's averaged 55 catches in a career that has included 67 starts. He'll find a starting job.

Free agent fit: Oakland has money to burn and is reportedly interested in Gresham.

Best of the rest


5. Rob Housler
6. Lance Kendricks
7. Owen Daniels
8. Jacob Tamme
9. Virgil Green
10. Zach Miller

Housler can pull away from defenders and has an intriguing skill set for a free agent flier. ... Kendricks never lived up to his billing as a second round pick, but also has some tools. ... Daniels could join Gary Kubiak in Denver. The Broncos are also trying to bring back Virgil Green. ... Miller was once a top-10 tight end, but can't stay healthy.

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