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:
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.
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.
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
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.