Let’s look at what happened on just Championship Sunday with the four remaining teams.
Each team’s tight end caught at least five passes for 55 yards. Three of the four tight ends caught a touchdown in their game. The only team’s tight end that didn’t score was the New England Patriots, and they have two receivers in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez who combined for 106 catches, 1,273 yards receiving, and 16 touchdowns this season. By the way, Gronkowski didn’t play in the AFC Championship.
Even Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers got in on the action today with over 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. Davis has been the forgotten one in the bay area since Colin Kaepernick took over as the starting quarterback, but found himself another great playoff performance.
The fact is that the Bears need a tight end that can make plays. Jay Cutler needs that safety valve over the middle where he can trust his guy to go up and get it when they need to make a third down conversion. Lovie Smith tried to sell us on Kellen Davis as a top tight end in the league and there were backup tight ends that were more productive than him this season.
Phil Emery will have to address the position, along with many others, this offseason. If Emery wants to sign a free agent, there are plenty of names out there that are better than what is currently on the roster. Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook, and Dustin Keller are at the top of my short list, along with names like Anthony Fasano and Travis Beckum.
The Baltimore Ravens have two restricted free agents in Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta so it’ll be interesting to see if they sign both guys or not. If one or both names become available, I go after one of them.
The other route can be to go through the draft. Besides Notre Dame‘s Tyler Eifert and Stanford‘s Zach Ertz, the tight end crop is slim pickings for a top of the draft priority. With that being said, the Bears should still select a tight end, but probably shouldn’t pick one up until the third round at the earliest.
Obviously we won’t know until the playbook is put in place by Marc Trestman to see whether or not the tight end is utilized, but it needs to be. Just look at this season’s playoffs to determine how important the tight end is in today’s game.