So this is a continuation of my last post talking about all the best possible FA Quarterbacks that the Panthers could sign to better the team. This time I'll be talking about another need on this team and that's at TE, and depending whether we fill this need by drafting someone it would still be nice to look at the TEs in free agency to have an experienced player at that position. It can be argued that we have three capable TEs on roster and that with three of them, one of them has to be that 'Do it All!' TE that we've been looking for. King in my opinion isn't that old and although he is a very reliable blocker, his pass catching skills leave much to be desired. He's adequate, but no one's going to crack their skulls trying to game plan against him. Rosario has enough speed to get separation on most LBs and some CBs and has above average pass catching skills, his only weakness is his blocking. Rosario in my opinion would best serve us in the slot instead of at TE. Our last TE on roster and the only one still under contract is Barnidge and probably has the most upside out of the three, if utilized properly. He shown the ability to beat LBs and CBs alike, can stretch the stretch the field and is a big target. He has the makings of a Quarterback's best friend on the field and depending how he is used by Rivera and Chud we'll see if we indeed have our 'Do it all' TE after all. But enough of my rambling, after the jump we'll look at the FA tight ends that I believe would be the best fit in Carolina and why.
Miller is the first TE that the Panthers could target and will probably be the most sought after TE in FA. Miller has the big, but agile body standing at 6'5 and weighing 255 lbs which is the perfect body type for most TEs. He caught 60 passes for 685 yds and 5 TDs proving as a reliable weapon in the Oakland offense. He has very sure hands and catches the majority of anything that comes his way. He's also an adequate blocker and knows how to react in both running and passing situations. He has good speed for his size and can stretch the field and consistently provides not only a relief valve in tough spots but a dangerous down field weapon. Nothing has been said on whether the Raiders plan to resign Miller or will let him test free agency first, but it would be a huge sign if we could get him to play for us.
Our next TE was drafted by the Jaguars in the 2006 draft and had his breakout season in 2010. Much of his first few season were spent learning the playbook and on blocking duty especially in 2008 when injuries decimated the Jags offensive line. In 2010 he finally got his chance to shine and believe me, he brought his A game. He's a very big target at 6'6 and weighing in at 275 and caught 58 receptions for 700 yds and 10 TDs. He's incredibly agile for his size and he has enough speed to easily beat most LBs and even some of the better CBs in the game today. I doubt the Jags would let someone as talented and as valuable as Lewis go, but it never hurts to explore all options.
The next TE we could possibly go out and sign is probably the one I'd like most for the Panthers to sign. Owen Daniels was on pace for a spectacular season in 2009 before being derailed by a knee injury. He stands at 6'3 and weighs 250 lbs which again is a good size for a TE. He is definitely provides the best deep threat of all the TEs mentioned and has incredible hands and toughness to catch passes in high traffic. His best year stats-wise was in 2008 when he had 70 receptions for 862 yds and 2 TDs. Not so eye popping in the TD department, but he helped Houston move the chains consistently. The season after his injury he showed us signs of his elite pass catching ability and I believe he'll be in even better shape this season.
The last TE is an in-house FA that I firmly believe deserves to come back and play for the Panthers. Rosario has been a part of our TEs-by-committee style that Fox implemented since 2007 and I think he(along with Barnidge) has suffered for it. Rosario has a typical build for a TE at 6'4 and weighing 250 lbs, has average speed to create mismatches for most LBs and is agile enough to make a swift double move on most corners. He's shown us flashes of what he's capable of with the prime example being the opening day game at San Diego where he was a HUGE part in helping us win that game. Although his blocking leaves much to be desired, I believe under Rivera and Chud he'll finally have the chance to flourish in our system and not only improve his pass catching abilities, but his blocking as well.