Easily the biggest position of need, tight end is a must for the Saints this off-season. Ben Watson sadly has decided to hang up his cleats leaving an already short list of players on the roster. Josh Hill has been a solid player for the team which garnered him a contract extension. The Saints have not had a lot of production from this position since the Jimmy Graham trade. The closest to that was when Watson had a career year before signing with Baltimore three years ago. Now is the time for the Saints to find a future tight end to get back into their offensive ways from the Graham era.
Josh Hill | Michael Hoomanawanui (FA) | Garrett Griffin | Dan Arnold
Hill has been an outstanding run blocker and a solid backup for years now. He may finally get his chance to be a full time starter. Hoomanawanui is a free agent and most likely won’t be re-signed given his latest string of injuries. Griffin and Arnold are still in the developmental stage, especially Arnold considering he is a converted wide receiver. There is a lot of room for improvement to be had with this group.
Free Agent Targets
Maxx Williams | Ravens
Very under utilized in Baltimore, Williams is likely to find a new home given the Ravens drafted two tight ends last year. Joining the Saints would give the team a pass catching tight end who can be a red zone target and give his career a fresh start.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins | Jaguars
The Saints had their eye on ASJ last year before he signed with Jacksonville. His stats are subpar and has had off the field issues which are always a concern. Injuries have also plagued him as well but hopefully a year in New Orleans can turn things around for the better.
Jared Cook | Raiders
Cook is coming off a career year and will be a top target on the market even at 32. However, his asking price is very high given his stat line and might scare teams away. A one year deal with the Saints is the best option to prove he can be a solid target for a least a few more down the road.
Jesse James | Steelers (signed with Lions)
Big target who was overshadowed in Pittsburgh by the trade for Vance McDonald, James could be the missing piece the Saints need to stretch the field in the passing game and red zone. Word is that the Steelers want to keep him around but the way that franchise is headed, a new team would be his best option if he wants more snaps.
The Saints do not have enough assets to make a trade for a tight end, let alone one that would peak their interest
Irv Smith, Jr. | Alabama
This would be a dream come true for the son of former Saint Irv Smith, Sr. Similar in build of O.J. Howard, Smith has great receiving traits and in line blocking but also could use more mass in his upper body.
Noah Fant | Iowa
Big pass catcher with speed, Fant would be the future if he were to somehow fall into the Saints’ lap. He would be just what the doctor ordered to stretch the field.
Dawson Knox | Ole Miss
Not a stat collector but his yards per catch was key for the Rebels last year. He is part of a talented Ole Miss receiving core that includes D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown. Needs to work on blocking to become a well rounded tight end.
Jace Sternberger | Texas A&M
Good route runner with good hands and vision. Run blocking is not all the way there as well as catching with contact.
The market is slim but the prospects are plentiful and the Saints would benefit more waiting for the draft. Tight end is not as coveted as it once was but in this offense it can be a big x-factor. I think it is time for them to draft another future star in the making.
Follow Dom Lewis on Twitter @BigFella122