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Major question marks at tight end for the Seahawks as free agency looms

Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

I think it’s fair to say that the Seattle Seahawks do not have a particularly illustrious history of tight ends. In fact they’re the only franchise whose all-time leader in receptions by a tight end is below 200.

In the Russell Wilson era, Seattle has essentially not had a starting tight end for longer than three seasons. Zach Miller was TE1 from 2012 through the early part of 2014 before what was effectively a career-ending injury. Jimmy Graham was the guy from 2015-2017 and he cost quite a bit to acquire. Even if you viewed the Graham trade as a net negative, he has all of Seattle’s TE records in catches, yards, and touchdowns.

Uncle Will Dissly figured to be Seattle’s gem at tight end with his red-hot start to the 2018 season, but he didn’t even make it out of September before he suffered he went to IR. His 2019 had a similarly hot start but a similarly catastrophic ending in October. To his credit, he’s only missed two games over the past two seasons, and one of them was for COVID-19. However, Dissly’s average targets per game has been halved and he’s largely been a blocker and less a receiver. Dissly is headed for free agency after completing his rookie deal.

Also heading for free agency is Gerald Everett, who joined Seattle on a one-year, $6 million contract last season and had more targets, catches, and yards than anyone else on the team not named DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett. His 48 catches is genuinely tied for 5th most all-time in a single-season for a Seahawks TE. Everett is by far the most athletic tight end on the roster, and Pro Football Reference has him with the most broken tackles on the team. The only abjectly atrocious day he had this season was the trio of turnovers he either committed or directly caused against the San Francisco 49ers.

Everett ranked 19th in DYAR and 24th in DVOA among 55 qualifying tight ends, whereas Dissly is 27th and 25th respectively in the same categories.

Then you have Colby Parkinson, who’s still on his rookie deal but has scarcely played since he was drafted in 2020. The former Stanford star missed a big chunk of his rookie year with a broken foot, and the only passes he caught were thrown by Geno Smith. He saw more playing time in 2021 but it was nevertheless sparse — just a total of 5 catches on 8 targets for 33 yards on 187 snaps. His 6’7” frame and soft hands made him a candidate to be Russell Wilson’s middle of the field target, but we’re still waiting on that to materialize.

Lastly, Tyler Mabry is also on contract but with all due respect to Tyler, he’s probably not going to be much of a factor in the offense long-term... especially since most of his snaps have been on special teams.

Notable free agent tight ends include C.J. Uzomah of the Cincinnati Bengals, Mo Alie-Cox of the Indianapolis Colts, O.J. Howard of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Gesicki of the Miami Dolphins, and David Njoku of the Cleveland Browns. If Seattle wanted to sign a starting caliber TE to replace Everett then I’m most partial towards Gesicki, but he’s most likely to net a hefty sum given his productivity on an otherwise mediocre Dolphins offense. Howard may be worth a flier but he’s got an injury history and I believe 90% of his highlights consist of him not being defended at all. Alie-Cox used to play basketball, which most don’t know about Jimmy Graham.

Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer, Colorado State’s Trey McBride, Washington’s Cade Otton, and Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely are among the names surfacing as the best tight ends in the draft. There’s barely any point in me speculating on draft projection when the combine hasn’t happened. Would Seattle use a Day 2 or Day 3 pick on a tight end? I wouldn’t rule it out.

Ultimately I believe the Seahawks will re-sign at least one of Dissly or Everett, and very realistically both depending on how they feel about Parkinson. Dissly may not be considered the primary pass-catching TE at this stage but he still provides value as an in-line blocker and out in space. Everett is not necessarily a consistent performer but he’s powerful and versatile, and obviously he has ties to offensive coordinator Shane Waldron from their Rams days. Should they only keep one I actually believe they’ll side Dissly over Everett for cost reasons, but then they’re almost compelled to add someone in free agency or the draft. If they re-sign neither, then the depth is just Parkinson and Mabry and that’s not ideal at all.

This is just one of several positions where the Seahawks have a lot to address this offseason.

I just have one more question...

...Are we ever going to have a franchise tight end on the roster? (Besides Luke Willson, of course)

Poll

Who will the Seahawks re-sign?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Everett and Dissly
    (246 votes)
  • 20%
    Everett
    (118 votes)
  • 33%
    Dissly
    (198 votes)
  • 4%
    Neither
    (26 votes)
588 votes total Vote Now