The Saints on Monday inked Jimmy Graham to a record deal for a tight end, $40 million with $21 million guaranteed over four seasons, reminding us just how much that position can mean to an offense.
If it has the right guy.
The Texans appear to have one in head coach Bill O’Brien, who with Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and the New England Patriots helped make the position what it is today. But do they have guys who, you know, catch footballs and stuff?
With Garrett Graham, Ryan Griffin and third-round rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston hopes to have a group that can support quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a young wide receiver corps that may or may not have Andre Johnson. This, after making the oft-injured Owen Daniels a cap casualty this offseason.
But they’ll have some work to do. Daniels, Graham and Griffin last season, per Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, combined for 92 catches, 1,298 yards and nine touchdowns — a good season for one wide receiver, and far from the totals Gronkowski and Hernandez put up for the 2011 Patriots: 167/2,237/24.
No matter O’Brien’s prowess at developing and utilizing tight ends, being the next Gronk/Hernandez tandem is a lot to ask. If the 2014 Texans can get production somewhere between the range of last year’s tight ends and those of the Patriots of four years ago, fans should be more than satisfied.
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