Reader Time2RiseUp posed a question in Monday's mailbag questions open thread about whether or not the Falcons will or should use their remaining cap money to acquire a free agent tight end who can bear some of the receiving burden and fill, at least partially, the void left by the departure of Tony Gonzalez. Dave ran out of room in his mailbag post to address this question, but it's a good question, so let's consider the possibilities.
There are a few veteran possibilities who are currently free agents.
Kellen Winslow has the potential to be a reliable receiver, but he is a) aging, and b) kind of an idiot. That whole Target parking lot incident was unimpressive to say the least. During the 2013 season Winslow played in 12 games and had 31 receptions on 47 targets, amassing 388 yards, 2 touchdowns and 20 first downs. Winslow's best season came in 2007 with the Browns. He racked up 1,106 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. From 2006 through the 2011 season, Winslow averaged 797.7 receiving yards per season. The chances that Winslow could return to form are slim at this point in his career, and while synthetic marijuana is not a banned substance per the NFL, it is illegal and he is facing prosecution. He's not a great option.
Dustin Keller missed 2013 with a knee injury, but has been visiting with teams and looking for a place to land in 2014. The former Jet was a reliable target during his time in New York. His best season was 2011, in which he put up 815 receiving yards, 39 first downs, and 5 touchdowns on 65 catches. In 2012 Keller had 28 receptions on 36 targets, 317 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, and 18 first downs in 8 games. While the knee injury is reason for pause, Keller isn't a terrible option.
Jermichael Finley was specifically mentioned as an option by Time2RiseUp. The former Packer is coming off of a really scary neck injury, but has been cleared to play in 2014. When Finley is healthy, he's a formidable receiving option. His best season was 2011, and he caught 55 passes for 767 yards, 44 first downs and 8 touchdowns. In just six games in 2013, Finley caught 25 of 34 targets for 300 yards, 13 first downs, and 3 touchdowns. The neck injury is a big red flag, but Finley's talent may be worth the risk.
Jimmy Graham is another name Falcons fans like to throw around, and who wouldn't want Jimmy Graham? He's the best tight end in the league at present. He's so good, in fact, that it's probably legitimate to consider him a wide receiver for franchise tag purposes. However, New Orleans will not--I repeat, will not--let Graham go. Mickey Loomis will work some kind of cap voodoo like he always does and the Saints will figure out how to keep Graham regardless of what happens with Graham's grievance. As much as I'd love to see Graham in Atlanta, I do not see it happening.
Do you think the Falcons should make a move for a veteran tight end? What do you think the team should do at that position?