The Falcons went into 2014 with Levine Toilolo and Bear Pascoe as their tight ends, a decision that would prove ruinous. They head into 2015 with a vastly different situation.
Yesterday, Aaron Freeman at FalcFans put together an excellent piece that covers Charles Godfrey's potential role as the Falcons' starting free safety and what's being done at the tight end position, and it's the second half of the piece I want to focus in on today. In essence, Freeman's argument is that the Falcons put Levine Toilolo in a bad spot last season by relying on him to be the starter with no real second option, and that the free agent acquisitions of Jacob Tamme and Tony Moeaki are not home runs, but legitimate upgrades. That fits with the free agent strategy the Falcons have thus far pursued, even if Corey Peters and Sean Weatherspoon leaving threw a bit of a wrench in that.
But despite their limitations, together Tamme and Moeaki give Ryan a pair of decent options over the middle. Tamme will likely be penciled in as the starter ahead of Moeaki, but there’s likely to be a competition between the two as well as Toilolo.
Aside from disagreeing a little bit on Tamme's value as a pass catcher vs. a blocker—I'm not Tamme's biggest fan, admittedly—I find his assessment to be spot on. The Falcons have added an injury-prone but capable receiver to the tight end corps, they've added a useful potential starter in Tamme and they still have Toilolo, who is 6'8" and could turn into an effective red zone weapon down the line if he develops. He'll be given a chance to develop without the pressure of a starting job in 2016, as Freeman notes.
I was more bullish on Toilolo than most, as I'll readily admit, and even I was nervous that the team had no safety net for the towering tight end. Toilolo's 2014 was about as nightmarish as it could have, with him having a limited red zone impact, grading out as a merely average blocker and a less than average receiver. The Falcons either had to splurge to give themselves a clear-cut new starter or give Toilolo legitimate competition, and the latter approach is the one they chose.
Toilolo may or may not develop and Moeaki and Tamme may or may not be truly effective, but the Falcons have given themselves three options at a position where they essentially had none a year ago, and they're not so committed to any of them that they couldn't go out and draft or sign a starting-caliber tight end in 2016. Not a bad place to be all, things considered.
Go give Freeman's piece a read and let's talk tight end production for 2015.