Free-agent preview: Tight end

Free-agent preview: Tight end
March 4, 2014, 11:00 am
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This week, we’ll have an overview of the free agent class at some positions of need for the Patriots. Today: tight end.
 
HEAD OF THE CLASS
Brandon Pettigrew, 29, Lions, 41 receptions, 416 yards, 2 TDs
At 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, he’s a little too similar to Rob Gronkowski to make a lot of sense in New England, especially in light of the salary he’ll seek. Not a very consistent player either.  
 
Scott Chandler, 29, Bills, 53/655/2
He’s 6-7 and -- like Pettigrew -- the same ilk as Gronk. Very strong presence at the position because of his size.

Jermichael Finley, 27, Packers, 25/300/3
Coming off a neck injury and an even bigger injury risk than Gronkowski. If both players were not health risks, this tandem would rival Hernandez-Gronk. They are so it will likely never happen.
 
Garrett Graham, 29, Texans, 49/545/5
Intriguing target in that he is closer to the mold of a “move” tight end that could complement Gronkowski. With Owen Daniels ahead of Graham in Houston, Graham could be on the market and worth a low-cost flier.
 
Brandon Myers, 29, Giants, 47/522/4
At 6-3, 256, Myers is coming off a modest year for the disappointing Giants one season after catching 79 balls for the Raiders. He is very average, though, and isn’t good enough to be a player who’d be more than an afterthought.
 
THE SENSIBLE PLAY
Tight ends around the league should thank the Patriots for upping their worth with deals cut to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Already re-signed has been Dennis Pitta. Jimmy Graham’s been franchised by the Saints. The cupboard isn’t bare but it’s not too enticing either. Graham is the only play here that jumps out and makes a modicum of sense. Just re-sign Michael Hoomanawanui and wait for the draft.
 
TAKING A FLYER
Dustin Keller and Jermichael Finley. To me, Finley is probably not worth pursuing. But Keller? He’s 29, 6-2, 255 and -- after shredding his knee in the preseason for Miami last season -- is damaged goods. He’s also awfully good when healthy and the Patriots should make a beeline to his agent and let them know that, when the time comes, the Patriots want to help him get his career back in order.
 
THE OTHER GUYS
Kellen Winslow, Jets
Jeff Cumberland, Jets