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Cardinals' 90-man roster analysis: Tight end

The Arizona Cardinals have six tight ends on their 90-man roster, but only one player, starter Jermaine Gresham, has considerable NFL experience.

Tier Key

1: Players who, barring a significant setback or injury, will make the Cardinals' 53-man roster this season

2: Players who must compete for a spot on the Cardinals' 53-man roster this season

3: Players who are likely to be cut by the Cardinals prior to the team finalizing its 53-man roster this season

Tight ends

Tier 1: Jermaine Gresham

Analysis: The Cardinals had no shortage of free agents on the defensive side of the ball this offseason that the franchise could have deemed priorities, but instead, Arizona allowed players like Tony Jefferson, Calais Campbell and D.J. Swearinger to walk. The decision to part ways from Jefferson, Campbell and Swearinger made sense in many ways, but the team's decision to pay free agent tight end Jermaine Gresham a considerable amount of money to remain with the franchise was a puzzling one at best. The eight-year NFL veteran signed a four-year deal to remain with the Cardinals through the 2020 season, earning a $7 million signing bonus on a contract in which he'll earn a grand total of $28 million. The money the Cardinals shelled out for Gresham indicates just how valuable head coach Bruce Arians believes Gresham is to the team's offense, but many experts including the folks at Pro Football Focus think Arizona significantly overvalues Gresham. Since arriving in Arizona prior to the 2015 season, Gresham's production as a receiver has trailed off and his impact in the run game isn't necessarily worth the amount of money the Cardinals signed him for. CardinalsSource has been adamant that Gresham is a better blocker than he's given credit for, but nevertheless, the decision to pay Gresham such a hefty sum makes him a candidate for the chopping block later on in his contract.

Tier 2: Ifeanyi MomahTroy NiklasHakeem Valles

Analysis: The Cardinals will likely keep anywhere between three and four tight ends on their 53-man roster this fall, which should make the competition among these tier three players a spirited one come training camp. Arizona allowed big-bodied blocker Darren Fells to walk in free agency, which means the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind Gresham will be up for grabs. Because the Cardinals use so many 12-personnel sets and prefer their secondary tight end to be a physical blocker, Niklas may have the inside track at winning that job. However, Niklas has battled injuries throughout his career and has yet to live up to his potential. Momah has intriguing athletic ability and the versatility to give the Cardinals more flexibility in both the run and pass games, and if he stays healthy, he should be able to nap a roster spot. Valles earned time with Arizona's active roster last season, but the undrafted free agent out of Monmouth isn't as polished as a blocker and may find himself competing with the duo in tier three for a roster spot.

Tier 3: Ricky Seals-Jones, Steven Wroblewski 

Analysis: Because Arizona doesn't have experienced veteran options behind Gresham, there's a real opportunity for Seals-Jones and Wroblewski to compete for a spot on the Cardinals' 53-man roster that doesn't necessarily exist for players in the tier three grouping at other positions. Seals-Jones is a project who may be best served spending a year on the team's practice squad, but there's no doubt he has the athletic potential to contribute at the professional level. At 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds, Seals-Jones simply outgrew the wide receiver position he played at Texas A&M, but if he can transition to the tight end role well and improve his blocking skills, he could wind up finding a spot on an NFL roster down the line. Wroblewski is more of an unknown, considering he's an undrafted small school product, but those are the types of players who have found success at the tight end position in Arizona's offense of late. Fells, Momah and Valles were all undrafted, and all three played a role for the Cardinals last season. With the sheer number of injuries that have taken place at the tight end position for the Cardinals over the past few seasons, it would be short-sighted to write either of these players off. 


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