POSITION ANALYSIS - TE

Before the start of the free agency signing period on Feb. 28, we will examine every position on the Dolphins, grade each player's performance in the 2002 season and evaluate the prospects for the 2003 season. We continue this series with the tight ends.

2002 SEASON RECAP

Randy McMichael — One of the great stories of the 2002 season, McMichael looked like he could earn All-Rookie honors the way he was going early on. But as the Giants' Jeremy Shockey kept getting better and better, McMichael's production started diminishing. Part of the problem was that defenses starting paying a lot of attention to him. But it's hard to find faul for McMichael's performance, other than a couple of really bad penalties. Grade: A-

Jed Weaver — Weaver gave the Dolphins exactly what they've come to expect from him, which is solid pass catching without many big plays. Weaver was a force near the goal line. He was steady, if unspectacular. For a backup tight end, you can't ask much more. Grade: B+

Desmond Clark — Clark was a great acquisition for the Dolphins after he was waived by Denver, and he showed glimpses of his ability from time to time. The big problem was that Weaver kept doing such a good job that Clark just didn't get that much playing time. Grade: B-

Ed Perry — We will look at Perry's role when we discuss the specialists because he simply doesn't contribute as a tight end. Grade: Inc.

OUTLOOK FOR 2003

This Dolphins had tremendous depth at this position in 2002, but that will change next season because both Clark and Weaver are unrestricted free agents. The Dolphins won't re-sign both, and Weaver is the most likely of the two to come back because Clark can command more money on the open market and has a better chance of being offered a chance to compete for a starting job. That being said, the Dolphins will need a backup for McMichael if they can't re-sign either Weaver or Clark. The Dolphins worked out five-year veteran Luther Broughton last week, and while he's not as good as Weaver or Clark he could be a good insurance policy to have. If they are forced to go shopping for another tight end, free agent possibilities would include Marco Battaglia of the Steelers, Cam Cleeland of the Patriots and Ernie Conwell of the Rams. Remember that the Dolphins would be looking for a pass-catching tight end. It's highly unlikely the Dolphins would spend a draft pick on a tight end because they have more pressing needs.


Dolphins Report Top Stories