Tight End Expected to Get High Interest

One of the top tight ends scheduled for free agency on Friday is expected to be a target of at least four teams, including the Vikings.

After last year's NFL draft, scout.com speculated the handwriting was on the wall for New England Patriots veteran tight end Daniel Graham after the team selected TE David Thomas in round three. With Graham's exit cleary marked, he should receive significant interest on Friday when free agency starts.

As scout.com and first reported last Saturday, three teams (Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, and Seattle Seahawks) would show significant interest in Graham. You can add a fourth team, with scout.com learning that the New Orleans Saints also will show interest in the former University of Colorado star.

New Orleans clearly has a need at tight end since their top two players at that position are journeymen Ernie Conwell and Mark Campbell.

The Vikings are rumored to be ready to release at one of their two starting tight ends – either blocking tight end Jim Kleinsasser or pass-catching tight end Jermaine Wiggins – before free agency starts or shortly thereafter. The Vikings have been looking for a tight end that better fits Brad Childress's West Coast offense since he became their head coach last January.

Kleinsasser had only seven receptions last year and Wiggins' production dropped from 71 and 69 catches the previous two seasons to 46 in 2006.

Graham only had 21 receptions last year and has never had more than 38 in a season, but his production has been overshadowed by injuries and the emergence of Ben Watson. Watson caught a career-best 49 passes in 2006 while Graham missed four games due to injury. In 2005, Graham missed five games, and he has never played more than 14 games in a season in his five-year career with the Patriots.

The Patriots declined to place the franchise tag on Graham, which would have cost $4.31 million, and the more well-rounded tight end appears set to hit the free agent market on Friday with several teams ready to make a move if that happens.

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