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Bargain free agents that the Ravens could target at tight end

With so many mid-tier veterans slated to hit the open market, who might the Ravens bring in at tight end?

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The 2021 offseason has officially arrived even though the new league year doesn’t formally begin until March 17. Due to the loss of revenue that the pandemic caused, the available cap space for teams leaguewide has been significantly reduced.

The unrestricted free agent market will be saturated with an abundance of mid-tier veteran players and in the final article of this five-part series I’ll be breaking down three bargain free agent candidates at one of the Baltimore Ravens’ top positions of need:

Tight End

The Ravens recently re-signed journeymen blocking tight end Eric Tomlinson but are still in need of another pass catching threat at the position to complement and take some of the attention away from Mark Andrews.

Three players that played similar roles to Hayden Hurst—who was traded away last offseason—on their soon to be former teams and could help offset his loss are Gerald Everett, Trey Burton, and Jacob Hollister.

Everett was underutilized in the passing game during his four years with the Los Angeles Rams and they opted to pay Tyler Higbee just before the 2019 season which pretty much spelled the end of his tenure with the team.

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

However, he showed off his versatility and playmaking ability whenever he was on the field in the backfield, in the slot, on the end of the line, or split out wide. The 26-year-old is a strong blocker and underrated pass catcher who could excel in Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman’s tight end-centric offense.

His receiving stats have steadily increased each season. In 2020, he posted career highs in targets (62), receptions (41), receiving yards (417), receiving first downs (24), and catch percentage (66.1).

Burton is a seven-year veteran who the Ravens pursued when he first hit free agency following his last year with the Philadelphia Eagles after they won the Superbowl in 2017 but he opted to sign with the Chicago Bears instead.

Injuries have held him back from realizing the potential that made him a highly sought-after commodity during free agency in 2018. After a one-year stint with the Indianapolis Colts in 2020, he is set to hit the market again except this time at what will be a much lower annual salary.

NFL: NOV 08 Ravens at Colts Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

He didn’t put up anywhere close to career-high numbers last season but he played well and was effective in a versatile complementary role especially in the red zone. Burton only had 30 touches in 13 games but managed to score five touchdowns from scrimmage.

The 29-year-old hauled in 28 of his 47 targets for 250 yards and three scores, and carried the ball twice for three yards and two more. Given his recent injury history, he would be better suited for a limited role until he can prove that his body can hold up long enough for him to be featured in a larger one.

Hollister has been a reliable and sometimes surprisingly potent complementary weapon for Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks since he was acquired in a trade with the New England Patriots in 2019.

Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

He has never caught more than 41 passes, been targeted more than 59 times, or recorded more than 349 yards receiving in a single season yet he has managed to find the end zone six times and account for 30 receiving first downs in the last two years combined.

The 27-year-old knows where the soft spots are in zone coverage and consistently finds ways to get open, giving his quarterback a sure-handed target to move the chains and extend drives. He isn’t the most spectacular athlete but makes contested catches and is a solid blocker in the run game.