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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Free Agent Tight Ends in 2022

Top 5 free agent tight ends. Even though none of the league's elite tight ends are set to hit the market, there is a sizable pool of veterans who could become valuable options. Which players should you keep an eye on heading into the 2022 offseason?
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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Free Agent Tight Ends in 2022

With the NFL season coming to a close in just a few weeks, it's already time to start thinking about 2022 free agency and who your team could add to improve in the offseason. One position group with a good mix of promising and established talent hitting the open market happens to be tight end.

So, in order to get a better picture of what we can expect in the free agency market when it comes to the tight end position, Brett Oswalt is here to break down the top five free-agent tight ends of 2022.

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5. C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals

Uzomah rebounded with a great 2021 after an injury-shortened 2020 season in Cincinnati. With both he and quarterback Joe Burrow healthy, he was able to contribute even as the team's potentially fifth-best option behind the trio of receivers and Joe Mixon out of the backfield. His 49 receptions, 493 yards and 5 touchdowns came on just 63 targets. He posted a pair of two-touchdown games and has a total of more than 130 yards through two playoff games.

The Auburn alum is now 29 years old and in search of a new home. Though it would be feasible for the Bengals to bring him back, given his rapport in the offense, his current $5 million contract is but half his value on the market, according to Spotrac. It could be a battleground for his efforts, especially if bigger-market teams like the Chargers or Jets come calling.

4. Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks

Everett and Uzomah are probably interchangeable, but Everett gets the slight nod due to his age. He's just 27 and has never truly been a number-one guy for an extended period of time. Following up his split timeshare with Tyler Higbee while on the Rams, he stumbled through some injuries and on a few occasions played fewer than 80% of snaps for Seattle.

A big positive is Everett's consistency over the last three years. During this time, he's produced 408, 417 and 478 receiving yards with at least 60 targets in each. He's a solid option to pair with a younger (potentially rookie) player on a team without a veteran. Everett could end up anywhere, from the Jaguars to the Bears, who will likely watch Jimmy Graham go elsewhere in free agency.

3. Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It's up in the air whether Gronkowski will return for a 12th NFL season given the fact that he could look to follow Tom Brady in whatever he decides to do. Brady's future is uncertain, so Gronk's follows suit. If he's truly back out and on the market, though, he's going to draw a lot of attention because of his large frame and resume. Just this year, he was able to convert 89 targets into 55 catches, 802 yards and 6 touchdowns. And he did so in only 12 games.

Gronkowski's health is a concern, but the production has always been there when he's close to 100%. The most likely scenario is Gronk returning to Tampa to play alongside Brady, but it wouldn't be shocking to see him play with Aaron Rodgers or someone like Russell Wilson on a contending team.

2. Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals

Just a year ago, it seemed like Ertz was all but washed. He wasn't doing much to produce in Philadelphia opposite Carson Wentz, and because of his lackluster play, he was dealt to Arizona ahead of Week 7. But the 31-year-old completely disproved that notion as he benefited from Kyler Murray's throwing ability and Kliff Kingsbury's play-calling. Ertz tallied 56 catches, 574 yards and 3 touchdowns on his 81 targets (in 11 games) and was relied on heavily down the stretch after an injury to Deandre Hopkins.

Ertz received a solid 67.1 grade from Pro Football Focus, and as a result, draws a market value of three years and roughly $21 million via Spotrac. If he doesn't return to Arizona to run it back, the Chargers, Bengals and Colts are good options. Tennessee might also be a good candidate so long as Ertz's lead motivator is winning over money.

1. Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

Of all the candidates, Schultz is the clear-cut number one. Over the last two seasons, the 25-year-old has proven himself as a top-five-or-six guy at his position, having turned in 63- and 78-catch campaigns for at least 615 yards in each. This year, with Dak Prescott back at full strength, he excelled to the tune of 7.8 yards per target and 8 touchdowns. For all of his production, the on-field play resulted in a 78.1 grade, according to PFF.

After making less than $2.2 million in 2021, Schultz has earned himself a solid contract this offseason. His market value stands at a whopping $51 million over four years. He would even be in line for another nice contract entering his 30s. For now, though, expect him to be a candidate to join the Chargers and Bengals, two teams with young up-and-coming quarterbacks in pass-friendly systems.

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