Recently we made the case that the tight end position could be the weakest on the Cowboys 2018 roster. With four unproven players on the depth chart, the Cowboys have serious question marks at the position. Despite drafting Stanford’s Dalton Schultz on Day 3 in the draft, Geoff Swaim looks to be the guy who gets the starting minutes for the offense. There is also Blake Jarwin, a player the coaching staff is high on. Behind Jarwin there is Rico Gathers, who could potentially be a difference-maker if his health concerns subside and if he can take advantage of his potential.
A team with Super Bowl hopes and dreams needs to get more production out of this position. Luckily, there are teams out there with expendable pieces at the position. Here are three tight ends who the Cowboys could trade for to improve their tight end room.
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
With the addition of Eric Ebron in free agency, the Colts find themselves in a position to deal Doyle, who really enjoyed a career season as Jacoby Brissett’s safety valve. With Andrew Luck seemingly coming back for the upcoming season, there is a chance that Luck and Doyle may not see as eye-to-eye as Brissett and Doyle did.
Doyle is a player that can be productive for Dak Prescott and the offense. In the last two years, he’s had 584 yards receiving (‘16) and 690 yards (‘17). He’s also put up nine touchdowns combined from those two years. He was a two-way contributor, both in the running game as a reliable blocker and in the passing game as a versatile pass-catcher.
The NFL is evolving to embrace athleticism out of the tight end position. Doyle has sneaky athleticism for him to win up and across the field. He was a valuable redzone commodity for Brissett in 2017 and he did so in an offense without that many play-makers.
Bleacher Report named Doyle as the Colts most tradeable asset. But they could keep him, meaning they could try to drive up the price.
The Colts may drive a hard bargain if they plan on using both tight ends often in 12 personnel groupings, but it also wouldn’t be surprising if a tight end-needy team in win-now mode—the Chargers, 49ers, Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys all come to mind—makes general manager Chris Ballard an offer he can’t refuse.
Potential deal: The Colts trade Doyle to the Chargers for a third-round pick
That third-round projection is too high a price to pay, but if the Cowboys could get him for something later in the draft, that would make for an interesting choice.
Garrett Celek, San Francisco 49ers
With the Jimmy Garoppolo era ready to begin in San Francisco for a full season, everything is looking up for the Niners, a few years removed from being one of the powerhouses in the NFC. With Kyle Shanahan at the helm, the Niners are a darkhorse pick by many to make some noise in the crowded NFC.
George Kittle has emerged as the 49ers top tight end although Celek still gets a lot of work. Celek had 336 yards in ‘16 and 350 yards in ‘17, not overwhelming numbers but he did put up a combined seven touchdowns in those two years.
Celek is an athletic tight end that would provide a subtle upgrade over the other tight ends on the Cowboys’ roster. As our sister site Niners Nation writes, Celek could be a trade option.
At this point, what’s next at the position. George Kittle is a lock, but I can’t imagine anybody else is fully secure in their role. Garrett Celek is strong bubble for now, but given how quickly the 49ers have been willing to unload veterans, I don’t see him as a lock at this point.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A few years ago, Cameron Brate had a career season where he saw upticks in every major statistical category. Nonetheless, Tampa Bay went out and added Alabama’s uber-talented O.J. Howard. And while Howard has yet to do much in his NFL career, no one is going to argue with his potential and what he could bring to the Bucs’ offense. Knowing all of that, Brate is extremely expendable. The bugaboo is that he is currently on a six-year deal worth just over $40 million. That alone could sway the Cowboys from making a deal for him, but he is a proven player and a dangerous guy in the redzone given his tracking ability and his strength.
If Dallas wants to add Brate, it could require a higher draft pick. But given his talent and his age, Brate is just about to enter the prime of his career. By adding Brate, the Cowboys will have a dangerous guy in the redzone. Our own Danny Phantom wrote about this possible trade earlier this offseason.
Tampa Bay bought themselves some insurance by signing Brate to a six-year, $41 million deal this offseason. But if Howard kills it in camp, the team might jump at an opportunity to trade for something more useful and get out of that contract. The Cowboys might not be interested in paying out $6.8 million a year as this would just be an extension of what they were paying out for Witten, but Brate is only 26-years-old. This would buy them some time to work out their tight-end situation and they could get out of it anytime.