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Tight Spot: Scouting Tight End Battles Around the League for Potential Pick-ups

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Here is a look at tight ends potentially available over the waiver wire, which might--MIGHT--be useful for a team like the Redskins...who are quickly running out of them.

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Tight end was one of the few positions on this Redskins team that appeared to have solid depth and experience. That changed when the team lost starter Niles Paul during its first preseason game and the steadying presence of Logan Paulsen and his ginger beard on Aug. 6 for the season. Left is the oft-injured Jordan Reed — currently battling a hamstring issue — swing tackle Tom Compton and a handful of unproven rookies who, prior to the spate of injuries, faced an uphill battle to make the final roster. The team signed former Iowa State tight end Ernst Brun and four-year veteran DJ Williams on Sunday afternoon. Neither has played since 2013.

Also over the weekend a rumor surfaced about a potential trade between the Redskins and the 49ers. It made intuitive sense--after all, McCloughan worked in the 49ers front office for four years and San Fran has a bevy of tight ends. There’s a slim chance of it actually happening though. Washington’s cupboard is bare and McCloughan is rightfully protective of draft picks. A more likely scenario is that the team waits until the final rounds of cuts around the league and uses its high waiver wire position. To that end, I looked at tight ends around the league battling for a roster spot and tabbed ones the team might target. The picks are based on the assumption that most teams will keep three tight ends. Some may keep just two, some four, so this list might be totally meaningless by Sept. 5 when teams set their final rosters. Another disclaimer: all of the players have major flaws in their game; otherwise their current team wouldn’t release them.

The Cleveland Browns might discard a tight end the Redskins ought to consider: either veteran Rob Housler or rookie E.J. Bibbs. Housler was picked up in free agency to lessen the pain of losing the athletic Jordan Cameron. Housler has 105 catches and 1,133 yards in his four-year career, but is currently third on the depth chart due to a case of the dropsies. You might recall Bibbs from the fourth quarter during the preseason game last Thursday. He broke three tackles to stretch out a reception to 14 yards. The undrafted rookie has turned heads with his work ethic and how it has translated onto the field so far.

The Indianapolis Colts have an embarrassment of riches at tight end. Each of the three players battling it out for the last roster spot is talented enough to look over when it all shakes out. The incumbent third tight end, 6-foot-6 and 267-pound Jack Doyle, is most likely going to keep his job. The team signed Sean McGrath in June to compete for the spot. The 27-year-old McGrath is best known for his flowing beard and that he was retired last season. Before his premature retirement, however, he played for the Kansas City Chiefs, appeared in 16 games, started nine, and left fans with many warm fuzzy feelings. One of these two will likely be available (most likely McGrath) by the time rosters are finalized. The Redskins would be well served by a long look at whichever of the two is left out in the cold.

Speaking of the Chiefs and former basketball players, third-year tight end Demetrius Harris — a 6-foot-7 former college power forward — might not make the final roster a year after he appeared in eight games as the third tight end. Unfortunately it’s because Harris is still recuperating after a second surgery on a broken foot suffered during the 2014 season. If healthy, Harris is an intriguing talent… but that’s a big ‘if’ at this point.

One-time sensation Joseph Fauria has found himself at odds with the Detroit Lions front office and faced with competition for the third tight end spot. The 6-foot-7 267 pound Fauria scored seven touchdowns as a rookie. He missed most of last season after he injured his ankle allegedly chasing his puppy down the stairs; beat writer Dave Birkett, with the Detroit Free Press, reported that team brass was skeptical of the explanation. Fauria has dealt with nagging injuries during training camp. Regardless, he expects to be healthy by the start of the season. But the team essentially issued a vote of no confidence earlier this month when it put in a waiver claim for former Patriot Tim Wright (who was awarded to Tampa Bay). The team also brought in a number of players to compete for the roster spot. It might not be wise to pair an injury-plagued player with Jordan Reed, but Fauria’s talent warrants a look if he becomes available.

As for the Redskins rumored trade partner, the 49ers are going to drop at least half of their tight end stock. The battle is tough to decipher, however, and it seems the only roster lock is Vernon Davis. The essentially meaningless first depth chart listed four-year veteran Garrett Celek and rookie Blake Bell as the fourth and fifth tight end, respectively, and likely last cut. Whether the 49ers would let Bell, a fourth round pick with potential to develop, walk away remains to be seen. If they do, the apparently quick-learning 6-foot-6 252 pound rookie would be an intriguing option to explore.