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The 5 O'Clock Club: Playing GM - starting to assess free agency targets (TE)

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

NFL: AUG 28 Preseason - Redskins at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Free agency and trading begins: March 14, 4pm ET

Every year, the Hogs Haven writers (not me) put in a ton of effort to analyze potential draft prospects and discuss how they can fit with the Redskins franchise. Last year, the site posted 117 draft profiles -- a veritable gold mine of information.

But long before the Draft (this year, 26-28 April in Arlington, Texas), the league has its very important free agency period. While the Redskins used to be known as “offseason champs” for the habit of throwing big dollars at big-name-but-aging-players in failed attempts to find a quick fix winning formula, more recently, the team has used free agency in a more appropriate way — filling roster holes ahead of the draft.

With that in mind, I thought it would be good to take a look at some potential free agents over the next few weeks. Obviously, not every potential free agent will be available when the 14th of March rolls around. A lot of them will be re-signed by their 2017 team before they ever hit the open market. Still, with the Redskins not in the playoffs, it’s time to look forward, and free agency is the next big thing in the NFL Calendar after the Scouting Combine (Indianapolis, 27 Feb - 5 Mar).

I’d like to look at a lot of players at a lot of positions over the next two months, but I thought I’d start today with the tight end position.

Finding gold in the Fanposts

Chris in Manassas recently wrote a really solid Fanpost titled 10 Potential (and realistic) Free Agents that discussed... well... 10 potential free agents that the Redskins could target.

I liked his list. Let’s have a look at what he had to say about bolstering the Redskins offense and special teams by raiding a division rival.

Tight End

Chris in Manassas is calling for the Redskins to sign Trey Burton.

Burton came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014. In 2017, he played on a 1-year restricted free agent contract worth $2.7m, which is less than Vernon Davis, who has a $5m APY. The ‘Skins probably need to pay Burton a bit more to get him to join a division rival, but the 26 year old seems to offer a lot of positives.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

He’s only an occasional receiving target, hauling in just 23 passes in 15 games this year, and he played in 4 games where he had no receptions at all. Still, he logged 300 offensive snaps, for an average of 20 snaps per game — not bad for a 3rd TE playing behind Zach Ertz and Brent Celek.

Burton also put in another 308 snaps on Special Teams (the second-highest on the Eagles team). He is a key special teams player, in addition to his role in the offense.

For the Redskins, it looks like Burton would basically be a replacement for Niles Paul; a special teams ace who can provide good depth on offense. But Chris in Manassas thinks he offers more:

Yes! Let’s take one away from Philly. I am incredibly worried about Jordan Reed’s future. It’s concerning that he just cannot get on the field and it’s not from things like broken bones or torn knee ligaments; it’s always something naggng that is either not treated right or Reed isn’t taking care of. We need more help beyond Vernon Davis, all 35 years of him. Burton is an exceptional talent that might look to get out of Philly so he can be more of a number 1.

Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

I haven’t really watched Burton play much, so I went to his draft profile to see what people were saying about him coming out of Florida:

Overview

Dual-threat quarterback who also played basketball as a Florida prep. Was used as a tight end, H-back/wing back, fullback, receiver and quarterback by the Gators -- also had 153 career carries for 720 yards (4.7) and 16 touchdowns and completed 11-of-17 pass attempts (64.7 percent) for 103 yards with zero touchdowns and an interception. Team captain.

Strengths

Very good athlete. Natural hands-catcher. Catches in stride and adjusts very well to the flight of the ball. Keeps working to uncover and has a good feel for zones. Good route runner. Sets up defensive backs and can create some separation out of his breaks. Can make the first tackler miss and is fairly elusive. Versatile and has played every offensive skill position. Football smart -- understands offensive concepts and how the pieces fit together like a former quarterback. Outstanding personal character and will represent a team with class. Is tough and durable and will play through pain. Willing, effective special-teams contributor. Highly competitive team player.

Bottom Line

A savvy, athletic, undersized H-back who was utilized in a flexed receiving role in the Gators’ offense. Has the athletic traits to earn a living working detached out of the slot as an “F” tight end. Can offer a creative offensive coordinator a versatile jack-of-all-trades gimmick weapon.

Color me intrigued. A former quarterback who is athletic, flexible, and has a good understanding of offensive concepts? Sounds like a Jay Gruden guy. In fact, from a resume standpoint, it sounds reminiscent of Jordan Reed. And then there’s the added bonus of taking a player away from the Eagles. The Redskins probably need 4 TEs again this year, and Burton would provide the special teams ability (and experience playing fullback) that a 4th TE needs to possess.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Poll

Grade Trey Burton as a free agent tight end target for the Redskins

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    A
    (147 votes)
  • 40%
    B
    (308 votes)
  • 31%
    C
    (238 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (41 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (28 votes)
762 votes total Vote Now
Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images