As per usual we should start with a little programming note. I have not mentioned free agents and rookies for two important reasons. First, the actual NFL calendar dictates that free agency happens in March and the draft happens in April. We are putting the cart before the horse. Usually, some of the available guys will get re-signed or be franchised, so it makes little sense to speculate about who might be a better fit in free agency.
The second reason is more selfish and calculated. We need to fill space. If we blow our wad talking about would be free agents then we will have little to talk about down the line. However, it is also practical in that we need to know what we have before we talk about who we should get.
Tight ends are unique in that they need to block and catch passes in the passing game. Wide receivers can block and it definitely is a bonus when they do, but it is much more integral for tight ends. So, we will look at the same numbers we looked at for receivers (targets, receptions, yards, touchdowns, catch%, and yards per target) but we will also look at their PFF scores for pass blocking and run blocking. Anything 60-69 means you are a rotational type player. Anything 70 or higher means you are a starting quality performer.
PFF Pass Blocking: 61.1
PFF Run Blocking: 59.7
Schultz is a free agent coming off of a 6.5 million cap number. He produced the same kinds of numbers he did in Dallas, so he was definitely a quality signing. However, if he is due for 9 to 10 million annually then it becomes high time that we evaluate whether he is that type of tight end. The run and pass blocking grades aren’t great. They aren’t terrible either. He will have to be compared to the other available guys on the open market, but also whether this is an area where you want to invest. 75 to 80 million goes a long way but it can’t buy you everything you want.
PFF Pass Blocking: 61.9
PFF Run Blocking: 58.2
Now, we get to the $64,000 question. When you have a player that flashes like Jordan has you have to wonder if that same level of production can occur with a greater volume of opportunity. We have called him Mr. December on the site because he seemingly catches passes in December. He did it in the wild card game too though. He will be here regardless, but it remains to be seen how big his role will be.
PFF Pass Blocking: 59.4
PFF Run Blocking: 56.5
Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? Mr. Unspellable (as we have called him) only had 158 snaps on the season and was a virtual ghost in the second half of the season. He will be going into year three of his rookie contract next season. There is no reason to cut him outright, but he might end up being a roster causality depending on what they add in free agency and the draft.
PFF Pass Blocking: 34.2
PFF Run Blocking: 63.6
Eventually you get to the point where you have to make some hard choices. Is Saubert decent as a backup tight end? Of course he is and he is cheap to boot. The problem comes when you want to improve the position. You have to let some guys go if you are bringing in someone better. Furthermore, on a more global scale, if you want to run the football better you have to have guys that can run block. If you bring everyone back then you are going to get what you’ve always gotten.
The Final Analysis
Yes, the Houston Texans have money to spend, but that often makes things more complicated. The Value of Things got its start as a reaction to the O’Brien era’s miscalculation of value. Whitney Mercilus had value, but he was drastically overpaid. Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb had value, but they were drastically overpaid. You do that a few times and you end up missing out on two or three good football players you suddenly can’t afford. Dalton Schultz absolutely has value. The question is where that value lies.
Last year he overplayed his hand and took less from the Texans to give himself another shot at the big contract. Does he do that again or does he come in with more realistic demands? Is he looking to cash in or does he want a good situation where he can have some stability? These are questions we don’t know the answer to yet. We also don’t know exactly who will be available in free agency and the draft. Stay tuned Texans fans.