A Scout's Take on Potential Free Agent Tight End Garrett Graham

Bob FoxContributor IMarch 8, 2014

Houston Texans tight end Garrett Graham (88) makes a 33-yard touchdown reception against the Miami Dolphins during the second half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

Earlier this week, Ian Rapoport reported via NFL.com that the Houston Texans were trying to re-sign tight end Garrett Graham before he hits the open market in free agency. The Green Bay Packers reportedly have their sights set on Graham, according to Rapoport.

Starting on March 8, teams interested in prospective free agents can start negotiating with the player's agent until free agency officially begins on March 11. If both sides reach an agreement, the contract can't be signed until Tuesday.

Because of the news regarding Graham, I wanted to get the perspective of scout Chris Landry, who I had an opportunity to talk with on Friday during Steve Duemig's radio show.

Landry believes that the former Wisconsin Badger is the best of the available tight ends in free agency:

I think he's the most coveted [tight end] free agent out there. Obviously Jimmy Graham is franchised. Cumberland of the Jets is a more athletic guy, but is not really developed or polished at this point. Dennis Pitta is re-signed. Jermichael Finley of course because of the injuries is a buyer-beware. But Garrett Graham is probably the best one that's available if Houston can't get it done [re-sign] this weekend with him. He's a pass-catching tight end with good hands. He's a flex Y, H-back-type who really stays balanced as a blocker. I think he's a very functional guy. Is a quality guy. I think there are some guys in the draft who are intriguing, but he certainly is the best of the attainable guys in free agency.

One can see why Chris likes Graham so much. In 2013, Graham had the best year of his four-year career in Houston when he had 49 receptions for 545 yards and five touchdowns.

Graham was also very successful in college at Wisconsin as well, as he had 121 catches for 1,492 and 16 touchdowns in his career with the Badgers.

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 26: Garrett Graham #89 of the Wisconsin Badgers carries the ball against the Michigan State Spartans on September 26, 2009 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you play tight end at Wisconsin, you have to be able to block pretty well as the Badgers have traditionally been a run-first type of offense.

Graham would seem to have the attributes that the Packers would desire with a tight end. He can be very effective in the passing game and help out quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Graham can block when needed when the Packers run the ball behind Eddie Lacy and company.

The Packers have two potential free-agent tight ends of their own: Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless.

The Packers are waiting to see if Finley will receive full medical clearance from his neurosurgeon on Saturday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. If that happens, the Packers might be interested, at least based on the comments of head coach Mike McCarthy recently.

Oct 20, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (88) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the 1st quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

McCarthy told Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin that he is hopeful that Finley would be cleared.

“Pat (McKenzie) doesn’t feel the same way about Jermichael as he felt about Nick [Collins],” McCarthy said. " So I'm very open and optimistic about Jermichael coming back. I think the specifics of their injuries are different.”

Meanwhile, the Packers are also talking with the agent of Quarless about his possible return to the team, according to Tom Sliverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Bottom line, it looks as though the Packers have their bases covered regarding the tight end position. They are looking at at least three options and possibly more with the NFL draft approaching in May.

It's hard to say what will happen with Finley and Quarless, but Graham certainly appears to be a viable alternative at the tight end position.