The tight end, when used properly, is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in football today.
Once used simply as an extra blocker, the tight end is now a key component to most potent offense and is often considered a quarterback's best friend.
There is a very good crop of tight ends in the 2011 free agency class. Teams will be bidding high to find the next player for their team that can outrun linebackers and out-muscle safeties.
Here is a list of the 10-best tight end free agents ready to be signed for next season.
In only his second NFL season, Joey Haynos showed a lot of promise for the Miami Dolphins.
The former Maryland Terp made 19 catches for 162 yards and found the end zone twice.
He doesn't have eye-popping numbers but is a talented player that could effectively slide into the second tight end spot for any team in the market.
Jeff King has only had 21, 25 and 19 catches in each of the past three seasons, respectively, but he has serious potential. Back in 2007, King caught 46 passes for 406 yards.
He's only 27 years-old and could easily tap into that potential. Get King a solid quarterback and consistent targets and he'll produce.
He'll likely be one of the more affordable options out there as well.
Daniel Fells looks like he has plans to be in the NFL for years to come.
Two seasons ago he caught only seven passes. Last season, he upped his total to 21. In 2010, he busted out for 38 grabs, 22 of which went for first downs.
Fells is clearly a rising star.
With the right deal, a team could land a top-10 tight end for several years. Fells has that kind of ability.
Dante Rosario emerged as the top tight end target for the Carolina Panthers in 2010, catching a career-high 32 passes for 264 yards. His catches have increased in each of his four NFL seasons.
Plus, he's accomplished what he did this season with Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen as his quarterbacks.
It's not a stretch to think Rosario could benefit from better QB play.
David Thomas only played 13 games this season and still caught 30 balls. Even last season with 15 games, he caught a career-high 35 passes.
It looks like Thomas has 45-catch potential if he gets a full season.
Bo Scaife saw his catches drop to 36 in 2010. He had caught at least 45 passes in each of the previous three seasons, reaching a career-high 58 in 2008.
Still, Scaife caught four touchdowns this season, the most of his career.
Contract dealings with Scaife may be contentious however, as the veteran made $4.46 million this year but didn't perform to that level.
He'll be looking to not take too much of a pay cut from teams that will be looking to get a production boost out of him.
At 6'6", 253-pounds, Kevin Boss is one of the most imposing tight end free agents this year.
He's a good run blocker that's developed into a terrific receiver.
Boss provides a big target in the red zone for quarterbacks, having caught six, five and five touchdowns in each of the past three seasons, respectively. Boss also averaged 15.2 yards per catch in 2010.
He's a surprising big-play threat and a consistent chains-mover.
The only knock on Owen Daniels is the question about his durability.
After torching defenses in 2007 and 2008 with 63 and 70 receptions, respectively, Daniels only played in eight games last year and 11 games in 2010.
When healthy, Daniels is one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL.
His health woes can't continue forever—but they will surely be brought up by teams negotiating a contract.
Zach Miller is right at the top when it comes to tight ends in the NFL.
With 60 catches and five touchdowns this season, Miller proved that. Miller's yards (680) are down this season from 805 last season and 778 in 2008.
But Miller has never caught less than 44 passes in his four seasons in the NFL.
He's only missed two games and has plenty of good years ahead of him.
Marcedes Lewis could be the most athletic tight end in the free-agent market.
That athleticism helped Lewis mark career highs in receptions (54), receiving yards (674) and touchdowns (9) for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season.
Lewis surely won't go cheaply—he's no longer the poor man's Antonio Gates.
He has the potential to be the best in the league, evidenced by his first Pro Bowl nod this season.