As the free-agent frenzy winds down, only a few valuable players remain on the market. Remarkably, Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller remains on the market. This is strange, as Miller is one of the premiere receiving tight ends in the league, having led the Oakland Raiders in receiving the last three seasons.
Miller was widely expected to be signed last week, and since he has not, his market is now more focused. Teams like the San Fransisco 49ers desperately need receiving help, and of course the Raiders need him back if they are to be at all relevant.
There are certainly a few clubs that could use his services, so here are five teams that could make Zach Miller an offer in the near future.
The New York Giants have their own free-agent tight end to worry about in Kevin Boss, and he serves the team's greater need as one of the league's best blocking tight ends.
However, there is no certainty in this league, and there is still a significant chance that Boss may walk.
If the Giants lose Boss, they would lack a viable option to serve as his replacement at starting tight end. If Zach Miller is still yet unsigned at that point, the Giants will surely make a play to acquire him, in order to minimize the loss of Boss.
He would be a key piece of the passing game, adding a new dimension to Eli Manning's arsenal. His blocking is also serviceable, so the Giants would be happy to land Miller as a consolation for Boss.
The Cincinnati Bengals are having a pretty dismal offseason. Their star quarterback in Carson Palmer is going to retire rather than play for them, their star wide receiver in Chad Ochocinco has been traded to the New England Patriots and they lost star free-agent cornerback Johnathan Joseph to the Houston Texans.
With the training camp battle coming down to Bruce Gradkowski and rookie Andy Dalton, and the only real viable receiving option being rookie A.J. Green, the Bengals need to find some more players to catch the ball.
Zach Miller is not the best blocking tight end in the world, but he is a terrific pass-catcher. He has been in the top 10 among tight ends in receiving yardage for three years, and has led the Oakland Raiders in receiving yards for that time as well. He brings a big body to the field with great hands.
Plus, it goes without saying that Miller already has a rapport with former Oakland Raider Bruce Gradkowski.
Expect the Cincinnati Bengals to at least make an offer to Miller.
The San Fransisco 49ers are another team in desperate need of receiving aid. With top wideout Michael Crabtree on the PUP list possibly until the start of the year, tight end Vernon Davis is the only pass-catcher for Alex Smith to throw to.
Two big, pass-catching tight ends would be a phenomenal upgrade for the offense, so you can expect the San Fransisco 49ers to make a play for their Bay Area neighbor's tight end.
As with Sidney Rice, the Seattle Seahawks are sneaking into play for a free agent widely expected to stay with his own team.
In the last 24 hours, the Seattle Seahawks have initiated a full-court press on Zach Miller. The Pro Bowl tight end would be joining an already stacked corps of pass-catchers, and his addition would make them one of the most fearsome units in the league.
Playing opposite John Carlson, with Sidney Rice, Mike Williams and Golden Tate rounding out the receivers, Miller would help make Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst's passing job far easier.
It is unsurprising that the Seahawks desire him, as Jackson and Whitehurst are not exactly promising starting quarterbacks for the 2011 season. Having a top-tier receiving group is the only way to offset it.
We'll see if he takes them up on it.
The Oakland Raiders will be doing everything they can to keep Zach Miller in the fold. Aside from being a Pro Bowl tight end, he is the team's best weapon in the passing game, having led them in all receiving categories for three years.
With offensive coordinator Hue Jackson now the head coach, Miller already has plenty of trust in him. If he goes, Jason Campbell suddenly will find himself weaponless.
Miller was fully expected to re-sign with the Oakland Raiders until the Seattle Seahawks began their courtship. Still, neither team really has much hope for the playoffs, and Miller would have a much bigger role in Oakland than in Seattle.
He is more likely to continue making Pro- Bowls in a system where he is the main weapon, and one that he won't have to learn during a shortened training camp.
Expect loyalty to win out. Miller stays with the Raiders.