The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to have the Tight End position wrapped up for the next few seasons.
With the signing of Chase Coffman late last month, Tampa Bay now has a squad of five tight ends already set for the 2012 training camp. Depending on how new Head Coach Greg Schiano wants the offense to run, up to four of these men could be on the roster when the regular season starts. What Tampa Bay needs is someone to emerge behind Kellen Winslow as the next-in-line when Winslow (entering his 9th season) decides to hang it up. Not to mention depth, plus the opportunities provided by two tight end sets.Kellen Winslow (6'4", 240 lbs)
- drafted by Cleveland in Round 1 (#6 overall) in 2003 from Miami
- acquired via free agency from ClevelandChase Coffman (6'6", 250 lbs)
- drafted by Cincinnati in Round 3 (#98 overall) in 2007 from Missouri
- acquired via free agency from CincinnatiLuke Stocker (6'5", 253 lbs)
- drafted by Tampa Bay in Round 4 (#104 overall) in 2011 from TennesseeCollin Franklin (6'6", 256 lbs)
- undrafted from Iowa State in 2011
- acquired via waiver (Jets) on August 8th, 2011Zack Pianalto (6'4", 250 lbs)
- undrafted from North Carolina) in 2011
- acquired via waiver (Buffalo) on September 5th, 2011
Coffman and Stocker, strictly by the fact they were drafted players, will be expected to lead the competition this offseason. Stocker not only gets the benefit of being at One Buccaneer Place since getting drafted last year, he appeared in 14 games (starting 9) and gathering 12 receptions for 92 yards. Coffman, once expected to be the long term answer for the Bengals, arrives with a grand total of 3 career catches for 30 yards since being drafted in 2007.
Franklin was released after training camp last season. A week later, Pianalto was claimed from waivers and was on the active roster throughout 2011, appearing in 13 games and snaring 4 passes for 40 yards.
With this set of players, the Buccaneers can ignore this position during the 2012 NFL Draft and let the competition play out. Having these men in the fold already provides additional flexibility to seek the best players available when the Buccaneers are on the clock.