Re-loading the tight end position has been a big part of this off-season for a lot of teams. Of course, we already have Antonio Gates. In case you haven’t heard, he is the most prolific pass catching tight end in the NFL, and that’s saying a lot. Throw in the fact that Gates played college basketball and not football, and you have a gem that’s worth holding on to. However, a general manager must ask oneself how do you compliment a guy like Gates?
Brandon Manumaleuna did a terrific job with our blocking schemes, and even caught some passes, but he is long since gone to Chicago. This left a bigger hole than a lot of people realize, as we entered the draft with only Gates and the recently retained Kris Wilson listed on our roster for that particular position. Wilson, don’t get me wrong, is quality veteran depth, but he only has four total receptions as a charger. All four came from last season. He is a great blocker, but wasn’t much of a pass catcher in his previous seasons with the Chiefs either.
We do have some promising rookie tight end prospects, but you just can’t put a rookie opposite Antonio Gates in a two tight end set. Even my one year old niece would know who would be more likely to get the ball.
You have to, HAVE TO, pick up a seasoned veteran to take some of the heat off of our superstar tight end. Though the Chargers have never really used free agency for much of anything before, Randy McMichael was just too good to pass up.
McMichael not only has good size, but is also a well groomed route runner. I’m sure that with a passer like Philip Rivers around, I doubt production will ever be a problem for him. It’s not like it ever was anyways.
As a rookie in Miami, McMichael started producing almost immediately. Out of every game played in his previous eight years with the Rams and Dolphins, he only missed one start. The only season in which he had less than 34 receptions was 2008. A broken leg limited him to four games, eleven catches, and 139 receiving yards. What I love the most about him is his ability to get that first down. He has a 10.9 yards per reception average, which is fantastic considering he has spend the past three seasons with a very feeble offense in St. Louis. Though, in Miami, he proved that he can help elevate a productive offense even further by catching at least 60 passes in three consecutive seasons. Also with the Dolphins, McMichael worked under then offensive-coordinator, Norv Turner, for his first two years in the league. Both of which were good seasons.
One more thing he has is timing. I’m not talking about football timing, but timing in conjunction with the flow of the universe. I’m talking about the fact that Gates has a nagging right-foot injury that will keep him from running for another two or three weeks. If that’s not a sign that we need a proven veteran back up at the very least, then I don’t know what is. It may only be a one-year contract, but if he fits well, then I’m sure he would love to stay and that we would love to have him. He will be a quality backup and a monstrous duo when paired with a healthy Gates. Throw in our plethora of proven wide receivers and we’ve got ourselves a party. It could even end up being a Super Bowl party. In which case I am fully prepared to see it happen.