According to a report by FOX Sports reporter Mike Garafolo, the New Orleans Saints are taking a look at veteran free agent tight end Jermaine Gresham.
Gresham has been on the market for a while now and was expected to be signed quickly until it was found that the former Cincinnati Bengal required surgery for a herniated disc in his back.
I’ve been adamant about the Saints bringing in a veteran like Gresham since they traded Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks.
The team only had three tight ends on their roster after that with Josh Hill, Benjamin Watson, and Orson Charles.
Hill and Watson have both received praise from head coach Sean Payton during OTA’s and with Watson stealing the show last week with some spectacular plays.
Nov 9, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (82) carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers in the third quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 49ers won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
However, the Saints are in need of a big tight end who can be a true receiving threat similar to what Graham was.
About three weeks ago I mentioned in an article that even though Payton said they’re fine, the team should still take a look at some options like former Seahawk Zach Miller and Gresham as well.
On Gresham I noted that:
"At 6’5″, 260 lbs. Gresham has made some spectacular catches and has averaged 9.7 yards a reception as well as averaging 544.4 yards and 4 touchdowns a season in his six years in the league."
Much like it seems for many tight ends, Gresham is also a former basketball player before an ACL injury forced him to concentrate on football where he was a star at Oklahoma.
As a Sooner, Gresham had 111 receptions for 1,269 yards and 26 touchdowns and impressed scouts heading into the 2010 NFL Draft where the Bengals selected him 21st overall.
As a starter he was voted into two consecutive Pro Bowls for the 2011 and 2012 season.
Ironically another tight end drafted 21st overall would start to eat into Gresham’s playing time in Cincinnati.
The Bengals selected Tyler Eifert out of Notre Dame in 2013 and Gresham would begin splitting snaps with the rookie.
Sep 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) during warmups against the Green Bay Packers at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati won 34-30. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
While bringing in Gresham is a smart move on the Saints part, it’s likely just to see how much he has healed from his recent back surgery in March.
The team dealt with another free agent last year who was dealing with the same issue in safety Jarius Byrd.
Byrd ended up missing OTA’s and was limited in training camp to an extent which may have contributed to the secondary not meshing as well as they should have.
This is likely a “kicking the tires” scenario for the Saints with this merely being a visit and no reported negotiations going on just yet.
The team had also hosted another veteran tight end in Chase Coffman but he was merely on a tryout basis during rookie mini-camp.
If the the Saints decide to not sign Gresham then they’ll move forward with their three veteran tight ends along with undrafted frees agent rookies Harold Spears and Jack Tabb.