Gary Barnidge

Gary Barnidge Wants To Play In 2018

Tight end Gary Barnidge didn’t play in the NFL during the 2017 campaign, but he intends to search for an offer this season, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News.Gary Barnidge (vertical)

Barnidge, 32, was released by the Browns last April just days after the club selected fellow tight end David Njoku in the first round of the draft. While a number of teams — including the Bills, Jaguars, Panthers, Broncos, and Texans — were linked to Barnidge, he ultimately never landed a contract.

“I had calls and opportunities and workouts and stuff like that but I was really frustrated,” Barnidge said. “Teams view you like once you’re an older guy, ‘Oh, you’re not worth as much. You can’t succeed. You can’t do that kind of stuff.’ That’s how they do it. That’s not the truth.

“As I proved when I was 30, 31, I went to the Pro Bowl (in 2015) and put the two best years up in my career because I was given the opportunity to play. Teams try to take advantage of the situation … You have second- and third-string guys who are getting significant amounts of money and you’re trying to pay me a lot less because I’m 31, 32 years old? My numbers show what I can do.”

Barnidge was a relative no-name until the 2015 season, when — at age 30 — the 6’5″ tight end broke out for 79 receptions, 1,043 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. Each of those totals were career-highs for Barnidge, and his yardage figure was the eighth-highest single-season total for a tight end since 2010.

The 2016 campaign wasn’t quite as fruitful for Barnidge, but he still managed 55 catches for 612 yards, solid numbers for a tight end in a weak Browns offense. He also graded as the league’s No. 1 pass-blocking tight end in 2016, per Pro Football Focus.

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Panthers Not Interested In TE Gary Barnidge

Although they’ll be without tight end Greg Olsen for at least eight weeks, the Panthers are not interested in free agent Gary Barnidge, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).Gary Barnidge (vertical)

Barnidge is no stranger to Carolina, as he spent the first four seasons of his career as a backup tight end with the Panthers. Set to turn 32 years old this week, Barnidge had been linked to Carolina earlier this offseason after being released by the Browns, but it’s not clear if any meeting was ever actually arranged.

Other clubs — including the Jaguars, Bills, and Broncos — have also been tied to Barnidge this year, but he has yet to land a contract. The Texans, who recently lost three tight ends to concussions, worked out Barnidge a week ago but didn’t offer him a deal. Bardnidge’s lack of a pact is a surprise given that he averaged 67 receptions, 828 yards, and six touchdowns over the past two seasons and graded as the league’s No. 1 pass-blocking tight end in 2016, per Pro Football Focus.

Without Olsen in tow, the Panthers will turn to veteran Ed Dickson — who’s angling to be used in an Olsen-esque manner — as their starting tight end. Chris Manhertz is the only other tight end on the roster, but Carolina promoted fullback Alex Armah (who played some tight end in college) to the active roster today.

Instead of Barnidge, the Panthers auditioned fellow tight ends Jace Amaro, Gavin Escobar, and Kellen Davis today, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Amaro and Escobar are both failed former second-round picks, while Davis isn’t much of a receiver — he’s managed only three receptions over the past three seasons. Still, with Dickson set to take over the starting tight end role, Carolina is likely looking for an addition who excels at blocking.

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AFC Notes: Bengals, Barnidge, Texans, Pats

A “near mutiny” among Bengals players left head coach Marvin Lewis no choice but to fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese on Friday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. The Bengals’ best offensive player, wide receiver A.J. Green, was part of the unhappy bunch, notes Florio, though Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer disputes the notion that there was anything resembling a “mutiny” (Twitter link). There was a disconnect between Zampese and the players, though, Owczarski adds. The Zampese-led Bengals scored a mere nine points in the team’s first two games, both losses, and the offense racked up just 516 yards in that span. Green posted respectable production along the way, picking up 10 receptions for 141 yards, but new O-coordinator Bill Lazor is going to have to involve him (and the Bengals’ other top skill players) in their attack more, Florio observes. Green agrees, having told reporters after Thursday night’s 13-9 loss to Houston: “We are playing like sh– right now. We got to find a way to get our playmakers the ball. That’s it. It’s a superstar-driven league. You are not going to win without them” (via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Enquirer).

More from the AFC:

  • It appears free agent tight end Gary Barnidge‘s stay on the unemployment line will continue. Barnidge worked out for the Texans on Friday, but they’re not going to sign him, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com suggests (on Twitter). The team opted to add tight end MyCole Pruitt to its practice squad after his own Friday tryout. Barnidge carries a more impressive track record than Pruitt and many other tight ends, of course, having logged quality seasons in Cleveland over each of the previous two campaigns. However, the 31-year-old hasn’t been able to find work since the Browns released him after the draft.
  • The Patriots will go without linebacker Dont’a Hightower and wide receiver Danny Amendola in New Orleans on Sunday, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Hightower suffered a right knee injury in the third quarter of Week 1 against the Chiefs, perhaps helping to pave the way for a late-game collapse from New England’s defense. The Patriots yielded 21 fourth-quarter points en route to a 42-27 loss. Amendola, who was the Patriots’ leading receiver against the Chiefs (six catches, 100 yards), is dealing with a concussion and a knee injury. Down Amendola, Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell, the Pats look poised to take on the Saints with Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett as their only options in a suddenly thin receiving corps.
  • The Luckless Colts have settled on a quarterback for Week 2.

Texans Work Out 8, Sign Cobi Hamilton

Fresh off their first win of the season, the Texans worked out a variety of offensive players on Friday, including the previously reported Gary Barnidge, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links). Fellow tight ends Larry Donnell, Gavin Escobar, David Johnson and MyCole Pruitt joined Barnidge in auditioning, while wide receivers Cobi Hamilton and Jordan, offensive lineman Jah Reid and quarterback Garrett Grayson were also on hand. The Texans saw enough from Hamilton to sign him to their practice squad, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Houston has an obvious need at tight end, with C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson dealing with the aftereffects of concussions. Fiedorowicz is on injured reserve, meaning he’ll miss a significant chunk of time, while neither Griffin nor Anderson dressed for the Texans’ 13-9 win over the Bengals on Thursday. As you’d expect, the tight end position was a non-factor for Houston against Cincinnati, as all 15 of quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s completions went to wide receivers and running backs.

Larry Donnell (vertical)

All of the tight ends the Texans looked at Friday come with NFL experience, though only Donnell and Escobar have extensive pro track records. Donnell had a 63-catch, six-touchdown season with the Giants in 2014, but his production has gone downhill since, thanks in part to injuries, and he hasn’t stuck anywhere since becoming a free agent in the offseason. The 28-year-old’s only employment since last season ended came in the form of a short stint in Baltimore, which signed him July 30 and released him Sept. 1.

Escobar, meanwhile, was a high pick in 2013, when Dallas took him in the second round, but he didn’t make much of a mark there behind all-time great Jason Witten. The 26-year-old, who caught 30 passes and eight TDs during his four-year Cowboys run, signed with the Chiefs as a free agent in March but didn’t crack their Week 1 roster.

Reid was a teammate of Escobar’s for a brief period in Kansas City, which released the tackle/guard on the final day of August. A veteran of 61 appearances and 18 starts, he’d provide depth along a Houston line that’s without its left tackle, holdout Duane Brown, and has already yielded 13 sacks in two weeks.

The other fairly notable player on this list is the Texans’ newest addition, Hamilton, who had been looking for work since the Steelers cut him Sept. 1. The Texans are already the sixth organization for the 26-year-old Hamilton, who’s coming off a career season (albeit a modest one) in Pittsburgh. Hamilton started in eight of 11 appearances and caught 17 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He added another four receptions and a TD in three playoff games last January.

As is the case at tight end, Houston’s receivers aren’t the picture of health. Both Bruce Ellington and Will Fuller missed Thursday’s game with injuries (the latter will be out until the fall), leaving the Texans wanting at wideout. Believe it or not, DeAndre Hopkins and Braxton Miller are their only receivers who have caught passes this season. Hamilton could be a factor sometime this year, then.

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Texans To Meet With Gary Barnidge

The Texans are set to meet with tight end Gary Barnidge, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Barnidge could give Houston some reinforcements at the position as C.J. Fiedorowicz, Stephen Anderson, and Ryan Griffin all deal with the after effects of their concussions. Gary Barnidge (vertical)

For now, the Texans’ sole “addition” at tight end will come from the promotion of tight end Evan Baylis off of the practice squad. They likely opted against meeting with Barnidge and other free agent TEs sooner since this is a short week and they had only four days to prepare for tonight’s game against the Bengals.

Barnidge was released by the Browns in April, freeing the team from the remaining two years on his contract. The veteran first broke out in 2015 with 79 receptions, 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. He couldn’t match those numbers last season, but he still finished with 55 catches for 612 yards and two TDs. Barnidge also proved to be durable, appearing in 61 of 64 possible games for the Browns over the last four seasons. It wasn’t necessarily easy to produce in Cleveland, but Barnidge found a way.

“In the last two years with eight different quarterbacks, I was able to still put up really good numbers,” Barnidge said in July“I was still one of the top tight ends in the NFL over a two-year period … I don’t think there’s any other guy that can say they’ve done that.”

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Jaguars To Host Gary Barnidge On Visit

Gary Barnidge could finally be getting closer to finding work for 2017. The Jaguars are bringing the former Pro Bowl tight end in for a Tuesday workout and visit, a league source tells Mike Kaye of First Coast News (on Twitter). Gary Barnidge (vertical)

[RELATED: Jaguars Are One Of Eight Fits For Barnidge]

This offseason, the Jags parted ways with tight end Julius Thomas and their only significant addition at the position has been former Raider Mychal Rivera. When considering that Rivera hasn’t topped 300 receiving yards since 2014 and that Marcedes Lewis hasn’t been setting the world on fire in recent years, Barnidge could make a lot of sense for Jacksonville. This season will be a critical year in the evaluation of quarterback Blake Bortles, and he’ll need a big reliable target if he hopes to establish himself as the answer going forward.

In 16 games last season, the tight end hauled in 55 receptions for 612 yards and two touchdowns. That wasn’t a great stat line, but he’s only two years removed from his breakout 2015 effort. In that campaign, the 6’5″ tight end had 79 receptions, 1,043 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns.

 

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Ravens Haven’t Contacted Gary Barnidge

There was upheaval at tight end last month in Baltimore, which released Dennis Pitta after he suffered yet another hip injury and saw the NFL hand a one-year suspension to Darren Waller. Consequently, the Ravens could stand to acquire help at the position, but it doesn’t look as though that aid will come in the form of free agent Gary Barnidge, the top tight end on the market.

Gary Barnidge (Vertical)

Barnidge told Glenn Clark Radio on Thursday that the Ravens haven’t reached out to him, saying (via Callie Caplan of the Baltimore Sun): “They know who to contact, who to call. I just know we haven’t heard anything yet, which is fine.”

PFR’s Dallas Robinson made a compelling case earlier this week for the Ravens to sign Barnidge, noting that their current tight ends carry significant risk.

Ben Watson, whom the Ravens signed as a free agent last offseason, missed all of 2016 after suffering a torn Achilles. That’s a difficult injury to come back from for anyone, let alone a 36-year-old. Injuries have also troubled Crockett Gillmore, who sat out 15 of the Ravens’ 32 games from 2015-16 and then missed minicamp last month on account of a hamstring issue. Maxx Williams isn’t the picture of health, either, as Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reported last week that knee trouble could force him to begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. And then there’s a pair of unproven options in Nick Boyle, who has already racked up a couple PED suspensions during his two-year career, and undrafted rookie Ryan Malleck.

Considering both the lack of certainty among the Ravens’ tight ends and Barnidge’s quality production in recent years, it’s fair to suggest he’d be an upgrade for the club. Barnidge made light of his solid output Thursday.

“In the last two years with eight different quarterbacks, I was able to still put up really good numbers,” Barnidge said. “I was still one of the top tight ends in the NFL over a two-year period … I don’t think there’s any other guy that can say they’ve done that.”

While it’s concerning that the 31-year-old Barnidge has been on the open market since April – when one of the Ravens’ AFC North rivals, the youth-oriented Browns, released him – his numbers were indeed impressive over the previous two seasons. Barnidge broke out in 2015 with 79 receptions, 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns, and though he didn’t come close to replicating those stats last year, he still posted respectable totals (55 grabs, 612 yards and two scores). Additionally, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Barnidge graded as Pro Football Focus’ best pass-blocking tight end in 2016. As Robinson pointed out, that aspect of his game could be especially useful to a Baltimore team that lost standout right tackle Ricky Wagner to the Lions in free agency.

Although the Ravens and Barnidge look like a logical match, it doesn’t appear there will be a union between the two. The Ravens could still use some of their nearly $6MM in cap space on another free agent tight end, though, with Ladarius Green, Jacob Tamme and Larry Donnell representing other notable unsigned options.

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The Ravens Need To Sign TE Gary Barnidge

Perhaps no position group has taken as many hits as the Ravens’ tight ends over the past month, as Dennis Pitta suffered another devastating hip injury in early June (which ultimately led to his release and will likely end his career) while athletic backup Darren Waller was hit with a one-year PED suspension last week. With Pitta and Waller out of the picture for 2017, Baltimore is left with five tight ends on its roster: Ben Watson, Maxx Williams, Crockett GillmoreNick Boyle, and Ryan Malleck, all of whom come with significant risk.

Watson is entering his age-36 campaign coming off a torn Achilles, but he’s likely to make the Ravens’ roster after accepting a pay reduction earlier this year. Having missed 15 games over the past two seasons, and dealing with back and leg injuries, Gillmore is no bet to be available next year. The same goes for Williams, a former second-round pick who may begin the 2017 campaign on the PUP list, tweets Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Boyle, meanwhile, has already been banned twice for PEDs (a third positive test would net him a yearlong suspension, à la Waller), while Malleck is a 2016 undrafted free agent with no game experience.Gary Barnidge (vertical)

Given the amount of question marks among their tight ends, the Ravens need to consider scouring the free agent market for reinforcements. While other players such as Ladarius Green or Jacob Tamme could be on Baltimore’s radar, the most reliable veteran who still remains unsigned is former Brown Gary Barnidge, whom Zrebiec notes (Twitter link) would make for a sensible Ravens target. I didn’t originally list Baltimore as a potential destination for Barnidge when I ran down landing spots for him in May, but given the events of the past month, the Ravens should give Barnidge a call.

While Barnidge could simply serve as insurance for the Ravens, he might also represent improvement over the club’s tight end production from a year ago. While Pitta finished first among tight ends in receptions, and seventh in yards, various advanced metrics indicate he wasn’t all that successful on a rate basis in 2016. Among 46 qualified tight ends, Pitta finished 45th in DYAR and 40th in DVOA (both are metrics from Football Outsiders which measure a receiver’s value). Pro Football Focus was also critical of Pitta’s 2016 play, ranking him 47th among 63 tight ends.

Barnidge, on the other hand, ranked higher than Pitta in all three metrics (15th in DYAR, 13th in DVOA, 25th in PFF’s grades). On a yards per reception basis, Barnidge finished with 11.13 YPR while Pitta managed only 8.48 YPR, second-to-last among tight ends with at least 25 receptions. The 31-year-old Barnidge has also done well on deep passes, long a staple of Baltimore’s offense. On passes that travel more than 20 yards in the air, Barnidge ranked third and 15th in yardage among tight ends in 2015 and 2016, respectively, according to Mark Chichester of Pro Football Focus.

Of course, a tight end is responsible for not only receiving, but blocking, and after losing right tackle Ricky Wagner to free agency, the Ravens can use all the edge blocking help they can get. PFF ranked Baltimore’s offensive line 23rd heading into the 2017 season, specifically noting question marks at right tackle, where James Hurst is now projected to start. Barnidge can aid in that capacity, as PFF graded him as the No. 1 pass-blocking tight end in the league in 2016.Gary Barnidge (Vertical)

Barnidge could also benefit from staying in the AFC North, as none of the clubs in the division besides Baltimore are above-average at defending the tight end. Cleveland, Barnidge’s former team, ranked dead last in DVOA against tight ends last season, allowing an average of 7.2 receptions and 63.4 yards per game (30.2% worse than the NFL mean). Neither the Steelers (13) nor the Bengals (15) could crack the top-10 in DVOA against opposing tight ends, either.

In terms of salary, it’s difficult to believe Barnidge will be able to command much more than a incentive-laden minimum deal, especially given that he hasn’t been signed yet. Even so, adding Barnidge could be difficult for the Ravens, who rank third-to-last in the NFL with only $5.833MM in cap space, per Over the Cap. Baltimore could potentially restructure the contracts of veterans such as Jimmy Smith, Marshal Yanda, or Eric Weddle to create a bit of breathing room if it wants to bring in Barnidge.

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Broncos Not Interested In Eric Decker Reunion

A Broncos/Eric Decker reunion doesn’t sound like it’s in the cards. Earlier today, head coach Vance Joseph rejected the notion that the team would have interest in the veteran wideout, who was released by the Jets yesterday.

Eric Decker“We drafted two young guys that we’re excited about,” Joseph told reporters (including Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post). “It’s a full room of guys. It’s going to be tough to find space on our roster. We can’t add anyone now. We’re satisfied with who we got now. It’s a competitive room, it’s a young room. We’re satisfied.”

Joseph is referring to third-rounder Carlos Henderson and fifth-rounder Isaiah McKenzie, who figure to be in the mix for reps behind starters Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Besides those four, the team is also rostering wideouts Jordan TaylorCody Latimer, Bennie FowlerKalif Raymond, and Marlon Brown.

Despite the depth, a Decker signing would surely be embraced by the fans. The 30-year-old spent the first four years of his career in Denver, and he averaged 86 receptions for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns between 2012 and 2013. Decker ended up inking a five-year deal worth more than $36MM with the Jets during the 2014 offseason, and he proceeded to appear in 33 games with New York over the next three years (including an 80-reception, 1,027-yard, 12-touchdown season in 2015).

The veteran missed the majority of the 2016 campaign as he struggled through a shoulder injury. The Jets were rumored to be shopping Decker before they ultimately released the wideout.

Gary Barnidge (vertical)On the flip side, the Broncos seemingly have some level of interest in free agent tight end Gary Barnidge. The veteran was released by the Browns in late April, and subsequent reports indicated that Denver had reached out to the 31-year-old. While he was more dismissive of Decker, Joseph didn’t necessarily shoot down the idea that the team could add the tight end down the road.

“It’s early,” he said. “It could be later on. But right now, no.”

Barnidge disappointed following his 2015 breakout campaign. In 16 games last season, the tight end hauled in 55 receptions for 612 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, that was still significantly better than the Broncos tight ends, as Virgil Green led the unit with only 22 catches for 237 yards and one score.

Besides Green, the Broncos are also rostering tight ends Jeff Heuerman, A.J. Derby, Henry Krieger-Coble, and fifth-rounder Jake Butt.

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Top 8 Fits For Free Agent TE Gary Barnidge

Gary Barnidge was a relative no-name until the 2015 season, when — at age 30 — the 6’5″ tight end broke out for 79 receptions, 1,043 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. Each of those totals were career-highs for Barnidge, and his yardage figure was the eight-highest single-season total for a tight end since 2010. The 2016 campaign wasn’t quite as fruitful for Barnidge, but he still managed 55 catches for 612 yards, solid numbers for a tight end in a weak Browns offense.Gary Barnidge (vertical)

There are certainly question marks that could lead a team to not pursue Barnidge. Chief among them is probably his age, as Barnidge is set to enter his age-32 season. That could conceivably make him an injury risk, although he’s appeared in all 32 possible games over the past two years. Bardidge’s blocking prowess is also a concern, as he ranked 50th out of 63 qualified tight ends in run blocking efficiency last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Still, Barnidge offers excellent receiving ability and should come relatively cheap. It’s tough to see Barnidge topping the $5MM and $5.3MM annual salaries earned by fellow tight ends Vernon Davis and Jared Cook respectively, and he likely won’t command a multi-year deal. So which NFL teams could possibly employ Barnidge in his 10th pro season? Let’s take a look…

Atlanta Falcons

Austin Hooper, the Falcons’ third-round pick in 2016, posted 271 receiving yards during his rookie campaign. That lowly figure was somehow the second-highest yardage total by an Atlanta tight end since Tony Gonzalez retired at the end of the 2013 season. Yes, the Falcons’ offense was the best in the NFL by a wide margin last year, but the unit could continue its dominance by adding another element at tight end. New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has never worked with an elite tight end (not counting his one-game stint as O.J. Howard‘s OC at Alabama, Sarkisian’s best TE pupil was Austin Seferian-Jenkins), so it’s unclear if he can develop young options such as Hooper and 2017 fifth-rounder Eric Saubert. A veteran such as Barnidge would allow those youthful players to grow by lessening their responsibilities, at least for the upcoming season.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills were the first stop on Barnidge’s free agent tour following his release by the Browns, so Buffalo clearly has some level of interest. Charles Clay is currently atop the Bills’ tight end depth chart, but he hasn’t been worth the five-year, $38MM deal Buffalo gave him prior to the 2015 season. Despite being the fifth-highest-paid tight end in the league, Clay has finished just 12th in approximate value since joining the Bills. Buffalo is stuck with him through at least 2018, as a 2016 contract restructure makes release unpalatable. Clay is a much better run blocker than Barnidge, so the latter would be able to play as a move tight end in the Bills’ offense. Given that Buffalo is fielding one of the league’s worst wide receiving groups, the club needs all the weapons it can get.

Carolina Panthers

After visiting with the Bills, Barnidge indicated he might take a meeting with the Panthers, and although it’s unclear if that visit ever took place, it stands to reason Carolina is still eyeing a tight end addition. Greg Olsen, clearly, is the No. 1 option for the Panthers, but the team’s depth at the position is shockingly sparse. Linked to a number of tight ends during the predraft process, Carolina ultimately stood pat, leaving only Ed Dickson and Chris Manhertz behind Olsen. Dickson, for his part, is essentially a non-factor in the receiving game and isn’t a great blocker — the Panthers could release him with a minimal dead cap charge. Barnidge spent the first four years of his career in Carolina, and a homecoming would make a lot of sense.

Cincinnati Bengals

Unquestionably one of the league’s more talented tight ends when healthy, Tyler Eifert just can’t seem to stay on the field. He’s never appeared in all 16 games, and has missed more than eight games in two of the past three seasons. Eifert’s 52-reception, 13-touchdown 2015 campaign showed him at his best, but he simply can’t be relied on. And the Bengals’ backup options are lackluster, as well, as C.J. Uzomah (25 catches, 234 yards) and Tyler Kroft (10, 92) struggled when asked to fill in for Eifert last season. Cincinnati has already bolstered its offense this offseason by adding wide receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon, and Barnidge would give the club another target and (much-needed) depth.

Denver Broncos

Denver has reached out to Barnidge in recent days, and the Broncos have a level of familiarity with Barnidge given that many of their coaches — notably offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and tight ends coach Jeff Davidson — worked with Barnidge in Carolina. While the tight end position isn’t quite the integral position in McCoy’s offense that it was in former head coach Gary Kubiak‘s, Denver still needs an infusion of talent at the position. The selection Jake Butt, of course, marked the initial step in the Broncos’ tight end revamp, but the former Michigan Wolverine may not be ready for Week 1 as he recovers from a torn ACL. Barnidge would instantly become Denver’s No. 1 tight end if signed, although head coach Vance Joseph said he’s currently pleased with the Broncos’ tight end group, tweets Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Like the Panthers, the Jaguars may try to set up a visit with Barnidge, and Barnidge confirmed that he has in fact heard from the Jacksonville staff. The Jaguars parted ways with free agent bust Julius Thomas this offseason, shipping him to Miami for a late-round pick, but the club’s only addition at the position was the signing of former Raider Mychal Rivera, who hasn’t topped 300 yards receiving since 2014. Incumbent Marcedes Lewis continues to strike new deals with the Jaguars (the latest a three-year, $12MM pact) despite last being productive at the turn of the decade, so Barnidge would represent an immediate upgrade for quarterback Blake Bortles & Co.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings may have landed a draft steal in Virginia Tech Bucky Hodges, who was projected to come off the board on Day 2 but lasted until the sixth round. Still, Hodges is more an oversized wideout than a typical tight end, as Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote in Hodges’ predraft profile. No. 1 tight end Kyle Rudolph posted the best season of his career in 2016, as he hauled in 83 passes for 840 yards, so Barnidge would clearly be the No. 2 in Minnesota. Given quarterback Sam Bradford‘s proclivity for the short passing game, adding another tight end who can play over the middle wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Pittsburgh Steelers

After releasing Ladarius Green last week, the Steelers appear set to roll with Jesse James, Xavier Grimble, and TE/FB David Johnson at tight end for the 2017 season. Pittsburgh didn’t address the position during the draft, which could mean the club is content with its current options. James, specifically, posted a nice season last year (39 receptions, 338 yards), but it’s hard to argue that he’s true No. 1 tight end for a contending team. Clearly, with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and (hopefully) Martavis Bryant in the fold, the Steelers don’t exactly need a dynamic weapon at tight end, but Barnidge would give the Steelers a veteran option for at least one year.

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