Luke Gifford

Extra Points: Tight Ends, Bullough, Cowboys

With the regular season winding down, attention across the league is understandably starting to turn toward the offseason. There are a ton of interesting storylines for 2020 free agency, and one of them is that tight ends across the NFL are about to get paid. A number of top tight ends are either going to be entering free agency or the final years of their deals, and multiple sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com they will “redefine the value of NFL tight ends, and the position is about to see a major bump in the salaries paid to them.”

The 49ers’ George Kittle is going to be entering the final year of his deal and San Francisco will likely seek to work out an extension. Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz is also going to be entering a contract year, while Atlanta’s Austin Hooper will be a free agent this spring. The Chargers’ Hunter Henry and Eric Ebron of the Colts are also both slated to be free agents. Schefter writes that “few around the league believe that Kittle will play next season” still under his rookie deal, so it sounds like he’s going to land a massive extension. He’ll probably become the league’s highest-paid tight end whenever that happens. The position isn’t as deep as it used to be league-wide, but the top ones are playing huge roles on some of the NFL’s top offenses. Now, it sounds like they’re going to break the bank.

Here’s more as Week 15 comes to a close:

  • We’ve got minor retirement news to pass along, as linebacker Riley Bullough is hanging up his cleats, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (Twitter link). A Michigan State product, Bullough is best remembered by NFL fans for being featured prominently in the 2017 season of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ while with the Buccaneers. Bullough signed with Tampa as an UDFA in 2017, and bounced between their practice squad and active roster over the next two years. He started three games for the Bucs last year, and was in camp with Tennessee this summer. He comes from a football family, with his brother Max and father Shane both also playing at MSU. Max spent a few years in the NFL with the Texans and Browns.
  • The Cowboys pulled off a big win over the Rams on Sunday, but they also suffered a blow to their depth. Rookie linebacker Luke Gifford will miss the rest of the season with a fractured arm he picked up during the win, a source told Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Gifford, an UDFA from Nebraska, has only appeared in five games this season due to injury, but he’s been playing a pretty big role on special teams when healthy. He’s yet to take a defensive snap in his pro career.
  • In case you missed it, it looks like Freddie Kitchens will be back in Cleveland next year.

Cowboys Add 13 UDFAs

The Cowboys announced their 13-man UDFA group Tuesday. One familiar-looking name appears on this list. Here is the full contingent:

Allen is indeed the son of Hall of Fame Cowboy Larry Allen. Like his father, Larry Allen Jr. primarily works as a guard. He earned first-team All-Ivy League honors twice. While Clemson’s defensive line received the draft attention, Hyatt was a two-time first-team All-American.

The younger brother of Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise, Daniel Wise was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 player. Westry stands 6-foot-4, making him a natural fit for Kris Richard‘s scheme. One of three linebackers in this group, Phillips led Oklahoma State in tackles last season. Dowell was among the Big Ten’s 2018 tackle leaders, registering 97 with the Spartans as a senior.