The Dolphins have solved part of their tight end problem after signing former Jets tight end Dustin Keller to a one-year contract on Friday.
"We are happy that we have been able to reach an agreement with Dustin," said Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland. "We have been able to see first-hand what kind of impact he brings to an offense during his time with the New York Jets and look forward to his contributions as a member of the Miami Dolphins."
The question now is whether they’ll stop with Keller, or seek another tight end in the draft. Miami already has tight end Michael Egnew, last year’s third-round pick, and H-back Charles Clay, a sixth-round pick two years ago.
Keller has better hands than former Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano, who signed with Kansas City. But he isn’t a better blocker, and he isn’t the ideal play-making tight end who can outrun a linebacker. He’s also coming off an injury-shortened season in which he had 28 receptions for 317 yards and two touchdowns in eight games.
Ideally, either Clay or Egnew fills the role of play-making tight end, which would allow the Dolphins multiple attack options in two-tight end formations. But both players would need to show lots of improvement in the off-season. Clay had been inconsistent and Egnew didn’t even get on the active roster until the 15th game of the season.
The draft offers three pass-catching tight ends among Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, Stanford’s Zach Ertz and San Diego State’s Gavin Escobar. It’s still regarded as a stretch to take any of the three with the Dolphins’ first-round pick (No. 12), but Eifert and Ertz might be gone by the time the Dolphins draft in the second round.
With Keller’s addition it appears the Dolphins have upgraded at tight end. But you still have to wonder whether they have what they need at the position.