One position lacking depth on the Cincinnati Bengals roster is tight end. Jermaine Gresham is firmly planted as the starter and will remain in that spot for the foreseeable future, but given Gresham's susceptibility to injury and the team's usage of double-tight formations, a reliable back up is necessary . Last season Gresham caught 56 balls for 596 yards and 6 touchdowns--numbers good enough for a Pro Bowl selection (thanks to the New England Patriots going to the Super Bowl). Backing up Gresham were Colin Cochart and Donald Lee. Colin Cochart, a blocking-focused tight end, caught 5 passes for 44 yards and one touchdown, and the veteran Donald Lee caught 11 passes for 115 yards and no touchdowns. Off-season acquisition Bo Scaife was placed on Injured Reserve prior to the season.
Both Lee and Scaife are now free agents, and it is unknown whether either will be back with the Bengals in 2012. Free Agency will serve as the principle route in attaining a quality backup tight end, and the 2012 class of free agents at that position is more than serviceable. Leading the pack is Jermichael Finley of the Green Bay Packers, but Finley will be looking for a starting job and a large contract--two things the Bengals are not interested in. Behind Finley, however, are some very intriguing possible signings, most of all Martellus Bennett of the Dallas Cowboys. Bennett only caught 17 passes for 144 yards last season, but is considered an elite run blocker--something highly sought after when it comes to No. 2 tight ends. And it wouldn't be the first time that the Bengals would be interested in Bennett.
Other notable free agent tight ends include Joel Dreesen of the Houston Texans, Fred Davis of the Washington Redskins, and Jacob Tamme of the Indianapolis Colts. If the Bengals decide to fill the backup tight end spot with a pass catcher as opposed to a blocker, then Jacob Tamme is a very legitimate option.