For me, there are two surprises in the following chart. The first is that only eight rookie tight ends in NFL history have had 50 or more receptions. The second is that every one of them went in the first 40 picks of the draft except for Tim Wright, the guy the Patriots just acquired from the Bucs for six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins. Wright, who played his college ball at Rutgers, was passed over by all 32 teams a year ago.
ROOKIE TIGHT ENDS WHO HAVE CAUGHT 50 OR MORE PASSES
|Year Tight End, Team||Rec||Yds||Avg||TD||Round-Pick|
|1988 Keith Jackson, Eagles||81||869||10.7||6||1-13|
|2002 Jeremy Shockey, Giants||74||894||12.1||2||1-14|
|1961 Mike Ditka, Bears||56||1,076||19.2||12||1-5|
|2008 John Carlson, Seahawks||55||627||11.4||5||2-38|
|1973 Charle Young, Eagles||55||854||15.5||6||1-6|
|1998 Cam Cleeland, Saints||54||684||12.7||6||2-40|
|2013 Tim Wright, Bucs||54||571||10.6||5||Undrafted|
|2010 Jermaine Gresham, Bengals||52||471||9.1||4||1-21|
That’s right, no Rob Gronkowski (42 receptions). No Jimmy Graham (31). No Tony Gonzalez (33). No Kellen Winslow Sr. or Jr. (30 combined in their first season). No Shannon Sharpe (7). Maybe this Wright kid is better than we think. (Of course, before today, when the deal was announced, how often did he even cross our minds?)
At the every least, Wright provides low-cost Gronk Insurance in the event the all-world tight end is slow coming back from knee surgery. When No. 87 was out of the lineup last year, the Patriots’ supercharged offense seemed more like a stick shift. Wright also creates significant cap space in case the Pats want to hang onto Darrelle Revis, whose 2015 option is a gargantuan $20 million. Mankins, after all, had the Pats’ second-highest cap number after Tom Brady; Wright, meanwhile, like most undrafted free agents, subsists on gruel.
Still, trading a guard with Mankins’ resumé . . . how often has that happened? Well, I dug up one similar example back in the ’70s. (Which isn’t to say there might not be others.) I also found a couple of guards who were dealt after being voted to five Pro Bowls — and two more who were sent packing after being voted to three. The particulars, chronologically:
● Walt Sweeney, Chargers to Redskins (January 1974) — A nine-time Pro Bowler in San Diego (1964-72), Sweeney joined George Allen’s Over the Hill Gang at the age of 33. He started for two seasons in Washington before calling it a career. The Chargers received fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks spread over three drafts.
● Ed White, Vikings to Chargers (July 1978) — White had made three Pro Bowls in Minnesota and would make another in San Diego. Though already 31, he ended up playing eight more seasons (which Mankins might try to do just out of spite). The Vikes, in return, got Rickey Young, who caught 88 passes in his first year with them, a record for running backs (since broken).
● Joe DeLamielleure, Bills to Browns (September 1980) — Hall of Famer DeLamielleure, then 29, had been selected for five Pro Bowls in Buffalo and added a sixth in Cleveland. The Bills came away with second- and third-round picks.
● R.C. Thielemann, Falcons to Redskins (August 1985) — Atlanta needed a wideout. Washington wasn’t sold on its right guard. So the 30-year-old Thielemann, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Falcons, was swapped Charlie Brown, who was coming off an injury-marred season after tying for the NFC lead in receptions in ’83. R.C. was just a spoke in the wheel with the Redskins, but he did start on their ’87 championship team.
● Kent Hill, Los Angeles Rams to Houston Oilers (September 1986) — This was the trade, two games into the season, that enabled L.A. to obtain the rights to unsigned QB Jim Everett, the third pick in the ’86 draft (who had no desire to sit behind Canton-bound Warren Moon). Hill, part of a mega-package that included DE William Fuller and two No. 1s, was 29 and had gone to five Pro Bowls. He played that year and one more in Houston and then retired.
As for Everett, he didn’t win the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, but after moving to the Saints he did leave us with this memorable clip:
Anyway, yeah, this Mankins trade is extremely rare. I wouldn’t want to be the team that comes out on the short end of it.
Sources: pro-football-reference.com, NFL.com