Every NFL Team’s Best TE In History

Throughout the history of the NFL there have been many great tight ends. Some teams have had much greater success using the tight end while others haven’t. Some team have barely featured the tight end. However, in today’s NFL, the tight end is becoming more and more important and is seeing plays designed specifically for the tight end. We have even seen the tight end become the focal point of some team’s passing attacks. With the evolution of the tight end and the rising importance of the position we wanted to list every team’s best throughout their history. These are the best tight ends for each NFL team.

Arizona Cardinals – Jackie Smith
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Smith played 15 years with the Cardinals. During that time he made five Pro Bowls, eclipsed 1,000 yards once and is currently third in receiving yards in Cardinals’ history with 7,918 yards. He also averaged 16.5 yards per reception which was some solid yardage for a tight end in that era.

Atlanta Falcons – Tony Gonzalez
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He might ranks second among tight ends in Falcons’ history but he only played five years in Atlanta at the end of his career. Still, he almost passed Jim Mitchell, who ranks ahead of him by just 171 yards despite playing for the Falcons for 11 years. Gonzalez also made four Pro Bowls with the team and was named first-team All-Pro once.

Baltimore Ravens – Todd Heap
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Heap finished his career second all-time on the Ravens’ receiving leaderboard with 5,492 yards and first in touchdowns with 41. He made two Pro Bowls during his ten-year career with the team. He was quietly one of the better tight ends in the game when healthy.

Buffalo Bills – Pete Metzelaars
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Metzelaars tops all Bills’ tight ends in yardage with 2,921 yards, which is twelfth among all Bills’ receivers, and touchdowns with 25, which is good for a tie for eighth among all Bills’ receivers. The Bills have never truly featured the tight end in their offense but Metzelaars was a solid tight end. His best year came in 1993 when he caught 68 passes for 609 yards and four touchdowns.

Carolina Panthers – Greg Olsen
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Olsen already ranks third among all Panthers’ receivers in yards with 5,412 and ranks fourth in touchdowns with 32. He gets the nod over Wesley Walls due to his three consecutive years of 1,000 or more yards. He is one of the most dynamic tight ends to play the game and has been a focal point in the Panthers’ passing attack.

Chicago Bears – Mike Ditka
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Ditka was one of the first tight ends to be a true pass-catching threat. He made five straight Pro Bowls from 1961 to 1965 and was named first-team All-Pro twice. Even though he only played six years with the Bears he still ranks fifth in receiving yards with 4,503 and his 34 touchdowns rank him fourth in team history. He also surpassed 1,000 yards in his rookie season which resulted in him winning the UPI Rookie of the Year in 1961. He is a Hall of Famer because of his play on the field.

Cincinnati Bengals – Bob Trumpy
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One day Tyler Eifert might top this list but for the next several years this is Trumpy’s spot. He tops all Bengals tight ends with 4,600 yards, good enough for tenth in team history among all receivers, and touchdowns with 35 which is good for ninth among all Bengals’ receivers. He was named to two AFL All-Star teams, two Pro Bowls and named first-team All-Pro once during his ten years with the team.

Cleveland Browns – Ozzie Newsome
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Newsome tops all Browns’ receivers with 7,980 yards and fifth with 47 touchdowns. He made three Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro once. He surpassed 1,000 yards in a season twice. He was a premier tight end in football for many years and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.

Dallas Cowboys – Jason Witten
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Witten is the epitome of the tight end position in modern football. He has been consistently good for over a decade and ranks first among all Cowboys’ receivers in yards with 12,171 and fourth in touchdowns with 66. He surpassed the 1,000-yard mark four times in his career and caught 110 passes in 2012. Witten has made 10 trips to the Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro twice. Nobody will ever accuse him of being the fastest player on the field but he always finds himself open due to his precise route running.

Denver Broncos – Shannon Sharpe
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Sharpe’s 8,439 yards and 55 touchdowns pace all Broncos’ tight ends and ranks second among all Broncos’ receivers. He made seven Pro Bowl appearances with the Broncos and was named first-team All-Pro four times. He is one of the all-time greats.

Detroit Lions – Charlie Sanders
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Sanders ranks sixth all-time among Lions’ receivers with 4,817 yards and seventh with 31 touchdowns. He went to seven Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro three times. He retired in 1977 and is still the best tight end to ever wear the Lions’ uniform.

Green Bay Packers – Paul Coffman
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Coffman would go to three Pro Bowls as a member of the Packers. He finished his career first among all tight end in yards with 4,223 and touchdowns with 39. The Packers have never featured the tight end as a true primary option in the passing game but Coffman came close to being the true featured weapon in the passing game.

Houston Texans – Owen Daniels
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Daniels finished his career with some pretty decent numbers. He is third all-time in Texans history with 4,617 yards and tied for second with 29 touchdowns. He also made two Pro Bowls with the Texans. He is one of the most underrated tight ends in the game.

Indianapolis Colts – John Mackey
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The Hall of Famer ranks eighth among Colts’ receivers with 5,126 yards and touchdowns with 38. He went to five Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro three times. He played in a time when passing the football was not nearly as prevalent as it is today and still put up excellent numbers. He could do anything and was not afraid to go over the middle of the field.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Marcedes Lewis
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The Jaguars haven’t been around a very long time in the grand scheme of the NFL. However, Lewis has been a fixture with the Jaguars since 2006. His numbers don’t pop off the page but he does have on Pro Bowl trip and ranks third in yardage with 4,289 yards and counting and second in touchdowns with 32 and counting.

Kansas City Chiefs – Tony Gonzalez
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Gonzalez is the Chiefs’ all-time leading receiver in both yards, 10,940, and touchdowns, 76. He is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. He went to ten straight Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro five times during his time with the Chiefs. He has four 1,000 yard seasons and led the NFL in catches in 2004 with 102 receptions. He is the best pass-catching tight end to ever play the game.

Los Angeles Chargers – Antonio Gates
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The Chargers have been pretty blessed with tight ends in their history with Kellen Winslow and Gates, two of the best tight ends to ever play. Gates, however, leads all Chargers receivers in yards, 11,311, touchdowns, 112, and receptions, 910. You can easily make the case he is the best tight end to play but he is surely in the top two or three.

Los Angeles Rams – Billy Truax
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The Rams have never used the tight end as a focal point in their passing game. This is evidenced by the fact that Truax paces all Rams’ tight ends in yards with just 2,177 and his 17 touchdowns rank third among tight ends. Truax gets the nod pretty much by default.

Miami Dolphins – Keith Jackson
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He only played three seasons with the Dolphins but he ranks fourth in yards among all Dolphins tight ends with 1,880 and is tied for fourth with 18 touchdowns. He has one Pro Bowl appearance. He had a good rapport with Dan Marino and would have had much greater numbers had nagging injuries not hampered him.

Minnesota Vikings – Steve Jordan
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Jordan’s 6,307 yards top all Vikings tight ends and places him sixth all-time among Vikings’ receivers. His 28 touchdowns led all tight ends until Kyle Rudolph passed him in 2016 but still ranks eighth all-time among Vikings’ pass catchers. Jordan also made six straight Pro Bowls from 1986 to 1991.

New England Patriots – Rob Gronkowski
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Gronkowski is the epitome of the modern-day tight end. He already ranks third all-time in Patriots’ history with 6,547 yards and leads all Patriots’ receivers with 72 touchdowns. He has three 1,000-yard seasons and has eclipsed 10 touchdowns five times, including a NFL-leading 17 in 2011. He is at four Pro Bowls appearances and has been named first-team All-Pro three times.

New Orleans Saints – Jimmy Graham
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Graham ranks fifth in Saints’ history in receiving yards with 4,752 yards and second in touchdowns with 51. He led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 16 in 2013, eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season twice and made three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team.

New York Giants – Mark Bavaro
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Bavaro might not lead Giants tight ends in yardage, he currently sits fourth with 3,722 yards, or touchdowns, he is second with 28. Bavaro, however, was exactly what you want in a tight end, a good blocker who could become a focal point in the offense when needed, and Phil Simms needed him often. In 1986, Bavaro had 66 catches for 1001 yards and four touchdowns. In 1987 he caught 55 balls for 867 yards and eight touchdowns. He made an appearance in the Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro both of those seasons. Injuries robbed him of a lot in later years but he was the closest thing to Rob Gronkowski that there was in the mid-80s.

New York Jets – Mickey Shuler
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Shuler’s 4,819 yards and 37 touchdowns lead all Jets’ tight ends and rank seventh and sixth among all Jets’ receivers respectively. He only made two Pro Bowl appearances but he surpassed 60 catches four times in his career. The Jets have been looking to replace Shuler with a quality, long-term tight end since Shuler left the team after the 1989 season.

Oakland Raiders – Dave Casper
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Casper might rank behind Todd Christensen in career yardage and touchdowns but the Hall of Famer was good for a longer period of time. His 3,294 yards ranks 11th in team history and his 35 touchdowns rank eighth among all Raiders’ pass-catchers. Casper made five Pro Bowl appearances and was named first-team All-Pro four straight years from 1976 to 1979.

Philadelphia Eagles – Pete Retzlaff
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Retzlaff played for the Eagles between 1956 and 1966 but his 7,412 career yards still ranks second in team history and his 47 touchdowns rank fifth in team history among all pass catchers. He appeared in five Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro once, in 1965 when he caught 66 passes for 1,190 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also led the NFL in receptions with 56 in 1958. He averaged 16.4 yards per reception in his career which is unheard of for a tight end with perhaps the exception of Rob Gronkowski.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Heath Miller
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Miller paces all tight ends and ranks fourth all-time in Steelers’ history with 6,569 yards. His 45 touchdowns rank fifth among all Steelers’ pass catchers. Miller made two Pro Bowl appearances with the Steelers and was one of the most consistent tight ends in the game until he retired in 2015. He was always there for Ben Roethlisberger and missed only eight games in an 11-year career which is remarkable. Miller is overshadowed by playing in an era with Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates but he is the mold of what a tight end should be, a reliable option in the passing game and consistent blocker in the run game.

San Francisco 49ers – Vernon Davis
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Davis’ 5,640 career yards and 55 touchdowns pace all 49ers’ tight ends and rank sixth and fourth respectively among all 49er receivers. Using his unique blend of size and speed he could put an offense on his back, and often did with the 49ers. Injuries took their toll on him in his later years with the team but he is still going strong. He made two Pro Bowl appearances with the 49ers and led the NFL with 13 touchdowns in 2009. He was the rare tight end that could stretch the field and often required a defensive back to defend him.

Seattle Seahawks – Jimmy Graham
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Graham has only been with the Seahawks for three seasons and his time with the Seahawks has been somewhat of a disappointment. However, the tight end has never really been a part of the Seahawks’ game plan regardless of the coach or era. Graham leads all Seahawks’ tight ends in yards with 1,758 and his 10 touchdowns rank fourth all-time among Seahawk tight ends. Graham also made the Pro Bowl in 2016 with a 65-catch, 923-yard, six touchdown season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jimmie Giles
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Giles played from 1978 to 1986 with the Bucs and ranks fourth in career receiving yards with 4,300 and tops all receivers with 34 touchdowns. He made four Pro Bowls with the Buccaneers. He was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2011.

Tennessee Titans – Frank Wycheck
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Wycheck was a favorite target of Steve McNair for years. His 4,958 yards and 27 touchdowns top all Titans’ tight ends and rank seventh and ninth among all Titans’ receivers. He made three straight Pro Bowl appearances, the only ones of his career, from 1998-2000. He is one of only seven tight ends to surpass 500 receptions in NFL history and led the Titans in receiving three years in a row.

Washington Redskins – Jerry Smith
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Smith retired as the all-time touchdown leader among tight ends in NFL history with 60. He ranks seventh among all Redskins receivers and first among tight ends with 5,496 yards. His 60 touchdowns still rank third in team history. He is a member of the Redskins’ Ring of Fame, was selected to two Pro Bowls and named first-team All-Pro once.