The New York Giants had some concerns about their tight end position heading into this offseason. Former Stony Brook product Will Tye had been the team’s starter for essentially two years running. He was adequate if unspectacular. It appeared that trend would continue for at least one more season in 2017. Instead, New York rerouted their NFL Draft plans and selected Evan Engram in the first round. That move, along with some others, changed the fate of Will Tye.
Tye is a solid player. He was good enough entering the league to overtake Larry Donnell for playing time and hold off Jerell Adams for snaps. He played 13 games as a rookie and then a full 16-game slate as a sophomore. This will be just his third season in the league, and he already has 132 career targets and 90 catches. Tye is legitimately solid.
The issues the Giants had with him were always about being an all-around contributor. Tye isn’t explosive, nor does he posses a high ceiling as a player. He isn’t an elite blocker for a tight end either. To make up for his shortcoming, the team signed free agent Rhett Ellison to pick up the slack. Ellison is hardly an asset in the passing game, though he isn’t a zero. Instead, his strength comes as a blocker on the end of the line and out of the backfield. Essentially, Tye and Ellison would each be used as half of a perfect tight end.
That is what led to speculation that New York would attempt to find that all-around talent at the position through the draft. Failing to seek out and obtain such a player, Tye and Ellison would hold down the fort, with Adams subbing in and Matt LaCosse perhaps getting a chance to prove himself. Absent an O.J. Howard joining NY, Tye was going to be the team’s starter once again. After all, he had earned it.
Then the Giants drafted Engram; a player with essentially the same skill set as Tye just way better. Neither would battle Ellison as a blocking asset, but now Tye’s spot is duplicated by someone better. His role went from starter to non-factor just like that.
New York is unlikely to keep more than three tight ends on its active roster. LaCosse couldn’t stay healthy in previous seasons, and that ruins his opportunity here. Ellison and Engram are obviously safe. Adams is probably safe too. He was just drafted last season. Maybe the team gives up on a sixth-round pick after one unexciting year, but that feels doubtful. That means Tye is the odd man out. Rosters aren’t built for four tight ends; Tye has become number four just like that.
The nature of the NFL is to obtain talent, wherever it comes, and adjust the roster accordingly to give yourself the best overall team. That means adding value through free agency. It means drafting the best player available. That is what the Giants did by signing Ellison and grabbing Engram. It just so happens that Will Tye is probably a victim of that roster adjustment.