With the start of the new league year approaching, dolphins.com begins a series of free agency previews with the tight end position.
The Dolphins ended the 2017 season with four tight ends on their active roster, along with veteran DeVante Parker being on injured reserve.
Thomas, MarQueis Gray, Thomas Duarte and 2017 midseason acquisition A.J. Derby all are under contract for 2018, although there has been speculation that Thomas could become a salary-cap casualty.
Veteran Anthony Fasano is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after signing a one-year contract last spring, and he told reporters the day after the end of the 2017 season that he was contemplating retirement.
THE TOP THREE FREE AGENTS AT THE POSITION
Jimmy Graham, Seattle - The former University of Miami basketball player is coming off his best of three seasons with the Seahawks, one where he earned his fifth Pro Bowl invitation and reached double digits in touchdowns for the fourth time in his career. Graham didn't produce for Seattle the monster numbers he put up in New Orleans - he averaged 89 catches and 12.5 touchdowns from 2011-14 - but he has remained a productive receiver, as well as a major threat in the red zone.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, N.Y. Jets - After a checkered stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seferian-Jenkins developed into a dependable player for the Jets. He was third on the Jets last season with 50 receptions, three of them good for touchdowns. At 6 feet 6, Seferian-Jenkins represents a great target in the red zone.
Trey Burton, Philadelphia - Burton now is famous for his touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles on fourth down near the end of the first half of Super Bowl LII, but he's also an intriguing free agent option at tight end. He was overshadowed in Philadelphia because of the presence of Zack Ertz, but Burton is a good athlete who could blossom under the right circumstances. Burton averaged 30 catches for the Eagles over the past two seasons and had a career-high five touchdowns in 2017.
BEST OF THE REST
Cameron Brate spent his first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and caught 105 passes with 14 touchdowns over the past two years. Brate is among the most attractive free agent tight ends because of his production and his age (26). … Cincinnati's Tyler Eifert has battled injuries since being a first-round pick in 2013, but he had 13 touchdowns in 2015 when he was selected to the Pro Bowl. … Ben Watson turned 37 in December, but he's coming off a season when he caught 61 passes and scored four touchdowns for the Ravens. … It's difficult to envision Antonio Gates playing for any team other than the Chargers, but he's still worth mentioning. He already owns the record for most career touchdowns by a tight end with 114 and is third in receptions with 927. … Ed Dickson spent the past four seasons with Carolina after four years with Baltimore and is coming off a 30-catch season, the second-most productive of his career.