L.A. Rams position outlook 2021: Tight ends

Tyler Higbee should factor into offense more in 2021
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The Los Angeles Rams had a talented and productive tight end group in 2020. Led by Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett, this group combined for 89 receptions for 991 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns. However, Everett is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in March, and the Rams may have to figure out how to replace his production if they lose him to another team.

Locks: Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins
On the bubble: Kendall Blanton
Free agents: Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt

The good: The Rams used more two, tight end sets in 2020, with head coach Sean McVay looking to create more diversity in his offense. Per Next Gen Stats, the Rams ran two-tight end sets on 30 percent of the team’s snaps on offense during the regular season, averaging five yards per play compared to 6.1 yards per play on three-receiver sets. Higbee continues to emerge as one of the better complete tight ends in the NFL, finishing with 44 receptions for 521 receiving yards and five touchdowns in last season, along with doing a nice job as a blocker in the run game. The Rams should look to get Higbee involved even more in the offense next season. Everett finished with 41 receptions for 417 receiving yards and two total touchdowns. Mundt did a nice job as a run blocker and core special teams player, playing a career-high 266 snaps on special teams and posted three combined tackles.

The bad: Higbee dealt with injuries that affected his availability last season. Higbee missed a game with a hand injury but showed toughness by playing with the injury during the second half of the year. Higbee also wore a brace to protect an elbow injury suffered against Tampa Bay for the rest of the season. Per Pro Football Focus, Everett had six drops in 2020 and Higbee had two drops. Hopkins, a fourth round selection last year, played only two snaps on offense last season and needs to emerge as more of a contributor on offense in 2021.

The money: Higbee is scheduled to make $6.5 million in total compensation in 2021. Hopkins is slated to make $780,000 in base salary for the upcoming season. Blanton is scheduled to make $850,000 in base salary next season.

Draft priority: There’s enough talent on the roster to have a productive tight end group next season. Everett should have interest from other teams in free agency and it will be hard for the Rams to bring him back. But Hopkins has the ability to replace some of Everett’s production and Blanton also flashed some potential as a pass catcher in training camp. The Rams should look to bring back Mundt if it makes sense financially and add depth by signing a few undrafted rookies.