Eric Ebron is entrenched as the top pass-catching option at tight end, but he's never been much of a blocker, which just so happens to be Fells' strength. While the 31-year-old has never caught more than 21 passes in a season, his prowess as a blocker could get him enough snaps to challenge for a new careerhigh in receptions even if Ebron stays healthy. The Lions may rely on more two-TE formations this season due to their lack of proven talent at wide receiver behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.
A good blocking tight end, Fells will join the Lions after being non-tendered by the Cardinals this offseason. Eric Ebron will play ahead of him and presents a better and more effective pass-catching option. However, Fells could receive a boost in fantasy value should the injury bug bite Ebron again and is joining a pass-heavy Lions offense that could make him an option in deep leagues and a flier in daily lineups.
Fells, who didn't receive a restricted free-agent tender from the Cardinals, will meet with the Lions on Friday, Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910 Phoenix reports.
The Cardinals put their eggs in Jermaine Gresham's basket with Tuesday's four-year contract, seemingly spelling the end of Fells' three-year run in Arizona. Although Eric Ebron is the Lions' No. 1 tight end, depth is lacking at the position after the team opted to move on from reserves Tim Wright (knee), Matthew Mulligan, and Clay Harbor. If Fells indeed lands a deal with Detroit, he could serve as Ebron's primary backup in his age-31 season.
Fells is not expected to receive a restricted free agent tender, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com reports.
Fells will turn 31 in April and is coming off a 2016 season in which he only caught 14 passes for 154 yards while taking a clear back seat to Jermaine Gresham. With 2014 second-round selection Troy Niklas also in the mix, Arizona isn't willing to give Gresham a one-year, $1.8 million RFA tender, instead allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.
Fells reeled in 14 of 18 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown in 14 games during the 2016 season.
In Weeks 2 through 4, Fells led the TE group in Arizona in terms of offensive snaps. However, a stringer in the latter contest sidelined Fells with a Thursday outing on tap, allowing Jermaine Gresham to stake a claim to the starting spot. Gresham received a plurality of the workload thereafter, deviating below 77 percent of the snaps on offense just once over the final 12 contests of the year. Considering Fells' age (he turns 31 years old in April) and Gresham's pass-catching acumen, the Cardinals may carry on with the latter as the No. 1 tight end, despite his status as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Fells is a restricted free agent himself, but a tandem of Gresham and 2014 second-round selection Troy Niklas (wrist) could very well be the breakdown at the top of the group in 2017.
|P1||8/13/17||@ IND||1:30 pm|
|P4||8/31/17||@ BUF||7:00 pm|
|2||9/18/17||@ NYG||8:30 pm|
|4||10/1/17||@ MIN||1:00 pm|
|6||10/15/17||@ NO||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 7|
|9||11/6/17||@ GB||8:30 pm|
|11||11/19/17||@ CHI||1:00 pm|
|13||12/3/17||@ BAL||1:00 pm|
|14||12/10/17||@ TB||1:00 pm|
|16||12/24/17||@ CIN||1:00 pm|