The Arizona Cardinals moved to a perfect 5-0 following Sunday’s 17-10 win over their NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers. It, unfortunately, wasn’t all good news for the NFL’s lone undefeated team, as tight end Maxx Williams was feared to have suffered a season-ending injury after taking a vicious hit to the knee in the victory.
It represents a noteworthy blow for a Cardinals passing offense that has been firing on all cylinders as of late. The chemistry between franchise quarterback Kyler Murray and Williams was clearly starting to blossom right before our eyes. The former second-round pick first caught attention in Week 2 by securing all seven of his targets for 94 receiving yards. Just two weeks later, Williams recorded five receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown in Arizona's dominant victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
General manager Steve Keim will now be left to pick up the pieces in the wake of Williams' injury. With the trio of Darrell Daniels, Demetrius Harris, and Ross Travis unlikely to replicate Williams' production in the passing game, the Cardinals could turn their attention to the trade market. Here are three tight ends the Cardinals should inquire about.
ERIC EBRON, PITTSBURGH STEELERS
The writing appears to be on the wall for the 28-year-old Ebron, who can’t get on the field despite Pittsburgh’s offensive struggles. The former North Carolina standout has yet to top a measly 20 receiving yards in a single game this season and continues to concede ground to Pat Freirmuth, who they clearly drafted as his replacement.
It’s not difficult to envision Ebron immediately stepping into a complementary role as Arizona’s main pass-catching tight end. Ebron still has plenty of juice left in that department, and the Cardinals now have an unexpected need at the position. It wouldn't require much for Keim to acquire the out-of-favor Ebron.
JIMMY GRAHAM, CHICAGO BEARS
It’s unclear what role Jimmy Graham is supposed to be playing for the Bears on a weekly basis. Many expected general manager Ryan Pace to release Graham in the offseason, seeing that the 34-year-old is currently the 10th-highest-paid tight end in the league.
The Bears surprisingly held onto Graham, but have failed to define what his role on their offense is. Graham has never been known for his prowess as a blocking tight end, and has astoundingly been the recipient of just four targets through five weeks, and hasn’t recorded a reception since Week 1.
Pace drafted Cole Kmet to be the tight end of the future, and Chicago is clearly looking toward 2022 and beyond with Justin Fields now officially under center. All parties involved would welcome this hypothetical deal.
MO ALIE-COX, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
The 6-foot-7 Cox has always been an underrated and intriguing weapon in the passing game, specifically in the red zone. That statement continues to hold true in 2021. Cox reminded everyone what he's capable of in Week 4 by finding the end zone twice on three of his grabs in Indianapolis’ win over the Miami Dolphins.
General manager Chris Ballard may be reluctant to let a player of Cox’s pedigree play elsewhere, but the former undrafted free agent out of VCU is in a contract year. With the future direction of Indianapolis' offense still very much in doubt, Ballard may begrudgingly accept future draft capital in return for Cox.