Of all the Arizona Cardinals veterans, none are on a hotter seat than fourth year tight end Rob Housler. If he isn’t already on the lower end of the totem pole, he really should be.
He’s flashed potential, don’t get me wrong. It looked to be trending upward for him in 2012, after catching 45 passes for 417 yards and looking every bit the field-stretching receiver the Cardinals hoped he could be. But 2013 saw little progression, posting similar numbers with 39 catches for 454 yards and his only career touchdown.
Even more concerning is how often Housler looks disinterested in his route running. This is something that’s hard to substantiate, but is partially explained by his dwindling playtime last season and his lack of faith coming into this offseason. One would like to think a second round pick would not have been used in drafting a potential replacement if all Housler’s ducks were in a row.
In addition to drafting Troy Niklas out of Notre Dame, Arizona signed former Seattle tight end John Carlson and brought third year Jake Ballard back from last season. Both have had better statistical seasons than Housler has up to this point: Carlson in 2008-2009 where he averaged 600 yards and 6 touchdowns and Ballard who caught 38 receptions for 604 yards and 4 touchdowns his rookie year in 2011. Only Niklas lacks a better track record than Housler, but only because he’s a rookie. Last season at Notre Dame, he caught 32 receptions for 498 yards and 5 touchdowns.
In Ballard, Carlson and Nicklas, Arians has three stellar blocking tight ends before factoring Housler – an average blocker – into the equation. But even without factoring in the blocking aspect of the position, all three other tight ends on the roster are arguably as good if not a little better in the receiving aspect than Housler, who supposedly boasts receiving as his calling card.
If Housler can’t beat out those three guys, the question becomes will Arians and company feel the need to carry four on the 53-man roster. It may be hard to justify that, given the amount of quality players at other positions.
Reportedly, he’s doing quite well in OTA’s, as to be expected by someone who knows his roster spot isn’t guaranteed. But it may be too little too late. Unless the Arizona brass thinks his receiving alone is enough to warrant a roster spot, he may be on his way out.