The Chargers added to their shallow tight end room over the weekend when they signed former Rams and Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett to a two-year, $12 million deal that could earn him up to $13.5 million with incentives. He joins 2020 third-round pick Tre’ McKitty and Donald Parham as the top-three players at the position currently on the Bolts’ roster.
Everett is a bit of a jump off from previous starters Jared Cook (2021) and Hunter Henry (2017-2020). At 6’3 and 240 pounds, Everett is a shorter but more-athletic player who earned a selection in the second round of the draft out of South Alabama due to his ability to create yards after the catch and break a plethora of tackles. He’s been every bit of that player in the NFL in terms of skillset but he’s yet to truly “breakout” through his first five seasons.
Despite not putting up massive numbers, Everett has improved his receptions and yardage numbers with each new year. In his lone season with the Seahawks, he posted career highs across the board with 48 receptions, 478 yards, and four touchdowns.
Now, you’re likely realizing that his yardage is lower than any total for a Chargers starting tight end over the past three seasons. When you dismiss Henry’s lost 2018 season, it becomes the past six seasons dating back to 2016.
So what good is there about signing a tight end that has never been more than a decent change-of-pace player? Well, in my opinion, Everett’s ability to break tackles and churn out yards after the catch are big-time traits that can be exploited under the right coaching.
You may now be asking yourself, “How much better is Everett in YAC and broken tackles as opposed to Henry or Cook?”
Well, here are those numbers.
This past season, Cook averaged 5.0 yards after the catch and totaled 238 yards of YAC total. Divided by his season yardage total of 564 and you get 42 percent of his production that came after the catch.
As for Hunter Henry in 2019 and 2020, the former Charger recorded 164 and 226 yards after the catch, respectively. When divided by his totals of 652 and 613, you get 25 and 37 percent.
Now let’s take a look at Everett’s history.
Starting in his sophomore season of 2018 (this is when Pro Football Reference stated recording advanced stats) and ending in 2021, he recorded 144, 178, 243, and 249 yards after the catch, respectively. When you divide all of that by his seasonal totals of 320, 408, 417, and 478, his percentages come out to 45, 44, 58, and 52. So overall, roughly half of Everett’s professional production has come after catching the football.
That’s obviously impressive and a factor of the Chargers’ passing game that’s been lacking for some time. Mike Williams showed a bit of progression in this facet this past season which is why he earned a new contract, but overall the Bolts have been missing guys who can catch the ball before making someone miss — aside from Austin Ekeler, of course.
Lastly, let’s compare broken tackle numbers across the players above.
During his final two seasons in Los Angeles, Henry combined to break just three tackles in that span. As for Cook, he’s broken nine tackles dating back to the 2018 season, so a little over two per season.
As for Everett, he broke nine tackles in 2021, ALONE. That tied his career-high of nine in 2019 while he also broke another six in 2020. So that’s a total of 24 over the last three seasons, giving him and average of eight broken tackles per season.
Leading up to this upcoming season, there’s going to be a lot of split opinions on Everett regarding his ceiling and potential is within the Chargers offense. Until games are played, no one knows anything. However, the traits I discussed in this article were a big part of his game in college and they’re still a big part of his game now. It’ll be up to the likes of Staley and Joe Lombardi to get the most out of Everett and as long as he’s not dropping an exuberant amount of passes, I think he’ll fit just fine with Justin Herbert and the rest of the Chargers offense.