DENVER – The Broncos aren’t getting Dallas Clark.
What they’re getting is better.
As speculation swirled around Clark, Jacob Tamme quietly lurked on the market. Had he become a free agent after his breakthrough 2010 season, when he caught 67 passes for 631 yards and four touchdowns, he would have drawn much attention during the truncated free-agency period after the lockout.
But coming off a year in which he didn’t play as much — because Dallas Clark was healthy enough to participate in 11 of 16 games — Tamme’s 19 receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown left him lingering on the market for 10 days until the Broncos picked him up.
Tamme signs for $9 million over three years — including $3.5 million guaranteed — and might be a bargain.
As Clark grappled with injuries the last two years, he had respectable per-game numbers, averaging 4.2 receptions for 41.1 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game.
But when Tamme filled in for Clark, he averaged 5.4 receptions for 52.1 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game. (* Thanks to Broncos public relations for the research on the per-game numbers.)
Tamme also caught a higher percentage of passes targeted to him, 77.7 percent in games where Clark didn’t play compared with 60.2 percent for Clark.
Friday was the day for the Broncos to snag tight ends that could flourish with extra playing time. Ex-Texan Joel Dreessen capably filled in for Owen Daniels in recent years and comes off a 2011 season in which he scored a career-high six touchdowns.
This also leaves time for Julius Thomas to develop — and might be trouble for Virgil Green, who will serve a four-game suspension at the start of the season. If Tamme, Dreessen and Thomas are all the Broncos need in the season’s first quarter, Green, a seventh-round pick from 2011, might find his spot in jeopardy.