St. Louis Rams offseason roster review: Status quo at tight end

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams don't start organized team activities until June 3, but with most of the offseason heavy lifting complete, the current roster likely will make up the vast majority of players come the start of the regular season.

With that in mind, we'll spend the next week or so delving into each position group with some thoughts on who will start, who might be on the bubble and how the depth chart could shake out.

Position: TE

Returning: Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey, Justice Cunningham, Alex Bayer, Brad Smelley

Newcomers: None

Departures: None

Projected starter(s): Cook, Kendricks

Battle to watch: The Rams find themselves in the enviable position of having no real changes at tight end. Which means that any meaningful battle will be further down the depth chart. It's probably a safe bet that Cook, Kendricks and Harkey won't be going anywhere but the Rams have consistently kept at least four tight ends under coach Jeff Fisher. That means round two of a potential battle between Bayer and Cunningham for a spot. The team initially kept both at the end of last year's preseason, but Bayer stuck around while Cunningham left and was brought back later in the season. Smelley has bounced around in multiple stints with the Rams' practice squad but has had some good moments in practice. The winner of the battle will almost certainly have to be able to contribute on special teams to stick around.

Outlook: Because everybody is back, roles are pretty clearly defined and, after bringing Kendricks back on a long-term deal, this group should only continue to evolve and grow together. Cook remains the top target in the passing game out of this group and led the team's tight ends in catches (52) and yards (634) last year. There are many who would like to see more from him given his contract and this could be an important year for him as he nears the end of his deal. Kendricks has said that he's been told he'll be more active in the passing game as that was a condition of his return in free agency but will also continue in his versatile role doing a bit of everything. Harkey is one of the team's hardest working and dependable pieces. He'll likely continue to get plenty of snaps in a de facto fullback role and with the Rams looking to power up the run game, his playing time could actually increase. The Rams have kept four or even five tight ends at times under Fisher so Cunningham, Bayer and Smelley will have to jockey for position with Bayer a likely leader in the clubhouse based on his flashes from 2014.