NFL Free Agency 2012: Why the Cleveland Browns Should Pursue Visanthe Shiancoe

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IFebruary 15, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 9: Visanthe Shiancoe #81 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter on October 9, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Cardinals 34-10. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

When the Cleveland Browns signed Brad Childress to be their new offensive coordinator in 2012, the team brought a whole new set of NFL "connections" for sports writers to base their theories upon for the upcoming season.

Now, with NFL free agency right around the corner, the Browns have many holes that need filling on both sides of the ball, and more names are beginning to surface in Cleveland's hunt for new talent.

Visanthe Shiancoe could be one of those players with a connection to Childress and could serve as an improvement at a tight end position that was weakened by injury last season.

Benjamin Watson led a Cleveland tight end unit that was supposed to be a strong point on the Browns offense in 2011. However, Watson suffered three separate concussions throughout the 2011 season and missed a significant amount of time late in the year. Shiancoe suffered through an injury-plagued season himself in 2011 but still managed to post decent numbers in one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

Even though Shiancoe has not yet been mentioned as a real target for Cleveland, one would have to wonder where the Browns could go wrong by bringing in another target for Colt McCoy

When Shiancoe was playing under Childress in the 2009 season, the Viking tight end caught 11 touchdown passes from Brett Favre and was considered one of the most athletic young players in the league. Last season brought only three touchdown reception's to Shiancoe's total, but the Vikings quarterback play was inconsistent at best for most of the season.

Watson, Evan Moore and Jordan Cameron are expected to be the three contributing tight ends on the Browns roster for next season. However, Moore and Cameron both failed to impress on a consistent basis last season.

It may be smart for the Browns to add another talented tight end with Watson's injury history and the new trend of two tight end systems in the NFL. The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens are just two teams that have had great success using multiple tight ends to help spread out their offense.

The Browns have been relatively secretive on who they plan to target when free agency gets started in March. Many experts believe Cleveland will be big players in the market leading up to the NFL draft. Shiancoe is expected to gain a fair amount of interest from teams that are looking for a red-zone target or just building depth.