Reports from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald say the Patriots have found their new tight end. That guy is four-time Pro Bowler Alge Crumpler.
The 32-year-old tight end gives the Patriots some much-needed experience and depth at the position after letting Benjamin Watson go to the Cleveland Browns, and releasing his backup Chris Baker.
In his earlier years with the Atlanta Falcons, Crumpler was regarded as a top-tier combination tight end. Crumpler was considered one of the better pass catchers at his position, as well as being a good blocker.
However, his receiving numbers have been on a steep decline since 2006 and he has become more of a one-dimensional player.
In 2006, the last time Crumpler was a Pro Bowler, he caught 56 passes for 780 yards and eight touchdowns. Since then his numbers have become almost anemic. In the subsequent three seasons, his receptions totals have dropped to 42, 24, and 27, for 444, 257, and 222 yards, and five, one, and one touchdowns, all respectively.
Still, Crumpler is extremely durable; he's missed only five regular-season games in his nine-year career.
He is also still considered a very strong, physical blocker, and was a major factor in Titans running back Chris Johnson rushing for over 2,000 yards last season. This skill will be pretty valuable to the team as they try to improve their running game and balance the offense a little more.
Crumpler is a solid addition both on the field and in the locker room. He is a hard worker who sticks up for his teammates, and should fit in nicely with New England.
While the tight end isn’t one of the first options in the Pats’ offense, Brady does like to spread the field to multiple receivers. And without Wes Welker for at least the beginning of the season, the tight end could see more looks.
Which is why Crumpler is not the answer at the position.
The Patriots have four picks in the first two rounds of next month’s draft, and tight end is considered to be a deep position. With Crumpler’s age and inefficiency as a pass catcher, look for the Patriots to use one of those picks to select a tight end to groom.
Some names that have been thrown around are Jimmy Graham from the University of Miami, and Jermaine Gresham from Oklahoma.
Crumpler is a nice addition, but he is only a stop-gap at the position.
Expect the Patriots to continue to make that position deeper.