Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Free Agency Preview: Tight Ends

This is Part IV of an ongoing look at Miami's options in free agency. For the previous installments, see:

Part I: Quarterbacks

Part II: Running backs

Part III: Wide Receivers

The Current Situation

Last offseason, Miami took a gamble on David Martin to come in and show that he can be a starting tight end after a career spent being a backup. Well, that experiment officially failed. Now will all those people claiming that Martin is the next Antonio Gates please be quiet? Thank you.

In fact, Miami's backup TE, Justin Peelle, outplayed Martin for most of the season. Peelle is in no way a starting caliber TE, but he's a much better blocker than Martin is, and if I had to guess, I'd say only one of these guys is going to make the roster next season. That means that Miami should be looking through the available free agents for a possible addition. Unfortunately, the talent avaiable is quite weak, and Miami is probably best served by looking for a new TE in the draft.

Free Agents

Eric Johnson

Johnson is marginally better than Martin, but his price tag would assuredly be larger than Martin's very affordable contract. Of course, Miami is awash in cash this offseason and can afford paying for guys like this. But just because they can afford to pay him, doesn't mean they should overspend. Any increase in price probably isn't worth the possible increase in productivity in this case.

Alge Crumpler

One of the rules I established for Miami heading into free agency was for the team to only consider free agents under 30 years old. That is certainly not a hard and fast rule, and Crumpler is straddling the line right at 30. He is far and away the best TE available, but he's going to command a monster contract that Miami simply should not be handing out to aging players who are in their declining stages. Not to mention the fact that Crumpler fell off big time after Michael Vick started his new work banging out license plates. Crumpler is going to be hard pressed to find a QB who will treat him like the first, second, and third option that he was to Vick and he certainly won't find that guy in Miami.

Marcus Pollard

Pollard caught an amazing 80% of the passes thrown to him last season...too bad he's 36 years old. Pass.

Ben Troupe

This former second-rounder has certainly disappointed big time. He's coming off two really poor seasons, but he could still be an interesting project player to take on. After all, he's still just 25 years old. There's still time left to turn things around. His first two seasons ('04-'05) were solid so there is hope that he can be a productive player. Given his youth and upside, I'd like to see Miami take a chance on Troupe.

There's no clear player for Miami to target at TE in free agency, but there is a solid and unspectacular starter in Johnson and a young project player in Troupe. Hopefully the draft presents a better option.

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