In what can only be described as an effort to remain the NFC South's doormat, the Falcons have released about half their decent players including Alge Crumpler. For reasons that are beyond me some have advocated signing Crumpler, despite the fact that he is an average tightend. What's even more amazing is that same person has demanded the Bucs offer Crumpler a $4.5 M contract, even when the widely acknowledged best tightend in the league (Antonio Gates) makes $3 M a year. So let's break down why this is a phenomenally bad idea.
First off the Bucs have a pretty good tightend in Alex Smith. I will admit some bias here as I've been a big fan of Smith since his first game when he caught two touchdowns. Smith is the new age prototypical tightend, a big man with speed and good hands, i.e. a tightend who is more receiver than blocker. Which is exactly what Alge is as well. Let's take a closer look at the stats (I know, a novel idea to say the least)...
The Football Outsiders have Alex Smith rated one spot ahead of Crumpler, which means the two players are about even. Both have a catch percentage of 60% and roughly equal value per play. So Crumpler is essentially Alex Smith part deux, or vice versa depending on how you look at it, i.e. they are almost exactly the same players. Now Alex Smith will make $460,000 next season and is under contract for the next two seasons. So explain why it makes sense to sign an identical player to Alex Smith for ten times more money? Of course, if Crumpler could be signed for the veteran's minimum I would sing a different tune.
I am starting to feel better and better about the possibility of the Bucs drafting Mario Manningham in the first round. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network has him listed as the top receiver in this year's draft. And in Don Banks latest mock draft he has the Bucs drafting the Michigan receiver. Now at this point the draft is all speculation, at least until we get past the combine. But it appears most draftniks are running with the idea that the Bucs need a receiver or an offensive tackle in the first round.