Tennessee Titans 2009 Offseason Positional Analysis: TE

Total Titans continues its look at the Titans entering the 2009 offseason by position group with a look at the position group that could see a great deal of upheaval for the second consecutive offseason, the tight ends.


Entering 2008, the Titans had lost 2 of their top 3 tight ends in the Bens, Troupe and Hartsock.  To help carry the load with Bo Scaife, who was re-signed as a restricted free agent, the Titans picked up the ex-Falcon Alge Crumpler in free agency and spent their 3rd round draft pick on Craig Stevens out of Cal.

So,
how’d everybody look?  Scaife turned in a significantly better
performance than I thought he would, nabbing 58 passes for 561 yards. 
Crumpler, on the other hand, spent a lot of time looking like a 30 year
old tight end with a lot of miles on his body and creaky knees.  Far
from the receiving threat he was earlier in his career, the man known
as Algernon set career lows with 24 catches for 257 yards.  Stevens,
who was billed
as a fine blocking tight end, caught passes like it, playing mostly
special teams and had 1 reception for 9 yards on the year, that in the
Week 17 “who cares”-fest against the Colts.

In terms of
contract, Stevens is signed through 2011, but Scaife will be an
unrestricted free agent unless the Titans are able to re-sign him in
the next five or so weeks after playing 2008 on the restricted tender. 
While the Titans are currently well under the 2009 cap, Crumpler is the
one player on the roster I’d identify as a potential cap casualty,
based on his production last year, plus a base salary of $2,000,000 and
quite possibly a roster bonus as well.  So, what will the Titans do? 
First, I’m sure Stevens will still be around.  I also think the Titans
will make a strong effort to resign Scaife, and I concur with Terry McCormick’s asssessment
this is likely to happen.  While I indicated I think Crumpler could be
a cap casualty, I think the Titans will probably keep Crumpler around
for a veteran presence of whom not much will be asked.

If you’re
looking for free agent upgrades at the tight end position, you’re
looking at the draft, or at least draft picks.  Texans TE Owen Daniels
will be a restricted free agent, and he’ll get at least the second
round tender Scaife got.  If you want Ben Troupe Redux, Cardinals TE
Leonard Pope is another of the restricted free agents.  In terms of
true free agents, Scaife is the best name on the list.  Other names
include L.J. Smith of the Eagles (ask an Eagle fan about this guy, and
count the curse words), Desmond Clark of the Bears (older than
Crumpler), and Jim Kleinsasser of the Vikings.  Yes, another year of
Crumpler looks like a better option than those alternatives.

I suppose I should also mention the Titans re-signed FB/TE Casey Cramer
after Josh Stamer’s injury at the end of last year.  Cramer’s contract
runs through 2009, as well, so he could be around for another year.  
If so, he could see time at H-back in additional to special teams
duties, but I have a hard time seeing him being the actual 3rd TE. 
There’s also Matthew Mulligan,
who was signed to the practice squad in November.  I’m ashamed enough
to admit I completely forgot that happened, and freely admit I know
almost nothing about Mulligan except to say that his chances of making
the 53 man roster are probably pretty danged small.

Bottom line:
I think the Titans try to re-sign Scaife, succeed at that, Crumpler
stays on the roster for another year, and the Titans’ TE lineup in 2009
looks a lot like it did in 2008.  If they decide not to go with
Crumpler again, I’d look for them to bring in a cheaper, younger
veteran.  What say you, readers?

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