Nobody would have put their money on the New England Patriots being a part of NFL rumors surrounding a tight end at this point in the offseason. However, free agent tight end Visanthe Shiancoe is meeting with the Patriots today. Shiancoe turned down a one-year, $1.2 million offer from the Seattle Seahawks earlier this offseason and has been looking for work ever since.
The Patriots have arguably the two best tight ends in football in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They also signed former Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Daniel Fells this offseason and claimed injured Jake Ballard off of waivers from the New York Giants. Shiancoe’s invite raises a few questions and an eyebrow or two.
If he did join the Patriots, where would he fit in? Shiancoe has obvious ability and surpassed 500 receiving yards in three of his five years with the Minnesota Vikings. Last year was a bit of a down year for him as he caught only 36 passes for 409 yards and 3 TD’s. However, much of that could be attributed to the fact that the Vikings offense last year was a mess.
What would Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick need with yet another tight end? Granted, Jake Ballard is out for the year with the ACL injury he suffered facing Belichick’s team in the Super Bowl but there are still two all-world tight ends in front of Shiancoe, assuming he would move ahead of Fells on the depth chart. Perhaps it is just a precaution in case someone gets hurt. Maybe Belichick is working on a new offensive alignment that would feature three tight ends who are all capable of running routes and creating mismatches based on their size and speed. Maybe it is just a smart coach doing his due diligence on a useful player.
Whatever the reason, Shiancoe and the Patriots will sit down and talk about a deal. Whether he leaves with one is another question. Either way, it is intriguing.