2012 Free Agency: Patriots Sign TE Daniel Fells

Daniels Fells will add depth to an already deep position

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

The tight end position was one of the strongest positions on the Patriots roster last season. The position got a little bit stronger and a little bit deeper as the Patriots signed Daniels Fells on Monday to add to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

On the surface people may see the signing and question why the Patriots would need to sign another tight end, since they have two of the best in the league already on their team. While Hernandez and Gronkowski were great the Patriots had no depth behind the two and they often had to use an OT, usually Nate Solder as the 3rd TE. This move allows the Patriots to get a little bit more creative with Rob Gronkowski and even moreso with Aaron Hernandez. I’d look for Hernandez to be split out wide more often and also offset from the line, creating more mismatches with opposing defenses. By taking some of the blocking onus off of the tight ends it will allow both to stay fresher throughout games. It will also allow Nate Solder to play a true tackle position, most likely starting LT with Matt Light rumored to be retiring this off-season.

In 2010 the Patriots relied on Alge Crumpler to fill the 3rd TE spot. While Crumpler was a great blocker he provided nothing in terms of pass catching ability at that point in his career. Last year the Patriots spent a 5th round pick on Lee Smith, a tight end out of Marshall University. Smith was considered the best true blocking TE in the draft. Smith was limited as a pass catcher as well. I’m sure the Patriots would have liked to keep Smith but, released him during final roster cuts with hopes of re-signing him to the practices squad. The Buffalo Bills swooped in and signed him, leaving the Patriots with only two TE.

While the Patriots did have Dorin Dickerson, Garrett Mills and at time Carson Butler on the practice squad last year. They were extremely thin at TE. They were able to survive and avoid injury for the most part, but when Rob Gronkowski sprained his ankle in the AFC Championship Game the Patriots were left to scramble, and it really hurt them in the Super Bowl. Fells will provide them with a legitimate third TE, who is a better receiver than the other #3 TEs they have brought in over the last few years.

Fells entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of the University of California-Davis in 2006. He bounced around practiced squads and finally hooked on with the St. Louis Rams in 2008. After spending the 2008 and 2009 seasons with St. Louis he became a restricted free agent. The Patriots brought Fells in and offered him a contract, however he chose to return to St. Louis. In 2010 Fells posted career best numbers hauling in 41 receptions for 391 yards and two touchdowns. This past season he spent catching balls from Tim Tebow in Denver. While the Patriots were unable to secure him in 2010, there were able to get him now and it’s another solid depth signing by a team that was a play away from winning the Super Bowl.

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8 Responses to “2012 Free Agency: Patriots Sign TE Daniel Fells”

  1. Jeff says:

    This will also allow the Pats to use Hernandez more in the way they did last year in the postseason…out of the backfield on runs while still keeping 3 TE’s on the field.

    3 TE, 2 WR set may very well become the package for 20% of the snaps.

    Essentially allowing for 5 receiving options, or pulling Hernandez into the backfield and running teams over when they bring in the nickel or dime package.

    Bill and Josh at work again!

  2. Dan says:

    I keep hearing how this signing will free up Hernandez more, but I don’t think Hernandez was bound too much…he seemed to be lined up everywhere, and often.
    I see this signing as a nice TE…capable of blocking & catching. I would say he will spell Gronk a few plays a game so he’s not out there on every offensive down like he was last year; maybe take a dozen plays at his position…manage Gronks time a bit better.

  3. Bill says:

    Another TE, that’s terrific. BB may be thinking about a RB in the draft , and really develop an unstoppable offense. A really stron g running game makes your defense a lot tougher.

  4. DWE 2012 says:

    Can’t say anything more than what’s already been printed Mike. I had high hopes of maybe Fleener in the draft……This catch will be a GREAT one for the Pat’s with or without a high ankle sprain on Gronk late last season.

    They have brought some better stability to the “D” thus far.
    They have brought in a Vet OL which was also very much needed.
    They have brought in 3 Wide Out’s………..

    I’m sure were not done yet either.


    I CAN’T WAIT to see who stay’s and who goes during training camp and cut’s, nevermind who is taken in the draft and who get’s traded for extra pick’s (ALA’ HOYER…. & The Law Firm).

  5. Joe Blake says:

    BB at his best….Now lets concentrate on the defense and the O-line…

  6. AM says:

    Great signing–depth at tight end, a quality receiver and blocker, and takes away one of Manning’s targets to boot.

  7. Dan says:

    This is another big signing…for all the reasons you mentioned. This kid is a nice player and we just stole him from Denver while their hands were tied with the Manning hold-up (they can’t sign players because they have to keep the cap room for Saint Payton).
    Good luck with that!

  8. j ball says:

    like it

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