NEPD Staff Writer: Matthew Jones
Visanthe Shiancoe opted to sign with the New England Patriots today after considering alternative offers from the Seattle Seahawks as well as the Philadelphia Eagles; the deal is reportedly worth $1.2 million over one year, with $400,000 in guaranteed money.
Shiancoe, who turned 32 in June, is entering his tenth season in the NFL after spending his first four years in New York and the previous five in Minnesota.
He was largely unproductive in New York but earned extensive playing time with the Vikings, totaling 56 receptions for 566 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009. However, Shiancoe’s production has been declining for the past two seasons, prompting Minnesota to turn to 2011 second-round pick Kyle Rudolph as their starting tight end.
At this point, Shiancoe’s primary value is as a receiving option; despite his diminished production, he was still able to grab 36 passes in 2011. He was once a serviceable blocker but has become increasingly less effective in that regard. Shiancoe is also heavily penalized for a tight end and has been called for 20 penalties over the past two seasons.
Should he make the roster in New England, he will battle to become the Patriots’ third option at tight end behind Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Shiancoe’s chances of making the team are enhanced in light of 2012 free agent signings Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard being placed in the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Ballard is unlikely to play at all this season, while Fells is a PUP candidate who may miss the first six games with a leg injury; New England has more money committed to Fells ($2 million in guaranteed money on a three-year, $5.25 million contract), so he may eventually work his way ahead of Shiancoe upon returning to the active roster.
If the Patriots opt to keep four tight ends on the roster, either at the beginning of the season or after the PUP list players come back after week six, expect Shiancoe to back up Hernandez at the “F” tight end position, while Fells would back up Gronkowski at the “Y” tight end.