(Student assistant Mike Rodak continues an early position-by-position look at free agency with the Patriots. Because free-agency rules are unclear based on the uncertain collective bargaining agreement, the 2010 rules were used to compile the information. Teams may also restrict some of these players with the franchise tag.)
POSITION: Tight end
RATING THE NEED: Low
KEY CONSIDERATION: Crumpler signed a two-year contract last spring but the Patriots later added Gronkowski and Hernandez through the draft. The Patriots found playing time for all three players in 2010, but can that continue in 2011? Crumpler’s leadership qualities, though, make it hard for the team to let go of him.
NOTABLE TARGETS ON THE MARKET: Daniel Fells (Rams), Kevin Boss (Giants), Zach Miller (Raiders), Marcedes Lewis (Jaguars), Matt Spaeth (Steelers), Bo Scaife (Titans), Reggie Kelly (Bengals), Alex Smith (Browns), Leonard Pope (Chiefs), Randy McMichael (Chargers), Jeff King (Panthers), David Thomas (Saints)
MOST LIKELY TARGET FOR PATS: None
SLEEPER POSSIBILITY FOR PATS: Fells
OUTLANDISH THOUGHT FOR PATS: Owen Daniels (Texans)
WRAP IT UP: Drafting Gronkowski and Hernandez made this the most stable position on the team for the foreseeable future. Any significant personnel addition would be a surprise.