The Patriots and tight end Daniel Fells have agreed on a three-year deal with a maximum value of $7 million. The deal includes $2 million in bonuses and guarantees.
This might seem like a lot of money to spend on a third tight end, but I like this move for the Patriots for multiple reasons:
1. This is a two-tight end offense. When running as many snaps as the Patriots do with multiple tight ends, it's dangerous to only have two tight ends on the roster as the club did in 2011. We saw what happens with the Patriots are without one of the tight ends (Buffalo, Week 3) or one of them is not at full health (Super Bowl XLVI). Fells is a solid No. 3 who should help the Patriots maintain more continuity if Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez are out/limited.
2. Fells' positive influence. Much like Alge Crumpler helped bring along Gronkowski and Hernandez in their rookie 2010 seasons, Fells' veteran influence will be a welcome addition to the tight end meeting room, as he comes with a strong reputation from an off-the-field perspective. The Patriots are also transitioning to a new tight ends coach (yet to be publicly announced).
3. Few options in the draft. This year's draft class is considered thin by analysts, so finding the answer at the position might have been tough.
4. Hernandez' versatility further tapped. As previously noted, while Aaron Hernandez has the "TE" designation in front of his name on the roster, he's just as much of a "WR" the way the Patriots utilize him. Having a second "pure" tight end come aboard opens opportunities for the Patriots to tap Hernandez's versatility in different ways.