Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Thursday, July 19, 2012
Why Shiancoe makes sense

By Mike Reiss

The Patriots are hosting free-agent tight end Visanthe Shiancoe today, and to some, the first reaction might be "Why another tight end?"

But when looking at the team's roster, signing Shiancoe actually makes a lot of sense, assuming he's in shape and a contract agreement can be reached.

Another professional TE desired. Given the importance of the position in the team's attack, having two layers of the depth chart with professional experience is ideal. It also spreads out the training camp workload, as Rob Gronkowski (ankle) and Daniel Fells (leg) work their way back into the mix. The Patriots previously signed veteran Bo Scaife, but aborted that quickly. Now Shiancoe could be next. Tight ends are often hard to find, and he's arguably the best out there. If he's willing to come, instead of waiting on a camp injury where there might be more of a clear-cut opportunity, it's a no-brainer from this perspective.

Super Bowl a painful reminder. With Rob Gronkowski at less than 100 percent in the Super Bowl, it was a painful reminder to Bill Belichick how the offense had to re-shape itself on the fly because there wasn't another backup tight end on the roster. This offseason, it's almost like Belichick is saying, "I'm never going to let that happen again." The club already signed veteran Daniel Fells in free agency, and while he was sidelined during offseason work, the leg injury isn't expected to keep him out much longer.

90-man roster limit creates flexibility. If teams were limited to 80 players on the roster, not the 90 they are allowed this year, a move like this probably wouldn't be possible. But with the extra space comes the potential luxury of adding a player like Shiancoe.

Ballard fits more in 2013, not this year. While there was plenty of discussion about the team claiming Jake Ballard on waivers from the Giants, he fits more into 2013 plans than this year because of his rehab from knee surgery.