Crumpler fills TE void for Patriots

Updated: March 24, 2010, 11:50 AM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The New England Patriots on Wednesday signed veteran free-agent tight end Alge Crumpler, which could help address one of the glaring holes on their roster. Contract terms were not available.

Crumpler
Crumpler

"We have a lot of respect for him as a player. He's had an outstanding career," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said earlier this week, before the signing of Crumpler became official. ESPNBoston.com reported last week that a deal was close.

The 32-year-old Crumpler enters his 10th NFL season and has been one of the league's more durable players at the position, missing just five regular-season games over his career. Over the last two years with the Tennessee Titans, Crumpler has been utilized mostly as a blocker. He spent the first seven years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons, appearing in four Pro Bowls.

Once one of the NFL's upper-echelon combination tight ends as both a pass catcher and blocker, Crumpler has slowed down of late. He had just 27 receptions and averaged a career-low 8.2 yards per catch last season.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday he believes Crumpler can still be effective.

"They're getting someone with tremendous locker room presence, great natural leadership skills, and a hard worker," he said as the NFL owners meeting concluded. "He still has skills. He loves the game. He loves to practice, he loves to play. I can't say much more about him other than that. He'll be missed. I have a great deal of respect for what he's done to this point and I know he's got some big plays left in him."

Crumpler joins Robbie Agnone and Rob Myers on the roster, and is the only Patriots tight end to have appeared in an NFL game. The club has undergone significant turnover at the position, with Benjamin Watson signing a free-agent deal with the Cleveland Browns and Chris Baker having been cut before signing with the Seattle Seahawks.

The Patriots also doesn't have an official tight ends coach at this time.

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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