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Guest commentary on Alge Crumpler

I have some very strong and mixed emotions about the addition of Alge Crumpler and I asked for some insight.
We’re fortunate to have opinions I solicited from two friends who happen to write here on MVN’s Atlanta Falcons site, Flying High.
Chase Kuech emailed me saying,

      To me, Alge Crumpler is a lot like Josh Smith, the Atlanta Hawks forward. There are times when Crumpler makes plays that you can’t even believe. He looks like an All Star at times and you wonder why he isn’t the type of tight end that Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez are. He loses focus at times though and drops the ball and runs poor routes and refuses to block. At other times, he becomes a problem in the locker room and says stuff to and about the coaches that are detrimental to the team. He has the ability to be one of the best players in the NFL and yet he loses focus and can be a problem in the locker room. If he plays the way he should, you guys have a steal because he is an amazing player. If he is unhappy and doesn’t play well, he will be a problem and you will want to get rid of him. Physically, as a player his strengths are his athleticism and size. Sometimes his hands betray him and he isn’t the fastest tight end ever, but overall he is an All Star caliber player.

Gerald Laskowski added the following,

      Crumpler is coming off a knee injury. RUMORS are that it was worse than the Falcons let on. Last season was his least productive and most injury prone. Dropped balls, bad routes, and the injuries had many speculating that his prior success was a product of a poor passing Mike Vick and his inability to get balls to his WRs.
      Under the carousel of pocket passing QBs the Falcons offered up last season, WR production increased dramatically while overall TE production was down considerably. Crumpler was also mentioned as one of the most vocal supporters of Vick AND one of the mob leaders in the locker room stirring the pot with the coaching staff. He was vocal regarding Coach Petrino’s leadership and direction he was taking the team. He was also vocal about the cutting and/or reduced playing time of some of the veteran players.
      Crumpler is willing to block but it is not his mainstay. Last year’s drops were a major concern. Combine his worst season, his big mouth, and his injury and you have a casualty that was not necessarily the result of a big cap number.
      I don’t know the details of the contract he signed with the Titans. Hopefully you got him for a fair price and had some incentive clauses should he perform well.

Thanks to Chase and Gerald for their insight.
Part of me is very excited about the addition of Alge Crumpler. He can be a difference-maker the Titans desperately need on offense. Crumpler can be a weapon, a solid threat on third down and in the red zone. He can be what Ben Troupe was drafted to be.
Crumpler has been a great player who has garnered four Pro Bowl selections. The optimist in me is enthusiastic about what he can bring to the table. He can be the big target the Titans need over the middle, converting first downs and scoring touchdowns.
Then there’s my pessimistic side which is bothered by all the red flags raised about Crumpler.
Why did the Falcons release him? The official line coming out of Atlanta says it was because of salary cap reasons, but I don’t buy that. He could have been a steady and stabilizing force on an otherwise anemic Falcons offense, which will probably be grooming a new quarterback this year. Crumpler could have been a reliable safety valve for a rookie quarterback, yet the Falcons let him go over a few million bucks. Make sense to you? Me neither.
And if Crumpler is so good, why were the Titans able to sign him on the cheap? Why were only two other teams interested in him and why did each of them quickly lose interest?
Is Crumpler’s knee really as bad as some of the quiet rumors about him suggest?
I didn’t recall Crumpler doing anything in the Titans-Falcons game last October, so I looked up the game stats. Two catches for four yards were amassed by Crumpler. That doesn’t do much to encourage me.
Look also at what the Falcons did to replace Crumpler — they signed former Titan Ben Hartsock. In effect, Crumpler and Hartsock just traded places. What’s wrong with that picture?
I sure hope the optimistic side of me is right this time instead of the pessimistic side, which sometime seems to be correct too often for my liking.
Can somebody please say something to reassure me and put my mind at ease about all of those pesky and bothersome warning flags? I’ve got a queasy feeling in my stomach and it’s not from my dinner. Pass the antacids, please.