ESPN Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde actually wrote the following two sentences: “The Green Bay Packers knew they were taking a risk by not giving tight end Tom Crabtree a restricted free-agent tender. On Friday night, that decision came back to haunt them.” That decision came back to haunt them? Are you kidding me?
While Crabtree is an All-Pro on Twitter, he’s a journeyman tight end. If general manager Ted Thompson really cared about retaining the 27-year-old former Miami of Ohio standout, he would’ve tendered him at $1.3 million. He didn’t because Crabtree isn’t worth $1.3 million. That’s not to say the Packers didn’t want him back, but if you think Thompson is losing any sleep over this latest defection, you’re kidding yourself.
With Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor and intriguing second-year man Brandon Bostick all expected to return in 2013, the Packers are well-stocked at tight end. And it would be a pretty big surprise if Thompson doesn’t use a draft choice on this position next month. Crabtree will be missed most on special teams, but fortunately, the team has plenty of capable bodies there as well.
I keep hearing people say that Crabtree was the team’s best blocking tight end last season. True, but that’s damning him with faint praise. Minus Quarless, Green Bay’s other tight ends in 2012 consisted of a guy who didn’t want to block (Finley), a guy who’s too small to block (Williams) and a guy who’s still learning how to block (Taylor). In reality, Crabtree is nothing more than adequate when it comes to this part of the game. He tries really hard, but he simply lacks the bulk strength to be overly effective in-line.
Whenever I thought about the potential problems facing the Packers in 2013, I thought about center, left tackle, defensive end, left outside linebacker, inside linebacker, safety and kicker. The possibility of losing a tight end with 18 catches and 4 touchdowns in three seasons never once crossed my mind. But then again, I’m not one of those bloggers who relied on Crabtree to appear on their impossible to listen to podcasts every other week. In that regard, and in that regard only, he will be very difficult to replace.