No sooner had the Tennessee Titans’ 2007 season ended than Jeff Fisher said in a season-ending press conference that the team would make adding playmakers to the offense a priority.
The Titans believe they have taken the first step toward that with Monday’s signing of former Atlanta Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler to a reported two-year, $5 million contract.
Last season, the Titans struggled to produce touchdowns, especially through the air, scoring just nine times that route all season, despite finishing 10-6 and earning an AFC Wild-Card berth.
Fisher was eager to welcome in Crumpler, who had eight touchdown catches by himself in 2006, and had five TD receptions a year ago, even as the Falcons ran through three different quarterbacks in their efforts to replace the suspended Michael Vick.
“He has 35 [career] touchdown catches, so he knows how to get open in the end zone,” Fisher said at Monday’s press conference introducing Crumpler. “He knows how to get in the end zone.”
Fisher had barely finished that statement when Crumpler smiled and interjected, “And I like getting in the end zone.”
Crumpler, 30, adds a dimension at tight end the Titans have not had in a while, as he also gives them the opportunity for yards after the catch at the position. Crumpler has averaged 13.3 yards per catch in his seven-year NFL career and over the past four season has 24 catches of 25 yards or more. By comparison, Tennessee tight ends have had only 15 plays combined of that many yards or more over the same time span.
Crumpler, after being Vick’s safety blanket for many years with the Falcons, should also fit well with Vince Young’s similar mobile style in Tennessee.
“I really am excited about the opportunity to work with Vince Young. I’ve admired him as a peer from across the league, and I was itching to get a chance to play with him,” Crumpler said.
Fisher indicated that Crumpler can be an important piece of the Titans’ offensive puzzle, as they try to improve a group that was 27th in the NFL in passing a year ago.
“Good tight ends are hard to find,” Fisher said. “It was an objective and a goal of ours at the start of the off-season to go ahead and upgrade this position. As they say, one person’s loss is another person’s gain. Whatever the reasons were in Atlanta to create a situation where Alge became available, we figured we would take advantage of it, and we have.”
Crumpler, who has 316 career receptions, was part of a housecleaning in Atlanta as the Falcons rebuild. He initially meet with Fisher and general manager Mike Reinfeldt at the NFL Combine two weeks ago, and again last week at Baptist Sports Park.
Reinfeldt said he had a good feeling about the Titans’ chances to land Crumpler, even though he visited Seattle and Buffalo after speaking with Tennessee.
“We were fortunate that Jeff and I got to meet with Alge at the Combine, and I think we all came away with a good feeling,” Reinfeldt said. “Then he came and visited with his wife here, and I think we came away with that same good feeling. … Even though you’re sweating it out with the other teams, I think in the back of my mind I always felt it would happen.”
Crumpler said it didn’t hurt that his former North Carolina teammate David Thornton gave him a strong selling job regarding the Titans.
“I’m very close to David Thornton. I had a chance to talk with him, and he said there’s a great group of guys in the locker room. … I was looking for everything that fits. I felt like being here would be a great opportunity to further advance my career,” Crumpler said.