Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Mar 2007

Marcus Pollard? Seriously?

As free agency dies down, a lot of signings are a bit more under the radar, but one of them really drew my attention this week. The Seattle Seahawks signed 35-year-old tight end Marcus Pollard, formerly of the Colts and Lions. The contract terms were undisclosed, but we know there is some guaranteed money involved.

I know the Seahawks wanted to wash their hands of the Salty Senorita, Jerramy Stevens, and they lost out on the bidding for Daniel Graham. But seriously? This is their answer at tight end?

Pollard told Seattle reporters that he doesn't have the usual wear and tear of a 35-year-old football player. The main reason? He didn't play college football; like Antonio Gates, he was a power forward on the basketball team in college. That's less wear and tear? Last time I checked, power forwards did a good amount of banging to get those rebounds. It's not like being a running back, but it isn't ballet either.

Do you realize how many tight ends in NFL history had good seasons at age 35? Two. That's it. Shannon Sharpe and Wesley Walls. Here's the entire list -- the ENTIRE LIST -- of 35-year-old tight ends who caught at least five passes in a season since 1978, with catches, yards, and touchdowns:

• Shannon Sharpe, 2003 Broncos (62-770-8)
• Wesley Walls, 2001 Panthers (43, 452, 5)
• Jimmie Giles, 1989 Eagles (16, 225, 2)
• Bob Tucker, 1980 Vikings (15, 173, 1)
• Pete Metzelaars, 1995 Panthers (20, 171, 3)
• Russ Francis, 1988 Patriots (11, 161, 0)
• Ed West, 1996 Eagles (8, 91, 0)
• Mickey Shuler, 1991 Eagles (6, 91, 0)
• Don Warren, 1991 Redskins (5, 51, 0)
• Rodney Holman, 1995 Lions (5, 35, 0)

That's it, folks. In fact, I only have eight other 35-year-old tight ends in my database, and they were basically long snappers (Mike Bartrum, Dave Moore) or glorified extra tackles (Brian Kozlowski).

I would accept the signing if we were talking about signing a 35-year-old Tony Gonzalez. But Pollard had only 12 catches for 100 yards last year and has never been known as a strong blocker. Maybe I'm wrong, and Pollard really has a ton left in the tank, but I wouldn't want to bet any guaranteed money on that.

By the way, I should point out that Pollard is the second 35-year-old tight end signed to a free agent contract this off-season. The other one is Kyle Brady, but frankly, the Patriots don't mind if 35-year-old tight ends rarely catch more than a handful of passes, because they only plan on throwing to him a handful of times. He's in there to block; Ben Watson and David Thomas are the tight ends who will run patterns. Still, Brady isn't the world's best bet to stay healthy and strong either.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 16 Mar 2007