Buccaneers Sign Brandon Myers
In a surprising move for a team that already has a pass-catching tight end, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have landed free agent Brandon Myers. The former New York Giant and Oakland Raider inked a two-year deal worth a reported $4 million.
Tampa Bay’s tight end depth chart had been headlined by Tim Wright, and most likely still is. Yet Myers’ presence casts further doubt on Wright’s role, which recently was called into question when new head coach Lovie Smith proclaimed that they are seeking an upgrade. Oddly, he painted a picture of a more complete tight end who can also block, something that neither Wright nor Myers do adequately.
Wright had more catches, yards, and touchdowns than Myers did in 2013, despite playing with a quarterback who was also a rookie. Myers received passes from Eli Manning, played 235 more snaps, and ran 57 additional pass routes than his new teammate. Wright’s Target Multiplier, a metric created by Rich Hribar for XN Sports, ranked him third at his position and details how much more quarterback Mike Glennon benefited by throwing to his tight end in lieu of other offensive weapons. Manning did not fare as well when targeting the far less athletic Myers.
As a fantasy asset Myers is a somewhat interesting, if unexciting, case. While playing for Oakland he ranked as 2012’s fifth highest scoring tight end through 13 weeks, when he suffered a shoulder injury. After defecting from the Raiders to the Giants, heightened expectations for his 2013 performance went largely unfulfilled. He finished the season as the 19th-best fantasy tight end, but only placed in the weekly top 12 at his position on four occasions — fifth, eighth, 10th, and 12th.
Myers battled rib, ankle, and groin injuries throughout the season. Due to the Giants’ struggling offensive line, he was too often used as a blocker. To say Myers is a poor blocking tight end would be an understatement. In 2012, PFF ranked him as the 53rd best pass blocking tight end, and he came in 62nd (and last) as a run blocker. Last season those rankings rose slightly to 49th and 41st in pass and run blocking, respectively. Tim Wright was actually a worse run blocker in 2013, ranking 52nd.
Entering 2013, Myers was well known as a garbage time stat padder from his time in Oakland. He compiled half of his touchdowns and more than 20 percent of his yardage while the Raiders were losing by more than two touchdowns during the second halves of their games. That did not figure to be sustainable since his move to a better team in New York was presumably going to cut down on those opportunities. However the Giants spent the fifth most time in the league getting blown out (14.8% of snaps), and Myers again went to work when the sledding was easiest. He compiled nearly 32 percent of his fantasy points during garbage time and led the league in aGT% (adjusted garbage time percentage).
In Tampa Bay he may again have the chance to do what he does best, as the Bucs were losing in garbage time the 12th most often in 2013 (10.5% of snaps). A new coaching regime and a theoretical influx of talent may serve to reduce that percentage, yet it is too early to tell. What we can say for sure is that Myers will have significantly more competition for snaps than he dealt with in either of his last two seasons.
The Buccaneers’ roster also includes Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree at the tight end spot, and neither of them would qualify as the standout blocker that Lovie Smith apparently desires. Although for his part, Stocker at least has not been as abysmal as Myers, Wright, and Crabtree – who sports a cumulative -33.1 run blocking grade over his last four seasons. It is not a stretch to imagine that Tampa Bay will bring in another candidate for snaps at the position, further muddying the waters.
Myers’ curious signing with Tampa Bay not only diminishes his own muted fantasy value, but it may actually say more about what the new coaching staff thinks of Wright. We know by now that Myers is little more than a fantasy football garbage man, but this surprising transaction may also signal that the Bucs are poised to throw one of 2013’s rookie standouts in the trash.