Tom Crabtree, tight end and cult hero in Green Bay, has reportedly agreed to a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com…
— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) March 16, 2013
After completing his third year of NFL service, Crabtree became a restricted free agent this offseason. The Packers decided not to place a low tender on Crabtree for a one-year value of $1.3 million.
In essence, Crabtree became an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team he chose, however, he will not count in the compensatory draft pick formula.
Losing Crabtree comes on the heels of wide receiver Greg Jennings signing with the Minnesota Vikings in free agency, meaning quarterback Aaron Rodgers is currently minus two fewer targets than he was in 2012.
That is good news for the future of tight end Jermichael Finley in Green Bay, at least for 2013. With one year left on his contract, it’s a good bet that the Packers will not cut or trade away a third receiving weapon.
In losing Crabtree, Green Bay also lost one of their most engaging personalities and best embassadors, a player known for his interaction on Twitter, weekly talk show appearances on Clubhouse Live and his humorous character.
The Packers are saying goodbye to a player who scored three very memorable touchdowns in 2012, the first of which was nominated for the league’s Play of the Year Award given during the annual NFL Honors awards show.
In Week 2 against the Chicago Bears while facing fourth-and-26 and lining up for a field goal, the Packers ran a fake, and Crabtree took a shovel pass from holder Tim Masthay and raced 27 yards for a touchdown.
Crabtree also had a 72-yard touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 9, the longest reception for a touchdown by a Packers tight end since 1979, and another 48-yard touchdown against the Houston Texans in Week 6.
His average scoring distance of 49.0 yards ranked second in the NFL only to New Orleans receiver Joseph Morgan (54.0).
Despite his memorable scoring plays in 2012, Crabtree’s biggest contributions during his three years in Green Bay were his blocking and special teams play. After Andrew Quarless went down with an injury late in the 2011 season, Crabtree became Green Bay’s best blocking tight end.
Crabtree’s first year in Green Bay was spent as a member of the 2010 Super Bowl team. He scored his first NFL touchdown in a wildcard round victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
In Super Bowl XLV, Crabtree made a key one-yard reception on the Packers’ final drive of the game that milked 40 seconds off the clock and helped to keep the ball away from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
During the 2011 season, Crabtree was a weekly guest on Cheesehead TV’s Railbird Central morning talk show and podcast.
According to Wilde via Twitter, the Packers offered Crabtree a one-year contract worth the NFL’s veteran minimum and a small signing bonus. The Buccaneers’ two-year deal came as more attractive and with more security.