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Shiancoe gives Pats more flexibility, versatility, depth

Oakland Raiders v Minnesota Viking

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 20: Visanthe Shiancoe #81 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates a gain against the Oakland Raiders at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on November 20, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images)

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After flirting with the likes of Dallas Clark earlier in the offseason, the Pats added a veteran tight end via Tuesday’s signing of Visanthe Shiancoe.

For a team that has Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, it feels like overkill. But if the team plans to rely that heavily on tight ends, it’s actually a necessity to have strong backups who can fill in if, for example, Gronkowski has a badly sprained ankle.

The move also gives the Pats another way to get creative when attacking defenses via the no-huddle offense. With Hernandez, Gronkowski, and Shiancoe on the field along with, say, Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels can utilize a variety of formations without changing personnel -- especially now that the team has shown a willingness to line Hernandez up in the backfield. And give him the ball.

Opposing defenses won’t be able to adjust to the new looks with new personnel.

That’s part of what I talked about during Wednesday’s PFT Live. What I didn’t discuss (but meant to) was the fact that Shiancoe’s $1.2 million salary (with $400,000 guaranteed) and up to $800,000 in incentives not only means he’ll likely make the 53-man roster, but that he’ll make more than Hernandez this year, who like Gronkowski was picked in 2010 but unlike Gronk has yet to get a new deal.

Though Hernandez likely will get a new deal at some point, until he does he’s the third highest-paid tight end on the team.