Every year, it seems, rumors circulate in February and March that the Packers and general manager Ted Thompson will buck the trends and be more aggressive in free agency. These rumors have always been inaccurate, so when they resurfaced after the Packers devastating loss in the NFC Championship Game, nobody paid much attention to them. But the reports, for once, seem to be coming true in 2017. First, came the signing of tight end Martellus Bennett. Coming just hours after the reports that talks with Jared Cook had broken off, this signing caught everyone off guard.
Saturday afternoon, Thompson and friends went to the free agency well again, signing another tight end. Two days after being released by the Los Angeles Rams, Lance Kendricks agreed to a deal with the Packers. Kendricks will provide valuable depth at tight end, a position the Packers have struggled to fill since Jermichael Finley suffered a career ending injury in 2013.
Kendricks grew up in Milwaukee and played his college ball at Wisconsin, where he impressed enough for the Rams to select him with their second round pick in the 2011 draft. He spent six seasons with the Rams, amassing 204 receptions, 2,132 yards, and 17 touchdowns. Maybe nothing spectacular, but these are solid numbers. Especially when you consider the quarterbacks he has played with. If he can bring similar production as a backup this season, he’ll be a major asset to this offense.
The presence of Jared Cook was a major factor for the Packers running the table last season, but they had no backup plan when he missed a large chunk of the season with an ankle injury. Having already replaced Cook, the Packers sprang right back into action to secure a contingency plan should something similar happen with Bennett this Fall. Kendricks however, shouldn’t just be thought of as a contingency plan. He’s an excellent athlete with good size, a willing and able blocker, and a solid route runner. Having two capable tight ends will add a wrinkle to this offense that we haven’t seen in a long time.
Rodgers must be doing back flips right now, thinking about all the dangerous targets he’ll get to work with this season. It’s going to be fun to watch!