Packers Claim Valuable Free Agent After Patriots Release

Jared Veldheer Packers Addition 2

Getty Tackle Jared Veldheer #68 of the Arizona Cardinals in action during the NFL game against the New Orleans Saints at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Saints 31-19.

The Green Bay Packers are pulling out all the stops to get some late-season help for their depleted offensive line.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Packers have claimed formerly retired offensive tackle Jared Veldheer after the New England Patriots released him Tuesday off of the reserve-retired list. The 32-year-old lineman was reportedly looking “to see if someone needs help for the remainder of the season” after reversing course on his decision to retire.

Veldheer has made 113 career starts over nine NFL seasons, spending four each with the Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals, though he never did play a snap for the Patriots. He signed a one-year contract with New England after starting 12 games last season for Denver but announced his intention to retire from the NFL just 10 days later.

The valuable veteran could be a steal, though, for the Packers as they attempt to bolster their ailing offensive line unit down the final stretch of the regular season. Starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga’s status is still in doubt for Week 13 after he exited in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to San Francisco with a knee injury, while backup Cole Madison was also placed on the injured reserve list after suffering a significant injury last week in practice.

Madison joined another offensive lineman on the list with starting guard Lane Taylor also shut down with an injury.

The move, which the Packers have yet to formally announced, could also signal a short stay on the active roster for Yosh Nijman after his promotion from the practice squad Tuesday. A spot would need to be cleared for Veldheer to join the active roster.

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Jared Veldheer Comes With Some Concerns

The whole reason Veldheer called it quits and forfeited the reported $3.5 million in his deal with the Pats was his concern that his body wouldn’t be able to hold up for an entire season. And given his career history, there are enough examples to support that conclusion.

After signing a five-year, $35 million deal with the Cardinals in 2014, Veldheer went on IR for two separate injuries over the next four seasons. He tore his right triceps midway through the 2016 season and missed the final three games of the following season after hurting his ankle. He even came into his brief tenure with the Patriots battling a hip issue that had lingered from 2018.

“My hips, particularly my left one, was in pretty bad shape (after last season),” Veldheer told MLive.com back in June. “But I got some stem cell therapy, some other treatments and started to feel better and thought the things I was doing were going to help.

When March rolled around I thought I could give it a go, but once I went out there to do actual football stuff, the hip felt exactly how it did at the end of the season. There was just no way I was going to put my body through that. I couldn’t conceive even trying to make my body do that.”

The Packers, however, can take a chance on Veldheer’s body considering the upside of adding a veteran this late in the season. He represents insurance more than anything with Bulaga not expected to miss much time — if any — with his reported MCL sprain and would likely prove a better replacement at the position than either Alex Light or Nijman.

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