Although the Green Bay Packers haven’t made much noise in free agency, general manager Brian Gutekunst could find some great value by picking up a rival’s former promising young tight end.
The Packers are doing their due diligence at the tight end position this offseason. While they have yet to get after a free agent, they have already re-signed Tyler Davis and hosted a top-30 draft visit for the massive 6’7″ Georgia prospect Darnell Washington.
Still, the Packers will likely need to go after one (or two) tight ends this offseason. Alex Kay with Bleacher Report highlighted some of the most underrated free agents still available, and listed former Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. as an ideal fit for the Packers.
“Smith gets an “incomplete” mark for his work in Minnesota, but he could change his story by staying healthy and landing with a squad that could use a hyper-athletic pass-catching tight end,” Kay said. “The 24-year-old still has plenty of upside and has only scratched the surface of what he can bring to the table.”
With Smith in Green Bay, the Packers would have a veteran tight end who has still yet to reach his full potential.
Why Do the Packers Need a Tight End?
Whether it’s through free agency or the draft, the Packers are in desperate need for at least one more tight end addition this offseason.
Even with the re-signing of Davis, the Packers only have one other tight end under contract in Josiah Deguara. However, the former third-round pick plays a much different role than a traditional tight end. Instead, head coach Matt LaFleur prefers to use Deguara as more of an H-back or fullback role, operating primarily as a lead blocker in Green Bay’s run game.
Multiple tight ends are likely on their way out this offseason. Robert Tonyan signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears after a disappointing return from a torn ACL this past season. Meanwhile, Marcedes Lewis is a 38-year-old free agent who could decide to retire, but is also drawing interest from the Jets as the AFC East franchise waits to finalize a trade for Aaron Rodgers.
Finding replacements for both of those players will be a big priority. At his peak, Tonyan was a safety blanket for Rodgers in the passing game, while Lewis was a dominant in-line blocker who could leak out for play-action passes. If the Packers hope to run a similar offense with Jordan Love in 2023, then they’ll need replacements at tight end.
Latest on Aaron Rodgers
While Gutekunst and the Packers front office look at tight ends, they’re also busy working out a trade with the Jets that will send their four-time MVP to New York.
The Packers and Jets entered into trade discussions the week before the start of free agency, but have yet to finalize a move. Rodgers appeared on The Pat McAfee Show and announced that he intends to play for the Jets, but revealed that the Packers are likely dragging their feet in order to maximize compensation on a potential move.
Since then, speculation about trade compensation has gone on across the internet, but a move could be placed on hold until the 2023 NFL Draft or even closer to Week 1 of the regular season.
Still, despite the holdup, all signs are pointing towards Rodgers playing for the Jets in 2023.