The Green Bay Packers are once again turning to a familiar veteran to help reinforce their offensive line for the playoffs with All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari out of the picture.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers are signing offensive tackle Jared Veldheer off the Indianapolis’ practice squad just two days after he started at left tackle for the Colts in their 27-24 wild-card playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. Veldheer had played as a practice-squad elevation and not a signed member of the Colts’ active roster, allowing the Packers to poach him once Indy was eliminated on Saturday.
It remains unclear whether the Packers will sign Veldheer to their practice squad or active roster, but either would require them to make a corresponding roster move. The team has not yet announced Veldheer’s signing.
The Packers had originally claimed Veldheer off the waivers in late November of the 2019 season, installing a veteran swing tackle and reliable injury replacement into their rotation. He played each of the final two weeks of the season, stepping up to play at right tackle when former starter Bryan Bulaga was knocked out of Week 17’s regular-season finale and starting in his place for their divisional-round game against the Seattle Seahawks.
While the Packers did not re-sign Veldheer in free agency, the 33-year-old veteran had hinted in September he was still interested in a potential reunion with Green Bay. He eventually received a contract offer from the Dallas Cowboys but declined it, slipping back into retirement for the majority of the 2020 season until he re-emerged to join the Colts on Dec. 31.
Whether Veldheer’s arrival will cause the Packers to adjust their starting lineup could depend on the health of starting right tackle Rick Wagner. He had come into Week 17 battling a knee injury that held him out of the first practice and limited him in the second two, but he was cleared before the team traveled to Chicago and ended up playing every snap against the Bears.
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Veldheer’s Return Costs Packers Nothing
The Packers aren’t just bringing back a trustworthy veteran at a position thin on depth; they are making the move without it costing a dime against their salary cap.
According to salary-cap specialist Ken Ingalls, Veldheer’s postseason pay is “not part of the salary cap” and falls under the distinction of a player benefit, which is paid from a league pool and not the playoff team itself. A player can qualify for varying levels of postseason pay depending on the round in which their team is playing, including a maximum of more than $100,000 for winning in the Super Bowl.
Veldheer could carve out a small place in Packer lore if he holds up well for a second straight postseason, especially if circumstance forces him into the starting lineup again. The versatility of both Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner give the Packers some options at tackle, but having Veldheer on standby as a right-tackle replacement allows them to better cater to their strengths as guards.