Packers Open Door to Return of Former Pro Bowl TE, $13 Million Specialist

Brian Gutekunst, Packers

Getty General manager of the Green Bay Packers Brian Gutekunst speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine in March 2023.

The Green Bay Packers have turned a few major pages this offseason, though a few familiar actors may be back in 2023 with more gridiron stories to tell.

As of Monday, May 1, Green Bay had 88 players listed on its 90-man roster and had handed out jersey numbers to each one of them, leaving three numbers belonging to 2022 starters unassigned. Those numbers most recently belonged to safety Adrian Amos (#31), tight end Marcedes Lewis (#89) and kicker Mason Crosby (#2). That those numbers remain in reserve means the possibility is still open that at least two of the aforementioned players may return to the roster and claim them.

During an April 29 press conference on Saturday, general manager Brian Gutekunst said the team wasn’t going to “close the door” on Amos’ return after he played out the final season of his four-year, $36 million contract with the franchise in 2022. Gutekunst made no such comments about the plans for Lewis — a 2010 Pro Bowler — or Crosby, who signed a three-year, $12.9 million contract with Green Bay in 2020. The Packers’ decision to select kicker Anders Carlson out of Auburn in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL draft appeared to seal Crosby’s fate, but the clear indication after Monday is that the door isn’t all the way shut on the potential return of the 16-year veteran.

Marcedes Lewis Was Expected to Join Aaron Rodgers With Jets

GettyGreen Bay Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis.

Lewis hit free agency on March 15 and as soon as it became clear that quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t long for Green Bay, the logical assumption was that Lewis wasn’t either. Lewis was noted as among Rodgers’ wish list of personnel additions to the New York Jets‘ roster after the 17-year NFL veteran spent his last five seasons in a Packers uniform alongside the four-time MVP.

Then the Packers drafted two tight ends over the weekend — Luke Musgrave out of Oregon State in the second round and Tucker Kraft out of South Dakota State in the third round — adding credence to the idea that Lewis’ time in Green Bay had come to its end.

But as of Tuesday, May 2, Lewis was neither a Jet nor was he a member of any other NFL franchise and had not announced plans to retire. The Packers’ decision to leave open the possibility of the tight end’s return could have something to do with offensive continuity for new quarterback Jordan Love, who has been teammates with Lewis for three seasons.

Lewis is also a quality blocker from the position and Musgrave missed most of his 2022 campaign at Oregon State with a knee injury, all of which points to the potential of a role remaining for Lewis on Green Bay’s roster in 2023.

Mason Crosby Could Still Kick for Packers in 2023

GettyGreen Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (right).

Lewis seems more likely to rejoin the franchise than does Crosby, despite the Packers drafting players who appear to be the eventual replacements for both.

Still, Carlson was something of a curious pick for Green Bay given a career field goal percentage hovering just above 70% across five years at Auburn and his considerable struggles to connect on attempts from 50-plus yards.

Considering what franchises are looking for in kickers in the modern NFL, the best explanation for Carlson being drafted at all is that he has pedigree as the younger brother of Daniel Carlson, who is employed as the placekicker for the Las Vegas Raiders.

If the younger Carlson doesn’t prove to be the type of player into which the Packers clearly believe he can evolve, then Crosby might well be the team’s best option at the position in 2023.

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