The Green Bay Packers shocked the world last March when they signed tight end Martellus Bennett to a three-year $23 million contract. The often conservative general manager Ted Thompson swung for the fences, but struck out looking. Bennett turned out to be a total flop and quit on the team after quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in week six against the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers also signed tight end Lance Kendricks to a one-year deal, but he produced next to nothing when his playing time increased as the season went on. With a brand new regime at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, they will have to figure out which route to take to replace what Bennett could have been. Here are some of the options the Packers will have in 2018.
Addressing the Green Bay Packers Tight End Situation in 2018
Jimmy Graham (Seattle Seahawks Free Agent)
Jimmy Graham is a pending free agent who spent the last three years with the Seahawks. Seattle acquired him via trade in 2015 and struggled to find the same chemistry with Russell Wilson that he and Drew Brees shared with the New Orleans Saints. The basketball player turned tight end flourished with the Saints catching 51 touchdowns in just five years. While his numbers have been down in Seattle, Graham still remains an athletic freak who could be a mainstay in the Packers offense. If Graham hits the market, expect the Packers to have significant interest.
Ben Watson (Baltimore Ravens Free Agent)
Ben Watson would not be what one would call a “splash” free agent signing, but he could still have a value. Watson was Joe Flacco‘s go-to weapon in Baltimore and has been extremely reliable. Watson is 37 years old but has still proven to be a very productive tight end. Watson could be signed on a short-term contract which would be very team friendly.
Hayden Hurst (South Carolina Gamecocks)
Hayden Hurst is projected to be a second or third round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and could be one of the biggest steals. Hurst possesses impressive size and skills that project well into the NFL. That said, his production was less than stellar in college which will likely push him down draft boards. If Hurst falls into the Packers’ lap in the second round, they will be hard pressed to pass on the South Carolina product.
Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin Badgers)
Troy Fumagalli is projected to be a third round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but has the skill set to be a three down tight end in the NFL. Fumagalli displays sharp route running to go along with excellent ability as a blocker. He is also said to have the best hands in college football, despite missing his left index finger. If Fumagalli gets drafted by the Packers, expect the fan favorite to produce right away in their pass-happy offense.
Jordan Reed (Trade with Washington Redskins)
In 2015, Jordan Reed looked like one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Reed caught 87 catches, 952 yards, and 11 touchdowns playing in just 14 games. This earned him a hefty contract at the end of the year. Reed signed a five-year $50 million contract with $22 million in guaranteed money. Two years and a few injuries later, Reed and the Redskins are at a bit of a crossroads. His future with the team is a bit uncertain and they may jump at the idea of dumping his contract onto another team. Enter the Packers, who could undoubtedly get production out of the young star and take on his $10 million cap hit in 2018. Reed would get to play with a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback, and contend for a title year in and year out as the Packers would get a tight end with talent they haven’t had since Jermichael Finley.