Packers 2018 offseason position review: Tight ends

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 12: Lance Kendricks
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 12: Lance Kendricks /

A closer look at the tight end position, which has long been an area of weakness for the Green Bay Packers.

Tight end has been an issue for the Green Bay Packers for many years now.

Ever since Jermichael Finley suffered a career-ending injury in 2013, the Packers haven’t found the answer. Jared Cook played well in the second half of 2016, but he was allowed to walk in free agency the following spring.

The Packers need to get stronger at tight end this offseason.

Tight end is a need for the Packers

The tight end depth chart looked good entering the 2017 season. New signings Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks were set to lead the way, with Richard Rodgers adding some depth behind them.

But the trio combined for just 596 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett was released by midseason, Kendricks failed step up and Rodgers posted the worst numbers of his career.

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Jared Cook, meanwhile, tallied more yards (688) and as many touchdowns on his own in Oakland.

General manager Brian Gutekunst will be in the market for a tight end at some point. Maybe he’ll turn to free agency, which Ted Thompson did two years straight.

Could the Packers turn to free agency?

If Gutekunst does dip into free agency, the obvious name is Jimmy Graham.

Graham has put together a magnificent career. His best year came in 2013 for the Saints. That season he posted 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns working with quarterback Drew Brees.

While it’s unlikely he’ll ever post such dominant numbers again, he could be a difference maker with Aaron Rodgers, particularly in the red zone.

That said, Graham’s price tag would likely be too high considering the production you’ll get at this stage of his career. Graham turns 32 in November. And although he did catch 10 touchdowns in Seattle this year, he posted just 520 yards, his lowest total since 2010, and averaged a career-low 9.1 yards per catch.

Tyler Eifert is another big-name free agent, but he’s almost never healthy. In five seasons, the 27-year-old has missed more games (41) than he’s played (39).

Cheaper options could include Trey Burton and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The free agency class is thin, and the best bet may be to find a tight end in the draft.

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No matter which direction Gutekunst goes in this offseason, Green Bay needs to finally find the answer at tight end.