Packers free agency: Should Green Bay re-sign Richard Rodgers?

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 03: Richard Rodgers
GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 03: Richard Rodgers /

Should the Green Bay Packers re-sign Richard Rodgers?

The combine is now in the books and the start of free agency is just a week away. More talent will be added from outside the organization, but what about the Packers’ own free agents?

With questions surrounding the offense, what the Packers do at tight end has to be a priority.

Head coach Mike McCarthy has stated the value of the tight end position many times. His desire to open up the middle of the field has been a repeated statement in recent seasons. To give credit where it’s due, former GM Ted Thompson tried.

Last year’s signings failed to produce the results the Packers were hoping for. Martellus Bennett became a malcontent and didn’t even make it the entire season. Lance Kendricks may still turn out to be a good signing, but the 2017 season saw very little in the way of highlights.

Packers tight ends produced 56 catches for 627 yards and only two touchdowns in 2017. Those numbers would be disappointing for one tight end. Combined for an entire group makes it almost embarrassing for a Mike McCarthy offense. Granted the injury to Aaron Rodgers led to down numbers across the board for anyone not named Davante Adams.

We’ve all seen what a difference-making tight end can do for a McCarthy/Rodgers led offense. Other than Jared Cook’s brief stint as a healthy contributor, the Packers have yet to find that difference maker.

This leads us to Richard Rodgers.

The Packers drafted Rodgers in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Rodgers came to the Packers as a converted WR in Cal’s offense with modest numbers. His size provided intrigue to the then Jermichael Finley-less Packers.

More from Lombardi Ave

Rodgers’ rookie season started off with promise. A touchdown in a big Week 13 win versus the Patriots and one in the divisional round against the Cowboys showed the team that Rodgers was capable of handling the spotlight. But Rodgers never fully delivered on that promise.

Although he had some very memorable moments in a Packers uniform, he never became the reliable every-down tight end the Packers were looking for.

What Rodgers has shown is reliable hands, so-so blocking for someone his size and speed that leaves a lot to be desired. While Rodgers can be counted on to make the catch he seldom does anything after it.

Rodgers’ best year by far was the 2015 season, highlighted by catching the Hail Mary that provided “the miracle in Motown”. Rodgers had 58 receptions for 510 yards and eight touchdowns.

In the two seasons since, Rodgers has not come close to those numbers (42 catches, 431 yards and three touchdowns in 2016 and 2017 combined).

Rodgers has also been able to stay healthy, only missing one game in his four-year career. And that kind of reliability cannot be discounted.

But, should he be back in Green Bay?

I feel there is still room for Rodgers in the Packers offense, but not as a Plan A. Rodgers’ stats say he won’t command top dollar. Even with Rodgers on the roster that shouldn’t stop the Packers from using free agency or the draft at the position.

While Rodgers has been durable and reliable, he has not been the difference-maker the Packers need to take the offense to the next level.  McCarthy has shown before he is not averse to keeping four or more tight ends on the 53-man roster.

Next: Top 30 moments in Green Bay Packers history

It would not surprise me to see Rodgers back and two more tight ends still added. He still has value to Green Bay and should be brought back.