The signing of Jimmy Graham received a lot of attention over the NFL wires, but his new backup, Marcedes Lewis, is going to be an extremely useful player for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offense.
The Packers have been on the hunt for a tight end for years. After Jermichael Finley‘s career-ending injury in 2012, the organization has failed to find the offense a long-term solution to the problem.
They first tried Andrew Quarless. Then it was Richard Rodgers. Then it was Jared Cook. Then it was Martellus Bennett. Now, the Packers have Jimmy Graham signed up for a three-year deal worth $30 million. Graham is the best tight end Aaron Rodgers has ever played with, and is the biggest free agent signing the Packers have made since bringing in Julius Peppers in 2014.
Depth at the position has been a problem for the Packers as well. The injury bug that has plagued the franchise for years has hit the tight end position many times, but now it looks like the team finally has some durable athletes to play the position. Graham will be entering his ninth season in the league and has only missed seven games over his career.
But what makes the signing of Graham even better is the addition of Marcedes Lewis. Lewis has quietly been one of the league’s most consistent and useful tight ends since his arrival in Jacksonville in 2006. More importantly, his skill set complements that of Graham’s perfectly.
Graham stands tall at six-foot-seven and is one of the league’s deadliest red zone weapons. But he struggles immensely in blocking. Lewis is one of the league’s best blocking tight ends and will be a much-needed asset for the Packers in the running game. But don’t underestimate Lewis as a receiver either.
While his career total of 4,502 yards over 12 seasons isn’t going to blow anyone away, he is an extremely effective short yardage receiver who will be a useful asset down on the goal line. His presence along with Graham’s will give the Packers so many different packages and looks to use in goal line situations.
One thing missing from the Packer offense over the years has been size. This offseason, new general manager Brian Gutekunst has added copious quantities of height to his offense.
In addition to adding Graham (six-foot-seven) and Lewis (six-foot-six) to the tight end position, he drafted J’Mon Moore (six-foot-three), Marquez Valdez-Scantling (six-foot-three), and Equanimeous St. Brown (six-foot-five) to play receiver.
The Packers are clearly prioritizing length and bulk over speed on offense. The drafting of the aforementioned receivers could mean that Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison are on the bubble in training camp.
All in all, Lewis is one of the league’s best signings by any team this offseason. He’s strong, big, and an excellent blocker who will do wonders for the Packers in short yardage situations. With him and Graham leading the way at tight end, and a fresh reinforcement of receivers on the boundary, the Packer offense is beginning to look lethal.