Injuries and bad decisions have plagued the tight end position for the Packers. The decade started with a budding star and is ending with an aging vet. If it was the same person we are talking about it would be one thing. Spoiler alert, it’s not.
Jimmy Graham hasn’t been what we hoped he’d be. He still has time to make his Packers run a memorable one. If he helps the team achieve the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl, he could go down as a hero. As it is, here are my tight ends of the 2010s.
Jermichael Finley (2010-2013)
These days, Jermichael Finley is remembered more for his controversial comments than what he was as a player. But, Finley was one of the most dynamic tight ends the Packers ever had. His 162 receptions and 2,035 yards with 14 touchdowns are still better than any other tight end has had in the past 10 years despite playing in only two full seasons and parts of two others in the 10s. And it’s not even close.
Finley was big, fast and could make the tough catch. He often lacked the focus and wold drop the easy ones, but he was a special talent before his neck injury. His best season in the 2010s was like many of the Packers, the 2011 season. Finley had 55 receptions for 767 yards and eight touchdowns. The following year, he added six more receptions for 61 but decreased in yardage (667) and touchdowns (two).
Finley was putting together a strong 2013, five games in before a viscous and illegal hit ended his career. The Packers have been searching for a replacement ever since and outside of one solid year from Jared Cook in 2016, have not gotten the same type of production since.
Richard Rodgers (2014-2017)
The only tight end that has come close to matching Finley’s production was Richard Rodgers. Rodgers had 120 receptions for 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns during his four-year Packer career.
Rodgers wasn’t fast but was a willing blocker and had soft hands. He didn’t offer much in run after the catch, but you knew if Aaron Rodgers looked his way, Richard Rodgers was going to come down with the ball. He might best be remembered for being the receiver on the Motor City Miracle Hail Mary.
The Packers were looking to get more dynamic when they let Rodgers walk, but considering what they have gotten since then, they might gladly take Rodgers’ steady production over what they have gotten lately.
Jared Cook (2016)
Jared Cook only had one season in Green Bay, but it was a good one. He was the most athletic tight end the Packers had since Jermichael Finley and was starting to find his footing in the offense when he injured his ankle in Week 3 versus Detroit. He went on to miss the next six games before returning against Washington in Week 11 in what proved to be a turning point game for the entire season.
From there, Cook found his place and was a big asset in the Packers “Run the Table” streak highlighted by his toe-tapping catch at Dallas in the divisional round.
Cook finished 2016 with 30 receptions for 377 yards and only one touchdown, but his speed and athleticism were a perfect fit for the Packers.
The general manager Ted Thompson made a bad decision and let Cook walk in favor of Martellus Bennett. Cook has gone on to have three strong years in Oakland and New Orleans while the Packers are still searching for a tight end they can rely on.