I hope you weren’t expecting the Green Bay Packers to sit around and do nothing in free agency. And if you were, I hope you’re sitting down when you’re reading this.
The Packers are set to sign Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, who was believed to be targeted by the Chicago Bears before the team signed Trey Burton (reported earlier today). The two sides came to a deal during the legal tampering negotiation window, which means everyone can discuss the transaction except for the team that made the move. Go figure.
I mean, come on:
— NFL (@NFL) March 13, 2018
You’re telling me the league-operated social media accounts can say it but the team itself can’t? Something feels wrong about the team having to wait until the new league year begins at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, but I digress.
Graham represents the Packers’ latest attempt at providing quarterback Aaron Rodgers with a top-of-the-line pass-catching tight end. Green Bay tried to find that player in free agency last year when it signed Martellus Bennett, but things went south shortly after Rodgers was placed on injured reserve and the ex-Bears tight end ended his season with the New England Patriots.
The Packers are hoping to squeeze the last ounce of awesomeness out of Graham, while I’m hoping the Bears counter with a game plan to defend a player who has posted some nice numbers over the course of his eight-year career.
Graham has 556 catches, 6,800 receiving yards, and 69 touchdowns under his belt, but wasn’t the same player during his three-year run with Seattle that he was in his five years in New Orleans. And it’s not like Graham was playing with a quarterback who couldn’t get him the ball, either. Russell Wilson completed 64.5 percent of his passes, thrown 89 touchdowns and just 30 interceptions while posting a passer rating of 98.9 in the three years since Graham’s arrival.
Talk about convenient timing: Graham’s best season with the Seahawks came in 2017, his final season with the team. Graham he caught 10 touchdown passes, but it came as his yards per catch average dipped below 10 for the first time in his career. There is probably still some fuel in the tank and it will be up to Rodgers to get it out of him.
But because every action comes with a reaction, the Packers have parted ways with a fan favorite to make room for Graham:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 13, 2018
Nelson was an All-Pro performer with the Packers who wraps up his time in Green Bay ranking second in receiving touchdowns (69), third in catches (550), and fifth in receiving yards (7,848). But (and it’s a pretty big but) Nelson turns 33 in May and really didn’t click when a quarterback other than Aaron Rodgers was throwing him the ball. Nelson is expected to command interest from teams looking for a veteran presence at receiver, but I don’t expect the Bears to be in the mix – especially after reaching verbal agreements with Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel earlier today.