2019 Season in Review - Tight Ends
Another day, another position! In our fourth instalment of reviewing every player at every position, we turn our attentions to the tight ends. Was the year that poor for tight end play? Let's dig deeper and find out.
It’s probably fair to say that Graham hasn’t quite had the impact in his two years with the Packers that everybody had hoped for when he was signed as a high priced unrestricted free agent. Occasionally, he has broken out and made the big play and had an impact game (for example the 2019 divisional play-off game against the Seahawks) but these have not been as often as expected. Despite his size, Graham has never been a great blocker and therefore this being a forte was not something that should have been expected of him. In 2019, he played in all 16 regular season games, starting 10 and catching 38 passes for 447 yards (11.8-yard average) with 3 touchdowns. Graham played in 622 offensive snaps (57.7% of the team’s offensive total). He fumbled once.
Prior to the free agency period starting, the Packers opted to move on from Graham – releasing him with 1 year left on his contract. In doing so, the team saved a net $8.667M against the 2020 salary cap. The Bears have signed Graham to a 2 year deal worth $16M.
The Packers re-signed Lewis in March (before he got to free agency) and the veteran TE played a solid role throughout the season – being more effective than he was in 2018. Lewis is an excellent blocker as he again demonstrated in 2019, whilst popping up with the occasional reception. He played in all 16 games (starting 11) – in those games Lewis caught 15 passes for 156 yards (10.4 average) and 1 touchdown. He played in 487 offensive snaps (45.2% of the team’s offensive total).
Lewis entered 2020 as an unrestricted free agent, but was quickly re-signed by the Packers on a one year, $2.25M deal.
Tonyan played in 11 games (1 start) and was in on 193 offensive plays (17.9% of the team’s offensive total) – catching 10 passes for 100 yards and 1 touchdown. He didn’t make great strides in 2019 (or at least not as great as some would have hoped for) but he is a decent blocker and receiver.
Tonyan became an Unrestricted Free Agent in March, but the Packers re-signed him to compete again for a 2020 roster spot.
The Packers 2019 third round draft choice (75th overall pick), Sternberger was the last of the Packers 2019 draftees to sign his rookie contract (10th June). He suffered a couple of injuries during pre-season and despite making the final 53-man roster, Sternberger was placed on injured reserve on 3rd September - just prior to the Packers season opener against the Bears. Sternberger was activated on 2nd November and played in 6 games (1 start) – he had no catches, dropping the only pass thrown in his direction during the regular season. He played in just 60 offensive snaps (5.6% of the team’s offensive total). He caught his first touchdown pass in the NFC Championship game.
Sternberger will compete for the starting spot in 2020 and the Packers will be hoping that his first-year learning experience coupled with his undoubted athletic skills will see him be a large contributor next season. Those athletic skills include speed, which gives him the potential to stretch defenses down the seam.
Baylis spent his 2019 season switching between the Packers Practice Squad and the active roster – all this after he was waived at the final cut-down to the 53-man roster on 31st August. He was first promoted to the active roster on September 19th (when Trevor Davis was traded to the Raiders) before being waived on 3rd October and the re-signed to the Practice Squad the following day. 10 days later he was again promoted to the active roster before being waived for the third time in 2 months on 29th October. Baylis was signed again to the Practice Squad on 31st October, where he remained for the rest of the season. In total he saw action in 5 games but was in on just 12 offensive plays (1.1% of the team’s offensive total).
Baylis signed a futures contract with the Packers just after the season finished, meaning that he’ll be back in 2020 competing for a roster spot.
Looney was signed to the practice squad on 1st September, having been waived at the final cut-down to the 53-man roster the previous day. Previously a defensive lineman, Looney spent time on the practice squad learning the tight end position and it appears that it’s at that spot that he’ll compete for a 2020 roster spot. He signed a futures contract with the Packers just after the season finished.
Wolf spent some time on the Packers Practice Squad in 2018 and was re-signed to their 2019 Practice Squad on 8th October but was released 8 days later without ever being activated to the full roster. He was signed to a futures contract by the Los Angeles Rams after the season ended.
McKeever was signed on 11th June (after being waived by the Jaguars). He was waived at the cut-down to the 53-man roster on 31st August.
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