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Marcedes Lewis Signing Just Made Sense for Packers

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Marcedes Lewis Signing Just Made Sense for Packers

Earlier this week it was reported that the Packers would be meeting with former Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis. As of early Thursday evening, Lewis posted on his Instagram that he would be signing with Green Bay, and it just feels like a natural fit for the former pro bowler and the Packers alike.

The Packers went out this offseason and made a big splash move in signing former pro bowler Jimmy Graham, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints. When Graham is utilized correctly, he still has the ability to be one of the game's biggest receiving threats at the tight end position. His size, hands and natural abilities have served him well, especially with New Orleans but even last year in Seattle after a slow start to his tenure there. 

But Graham is certainly not known for his blocking, and with the loss of Richard Rodgers, the Packers had a hole to fill at the blocking tight end position. 

Enter Lewis.

Lewis was the top graded run blocker among all tight ends according to Pro Football Focus this past year. This came after he played on 517 run-blocking snaps, a significant sample size. While he is on the back end of his career, it's clear Lewis still has something to offer the run game.

It's been a long time since Lewis was a featured player in the passing game, though he did pull in five touchdowns last year, the second-highest figure of his career. But with Graham in the lineup, Lewis doesn't have to be a playmaker--he just needs to be a setup guy. 

Considering Lewis's age and skillset, he is a likely bargain barrel pickup as a free agent, so the question was never whether the Packers would be able to afford him; simply whether they wanted him. He is also a pro's pro who earned a lot of respect for working through some difficult years in Jacksonville. This makes him a valuable asset both on and off the field.

The Packers' running game looks like it could potentially be formidable in 2018. With Lewis in the mix, it stands to get even better. 


Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Nick Perry's picture

'But Graham is certainly not known for his blocking, and with the loss of Richard Rodgers, the Packers had a hole to fill at the blocking tight end position. '

Are you actually implying Rodgers was a "Blocking TE"?

Edit....I like the signing. I look at it as a huge step in making Aaron Jones, Montgomery, Williams, and the Packers running game much better. This is the type of move that Ron Wolf made in the mid 90's. A older vet who may not show up ion the stat sheet much but makes the Packers offense better. In this case the running game.

Nice job Gute!

dobber's picture

I thought the same thing.

The TKstinator's picture

Great minds...

HankScorpio's picture

Bennett was allegedly a decent blocking TE. I'm not so sure that it turned out that way. Who was the last guy they carried on the 53 that was a good blocking TE? Tom Crabtree? I might be forgetting someone but that's the name that comes to mind off the top of my head.

I like having a TE that is not overmatched when asked to block a DE on run plays. He just needs to hold the block for a little bit to allow the RB to slip past. Then one of the OL can go hunting a LB. If all goes well, the defensive front 6/7 are all blocked up and it is RB vs DB. If the TE can't handle the assignment, it breaks down.

Spock's picture

Hank, I think everyone agrees that "he who must not be named" was a terrible RECIEVING TE last year, but I disagree about his BLOCKING as there were multiple game clips last year where he actually was a willing and capable blocker. I like what I'm hearing about Lewis and if he can actually bring some catching (at 6' 6" he's a big target) to the table with his documented solid blocking this is a nice pickup by Gute, the kind of post draft FA pickup I was hoping to see. :)

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

As far as I can tell, RR was always a willing blocker and receiver. He just was awful to below average at the former and below average at the latter. I've no complaints about RR as a person or his attitude,

Bure9620's picture

Agreed, RR was an average blocker at best when willing. Lewis can legitimately drive LBs into the ground. Not too concerned if he does not catch many balls, as a 6'6" decoy and blocker he can drive attention away from elsewhere. His snap count will be interesting. I wonder how much 12 perssonel the Packers use now???

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

Kind of incredible the size of the Packers tight ends and WRs they have brought aboard this year. We have never seen anything like this. How will it translate this year to success on the field?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Rchard Rodgers was not even close to an average blocker. He was one of the worst blockers I have ever seen. I recall him getting pancaked by a 180 lb cornerback. He was awful.

Tundraboy's picture

Lol on RRodgers!
"This is the type of move that Ron Wolf made in the mid 90's. A older vet who may not show up on the stat sheet much but makes the Packers offense better. In this case the running game."

Especially with Bulaga not being up to speed for awhile.

dobber's picture

A solid get.

If he makes the 53 (and I suspect he will), I suspect he'll outsnap any TE not named Graham (if we consider Graham to be a TE) this fall.

Lance Kendricks better bring it in camp.

Nick Perry's picture

I'm thinking the same thing. Kendricks just didn't do much last season whether it was blocking or receiving. Obviously Rodgers injury had a lot to do with his receiving but he didn't impress as a "Blocking TE" much either, at least IMO.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I think we keep 3 TEs. I suspect Kendricks is pretty safe.

Nick Perry's picture

I agree with you there TGR. I for one was really excited at the possibilities Kendricks brought to the Packers, it just didn't translate to the field. I'm hoping 2018 is a much better season for him.

HankScorpio's picture

I'm ok with Kendricks as the 3rd TE. But you always want better. It's an undistinguished group behind him but I hope one turns out to be a diamond in the rough.

marpag1's picture

A lot of people are saying that Lewis is the missing piece in the TE group - woohoo! - apparently thinking that now we have one guy (Graham) who can catch the passes, and a second guy (Lewis) who can do the blocking. But that's not quite right in my opinion. What a team should REALLY want to have is ONE guy who can do BOTH things. The multi-dimensional nature of a 'true TE' is what puts the defense in a quandary.

In reality, however, I wonder if we have three rather incomplete 'mono-dimensional' players. Graham is purely an overgrown wide receiver (a 'move TE' or a 'joker'), which is something like a blend between a TE and a WR. But he sure as hell ain't the blocker that ideally he should be. In fact, to call him a tight end is really a misnomer. Move tight ends are great matchup players against much smaller DBs or against much slower LBs, but if they lose their freakish athleticism then they're just big slow receivers.

Lewis, on the other hand, is supposed to be more of a traditional, in-line TE, which is a blend between a receiver and a lineman. But it remains to be seen if he still has anything to offer on the receiving side, or if he's really more like a smallish third tackle. Kendricks would probably be considered more of an H-back, a blend between a tight end and a fullback. Each of these guys could be useful in their own way, but I worry that none of them are as multi-dimensional as we really need.

Whether Lewis is a good signing or not will probably depend on whether or not he can remain a viable enough threat in the passing game to keep the defense off balance as to whether he is a going to block or run a route.

We'll see. Right now, as long as the money is OK, I like the signing, and I think GB is a better team.

The TKstinator's picture

Yes, it would be nice, but how many multi-dimensional tight ends are there in the league right now?

marpag1's picture

Agreed. But the argument might be that if a TE truly offers little to nothing except blocking, you might be better served by saving your cap space and A) putting an extra receiver on the field, or B) inserting a backup as the a third tackle.

To be clear, I do think that Lewis still has enough pass catching ability to make this a good signing, but we'll see.

The TKstinator's picture

Same page, amigo.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Schematically there is an enormous difference between a TE who can block and an extra Tackle in goal line and short yardage.

I'll be honest that I am 'meh' on Lewis. But if he can add that dimension of making the extra read in the short game, and shows Richard Rodgers out of Green Bay then I'll be happy Gute pulled the trigger.

The TKstinator's picture

Hasn’t RR already left GB for Philly?

dobber's picture

I think all of them are at least 3...

Bearmeat's picture

I think you're being a little hard on Graham. His speed is still going to equal most CBs, and will exceed S's and all ILBs in a 34 and OLBs in a 43. And he's bigger than all of them. I think he's overpaid too, but that's the price of doing business with rare skill sets. Seattle really misused Graham. Basically, we traded Graham for Jordy. I'd rather have Graham's skillset than what was left of Jordy's. :(

But yes, ideally, all in one would be the best. You're really just talking about 1 guy (maybe 2 with Eifert) in the NFL (Gronk). And both of them are always hurt. TE's get beat to hell because they are smaller than DEs and they have to run like a deer. Really tough job.

marpag1's picture

I'd be mighty skeptical about his speed still being equal to most CBs, but I would definitely agree that his main advantage all along has been his size/jump ball ability/catch radius etc. In fact, it think its that way with almost all receivers, more than we know. While both size and speed need to be in a relatively narrow range, I think a little extra size is actually more important for a receiver than a little extra speed.

Graham's combine 40 time was 4,56 which is almost dead-on average for cornerback combine numbers.... but that was quite a few years ago, and "average" combine participants don't normally end up as long-term NFL DBs.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

It's hard to be a good blocker at 6'7" 255. All of your weight is well above the other guys. It's very hard to create leverage.

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree.

Graham was not in a offense that suited his abilities in Seattle. He will be a much better fit in Green Bay.
Some say the Packers overpaid for him. Perhaps but if he can produce like we think he can, he will be worth every penny.

While Graham is essentially a big WR, and Lewis is known as a better run blocking TE then pass catching. They both will provide a big time upgrade at the TE position from last year.
Graham is a guy defenses have to account for and should be a redzone nightmare. Lewis while he didn't post huge numbers with the Jaguars, he did post pretty good averages. (averaged 13.3 yards per catch last year). Lets not forget to that the had Blake Bortels throwing to him. He is also a threat inside the redzone at 6'6" tall.

Both players provide the upgrade they needed. And with so many young WR's having a couple of veteran TE's will help take the pressure off of them.

Great move!

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

Well thought out commentary!

RCPackerFan's picture

This to me was a tremendous move. One that completely changes the offense. They now have a legit TE who can block.
Getting Graham was a great move, but in all honesty he is basically a tweener WR. He doesn't really block that much.
Getting Lewis though now allows Graham to focus more on what he is great at. That is being the receiving TE. Lewis also provides insurance for the RT who as of right now would be Spriggs until Bulaga gets back healthy.

Not only does this help in the run game but it also helps in the passing game too. Lewis can remain as a TE, he can pass block but he can also go out and make plays. He still has the ability to make tough catches.

The biggest thing that I think signing Lewis will do is create a lot of flexibility. Their base offense essentially can be a 2 WR, 2 TE look. However Graham essentially is the 3rd WR so they can go change the look of their offense rather easily without changing personnel.
Now if they throw Montgomery in at RB they can go from a 2 Wr, 2 TE look to a 5 WR look very easily. How will defenses play that offense?

I really like this signing. And I have to once again say I really like what Gutekunst is doing in his first year as a GM.

Bearmeat's picture

Agreed completely, RC. Now if he'll send the Broncos a 2 for Shane Ray, I'll be doing cartwheels! :)

RCPackerFan's picture

I don't know about Ray, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Gutekunst finding another pass rusher. Whether it's at cut downs or whenever else, I think we will see him go out and find someone.

marpag1's picture

I'd agree with that. I think Ray is a crap-shoot, especially if it takes a D2 to get him. But we'll probably have to wait for training camp before this issue gets decided. I gotta believe that league-wide cutdowns will free up at least a couple edge rushers who are better and more dependable than the Kyler Fackrells of the world.

Nick Perry's picture

That would be interesting especially since Ray's 5th year wasn't picked up making him a FA after 2018. I'm sure the Broncos would JUMP at a chance to get a 2nd round pick even if it's a late 2nd rounder since it would be better than any "Comp Pick" they'd receive. BUT there is the possibility it ends up as a one year rental. With Matthews coming off the books next season the timing would be great.

The last 2 seasons Ray has played in 30 or 32 games and collected 8 sacks...IMO it would be well worth the gamble, especially with the extra 1st rounder the Packers have next season.

dobber's picture

Good point. For that matter, they might take a 3rd. Trading for Ray all but commits you to try signing him to a longer term deal.

Packer Fan's picture

We are beginning to see how BG is doing. We won't see a signing with Dez. BG has made his big signings. Now to fill in the squad. TT rarely did this. I like it.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

This was TT's great failing!

I'm feeling really good about this years squad. I wouldn't mind seeing a veteran edge rusher brought in to push our back-up LB's. Other than that I like the squad. Even OL seems like it will eventually sort itself out.

Razer's picture

Love this signing. The Packers have been sorely lacking at TE for over a decade and now we have two bona fide big machines. If we are healthy at RT, this offense will be very different and scary.

We need another WR to step up from all the young talent drafted these last two years. If one or two of these guys shines look out.

As most of you, I too had to laugh at "with the loss of Richard Rodgers, the Packers had a hole to fill at the blocking tight end position". Watching RR getting tossed at the LOS was a familiar sight.

Handsback's picture

No matter what the Packer's rookie TE group does....the TE position is set at least for now. I wish there was a Marcedes Lewis out there for edge rushers.

blue eyes's picture

There is and his name is Connor Barwin.

Ferrari Driver's picture

I like Lewis when he came out in the draft and was hoping the Packers could land him.

However, he never put up the numbers I expected.

Bubba Franks is another TE that we did draft that I liked and he didn't play nearly as well as I had hoped, but he certainly wasn't a mistake in my opinion.

Johnblood27's picture

Bennett and Kendricks last year.

Graham and Lewis this year.

Lets not start slapping each others backs quite yet gentlemen...

We have seen this movie before, does the ending really change?

Only time will tell. Temper expectations, enjoy the journey.

Mibster's picture

Im in a positive mood so I think this will work out just great at the TE position.. No worries :)

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I like the move, and don't be surprised if Lewis hauls in a few more passes than expected as well.

That's the beauty of a duel-purpose TE; Aaron can audible to anything.

Ken Parrish's picture

Why does a team that does not run the football - and will not run the football, despite McCarthy's annual promise of a balanced offense - need a blocking tight end? Just another member of the Packer's geriatric ward.

Crackerpacker's picture

The big difference this year is Philbin, He does like a balanced offense.

Ken Parrish's picture

Philbin doesn't call the plays.

Crackerpacker's picture

He will be involved in the game plan, He also isn't the yes man we have had as offensive coordinator since he left for Miami. I am confident McCarthy did not bring him back to ignore him especially after they have both reviewed the entire offense.

dobber's picture

Maybe they'll need him to save ARod's behind if the right side of the OL isn't up to snuff.

stockholder's picture

We traded a 3rd and 4th pick for Joe Thomas' replacement at ILB. (burks) While I believe Burks will work out. I also have to wonder if Thomas TE (ind.) and Daurice Fountain WR, wouldn't have done more for the Packers. I think the Richard Rodgers comparison fits here too. The TE position is old. The savings in cap makes these moves questionable. These veteran signings are shutting people up as far as signing FAs. But Time will tell if the quick fix was Right. Rookies make mistakes. If anything I expect PERFECT Play with No penalties from these guys.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

That's one way to look at it. I think we traded two fourths (not a third and a fourth) for a massive potential upgrade to Joe Thomas at ILB. Thomas ran a 4.70 forty, with a 7.45 3-cone time at his pro day. Thomas, just was not what teams are looking for in a cover LB. So we replaced a known liability with a third-round pick. Seems to me that is what the draft is about.

I've haven't a clue what the comparison to RR is you mention. Not sure either what savings in cap costs you're alluding to either.

stockholder's picture

Yes, it was the first pick of the 4th round. Still a great pick to have. And I believe they could of gotten a better offer if they wanted to trade it. I believe Burks works out. But I'm not looking at him as a 3 down back. Still I understand their hopes. They brought him in before drafting him. The comparison of RR was in jest, to the comment or two above in comparison. I think RR would have been the better option. ( Still not long term.) The packers do seem to get the most out of some aging veterans.

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