Packers Once Again Facing Uncertainty at TE Position

Just like that, the tight end position becomes one that the Green Bay Packers may very well need to address next offseason.

That all comes down to whether or not current starting tight end Martellus Bennett decides to retire, which he indicated he would via a post on his Instagram story Saturday evening.

"After conversations with my family, I'm pretty sure these next eight games will be the conclusion of my NFL career," Bennett wrote in the post. "To everyone that has poured themselves and time into my life and career. These next games are for you. Thank you."

Bennett, who has been on the front lines of many social justice issues through the course of the year, may want to take a new direction with his life and career and become more of a significant voice in that respect.

At the time of signing his three-year, $21 million dollar contract with the Packers, it was one of the league's best at the time. Depending on his performance in 2017, which has been far from what was initially expected as a pass-catcher, the Packers have the option of paying Bennett his $2 million roster bonus at the start of the 2018 league year in March.

As noted by ESPN's Rob Demovsky over the weekend, Bennett would miss out on a large chunk of change if he does choose to step away from the game. He not only wouldn't receive the aforementioned roster bonus, but he also wouldn't collect the $9.25 million in base salaries that include his 2018 and 2019 payroll along with his $500,000 workout bonuses.

That likely won't plague Bennett financially nor will it influence his decision to return to the Packers -- or another team -- in 2018. However, that will leave the Packers with a decision to make at the tight end position.

Before quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered the collarbone injury that landed him on injured reserve for an eight-week minimum, he and Bennett never meshed on the field. Off of it, they were coexisting much to the delight of Packers fans. On it, they left much to be desired.

Rodgers and Bennett during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. (Green Bay Press-Gazette/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Bennett, expected by many to be a looming red zone target for Rodgers, only saw five targets inside the opponents' 20-yard line. He's currently fourth on the team in receiving yards, leads in drops (4) and has yet to score his first touchdown in Green Bay. He's seen just 15.11 percent of passing targets. To his credit, he's been utilized heavily in blocking schemes to load up either side of a Packers offensive line that has been depleted during various parts of the season.

He was signed after the Packers chose not to retain Jared Cook, now an Oakland Raider with three more catches and 83 more yards than Bennett through seven games.

As it stands right now, and if Bennett chooses to go through with his retirement plans, Lance Kendricks will be the only tight end on the Packers' roster under contract entering 2018. Richard Rodgers is scheduled to be a free agent and with only five targets on the season, his future is just as much of a mystery as Bennett's.

It may seem that Bennett's production has been nearly insignificant, but his catch total (24) matches that of Seattle Seahawks First-Team All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, who has played in all seven games for the Seahawks this season.

Graham will also be a free agent in 2018.

There's no certainty in the Packers potentially targeting another big-name tight end in free agency for the third year in a row, but Graham is one of many that will be on the market. Tyler Eifert and Ed Dickson of the Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers, respectively, are two other notable names.

The Packers could also roll with Kendricks as their starter. He's caught six of his nine targets this season for 94 yards and a touchdown -- as a backup -- and is on a two-year deal with the team. That's something the state of Wisconsin would certainly embrace since Kendricks is a native.

Expect tight end to subtly linger on the Packers' radar come draft time when -- hopefully -- they'll have clarity on Bennett's decision. Whether he's still with the team by then a month after receiving his 2018 roster bonus, or if he's laying low in his Long Grove, Illinois home. 

A consistent tight end that could win one-on-one battles and split the seam vertically would thrive with Rodgers at the helm, but the Packers are still trying to find the right match.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (65)

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Since'61's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:21 am

Been looking for a real TE in Green Bay for a long time.
Even Finley was oft injured and had too many drops. Looks like the search will continue in 2018. Thanks, Since '61

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KenEllis's picture

October 30, 2017 at 11:07 am

Cook was really good at the end of last season.

Green Bay signed Bennett to a bigger, and longer, contract than Cook LATER got from Oakland.

Bennett was widely touted as an improvement at the TE position.

Since becoming a Packer, Bennett has drawn considerable attention to himself on social media, both with regard to his alleged commitment to the team and his various external issues and interests.

Bennett has been a disappointment in the passing game. He's dropped passes. Looked slow. And has no TDs. He has gotten praise for his blocking, however.

Bennett now announces he is highly likely to retire at the end of the season. With 9 games yet to play. Why, other than to draw attention to himself, would Bennett possibly announce this now?

In retrospect, perhaps GB management and all those lavishly praising the Bennett signing should have paused to ponder why it was that Dallas, and the Giants, and Chicago, and New England all willingly let Bennett leave before he was signed him for more money than Cook got in Oakland.

While we know that for many questioning the wisdom of GB management is deeply frowned upon, based upon the results how can any Packer fan not look at the Bennett signing as a complete bust?

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Razer's picture

October 30, 2017 at 12:24 pm

...Bennett now announces he is highly likely to retire at the end of the season. With 9 games yet to play. Why, other than to draw attention to himself...

Yeah, this really bugs me. Shut your mouth, play hard, earn the contract that you cut and retire when the season is over. Ted Thompson's mistakes might be the biggest stories of this season.

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Somedumbname's picture

October 30, 2017 at 05:36 pm

Bennett may be back. And if not, I believe Kendricks can be effective in receiving and run blocking. If he retires, not a big deal. Kendricks is a solid stopgap. Hell, he may turn out to be pretty damn productive.

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carusotrap's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:34 am

Considering Bennett's very ordinary play this season, I think it could be argued that TE was uncertain even before he decided to announce his intentions.

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dobber's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:35 am

Bubba Franks 2.0

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 31, 2017 at 02:51 am

Bravo. I already suggested just taking the $8.05M one year out on Bennett. There is no freaking way I'd pay Bennett a non-refundable $2M roster bonus March 17, 2018.

I don't care whether Bennett decides to retire after 2017. He can make that decision elsewhere.

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Den's picture

November 03, 2017 at 12:30 pm

I don't know why they keep throwing to (drop the ball) Bennet instead of Kendricks. Kendricks has more energy and speed. He seems to be open when he is out there, has good hands and can gain YAC. Rodgers can catch the ball better than Bennet and has started to move a little faster than he used to.

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Handsback's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:35 am

Kendrick and Rodgers make a pretty good pair. They could use another play-maker, but those two can still make a big difference.

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dobber's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:36 am

I wish one of them was at least a good blocker. Kendricks was reportedly adequate coming into the season, but he's not played much and looked lost at times.

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Duke Divine's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:37 am

More worried about annual, weekly confusion in the secondary than the TE position...

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Vrog's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:45 am

No Colt Lyerla jokes?

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dobber's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:49 am

He's a joke all by himself...and he did it to himself.

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al bundy's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:59 am

He is already retired. He is here in name only catchng pay checks not balls. This is a guy one too many seasons beyond his prime.
He plays like he could care less. Kendicks or whatever HIS name sits on the bench to appease Ted.
Just like jones is only playing due to injury. Our best talent is often on the bench.
Funny fat ass eddy as i called him, our main runner until he did us a favor and left, can barely get on the field in Seattle.

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al bundy's picture

October 30, 2017 at 09:59 am

He is already retired. He is here in name only catchng pay checks not balls. This is a guy one too many seasons beyond his prime.
He plays like he could care less. Kendicks or whatever HIS name sits on the bench to appease Ted.
Just like jones is only playing due to injury. Our best talent is often on the bench.
Funny fat ass eddy as i called him, our main runner until he did us a favor and left, can barely get on the field in Seattle.

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Razer's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:08 am

...He is already retired. He is here in name only catching pay checks not balls...

Sure seems that way.

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Razer's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:07 am

Bennett could be a big help to Hundley but I am not going to hold my breath. He has totally under-preformed as a receiver. Added to this, MM hasn't figured out how to incorporate TE's into a creative offense.

Aside from his performance, I think that announcing that "these will likely be the last 8 games of my career" is downright stupid. It is the wrong message for his team and doesn't instill an "all-in" attitude. Bad message, bad timing and so far a bad season.

At least we'll save some money.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 31, 2017 at 03:01 am

Plus we have 9 games left.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:32 am

Boy, has this season run off the rails quickly. Everything we were afraid of (Rodgers injury, OL starter injuries, non-improved defense, declining aging of players) and now surprise retirements.

POOP.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:18 am

My thoughts exactly.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:33 am

Thus fulfills everything I said about this guy.

If Martellus Bennett is leaving, I am a Packer fan again.

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dobber's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:51 am

He got his ring. Turns out he didn't need much else...

Good to see you back, ALP!

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Bearmeat's picture

October 30, 2017 at 11:09 am

Not being a Packer fan because of 1 player is rather infantile in my opinion. The organization is almost 100 years old at this point. Players will come and go.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

October 30, 2017 at 12:01 pm

It isn't infantile, though I'm not surprised you would lead with an insult.

The team chose him, empowering his agenda and disruptive influence.

I'm still disgusted by that, but at least he's leaving. I'll never look at this team the same way again, but Bennett's departure makes it tolerable.

That's enough.

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Finwiz's picture

October 30, 2017 at 02:29 pm

Can't say I disagree ALP.
I am really straining my principles to continue watching the Pack, having discarded the rest of the NFL.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

October 31, 2017 at 12:26 pm

A-freaking-men, Fin.

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fastmoving's picture

October 30, 2017 at 02:39 pm

But he is still here.......so I hope you come back as early as next season.

And maybe we have another outspoken player like him at that time next year or AR12 continues to be outspoken like he is......

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

October 31, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Or...here's a novel concept...these players could keep bigotry and politics out of the workplace like normal people do every day.

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dobber's picture

October 31, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I have a sneaking suspicion that if they had cameras on us at our workplaces and media coverage 24/7 that political/social platforms would sneak into our workplaces, too. The bottom line is, these aren't normal people who are also not doing normal jobs.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

November 01, 2017 at 11:51 am

All the more reason for them to leave out the bigotry and politics. I wouldn't push that stuff at work and I'm not even in the spotlight. They are.

Bottom Line: Bennett came to Green Bay as a distracted player who would be a distraction for the team. His lazy routes and shaky hands show he hasn't focused enough on his job, and raising a racial power fist during a song meant to unify Americans and honor veterans was repulsive.

Put simply, he is exactly the anti-American bigot he wants to be, and Ted shouldn't have signed him. The fanbase is split politically, so signing an activist kook from ANY political perspective was a bad move.

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EdsLaces's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:25 am

Ok so I have been very critical of Hundley, but after last nite. Can we beat this lions team? I kinda think so...

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Bearmeat's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:30 am

Yeah, but the Steelers defense is good. Ours is not.

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mrtundra's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:29 am

Where do you start? It now appears releasing Koch to acquire Bennett was a mistake. Bennett has only shown flashes of what he can do and has dropped enough passes to make us forget those flashes. Now, he wants to quit at the end of the season. Maybe he doesn't realize he just quit at mid season. So, we add TE to the positions of need list for next year's Draft and FA. I think we keep Kendricks and Dick Rod as both have decent hands and aren't going to retire anytime soon.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:31 am

Koch? As in ALEC, Koch?

:D

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The TKstinator's picture

October 30, 2017 at 07:50 pm

I thought Greg, good ol’ number 68.

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Point-Packer's picture

October 30, 2017 at 11:10 am

Hey Oppy -

Remember when you told me I'd regret my comment that we should have just resigned Cook as opposed to Bennett/Kendricks? Pretty foolish now, huh? Cook is on pace for almost 800 yards receiving and 62 catches. Meanwhile Kendricks is an adequate special teamer and Bennett looks like he's already retired.

Should have just signed Cook. Ted blew it.

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Point-Packer's picture

October 30, 2017 at 11:15 am

And while we're talking FA failures, lets discuss just how big of a massive cluster this past FA season was. Bennett = bust. Kendricks = special teamer who has lost snaps to Richard Rodgers. Dial = awful. RJF = borderline NFL player who has done nothing. Ahmad Brooks = can't stay on the field.

Only bright spots have been House and Evans.

For all the hype about TTs great FA acquisitions this past summer, it's turned out to be rather awful.

Wolf time?

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packer132's picture

October 30, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Point Packer: Hindsight is great, isn't it? I guess you should be the GM or coach with your great knowledge.

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Point-Packer's picture

October 31, 2017 at 12:20 pm

"Point Packer: Hindsight is great, isn't it? I guess you should be the GM or coach with your great knowledge."

I would have paid Jared Cook, so at least that decision would have proven to be better than Ted's handling of the TE position.

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dobber's picture

October 31, 2017 at 12:51 pm

The way this season has gone, he would've blown an ACL in the first week...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 31, 2017 at 03:16 am

IDK, I posit that House and Evans have produced enough surplus value to offset the misses. Bennett has been underwhelming, but is probably worth $4M. Kendricks is better than RR, and is paid less. Dial is a $775K miss. RJF is probably worth the $1.45M we paid. Evans is worth good starting RG money. House, assuming health going forward, will easily outplay his salary. Brooks can't get on the field, so his $3.5M is up in the air.

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Point-Packer's picture

October 31, 2017 at 12:29 pm

My problem with Bennett is not whether he is worth the salary (he may be), but more focused on the real choice between Cook and Bennett. If you factor that in to all the other decisions, the FA off-season that was highly heralded, was actually underwhelming.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 02, 2017 at 04:11 am

The Cook vs. Bennett issue seems valid, but we don't know exactly what happened there. We know what Cook eventually signed for, but not what he was demanding from GB. If someone told me that TT offered Cook more than he ended up signing for, say $6M AAV, but Cook was asking for $7M AAV, I'd wouldn't disbelieve that. Mike Florio reported that GB offered $6M AAV, and we know that Cook signed for $5.3M AAV with Oakland. In fact, Oakland signed Cook on a 1 year, $5.3M deal, with a team option fora 2nd year at $5.3M (there is no guaranteed money, no dead money) in year two. Something happened.

The FA class was a mixed bag.
The draft class was a mixed bag.

The latter happens every year.

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HankScorpio's picture

November 02, 2017 at 06:50 am

The "something" was that it takes two sides to make a deal in FA and Cook didn't want to take the offer the Packers made, which by reports was more financially lucrative than the one he eventually did sign. I'm not sure what TT is supposed to do with that beside bid against himself, which seems like a bad idea.

Maybe that was due to poor advice from his agent, maybe he didn't like the small market or cold weather. Maybe he hated living in a state with Scott Walker as governor. Maybe his neighbors dog barked too much and kept him up. Maybe he didn't like the grocery stores in Wisconsin. Or any other thing, big or small, outrageous or not, that can influence the choice on where someone decides to work.

I have to laugh a little when people criticize TT for the choices people he cannot control make. FA is a two-way street. A player has the power to agree or not. And while the people populating this board generally think GB is an attractive destination, not everyone agrees.

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egbertsouse's picture

October 30, 2017 at 12:25 pm

I enjoyed Bennett as a personality, especially the way he could irritate all the chicken hawk, phony sunshine-patriots that populate our political system. However, as a player, he doesn't fit the system and was a huge disappointment. I always thought they should have re-signed Cook

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

October 30, 2017 at 02:05 pm

So you like someone raising a racial power fist during a song meant to unite Americans and honor veterans.

Oh sure. Classy guy.

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Finwiz's picture

October 30, 2017 at 02:25 pm

I know....my blood is boiling.

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fastmoving's picture

October 30, 2017 at 02:49 pm

I never got it how someone can fabric something like the protest and turn it upside down.
one of the most strange things........

but I guess the smarties, big and small, will never get it

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Finwiz's picture

October 30, 2017 at 03:40 pm

Millenials don't care about, or know about patriotism.
There's the source of your lack of understanding.

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fastmoving's picture

October 30, 2017 at 03:57 pm

I dont know if someone doesn t care........
But I do know that a lot of people do not understanding patriotism at all.

Like AR said, there is no way to turn around peacefull protest. what is disrepektfull.......facing the flag or screaming obscenities at others while our anthem is played?

Most guys who think they are patriots are just the opposite. and thats not just the strange old guy.......

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Slim11's picture

October 30, 2017 at 05:10 pm

Fastmoving said...

"Most guys who think they are patriots are just the opposite. and thats not just the strange old guy......."

Having said that, fastmoving, what is your definition of a patriot?

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fastmoving's picture

October 31, 2017 at 04:33 am

To be honest its actually not that easy to explain it in a couple of words.
But its something that you are proud of your country and all the things that are accomplished and that the US is standing for. Things like freedom, equality, justice.
But that does not mean you should close your eyes from the bad things that need work. nothing is perfekt, so thats someting normal. there is always room for improvment.
but Im sure what it not means. It not mean that the hatred right wing guys can claim it for themself and turn it upside down in the most moronic kind you can imagine. that its sure not what past generations giving her lives for.
and Im sure to be an dumb and hatred hillbilly makes you not an sure fire patriot.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

November 01, 2017 at 11:40 am

"Dumb and hatred hillbilly"

As usual, the leftwing millennial jumps right to bigotry.

I've honestly never seen such a racist and bigoted generation in my life. Thankfully, there are exceptions...

...but fastmoving is not among them.

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stockholder's picture

October 30, 2017 at 02:16 pm

One less jersey to buy, one less card to get, one less autograph. etc. etc.etc.

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Packatron's picture

October 30, 2017 at 12:31 pm

This wouldn't be such a big deal if TT wasn't so awful at picking Tight Ends. He was so bad that he had to go outside of the draft to address it. And now this. I don't remember one position being so disappointing for so long. It's depressing.

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OrganLeroy's picture

October 30, 2017 at 03:32 pm

There is one more depressing position..GM!

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stockholder's picture

October 30, 2017 at 02:20 pm

TEs are easy to get. Getting one to start is the problem. signed TT.

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lou's picture

October 30, 2017 at 03:18 pm

Put simply, TE's give our defense fits but we do not return the favor, and why is that ? How does a plodding Whiten turn into a first down machine against us ? The last couple of years some really good TE's have come into the NFL and played well from day one, lets find one in the draft and have confidence in Hendricks and Rodgers as back ups.

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The TKstinator's picture

October 30, 2017 at 07:55 pm

Gotta love “Hendricks” Purple Haze.

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marpag1's picture

October 30, 2017 at 04:00 pm

Ah, it seems like only yesterday when Ted Thompson was basking in the praise: "FINALLY... Ted Thompson has listened to the wisdom of us Packer fans! Finally... Ted Thompson has gotten it through his thick, stupid skull that he needs to sign a bunch of veteran free agents! Finally that feeble-minded Ted Thompson has understood that you need to swing for the fences! Why did it take the senile old geezer so long to figure this out??"

uh... maybe it's because that senile old geezer knew that shit like "2017" happens on a regular basis, and that the vast majority of teams that sell out to win now, don't win now... just like the Packers won't win now in 2017. They just make life that much harder in the following year.

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The TKstinator's picture

October 30, 2017 at 07:56 pm

Ouch.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 31, 2017 at 03:21 am

Nah, signing the FAs was the right thing to do.

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Curt's picture

October 30, 2017 at 05:27 pm

There is a reason Bennett was ushered out of locker rooms in the past - doing the same thing and expecting different results.....I was hoping I was wrong, and maybe he does have some pride, but seems to have checked out with lack of effort resulting in poor results.

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Point-Packer's picture

October 30, 2017 at 08:39 pm

Or we could have just resigned Cook. You know, the talented TE who wanted to come back to GB. The one that made an incredible catch to advance GB in the playoffs last year. Yeah, that one.

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stockholder's picture

October 31, 2017 at 07:41 am

How about just trading Bennet NOW. You don't sign a big contract and then want to retire. Is he being nice? Just doesn't like Green Bay? I'm thinking he wants out! I think TT should just see if he wants to be traded. Before the deadline. With A-Rod down. The Packers aren't expected to make the super-bowl. He's use to winning. No one likes rebuilding. He might be thinking the packers are the Bears now.

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