We all kind of scratched our collective heads when the Green Bay Packers drafted tight end Andrew Quarless in last year’s draft.
The team seemed stocked at the position at the time, with Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee and Spencer Havner. The Packers ended up cutting Havner, Lee didn’t perform and Finley got hurt, so it was a good thing Quarless was on the roster.
This year, the team is in a similar position with Finley, Quarless, Tom Crabtree and Havner, who was re-signed midway through the season. And they’ll probably add another tight end anyway.
Quarless didn’t show much during his rookie season, catching only 21 balls for 238 yards. Tight ends usually take a year to develop, but the Packers can’t bet the house on Quarless turning into Finley.
Crabtree is a great blocker, but hasn’t shown anything as a receiver. Havner is solid around the goal line and on special teams, but is never going to be confused with Kellen Winslow.
That brings us to Finley and the reason the Packers could be looking to add another tight end to the mix.
According to Tom Silverstein, Finley could be gone after the 2012 season.
But GM Ted Thompson can’t sit around and wait to see if Quarless develops because there’s a very good chance that after this year Finley will demand truckloads of money the Packers aren’t willing to deliver.
Thompson will have the option of slapping the franchise tag on Finley next year if he needs to, but good luck getting him into camp with a one-year deal worth $6 to $7 million. That’s why he has to look ahead.
While it would seem to go against the Packers way of doing business — the organization typically rewards young, core players with extensions before they hit free agency — they obviously have to prepare for the worst.
Look for the team to go for a tight end in the middle rounds of the draft. They’ve worked out at least three prospects so far — South Dakata State’s Colin Cochart, UNC’s Ryan Taylor and Virginia’s Joe Torchia.
Check out the full list of players the Packers have worked out.