Over the next two weeks, we will take a look at each position group on the Packers and provide grades and insight on how they performed in the 2014 season. Today, we'll be looking at the tight end position. Follow along with all of our positional breakdowns here.
2014 saw the return of a now long-time Packer and the addition of a promising new rookie. Andrew Quarless has now spent five years as a Packer, mostly providing a solid backup to Jermichael Finley. With Finley no longer on the team, Quarless moved into the starter's role where he continued to provide the value of a backup. Richard Rodgers was unspectacular in his first season which, combined with the usual mediocre work from Quarless led to a lack of productivity from the position as a whole, but the 3rd-round pick flashed enough talent to provide some optimism for next season.
How acquired: Free agent re-signing, 2-year deal worth $3,000,000.
16 games, 29 receptions, 46 targets (63% catch rate), 323 yards, 3 TDs, 11.1 Y/R, -.3% DVOA (25th among TEs)
Quarless wasn't asked to be a star and wasn't paid like one, but many hoped he would turn into more than he is. Still, he's played in all 16 games for two consecutive years, he isn't really bad at anything even if he isn't particularly good at anything, he knows the playbook, and he can basically be cut without much issue should someone better come along. It's easy to blame Quarless for the lack of production at tight end, as he was the nominal starter, but hopefully his status as a starter is a one year aberration and he is eclipsed by Richard Rodgers or someone else. I graded the position as a D partially because the Packers started a backup for most of the year, but viewed as what he is and paid what he is paid, Quarless is fine. He even saw his yards per reception and touchdown totals jump a little this year.
How Acquired: Drafted in the 3rd round (98th overall) out of Cal. Signed to a 4-year, $2,761,016 contract.
16 games, 20 receptions, 30 targets (67%), 225 yards, 2 TDs, 11.3 Y/R, -11.3% DVOA (36th)
In his senior year at Cal, Rodgers average 15.6 yards per reception, but his first year in the NFL saw that dip to 11.1. This is not unusual, but I think many (myself included) thought the Packers were getting a big, athletic, field stretching tight end like Jermichael Finley, while Rodgers looked much more like a plodding possession guy. Taking a closer look, Rodgers actually was successful when he was targeted deep and may simply need more opportunities.
His pass-blocking was fantastic by most accounts and given starters reps and a year to develop, I think it's possible he takes a huge step forward next season. I wanted to see more this year, but he's on a rookie deal and there is no reason to be impatient with rookies. In the NFC Championship game while Quarless wasn't contributing at all, Rodgers had 4 tough catches on 5 targets, 3 of which moved the sticks. There is still serious upside here.
How acquired: undrafted free agent signing. Signed to two-year, $930,000 contract.
2 games played, no stats
Perillo was brought in as a rookie from Maine and proved in training camp to be a tough, smart player but one who is lacking in impressive physical skills. He was elevated from the practice squad midway through the season and played in two games, exclusively on special teams. He should compete for a role on special teams once again in 2015.