Packers Sign Free Agent TE Marcedes Lewis
The Packers will bring back veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis for another year according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Originally drafted in the first round by the Jaguars in 2006, Lewis is a strong locker room presence and well-respected among his peers.
“It’s great to work with somebody who is so good at what he does," then-Jaguars tight end Nic Jacobs said of Lewis in 2014. "He takes guys under his wing. He’s not an aloof veteran who worries about himself. He’s definitely a team guy. He shows you things like how to take care of your body so you can last in the league.”
Michael Cohen of The Athletic noted Lewis and teammate Lance Kendricks served as "terrific influences" on rookie Robert Tonyan last season.
At least Lewis will return in 2019 to help Tonyan and the rest of the team win more than they did last season.
WHY THEY MADE THE MOVE:
If you haven’t already noticed the significant organizational change going on with the Packers, this move is yet another piece of a larger puzzle. Two seasons ago, Lewis played an average of 60 snaps for the Jaguars. He saw the field for about 15 snaps per game with the Packers the following season, and a third of those were on special teams.
What happened last season? Packer Report’s Bill Huber suggested head coach Mike McCarthy "seemed to have no idea what to do with Lewis." The Packers ran the ball 77 percent of the time when Lewis was on the field, and opposing defenses keyed in on the trend. Green Bay averaged about a yard and a half less on the ground with the tight end on the field.
But that was last year. This isn’t your father’s Packers. Goodness, this isn’t even your Packers. McCarthy is out, Matt LaFleur is in, and LaFleur’s new offensive system works best with tight ends who are committed to and good at blocking.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE PACKERS:
Lewis returning for a second season in Green Bay is a move that reeks of familiarity. The stable, steady tight end played for the Jacksonville Jaguars – an organization where stability is harder to find than a winter coat – for over a decade. Lewis had four head coaches and five offensive coordinators in his first twelve seasons with the Jaguars.
His last offensive coordinator is a familiar face to Packers fans – Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett made a point early in the 2017 offseason to include Lewis as a larger role in the offense, and Lewis responded with a fine campaign. According to Pro Football Focus, Lewis’ run blocking graded out higher than the four previous seasons.
Hackett and LaFleur will at least bring Lewis into training camp, depending on how the remainder of the offseason and roster comes together. There, we’ll see exactly how the Packers plan to use the veteran, steady tight end.
GRADE THE MOVE: C.
A C, you say? Yep. Every free agent signing is a C until proven otherwise. There are too many variables to grade this move as anything other than completely middle of the road right now. It’s true of Lewis and it’ll be true of anyone else the Packers sign.
The move to bring back Lewis isn’t going to be the splashy signing, but it’s a signing that good teams make. One rightful criticism of how the Packers built their roster in recent years was their near complete avoidance of players after their second contract. Players like Marcedes Lewis aren’t fantasy superstars or highlight factories, but they can be just as valuable.
The Packers are overhauling their offense in 2019, and it’s great to have an easy-going veteran that’s familiar with one of the coaches installing the system.