GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Two days, two new tight ends for the Green Bay Packers. One day after signing Martellus Bennett to a three-year, $21 million contract, they have added veteran Lance Kendricks, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
Terms: Not immediately available.
ESPN 150 ranking: Not ranked.
Grade: B. Kendricks was a starter for the Rams, but he won’t need to play that big of a role for the Packers as long as Bennett stays healthy. He’s never been a big-play tight end, but last season he set a career high with 50 receptions, for 499 yards and two touchdowns. It was hard-luck year, though, for Kendricks. He missed a $250,000 bonus by 1 yard and then was cut with two years left on a four-year, $18.5 million deal. He was scheduled to make $4.25 million this season in combined salary and bonuses.
What it means: The Packers weren’t content with just adding Bennett. They wanted another reliable tight end so that if Bennett gets hurt, their offense doesn’t have to change significantly. They were reminded of just how important the tight end position is in their offense last season when Jared Cook missed six games because of an ankle injury. Upon Cook’s return in late November, Aaron Rodgers and the offense hit their stride. It also gives Green Bay a solid trio with Bennett, Kendricks and Richard Rodgers, who will be entering his fourth NFL season. Although Rodgers is as sure-handed as they come, he has never developed into a big-play tight end.
What’s the risk? Because Kendricks was released, he was technically a street free agent. That means he won’t count against the Packers in the compensatory-pick formula. Only players who fulfilled their entire contracts count. About the only risk is that because Kendricks is entering his seventh NFL season, they would have to pay him for the entire year if he’s on their roster Week 1. Players with less than four years of accrued service can be released any time during the season and their salary is wiped off the books. Kendricks, however, has been reliable during his career. He has played in either 15 or all 16 games in each of his first six NFL seasons, all with the Rams. In 93 career games, he has 204 catches for 2,132 yards (a 10.5-yard average) and 17 touchdowns.