Donald Lee odd man out for Packers at tight end?
In assessing the winners and losers for the Green Bay Packers following the draft, Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette suggests that veteran tight end Donald Lee could be in trouble.
He uses a couple points to bolster his point, the most significant being that Jermichael Finley has clearly passed Lee as the top tight end on the roster. There is no question Finley is the preferred option in the passing game at the position now. Finley had 55 receptions for 676 yards and five touchdowns last season and was a clear target for Aaron Rodgers in the second half of the season as 38 catches and four touchdowns came in the final seven games.
But Lee wasn’t a nonfactor in the scheme as he made 37 receptions for 260 yards with one touchdown. The report states Lee is scheduled to earn $2 million this season when he will be three years removed from his career-high numbers of 2007: 48 catches, 575 yards and six touchdowns.
Vandermause notes that the Packers dtrafted Andrew Quarless from Penn State in the fifth round and that Spencer Havner is also in the mix. The problem with dumping Lee and going with less experienced players is that tight end is a difficult position for rookies to excel at, especially when it comes to the nuances of the blocking game. Tight ends are essentially asked to learn two positions – offensive line and receiver – and that can make the transition challenging. Havner was injured in a motorcycle mishap.
Certainly Lee is earning a little bit more than some teams might want to pay a tight end that is not in a lead role, but entering his eighth season he brings value to the group and has experience that could make him indispensible. There is no question the team hopes competition will raise the level of everyone's play.
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