GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are getting some help at the tight end position with the addition of former Jacksonville Jaguars veteran Marcedes Lewis, who announced the news Thursday via a photo of him signing a contract on Instagram.
Lewis had spent the day visiting with the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Packers announced the signing Friday morning.
Entering his 13th season in the NFL, the 34-year-old free agent is regarded as one of the league's better blocking tight ends. That's an area of need for the Packers, who also signed Jimmy Graham, a prolific pass catcher but not known for his blocking ability.
Lewis, a 2006 first-round draft pick, hasn’t had more than 25 receptions in each of the last five seasons. Part of that could be due to the erratic play of Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.
Lewis did catch five touchdown passes last season, his most since catching 10 during the 2010 season.
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The Jaguars like to run the ball (they led the NFL averaging 141.4 rushing yards per game last season), and Lewis’ blocking has been a big help there during his 12 seasons in Jacksonville. At 6-6, 267 pounds, Lewis is roughly as big as former Packers free-agent acquisition Martellus Bennett, who was one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the NFL.
Lewis has long been considered a good blocker, even though the Jaguars selected him out of UCLA in 2006 with the hope he could be a top receiving tight end.
Lewis started all 16 games last season and caught 24 passes for 318 yards and five TDs. It was his best season since 2013, when he caught 25 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns.
In 12 seasons, he has caught 375 passes for 4,502 yards (12.0 average) and 33 touchdowns.
The Jaguars regarded Lewis highly enough to exercise a one-year, $3.5 million option on Feb. 20. However, after signing Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul in free agency, they released Lewis on March 20.
Lewis joins two established veterans at tight end for the Packers in new addition Graham and veteran Lance Kendricks. Although Graham technically is a tight end, he mainly lines up as a receiver.
Blocking never has been a strong suit for Graham during his eight NFL seasons (five with the New Orleans Saints and three with the Seattle Seahawks).
Kendricks also isn't known as a strong blocker. Over the course of his seven-year career with the Rams and Packers, he has been used more as an H-back. Kendricks has been deployed in multiple spots within the offense and rarely has lined up at a traditional tight end position.
In his first season in Green Bay, Kendricks caught 18 passes last year for 203 yards and one touchdown.
The Packers also have a number of young undrafted tight ends who will be in the mix for roster spots in Emanuel Byrd, Robert Tonyan, Ryan Smith and Kevin Rader.