Packers decisions at TE vital to future success

The Packers will have to make many crucial decisions this offseason, but one of the most important ones is whether or not they retain Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan for the 2021-2022 season.

Both players bring different elements that made the Packers offense so effective last year. If the decision was simply to have these guys on the roster or not, it would be an easy yes. However, money is always getting in the way of having nice things.

Lewis brings the veteran edge and an impeccable blocking ability. He wants to return to the Packers, and his contract should be cheap.

Tonyan is the trickier question. His season was so productive that is certainly drew the attention of other teams around the league. But what kind of price tag with Tonyan draw after his special season? The Packers have a number of TEs on the roster already, but none of them have performed the way Tonyan did last season.

Packers Tight End Robert Tonyan after catching his first career NFL TD against the Seahawks

Currently on Roster

Jace Sternberger

Sternberger, the Packers 2019 3rd round pick, has only played in 18 games in his first two seasons because of injuries. He suffered a concussion in training camp as a rookie and when he returned in the preseason he injured his ankle and went on IR. In his second season he played back seat to Robert Tonyan before suffering a concussion that ultimately ended his season. Sternberger’s rookie contract is halfway done, and he only caught 12 passes on 16 targets for a single TD and two drops in the regular season. However, has caught three passes and one TD in two playoff games. Sternberger needs a healthy season before deciding what type of player he is — a huge opportunity awaits him next season.

Josiah Deguara

Deguara, the Packers 2020 3rd round pick, was utilized early and often before an ACL injury stole his rookie campaign. The injury happened early in the season so hopefully he is healthy in training camp. His type of versatility is the cornerstone to Lafleur’s offense. Deguara could be the only guy on this list who will still be in Green Bay in three years. Hopefully he can avoid Sternberger’s sophomore fate and stay healthy in 2021.

Dominque Dafney

At the end of last year, the Packers caught lightening (and thunder?) in a bottle with Dafney. As a collegiate wildcat QB for Indian State Dafney once rushed for 244 yards and five touchdowns in a game. Now his versatility is relegated to the dirty for the Packers, but if opposing defense forget about him he will be quick to remind them of his big play ability. This is a contract year for Dafney, so if his underdog story continues it could be his last season as a Packers.

Isaac Nauta

Nauta was an insurance blocking TE the Packers signed to the practice squad at the end of last season. His role for the future is uncertain, but if he can block, he can play for Lafleur.

Draft Prospects

Even if the Packers retain Tonyan and Lewis, I expect the Packers to once again use the draft to add talent to the TE room. Everyone has said it, but Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble is a just as good, if not a better, prospect than the two previous third-round picks. So if he is available I would imagine the Packers jump at the opportunity to bring him aboard. While Tremble’s strength lies in the blocking game, Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth is the most intriguing pass-catching TE that would be available to the Packers.

The key to Lafleur’s offense is the versatility of his weapons, and the majority of that time it means his TEs. What the Packers choose to do this offseason with their TE room will be crucial to sustained success — which is always the goal, right?

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Kirien is a big fan of the Packers, Beer, and Battlestar Galactica. You can follow him on twitter at @KirienSprecher.

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