The Green Bay Packers came into the offseason with 17 free agents and a few positions of need that absolutely had to be addressed. One of those positions was at tight end due to the fact that the top two tight ends on the roster — Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless were both free agents.
Finley, who has been the Packers starting tight end since the 2009 season, is still out on the market after failing to receive medical clearance at this point to return from the neck injury he suffered last season against the Cleveland Browns.
Therefore, with Finley’s status up in the air, Green Bay moved quickly to re-sign Quarless, who filled in admirably for Finley last season, starting 10 games and posting a career-high 32 receptions for 312 yards and two touchdowns.
While the Packers have stated that they want Finley back, the two-year, $4 million deal that they gave Quarless serves as a nice insurance policy. After all, the team made the postseason with the former Penn State product starting down the stretch last season and in 2010, Green Bay won the Super Bowl with him starting at tight end.
The question that needs to be asked however, is whether or not the Packers can make through it entire season with Quarless as their starting tight end?
The former fifth-rounder did make some big strides at the end of last season and even put together back-to-back games with six catches for 66 yards against the Falcons and Cowboys when the season was on the line. He is also a reliable in-line blocker, which suits the Packers new found running game spearheaded by Eddie Lacy.
But if Finley doesn’t return, then the Packers will be without his dynamic playmaking as well as his ability to create mismatches among defenders. Quarless for all the things he does well is not a matchup nightmare. He’s a solid player but he won’t strike fear into defenses the way Finley does.
Yet, one current Packers tight end might have the ability to do that and his name is Brandon Bostick, who spent the 2012 season on the practice squad before earning a roster spot in 2013.
Bostick, a former undrafted free agent from Newberry College, where he played wide receiver and basketball, is arguably the most talented tight end on the Packers roster right now and if Finley isn’t retained he will have the chance to take his game to another level in 2014.
Transitioning from wide receiver to tight end has taken some time for the small school prospect but he earned his way on special teams, playing 166 snaps and after Finley’s injury he had a greater role in the offense and caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown in 11 games.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy recently called Bostick the team’s best blocking tight end and also lauded his improved toughness, which was most recognizable by his play on special teams.
“When I see that it gives me hope because special teams is such a huge indicator on offense and defense,” he said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “And he showed toughness blocking, too. Not consistently. His consistency on offense needs to be where it was on special teams.”
The Packers may still get Finley back once he is medically cleared and the 2014 NFL Draft is fairly deep at the tight end position with 5-6 solid prospects expected to come off the board in the first two rounds, so there are plenty of options if the team isn’t satisfied with Quarless and Bostick.
Yet, if things don’t work out in the draft or with Finley, then Quarless and Bostick will have to carry the load at the tight end position. Despite the fact that they aren’t big names, the potential is there and so is the capability to have some very good production.
The Packers have won a Super Bowl with Quarless as their starting tight end before and with Bostick also in the fold, there’s reason to believe they could do it again.