Bears fans may have to get ready for the idea of Jimmy Graham catching passes from Aaron Rodgers because the tight end has agreed to a three-year deal with the Packers, according to ESPN. The move comes around the same time that the Packers have released star wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who hits the open market.
The moves shake up the Packers’ passing game after an underwhelming 2017 season. With Rodgers expected to return to form, the offense should be much improved. The release of Nelson is already official, while Graham’s contract will need to wait until the start of free agency Wednesday.
Graham spent the past three seasons with the Seahawks, where he was a prime target for Russell Wilson in the end zone. The tight end finished the 2017 season with 57 catches for 520 yards and 10 touchdowns. It’s the fourth time in his career that he’s scored 10 or more touchdowns in a season.
He may no longer put up the same numbers that he did in his prime with the Saints, but the 31-year-old remains an imposing physical presence who’s particularly difficult to stop in the red zone.
The Packers are coming off a disappointing season where Rodgers missed nine games and the team finished 7-9. Backup quarterback Brett Hundley was underwhelming as starter, which compelled the team to acquire DeShone Kizer from the Browns this offseason.
Nelson, who recorded three straight seasons with at least 1,200 receiving yards from 2013-16, finished with just 53 catches for 482 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games. It was a far cry from the 97 catches for 1,257 yards and a league-leading 14 touchdowns he posted in 2016. Nelson does not plan to retire, according to ESPN.
Even with his departure, the Packers have added Graham to an offense that’s primed for a major rebound with a healthy Rodgers. Letting him spread the ball around to Graham, DeVante Adams and Randall Cobb sets the Packers up to be a brutal team to defend against.