General manager Brian Gutekunst suggested Graham will stay with the Packers for 2019, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Apparently satisfied with Graham's 55-636-2 receiving line on 89 targets (7.1 YPT) in an Aaron Rodgers offense, Gutekunst expressed his faith in the veteran tight end remaining a viable starting option heading into the upcoming season. It would be hard to argue against dropping Graham after the first season of his three-year, $30 million contract, but the Packers seemingly anticipate the 32-year-old improving his performance under new head coach Matt LaFleur. The team will need to make a final decision before March 15, when Graham is scheduled to receive a $5 million roster bonus.
The Packers currently plan to keep Graham under contract for 2019, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. A major disappointment in the first season of his three-year, $30 million contract, Graham may get a second chance in Green Bay under the guidance of new head coach Matt LaFleur. It feels like a suboptimal decision from a salary cap standpoint, but the Packers aren't crazy to hope for some degree of improvement if the new scheme can take advantage of their tight end's 6-foot-7 frame while mitigating the impact of his declining athleticism. The team will need to make a final decision by March 15, at which point the 32-year-old is due a $5 million roster bonus. Regardless of this recent report, Graham's spot on the team will be tenuous until that date passes.
Graham may be released by the Packers this offseason, Pete Dougherty of The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports. It might seem like an easy decision after Graham was such a disappointment in the first season of a three-year, $30 million contract, but the matter is complicated by a significant dead-money charge as well as the reality that Lance Kendricks, Marcedes Lewis and Randall Cobb are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March. It's thus possible the 32-year-old gets another shot in Green Bay, where new head coach Matt LaFleur plans to call the plays on offense. It's also quite plausible the Packers decide to move on and start from scratch at the TE position.
Graham had three receptions for 21 yards in Sunday's loss to the Lions. Graham played all 16 games in his first year in Green Bay, but -- partly because of a broken thumb -- he topped 34 yards just once in the team's final eight games and didn't find paydirt after Week 9. His 636 total receiving yards were over 100 more than he tallied in 2017, but he was far less a threat in the red zone, as his touchdowns fell from 10 to just two. Graham is under contract with the Packers for next year, and there is at least a small chance he is not brought back if the team thinks his production will not warrant his salary. However, heading into the offseason, he is the favorite to start at tight end for Green Bay in 2019.
Graham (knee/thumb) doesn't have an injury designation for Sunday's game against the Lions, Michael Cohen of The Athletic reports. Graham will close out his disappointing campaign against a Lions defense that yielded his third-highest yardage total (76) of the season back in Week 5. The Packers' injuries at wide receiver theoretically create an opportunity for increased target volume, but Graham has already failed to take advantage of similar situations on a number of occasions this season. Granted, it will be a bit different if the team has to play without Davante Adams (knee), who accounts for 42 percent of the red-zone targets and 28 percent of the overall volume. It's fair to wonder if this will be Graham's last game in a Packers uniform, with the three-year, $30 million contract he signed in March already looking like a clear mistake.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|8||10/28||@Kansas City Chiefs||31||9.56|
|9||11/03||@Los Angeles Chargers||10||5.67|
|12||11/24||@San Francisco 49ers||4||4.75|
|13||12/01||@New York Giants||19||7.38|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||94||59||693||6||36||11.75||103|