Green Bay Packers “Doing Homework” on Tight Ends at Trade Deadline

Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst talks on the phone during practice on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packerspractice 091218 Abw158
Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst talks on the phone during practice on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packerspractice 091218 Abw158 /
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As the NFL trade deadline approaches, the rumors will continue to pick up, and that always seems especially true for the Green Bay Packers.

While there are a few positions that the Green Bay Packers could address, the recent injury to Robert Tonyan has made tight end one of the bigger priorities.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, “several teams believe the Packers are doing homework on tight ends as the deadline nears.” Fowler mentions Evan Engram, Hayden Hurst, Jacob Hollister, and Jordan Akins as possible options.

Tonyan made waves last season for what he did in the passing game, hauling in 11 touchdowns and totaling 586 receiving yards. Although 2021 was off to a slow start statistically, Tonyan’s presence was felt in other ways as he assumed a number of responsibilities in this offense.

"“He is a major piston in our engine, and he brings everything to light.,” said tight ends coach Justin Outten via Packers.com. “The responsibility he has on his plate, whether it’s a chip or a run block or he’s going out in a route, he takes pride in it. I’m just proud of his process and sticking with everything that’s asked of him. I’m just excited to see the whole picture coming into play here. One-trick ponies in this league – if you’re a pass-catcher and that’s all you do – it doesn’t really survive in this system. You gotta have the grit and the grit and the smarts and toughness and resilience and you gotta also have the right mindset."

While the Green Bay Packers do have Josiah Deguara, Dominique Dafney, and Marcedes Lewis as options at tight end—none of them can do what Tonyan does, particularly in the passing game.

Lewis does have more receiving yards in 2021 than he did all of 2020, but his main responsibility is still as a traditional blocking tight end.

Deguara and Dafney bring versatility but are more H-backs than tight ends, lining up all over the formation. Yes, both bring pass-catching abilities, but not in the way that Tonyan did stretching the middle of the field. It’s also worth noting that the duo has just eight combined targets over their careers.

There is no replacing Tonyan; all Green Bay can hope to do is mitigate his absence as best they can. And to do so, it’s going to take a group effort from the tight ends as well as some contributions from Allen Lazard and Equanimeous St. Brown—bigger receivers who could run similar routes to Tonyan.

Again, this is only a rumor, and we will have to see if anything comes of it. Brian Gutekunst has said that he wants to be in on every conversation, and given the loss of Tonyan, I do believe that he is checking around. Now we just wait and see what happens.