Packers’ GM Ted Thompson said his first priority in free agency is to resign his own. Ted Thompson has stayed true to his word. But resigning someone doesn’t always mean “best friends forever”. Sometimes, it means, “prove it”.
- Andrew Quarless
Tight end Andrew Quarless resigned with the Pack on a two year deal worth $3 million. As a role player, Quarless stepped in to backup Jermichael Finley with sporadic highlights since being drafted in 2010. Finley suffered a serious neck injury last year which prompted Quarless to start all 16 games.
Quarless’ 2013 stats recorded all career highs: 32 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns. Still, these numbers can seem underperforming for a starting tight end. But with Finley’s health and future in question as an unrestricted free agent, resigning Quarless is a “prove it deal” and insurance plan for both parties. The Packers hope the 25 year old tight end will hit his prime.
Green Bay would love to have Finley back barring his medical checkups and possible fix with surgery. At any rate, Quarless needs to earn his starting spot ASAP; in training camp, preseason, and week one with sure hands and strong blocking. He can’t afford any mistakes in this offense.
So what are the Packers looking for? Anything better than 32 catches for 312 yards and just two touchdowns.
Since this is a “prove it deal”, there’s a good chance the Pack will add a tight end anyway. Even if Finley doesn’t return, free agent Owen Daniels is a likely homecoming pickup having played college ball at Wisconsin. Then there’s the draft which is loaded with able tight ends.
Ultimately, Quarless is resigned, but not safe.
- James Starks
Running back James Starks and the Packers agreed to a two year deal with the finishing touches still in progress.
At 28 years old, nagging injuries have kept Starks from a consistent starting spot and All-Pro stats. Still, Starks has proved he can handle the rock in the biggest games; especially the playoffs. After all, he was the leading rusher coming out of nowhere for Green Bay’s Super Bowl run four years ago.
In a complimentary role, Starks averaged a career high 5.5 yards per carry and three touchdowns last year. He played in 13 games, the healthiest in his career, where he rushed for 493 yards.
Starks finds himself in a unique situation. Durability may be a question but this “prove it deal” doesn’t necessarily mean a thousand yards or else. Instead, he’s part of a triple threat in a crowded backfield. Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, and James Starks combined for 1,778 rushing yards last year. We saw that Starks doesn’t mind running behind Rookie of the Year teammate Eddie Lacy. If anything, the change of pace allowed Starks to run harder through bigger holes. Scat back Johnathan Franklin will most likely stay third on the depth chart who can really blaze by linebackers.
Essentially, Starks’ job is to be available and perform just as he’s done when called on. In other words, provide a spark. Packers’ management obviously feels you can’t have enough running backs. So at least for two more years, Starks has the opportunity to prove his game in a part-time role.