Category Archives: Donald Lee

1

August

Free Agent Status of Former Green Bay Packers

Tracking the free agent status of Packers released this offseason, with the exception of Al Harris, who was released during the 2010 season.

 

 S Derrick Martin: SIGNED WITH GIANTS  

UPDATE: Martin and the New York Giants agreed to a one-year contract on Monday, August 15. 

The Packers released Martin on March 3.

Despite being an important special teams contributor, the Packers let go of Martin early in the offseason. Injuries likely played into the decision, as Martin suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Washington Redskins.

Little has surfaced about team’s potential interest in Martin, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t find a team for 2011.

LB Brady Poppinga: SIGNED WITH ST. LOUIS RAMS 

The Packers released Poppinga on July 29.

UPDATE: Poppinga has reportedly agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Rams and was observing Rams practice on Tuesday night. He should get a chance to start at outside linebacker for St. Louis.

Much like Tauscher, Poppinga had similar factors working against him.

At 32 years old and coming off an ACL injury, Poppinga was due $2.34 million in 2011. For a guy that was going to be a backup and play primarily on special teams, that price tag was way too rich for the Packers liking.

He was also miscast in the Packers 3-4 defense, and he’ll likely look to team that runs the 4-3 as his next destination. Poppinga visited the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, but there was no word if a contract had been put in place.

LB Nick Barnett: SIGNED WITH BUFFALO BILLS

The Packers released Barnett on July 29, saving $5.9 million in cap room. Barnett then signed a three-year, $12 million deal with Buffalo Bills on July 31.

The Bills got a serious upgrade at linebacker, as Barnett averaged almost 110 tackles in his first seven seasons with the Packers. He’ll bring a veteran presence to a team that needs leaders on defense.

Barnett was expendable to the Packers after Desmond Bishop had a breakout season in his absence. Green Bay signed Bishop to a four-year, $19 million contract in January, putting the writing on the wall for Barnett’s eventual release.

TE Donald Lee: SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

The Packers released Lee on March 3. On July 29, Lee signed a one-year, $850,000 contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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16

May

Was Andrew Quarless a Big Disappointment for the Packers?

There seems to be a sea of sentiment floating amongst those who follow the Packers that Andrew Quarless was a disappointment in his rookie season. To those who say that I ask, what exactly were your expectations?

We are talking about a kid that was only 21 years old when the season started. He was a fifth round draft pick on a team that already had four tight ends. It would have been perfectly reasonable to expect Quarless to land on the practice squad.

Instead, the Packers cut the all-purpose Spencer Havner, a key special teams contributor, to keep Quarless on the roster. As the low man on the tight end totem pole, Quarless was slated to see mostly special teams action, much like Jermichael Finley did during his rookie season.

So how can you call a season where Quarless had more snaps than any other Packers tight end a disappointment? No doubt, he had some drops in key moments, especially in the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl. But what does it say that the Packers’ coaches and Aaron Rodgers were comfortable going to Quarless in big spots in those games?

Not to pick on Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette, but I’m going to use something from one of his recent articles because it’s pretty representative of what I’ve been reading;

“… the addition of two tight ends could be because of Quarless’ slow development. He had almost no impact as a rookie and worse, made repeated mental mistakes.”

First let’s take the “repeated mental mistakes.” I need some clarification on that. Is that something Rob has noticed? Something he was told by a coach?  Without knowledge of Quarless’ assignments nor the time to sit and grade Quarless, I can’t really agree or disagree with that assertion. So let’s move to the other part of Rob’s statement, “He had almost no impact as a rookie.” Now this I can talk about.

According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Quarless took 518 snaps for the Packers last season. Tom Crabtree took 395 and Donald Lee 300.

Jermichael Finley saw only 97 snaps in 2008, when he was a 21 year old rookie on a 6-10 Packers team. Finley didn’t have a pass thrown to him until game nine of that season and finished with 6 catches and a 12.3 ypc average. Quarless finished 2010 with 21 catches (over 4 more games) and a 11.3 ypc average.

30

March

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Tight Ends

In this third installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the tight end position currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#88 Jermichael Finley
24 yrs. old / 3 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#81 Andrew Quarless
22 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2013

#83 Tom Crabtree
25 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2012

#41 Spencer Havner
28 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (tender offered)

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

Jermichael Finley could be the best receiving tight end in the league right now, and his case for this distinction would be much stronger if not for his season-ending knee injury. In the first four games of 2010, Finley had 21 receptions for 301 yards and a touchdown, which would have put him on pace for a 1,000 yard season.

But beyond the numbers, Finley is just a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. Mike McCarthy has lined him up as both a tight end and wide receiver, trying to take advantage of his height and his speed. He is also a big red zone target, not only because of his size, but also because of his great hands.

Behind Finley, the Packers have picked up two promising, young tight ends in Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree. Though neither player was stellar in his role this season, each one has shown the potential to be solid cogs in the offensive machine.

For a position that McCarthy likes to utilize in his offense, he has a great group of talent and depth to work with next season.

POSITION WEAKNESSES:

27

March

Ranking the Packers 2010 Roster: Players 67-30

As is the case for nearly ever Super Bowl champion, the Green Bay Packers assembled a deep and talented roster for their 2010-2011 championship season.

However, unlike most champions, the Packers had to do it the unlucky way.

15 players—many important contributors—landed on season-ending injured reserve, and Green Bay had to call on the bottom of GM Ted Thompson’s emergency board for players to even field a full roster.

In the first of three articles ranking the Packers’ roster, you’ll find many of those players that no one expected to contribute.

Don’t let the rankings fool you, however. During the Packers’ Super Bowl season, every player on this roster was important to achieving the final goal.

Here are players 67 through 30. (Note: Players who ended on the practice squad are not included, but those who ended on the injured reserve are.) This will be followed up by players 29-11 and then finally, the top 10 players on the Packers roster.

67. CB Josh Bell: Landed on the injured reserve in mid-August with a knee injury and probably won’t be back next season. He might forever be known as the guy who gave up the game-winner to Mike Wallace and the Steelers in 2009.

66. CB Josh Gordy: Activated from the practice squad for the final nine games of the season but never saw the field. The Packers like Gordy however, and he’ll get another look as a project player and is probable to make the practice squad.

65. LB Diryal Briggs: Brought in towards the end of October and contributed a handful of special teams tackles. Briggs is only 25, but chances are he gets flushed out by the return of several IR linebackers this summer.

64. G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was brought back after being cut in training camp on Dec. 31 and served as Scott Wells’ backup for the final stretch. While he never saw the field, he’ll get a chance in camp to win a spot.

63. CB Brandon Underwood: The Packers have high hopes for him but he’s yet to realize any potential. That, along with his recent legal troubles, will make Underwood fight for a spot on this team moving forward.

62. LB Matt Wilhelm: Was added along with Briggs at the end of October as a true street free agent. Wilhelm was also guilty of the facemask that all but gave the Falcons a Week 13 win, and won’t be back next season.

23

March

According to Hobbes: Packers Offseason Primer on the NFL Combine: Tight Ends

Tight Ends: Here’s the fourth of a series of articles looking specifically at the NFL combine and the Packers’ drafting tendencies. (read here for the rationale for this series and here for quarterbacks, here for running backs and here for wide receivers).  This article will use the combine numbers from previous players drafted by GM Ted Thompson as a guide for what tight ends are likely to fit into the Packers’ scheme.

Again, this is merely an attempt to make a best guess based on statistics at which players the Packers might be interested in, game tape naturally trumps combine numbers, so take all of this with a grain of salt.  But I believe it will make for some interesting discussion.  Also listed below are also two tight ends in this year’s draft who I think fit the Packers scheme the best, based on their combine numbers.

Statistics of tight ends drafted by the Packers:

Name Height Weight 40-Yard 3-Cone Shuttle Vertical Broad Bench
Clark Harris 6’5″ 257.00 4.80 4.40 32.00 112.00 21.00
Jermichael Finley 6’4″ 240.00 4.82 7.15 4.38 27.50 117.00 20.00
Andrew Quarless 6’4″ 248.00 4.69 7.29 4.57 32.00 112.00 23.00
Average 6’4″ 248.33 4.77 7.22 4.45 30.50 113.67 21.33
StDev 0.58 8.50 0.07 0.10 0.10 2.60 2.89 1.53

What the Packers are looking for: As much as GM Ted Thompson likes to draft wide receivers, Thompson has only drafted 3 tight ends, which probably means that Thompson doesn’t value tight ends as much as other teams do.  This probably is due in part to the fact that Thompson seems perfectly happy with drafting tight ends that are not considered “complete” (in the mold of Jason Witten or Dallas Clark who can pass catch and block) and instead focuses purely on the receiving tight end.

Something else interesting to note is that all the tight ends that Thompson has drafted have been considered serious developmental projects; Clark Harris didn’t manage to get past the roster cut down, Finley had an atrocious rookie campaign and while Quarless had many more opportunities, his rookie season was also quite forgettable.  Perhaps the most ironic of all is that Jermichael Finley had a ridiculously bad combine; running a 4.82 is comparable to Brian Brohm, a quarterback, and Allen Barbre, an offensive lineman who outweighs Finley by 60 pounds.  His 27.5-inch vertical puts him second to last of all Packers drafted by Ted Thompson with only Breno Giacomini, another offensive lineman doing worse.

6

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Offense — Tom Crabtree

1.)Introduction: The first image many Green Bay Packers fans may have of tight end Tom Crabtree from the 2010 season would be of tight end in training camp just trying to make the season opening roster.

The final image of the season would have to be the Drew Brees-like image of Crabtree holding his son in the air with confetti falling after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Crabtree has been described as a project in the receiving game, but in the blocking department he was looked upon as an immediate contributor.

Such would be his role with the Packers in 2010.

2.) Profile:

Thomas Louis Crabtree

Position: TE
Height: 6-5    Weight: 244 lbs.

Born: November 4, 1985 in Columbus, OH

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 1 (11873rd overall since 1950)

3.) Expectations entering 2010 season: In a word, none.  With Jermichael Finley a budding superstar and the veteran Donald Lee behind Finley, not much was expected of Crabtree this season.  In fact, he was not even a lock to make the active roster with rookie Andrew Quarless behind him.

When the dust settled, Crabtree made the 2010 Packers but not much was expected of this third stringer unless some weird rash of injuries broke out.

Like that would ever happen.

4. ) Highlights/Lowlights:  When you only catch four passes in a season, you  obviously won’t show up much on SportsCenter during Packer highlights.  But for one his grabs, Crabtree definitely made the highlight reel.

Crabtree’s first (and so far only) NFL touchdown reception came in the NFC Wild Card against the Philadelphia Eagles.  In a game that went back and forth and eventually came down to the wire, Crabtree’s touchdown reception was key to the Packers successfully starting their run to Super Bowl XLV.

One of his lowlights shouldn’t even really be a lowlight, but the record book will stand forever in history.  On a Steelers punt return, Crabtree was flagged for a 15 yard facemasking penalty enough though replays clearly show that Crabtree at no time had his hands on a Steelers facemask and instead had a fistful of jersey.

Still, anytime your number is called for a penalty and hundreds of millions of people are watching, it’s a lowlight.

5

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Offense — Donald Lee

1) Introduction: A fifth round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2003, Donald Lee was signed in free agency by the Green Bay Packers in 2005. His career hasn’t been as bright as some other tight ends in Green Bay history; nevertheless, he did serve his role well in the Packers’ “transition” from Bubba Franks to Jermichael Finley. From 2007-2009, Lee had a combined 124 receptions for 1,138 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Donald Lee2) Profile:

Donald Tywon Lee

Position: TE
Height: 6-3    Weight: 255 lbs.

Born: August 31, 1980 in Maben, MS
College: Mississippi State   (school history)    (Lee college stats)
Drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 5th round (156th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft.

3) Expectations coming into the season: With the emergence of superstar Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee’s role this season fell significantly. In fact, the only thing keeping Lee on the roster seemed to be his veteran experience. After the Packers drafted Andrew Quarless and signed Tom Crabtree, the tight end position suddenly became more crowded. Lee was still expected to perform to his previous level of play, but it was clear the younger players were taking over quickly.

4) Highlights / Lowlights: Donald Lee finally made an impact on the offense in Weeks 16 and 17 after a long dry spell going back to the very beginning of the year. He scored two goal line touchdowns (one in each game), and the one against Chicago ended up being the only Packers touchdown all game. Lee’s most glaring lowlight of the season was his early fumble against the Washington Redskins in Week 5. Not only did it give up possession, but it was the play in which Jermichael Finley suffered his season-ending injury while trying to make a tackle after the recovery. While Finley’s injury can’t really be blamed on Lee, he did serve as a nice scapegoat for thousands of frustrated fans.

5) Contributions to the overall team success: As I noted in an earlier article this year (“Packing the Stats: Packers Tight Ends Forgotten with Finley Gone”), the tight end position was all but forgotten after Finley’s injury. Donald Lee had arguably the worst season of his career with the Green Bay Packers in 2010. He dropped eight of 55 passes (14.6%), the worst drop rate of his career and on the team. Two of the drops were in the red zone. Even his blocking seemed to lack in effort. While the young guys (Quarless and Crabtree) were rising, Lee was definitely falling.