Green Bay Packers 2010 Roster Overcrowding: Is Tight End the New Fullback? All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Just about any Packers fan knows (and laments about) how Green Bay kept 3 fullbacks on the 2009 roster. Could tight end be the position for roster overcrowding in 2010? As I mentioned on Cheesehead Radio last week, I think there’s a decent chance. Let me expand on that thought…

In 2009, the Packers selected Quinn Johnson in the 5th round of the NFL draft. Johnson had a hot and cold college career, but was unquestionably looked at as a physical specimen with athletic ability and raw talent that will require some time to develop.

In 2010, the Packers selected Andrew Quarless in the 5th round of the NFL draft. Quarless had a hot and cold college career, but was unquestionably looked at as an immature kid with athletic ability and raw talent that will require some time to develop.

Sound familiar?

In 2009, the Packers did not want to lose Quinn Johnson, by taking a chance on putting him on the practice squad. Certainly, a team like Carolina, who signed Tyrell Sutton and then later had to use him at fullback, would have taken Johnson in a heartbeat. If Johnson can learn to use his skills wisely and improve his pass blocking, the Packers will be very pleased with this pick in a few years.

In 2010, they have drafted a tight end that has a similar skill set as Jermichael Finley, and fits the mold of the modern-day NFL tight end. Putting Quarless on the practice squad is probably not an option. Let me tell you, as a Penn State fan that has seen him play in person several times, the kid has talent. If he can grow up and focus on his job, the Packers will be very happy with this pick in a few years.

Sound familiar?

In 2009, the Packers were supposedly putting an emphasis on special teams (not to say that it worked, though). Not being very deep at talent in the running back position, rather than keep a 4th RB that would never see the field, they kept 3 fullbacks, holding on to Hall and Kuhn, special teams contributors.

In 2010, the Packers are putting a major emphasis on special teams again (no. really! Mike McCarthy said so!). This year, with the drafting of James Starks and signing of Quinn Porter, keeping 4 running backs and two fullbacks is a more logical possibility. That means they probably lose a special teams contributor (Kuhn or Hall) at FB, but can gain one somewhere else – the logical choice would be at tight end.

While most people assume Donald Lee is the odd man out at the tight end position, I say, no so fast. Since I’m convinced Quarless will make the 53-man roster, that leaves Spencer Havner, Donald Lee and Tom Crabtree battling for one or two spots.

Lee has blocking skills the others don’t. And in the years (2005-06) before he became a full-time starter, Lee  was a big contributor on special teams. The Packers have asked him to once again contribute there, working him heavily into the ST mix during OTAs. Lee is the “good soldier” type of guy that will play wherever he’s told to, something the Packers value highly. At the same time, Spencer Havner showed he could be a contributor in only his first year of playing tight end, so he’s not going anywhere.

In short, the Packers have four tight ends and very good reasons to want to hold on to each of them. At least for this year, when a run at the Super Bowl is definitely on the Packers Organization’s radar. Lee makes just over $2 million in 2010 and the Packers have shown they are not afraid to pay veterans to be backups and special teams guys (Poppinga, Chillar, etc.).

So don’t be surprised or upset, if much like 2009 was the year of the fullback for unconventional roster decisions, 2010 will become the year of the tight end. The Packers could keep Finley, Havner, Lee and Quarless. Yeah, four tight ends – that’s the ticket!


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


25 thoughts on “Green Bay Packers 2010 Roster Overcrowding: Is Tight End the New Fullback?

  1. First, I can’t believe you write so much about so many different topics Al. It seems you have to be neglecting every aspect of your personal life, but hell, I appreciate it, I enjoy reading your stuff. Second, the article seems to conclude a scenario where the roster would have 4 TE, 2 FB and 4 RB. That’s ten spots. Last year the TE/FB/RB spot took up nine spots. I can’t imagine that those posistion groups can squeeze an extra roster spot. Can’t imagine reducing an O-lineman, and there were only five WRs and 2 QBss on the roster. However, if the Packers could get behind one FB or decide that Quinn Porter isn’t worth a roster spot they definitely could hold down four TEs on the roster.

    1. yep, my math was off on that. In a 4-TE scenario, then 3RB would be the most you would keep. I was probably still thinking about my Quinn Porter article, where I made the case for keeping 4RB.

      That’s what happens when you write too much on different topics – LOL.

      Thanks for the kind words and the comment…

  2. Al,I have no sympathy for how much other stuff you ignore to write these articles.Give me the articles LOL.
    On a serious note,I understand the inability for most to swallow the idea of Lee being gone.The 4 TE senario will never be as we will not in essence put Havner or Quarless on the PS and not sure if Havner can be put there but,to even take the chance of losing Quarless after drafting him for no return is improbable.
    Havner has a much larger overall upside than Lee(blocking)but this is moot compared to Havner who would excell at more and blocking comes easier when your playing more.
    With Finley more likely being used as a WR more this year,Havner gets more TE time when that occurs giving Quarless time as 3rd TE.
    I just don’t get the benefit of keeping Lee when his time is coming and value for him will dwindle as he really is limited in his tangibles.
    As to keeping him just for SPT play,well I think we may be over the limit with that already,Martin,Blackmon,Hall and Lee and not to mention the spot for Goode.Alot of spots taken for SPECIAL TEAM players who aren’t really SPECIAL.

    1. If God forbid, something happens to Finley, they need a veteran backup, not a rookie or a guy that has played the position for only one year. So I think Lee is a good 1-year insurance policy.

      1. AL,every year at some position the dice need to rolled for all teams.It’s a gamble sure,but thats part of the game.I like the odds with Havner and Quarless than Lee at all.

  3. Keeping the 4 TEs at the expense of a FB is essentially a trade off. TE can be utilized almost like a H-back, being able to stay in and block or go out for the passing game. it’s an excellent idea.

    1. If we didn’t have the passing talent we have I would agree,but we do and we don’t need a TE like Lee as a H-back,isn’t that what we have guys like Jackson,Kuhn,Johnson and dare I say Lumpkin for, and Havner is better suited for that as he can catch and Lee,well… need I say more.

  4. The TE is used in the Haback role as a blocker in this offense. Lining up in a two point stance just behind the Tackle.
    Then blocking or moving out into a route. A TE fits this role much better then a FB. Havner was used in that role more and more as the year went on.
    Where the possiblity to keeping four TE’s ranther then 3 FB’s is a higher possibility, I don’t see either happening.
    I think this year we will see extra Dlinemen kept.
    It get to be a tough thing, good teams cut good players.
    This is a good team.

    1. Separating the defense form the offense, if the Packers keep 3RBs and 2FBs. that leaves an extra spot on the offense. Could be an OL, as the Packers are depth-wary after last season, or could be a TE.

  5. As I’ve said before, it’s about ST value.

    Finley has a spot. Quarless, like Quinn Johnson last year, has a spot.

    But he’s raw. So they’ll need one more TE. It’ll be the winner of the Havner/Lee/Crabtree battle. Probably the one who can offer better blocking/ST value.

    All the rest will be decided by ST value, whether is 3 FBs, 4 or 5 TEs, 4 RBs, 11 OLs…

      1. Maybe. To me, Havner has the most value of them all (Lee, Crabtree, Kuhn, Hall…), so I believe one spot will be his.

        Reports from camp is that Crabtree looks like the best blocker… But it’s TC. It’s not real game. And Lee has, indeed, proven himself in that dept.

        1. BTW, I didn’t mean not keep Havner. I think he is assured a spot. I just don’t see the Packers cutting a guy like Lee. Maybe he would have some trade value…

  6. When Greene handed that belt to Lee the other day at camp signified the closest he is going to get to the real thing this year.Finley and Havner are set,the battle if any ,is Lee and Quarless and Quarless isn’t going on PS and the Packers aren’t keeping 4 TE’s.I give him two pre-season games and the deal will be done.If I’m wrong I welcome all to let me have it.Nicely of coarse.LOL

      1. Thats what I’ve been saying AL,a trade and get value while he has some,cutting him outright would be ridiculous.

  7. From Mike McCarthy’s press conference on Tuesday:

    Tight end depth, I’ll tell you what. We have five individuals that can play. It’s a very competitive position battle for us. I just really like the progress of Jermichael Finley. Donald Lee is the vet of the group and he has a complete understanding of what we’re trying to do. All five of them have the flexibility to play all three of our tight end positions, both in-line and in the displaced formations that they’ve been using. ‘Drew is coming on. He’s a rookie. He has some natural football instincts. It’s going to take a little time for him. Spencer has come off his injury strong, and I think Tom has clearly made the most progress of anybody in that group. Very pleased. I love the tight end position and I love these five guys we have.

  8. Hey Jersey Al, this is the first time I’ve been to your site, and I’m really pleased! For one thing, you seem to have many of the same opinions and arguments that I’ve had over the past few years. On to my comment:
    Don’t count out Crabtree. Yes, he’s “perfect” for the practice squad, and I completely agree that ST will determine the #3 and possible #4 TE. But the coaches have talked about Crabtree from the beginning, and what the STs need more than anything, is better BLOCKING. If they keep 4 TEs, my pre-pre-season prediction is Crabtree is #4. MAYBE even #3…

    1. Well first of all, thanks for stopping by and glad to have you. Hope you make it a regular stop.

      As for your comment, I was just reading the other day where McCarthy called Crabtree one of the most improved guys on the team. I wouldn’t be shocked if he made it, but only if they can get a trade for Lee. I just don’t think Lee is getting cut…

  9. This is pushing the envelope but what about keeping all 5 TE’s. Here’s the argument. All serve a purpose for reasons already stated. TT is willing to keep guys he thinks are NFL players like the year he kept 11 DL. Since the TE’s can handle some FB duties and Lee, Crabtree, and Havner play ST’s we could get by w/ 1 or 2 FB’s. Last year we kept 5 WR’s, 3 TE’s 3 FB’s and 3 RB’s for a total of 14. W/ Finley’s and Quarless’s ability to play wide we could go w/ 4 WR’s, 5 TE’s, 1 FB and to make Quinn Porter happy 4 RB’s.

    1. Well, nothing’s off the table,and I could see Havner maybe taking on a FB-type role, but no way McCarthy will agree to 4 WRs. He would keep 7 if he could.

  10. I’m sure that this year the roster decisions will be even more complicated, since the Packers are a true Super Bowl contender, it is more important to have reliable backups, and Lee fits that role. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see a few young tight ends ending up on the injured reserve…not that any teams ever “stash” in that way…

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