Player grades are a tried-and-true staple at the end of every season. We put our usual spin on them by grading the players on a salary-cap curve. Stats are from STATS and the NFL. Salary comparisons are from OverTheCap.com.
Richard Rodgers: Rodgers has lived up to the scouting report he had coming out of Cal. He knows how to get open and he catches pretty much everything thrown his direction. However, because of a glaring lack of speed, he offers no deep threat and little run-after-catch ability. He wasn’t a good run blocker at Cal, either, and his lack of development in that area probably is a major reason why the team fired position coach Jerry Fontenot. Rodgers caught 58 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s one of the better seasons by a tight end in Packers history, with Rodgers ranking second in catches (Jermichael Finley, 61, 2012) and fifth in touchdowns. Moreover, his catch rate of 68.2 percent ranked 10th among tight ends and he dropped only two passes. However, he averaged only 8.8 yards per reception. Take the 61-yard, game-winning Hail Mary out of the mix, and that falls to 7.9. At least his yards after the catch per catch increased from 2.75 to 3.78. His cap charge of $649,000 ranked 67th at the position. That’s terrific production for the money, but the Packers either need more out of Rodgers or they need a better starter. Grade: B.
Andrew Quarless: Quarless’ cap number of $1.75 million was more than the rest of the tight ends combined. In fact, the Packers’ total cap allotment to the position was less than $3.22 million. If that was a player, he would have ranked 21st at the position. Quarless’ cap number ranked 36th. His year hardly could have gone worse, with a late-night gun incident in Miami on July 4 resulting in a year probation and the death of his daughter upon delivery later that month. On the field, a knee injury sustained during the Week 3 game vs. Kansas City sent him to the temporary injured-reserve list, where he spent 11 games. After a 2014 in which he caught 29 passes for career-high totals of 323 yards and three touchdowns, he managed only four grabs for 31 yards. Then, the knee flared up again and he was placed on season-ending injured reserve before the playoff game at Arizona. He will be an unrestricted free agent. The knee and the possibility of a suspension aren’t going to have teams lined up around the block begging him to sign on the dotted line. Grade: F.
Justin Perillo: Just like last year, when he was an undrafted rookie out of Maine, Perillo failed to make the roster — a concussion might have been the culprit this season — but earned an in-season promotion from the practice squad. In nine games, he caught 11 passes (13 targets) for 102 yards. When he helped rally the Packers in their home loss to Detroit, he just looked so much more athletic than Rodgers. He’s not a good blocker, either, but he probably should have played more in obvious passing situations. Because he didn’t spend the full season on the roster, his cap number was $360,0000. Grade: D.
Kennard Backman: This was a redshirt season for the second of the team’s sixth-round picks. Backman, who was inactive eight times, never was part of the plan on offense, partly because he couldn’t catch a cold for most of training camp. Perillo went from the practice squad to ahead of Backman in the rotation. His special-teams play wasn’t up to snuff, either, with Backman failing to contain a fake punt by the Vikings that gained 41 in Week 17. So, his rookie year was a zero — no catches on offense or tackles on special teams. His cap number of $457,621 reflected a $90,484 signing bonus. Grade: F.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.