Packers free agency: Richard Rodgers, Ahmad Brooks


Mark Eckel


One in a series examining the Green Bay Packers’ unrestricted free agents. They can begin signing with other teams Wednesday at 3 p.m. They were allowed to begin negotiating formally with other teams Monday.


Position: Tight end.

Age: 26.

Last contract: Four-year, $3.858 million contract as a third-round draft choice. Signed June 12, 2014.

Games/Starts (including playoffs): 70/26.

2017 playing time: 306 snaps on offense (29.2%); 109 snaps on special teams (25.7%).

Career statistics: 133 receptions for 1,304 yards (9.8) and 15 touchdowns; 13 drops in 195 targets (6.7%).

Yearly grades: C-minus in 2014, C in 2015, C-minus in 2016 and D-plus in 2017.

2017 analysis: Mired as No. 3 until Martellus Bennett’s ride on the gravy train ended after Game 7, Rodgers was No. 2 until passing up Lance Kendricks with a month to go. Kendricks played 45.5% of his snaps in a three-point stance compared to 42.8% for Rodgers and 31.8% for Bennett. Rodgers was a sleeker-looking athlete having lost weight over time but it wasn’t reflected in his playing speed. He’s still that 4.87 40 or thereabouts with good but not great hands (seven drops in 65 targets the past two years). Moreover, he’s a below-average blocker. Now might be the time for the Packers to move on and force themselves to get better.

NFC scout: “He’s still young. He’ll get a job.”

NFC scout: “They’ll probably keep him because he’s close (friends) with the quarterback. He’s a Cal guy. He’s not very consistent but he is athletic and he does make a few plays. They won’t pay him a lot but they’ll keep him. Not a (starter). He’s more of your second or third tight-end type. Very average blocker.”

NFC scout: “He is what he is. Runs into the linebacker and hooks. Not as good as Kendricks.”

AFC scout: “He’s just a pass catcher. That’s it.”


Position: Outside linebacker.

Age: Will turn 34 Wednesday.

Last contract: One-year, $3.5 million ($1.75M guaranteed) as a “street” free agent. Signed Sept. 4, 2017.

Games/Starts (including playoffs): 153/112.

2017 playing time: 346 snaps on defense (32.8%); 13 snaps on special teams (3.1%).

Career statistics (including playoffs): 556 tackles, 61 ½ sacks, 3 interceptions, 13 forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles.

Yearly grades: C-minus.

2017 analysis: In terms of sheer violence, Brooks was almost a breed apart on the roster. Ask some tight ends, even tackles. He’s physical as all get-out. All those seasons (12) playing that hard, however, can wear a man out. In Brooks’ case it’s a chronic back issue that sidelined him for three games at mid-season. He’ll be 34 so there’s no reason for the Packers to try with him again. Brooks played 79.8% of the 49ers’ snaps in 2016 as a 16-game starter. With depth in short supply the Packers’ decision to pay the veteran campaigner $3.5 million for one year made sense. Brooks had his moments, too, with 14 ½ pressures, 3 ½ tackles for loss and not a single 20-plus play or touchdown pass allowed. He also tied for the team lead in penalties with four. He batted down just two passes but that still was one more than anyone else.

NFC scout: “Aging veteran. They won’t re-sign him. They’ll wait and see what happens and if they need him. He has slipped but he still flashes. He still has some pass-rush ability but he can’t do it all the time.”

AFC scout: “He’s physical as (bleep). Doesn’t have it any more. Time to move on.”

NFC scout: “It might be the end of the line for him.”

NFC scout: “Let him go. Past his prime.”

The bottom line: If he would interested in playing for the minimum there probably would be a berth for him somewhere. Back problems, however, point toward retirement.

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