Richard Rodgers can’t run or block, but he has a huge body and great hands. That should be enough to make him a desirable commodity as the summer moves along. And with Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks ahead of him on the depth chart, it wouldn’t be a shock to see GM Ted Thompson at least dangle the third-string tight end on the trade market prior to the start of the season.
If used correctly – and that means not splitting him out wide half the time or throwing him the ball behind the line of scrimmage – Rodgers is capable of being a very productive possession receiver. As the video shows, the former Cal star runs good routes and understands how to use his frame to create subtle separation in the middle of the field.
Rodgers, who played wide receiver in college, can also make athletic catches away from his body and shows toughness and concentration in traffic. Not to mention he’s pretty good on Hail Marys. Just ask the Lions.
It’s easy to forget that Rodgers caught 58 passes – second most for a tight end in team history – and scored 8 touchdowns only two years ago. But he never was and never will be the type of player Mike McCarthy wants at the position. The coach prefers athletes like Bennett, Kendricks, Jared Cook and Jermichael Finley who can beat linebackers and safeties down the seam and who can make tacklers miss after the catch. Those are skills, along with blocking, that Rodgers hasn’t shown much aptitude for in his career.
Speaking of blocking, I still can’t figure out why Rodgers has so much trouble with that part of the game. The 25-year-old certainly has the size (6’4, 260) to be effective, and he’s not lazy, but something just isn’t clicking. Changing position coaches from Jerry Fontenot to Brian Angelichhio after the 2015 season didn’t make much of a difference, and while he’s still young enough to improve, it would be unwise to expect it.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of teams that could use a tight end like Rodgers. Whether the Packers would trade him probably depends on the health of Bennet and Kendricks and the development of Emmanuel Byrd. The recently signed undrafted free agent from Marshall runs pretty well and was a solid blocker in college. More importantly, he’s shown an innate ability to get open and finish plays on the practice field.
Compensation would obviously also be a factor. Why deal a proven player for a late round draft pick when you could keep him around for one more season and then get that same value in a compensatory pick after he signs elsewhere as a free agent next March? Therefore, it’s safe to assume a team would have to offer Thompson at least a mid-round pick to even make him consider trading away the flawed but useful Rodgers.