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After 2 ‘interesting’ seasons, Packers set to release Jimmy Graham

After 2 ‘interesting’ seasons, Packers set to release Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham running, AP photo

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham hauls in a pass during a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks in January. On Wednesday, March 11, 2020 Graham was released by the Packers.

GREEN BAY — Jimmy Graham opted for the word interesting. Others might’ve used disappointing. 

However you choose to describe the veteran tight end’s two-year tenure with the Green Bay Packers, it ended Wednesday, when the team informed Graham he was being released, an NFL source confirmed. 

ESPN was first to report Graham’s impending release, which was expected by many since the Packers’ 2019 season ended with a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. By releasing Graham with one year remaining on the three-year, $30 million deal he signed as a free agent in March 2018, the Packers will save $8 million in salary-cap space they’ll be able to allocate elsewhere when the free agent market opens next week.

The league source said the Packers brought Graham to Green Bay on Wednesday to give him the news face-to-face and thank him for his contributions over his two seasons with the team. One of Graham’s now ex-teammates said late last week the team tries to bring in veteran players in instances such as this, and that Graham had been summoned to Lambeau Field for such a meeting.

The move is expected to run on the NFL’s official transaction wire on Thursday. The team did not yet announce it.

Graham posted a farewell to Packers fans on his Twitter account Wednesday evening: “The last 2 years have certainly been interesting! A lot of memories, friendships and humbling moments that I will carry with me into the next opportunity. Thank you for the support during our exciting run this year toward that ever so elusive ring.”

Graham who’ll turn 34 in November, caught just 38 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season in 2019, but had seven receptions for 108 yards in two playoff games. The Packers probably wouldn’t have beaten his former team, the Seattle Seahawks, in the NFC Divisional round if not for Graham’s three receptions for 49 yards, all of which went for first downs — including one late in the game that helped the Packers run out the clock without giving the ball back to quarterback Russell Wilson.

Nonetheless, Graham’s regular-season yardage and reception totals were his worst since his rookie year of 2010. He ends his Packers career having caught 93 passes for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns in 32 regular-season games.

The Packers tight end position figures to be an area general manager Brian Gutekunst targets in free agency and/or the April 23-25 NFL draft, as fellow veteran Marcedes Lewis is a free agent, Robert Tonyan’s season was derailed by injury and rookie third-round pick Jace Sternberger flashed potential but is far from a finished product. The Packers reportedly plan to target Atlanta Falcons free agent tight end Austin Hooper, who is coming off back-to-back 70-reception seasons and was a rookie on the Falcons when Packers coach Matt LaFleur was an assistant on the Atlanta staff.

“I’m really glad we had Jimmy — not only Jimmy but Marcedes this year,” Gutekunst said after the season. “Obviously that group of tight ends, we’re really excited about Jace and what he can do in the future, but obviously he had some injury stuff early and he had some growth after only playing one year at Texas A&M. I was really happy having those two guys in the room to kind of carry it, along with Bobby Tonyan.

“I know that Jimmy’s numbers probably aren’t where he wants them to be or certainly where other people want them, but I was glad we had him in a lot of the situations we were in this year.”

Photos: The best shots from the Green Bay Packers' 2019 season

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