Green Bay Packers re-sign Andrew Quarless
GREEN BAY—Moments after Phil Dawson and the San Francisco 49ers ended the Green Bay Packers' season in January, the home locker room was overtaken by devastation.
Players pulled off their pads one final time. Many spoke in low mumbles, trying to make sense of this bizarre season.
Through the mass sadness, quarterback Aaron Rodgers made a point to stop at Andrew Quarless' locker.
“One of the things he told me,” the tight end Quarless said, “was that he was looking forward to big games out of me. I told him, if it works out, I definitely want to be with him and win games.
“It was something that stuck with me.”
Green Bay. Rodgers. This offense. Add it all up and it made free agency a “no-brainer” to Quarless. He did have one- and two-year offers elsewhere—including one from his hometown New York Giants—but the tight end chose to stay in Green Bay. He needed to prove himself somewhere before landing a multi-year deal. This, he says, is the best place to do it.
The Packers retain Quarless at a modest rate of two years, $3 million. And Quarless possibly gets the chance to start.
The Packers might not be finished at tight end. One source indicated that the Seattle Seahawks would like to sign Jermichael Finley if he's medically cleared but that the Packers were not out of the running yet. Veteran Owen Daniels was in for a visit. There's also Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner in house and a top-heavy tight end class in the NFL draft.
However this shakes out, Quarless hopes to be the leader in the room.
“But I feel like I still have something to prove,” Quarless quickly added. “I don't want to put it out there like I'm going to be that guy. ... I'm here to work hard and prove that I'm the best in the league. It's really about the opportunity.”
Through those first 48 hours of free agency, Quarless remembered that the Packers were the team took drafted him in 2010, back when questions swirled about his character. He liked the fact that the Packers made him feel like a priority from the start of free agency.
Other teams said they needed to address other positions before signing him. Quarless felt shoved to their “back burner.”
This has been an odd career arc. Not too long ago, Quarless was hobbling around the visitor's locker room in New York on crutches. Tears streamed from his eyes. With two torn ligaments in Quarless' right knee, his NFL future was in doubt. After a full season off, Quarless returned in 2013 and finished with 32 receptions for 312 yards and two touchdowns.
Most of Quarless' damage came after his position coach, Jerry Fontenot, called him out privately and publicly for underperforming.
Quarless is all for this brand of coaching. The 25-year-old says he respects it even more because Fontenot played in the NFL 16 seasons himself.
“He's gotten to be more demanding in his work,” Quarless said. “He demands more from his players, and I accept that. I'm all for it. I'm a guy who won't back down. ... So whenever he challenges me, I accept. That's how you get better.”
Quarless knows he must get stronger. His blocking was shoddy for stretches last season.
Then, it's about chemistry with his quarterback.
Quarless hasn't had the chance to catch passes from Rodgers since his blur of a rookie year as Finley's injury replacement. Since then, he's been either injured or a fifth option. With this two-year deal, he gets the opportunuty to be featured.
Said Quarless, “I really feel like Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers and that offense can bring the best out of me.”