Just before the draft, Ted snagged 6-time Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans in yet another unexpected free agent signing (because, honestly, they’re all unexpected). People like calling him a 6-time Pro Bowler because it makes it sound like he’s really good. However, they don’t always point out that it’s been a few years since he went to the last of his 6 consecutive Pro Bowls.
He’ll be 34 when the season starts. That’s getting to the end of the line even for an interior offensive lineman.
Now that’s not to say he can’t be effective. He started all 16 games last year (and actually has only missed 7 games in his 11 seasons) for the Saints, who cut him last offseason them re-signed him after the Seahawks signed him and cut him on the final roster reduction. The Saints did just fine with pass protection in 2016, where Evans still rated among the league’s best in pass blocking efficiency for guards – he’s not a road-grader, but that’s not what the Packers scheme calls for. From a skill set perspective, he could be a good fit.
However, the guy’s gonna be 34 and he’s been cut by one team and not re-signed by another in the last 10 months. The best we can hope for is one more year of serviceable play while we groom a replacement. If a young guy gets an edge on the old war horse in camp, though, the Packers probably won’t keep a 34 year-old backup for $2.25M on a one-year deal when they can hold onto another young prospect for the future.
I know we all want to think we’re getting 2010 All Pro Jahri Evans (just like everyone wants to think his old team is getting 2010 Adrian Peterson), but let’s be realistic: dude is on his last legs and at this point in his career, his season could go anywhere from above average stopgap to a clown car with the wheels spinning off while is careens over the embankment at 90 miles an hour.
It won’t do us any good to compare him to Jeff Saturday, Adrian Klemm, Matt O’Dwyer, or even Bruce Wilkerson (like so many seem to want to do) because the only things those guys have in common with Evans is that they were signed by the Packers.
All that matters is we have a highly-esteemed veteran guard entering what will probably be his final year if he makes the team. And even if he does, a 34 year-old’s skills can drop any day. Plus, he’s going to try to assimilate into a unit with guys he’s never played with before. That stuff’s not easy.
So let’s shift our enthusiasm to hope and just be glad that he’s giving the Packers one more option over Don Barclay. Then training camp needs to play out before we know what we have.