Packers like former Black Bear tight end Mulligan as blocker

St. Louis Rams tight end Matthew Mulligan (82) celebrates with fans after defeating the Washington Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome last year.
Jeff Curry | US PRESSWIRE
St. Louis Rams tight end Matthew Mulligan (82) celebrates with fans after defeating the Washington Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome last year.
Posted April 17, 2013, at 7:28 p.m.
Last modified April 17, 2013, at 9:23 p.m.

A position that tends to fall under the radar with a number of teams has been getting considerable play in Green Bay of late.

The Packers acquired a veteran player in free agency for the first time this spring by signing tight end Matthew Mulligan. The fifth-year player agreed to a one-year contract last weekend after the St. Louis Rams waived him two weeks earlier.

The Enfield native, who attended Penobscot Valley High School in Howland, played at Husson University and the University of Maine. He had played with the New York Jets from 2009-2011.

The addition of Mulligan became official Tuesday. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, though Mulligan reportedly would draw a salary of a little more than the veteran’s minimum of $715,000 if he makes the team next season.

With the 6-foot-4-inch, 267-pound Mulligan, the Packers have potentially filled the void left last month when Tom Crabtree bolted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a restricted free agent after not receiving a tender offer from Green Bay.

Mulligan, 28, is in the same mold as Crabtree as an exceptional blocking tight end. The 6-foot-4-inch, 245-pound Crabtree, though, may have the edge with athleticism over Mulligan, whose resume lacks the big-play contributions Crabtree made as a pass catcher every once in a while last season.

Mulligan had just eight catches for 84 yards and a touchdown with the Rams last season, when he played in every game and started nine of them.

The arrival of Mulligan as the Packers get set to open their offseason program Monday maintains the depth they have had at tight end the last couple seasons.

The holdovers include playmaking starter Jermichael Finley and young prospects D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor and Andrew Quarless, the latter of whom missed the entire 2012 season as he completed his recovery from a knee injury sustained the previous December.

Finley apparently is poised to build on his productive finish to last season, during which he set Green Bay’s single-season record for tight ends with 61 catches. Thirty-two of those came in the last seven games of the regular season after Finley struggled to get on the same page with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Having underachieved the better part of his first five years in the league, which have been marred by injuries, Finley was spared having to take a pay cut or being cut by the team in March.

Packers management showed good faith in not touching the final year of Finley’s contract. His potential earnings are $8.25 million, which includes a $3 million roster bonus that came up in late March.

Finley said on a radio appearance Wednesday with KFAN in Minnesota’s Twin Cities that complacency won’t become an issue next season even as a big-money earner.

“You could give me 100 million dollars, I would never get fat and happy,” Finley said.

He trains in Minneapolis during the offseason and noted that he will be reporting to the Packers for the impending offseason work in tip-top shape.

“I’m just working a little bit harder, slimming down. I didn’t try to do it. It’s just how it worked,” said the 6-foot-5-inch Finley, who had a listed weight of 247 pounds last season.

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