GREEN BAY — One of Marcedes Lewis’ favorite sayings — one he likes to remind younger and older teammates alike — is this: The road to success is always under construction.
The veteran tight end’s construction project with the Green Bay Packers will continue for at least another year, and maybe more.
Set to turn 37 in May, Lewis agreed to terms on new deal with the Packers on Wednesday after a week on the unrestricted free-agent market. Both ESPN and the NFL Network reported the deal was for two years and $8 million, though ESPN said it included $4 million in guaranteed money while NFL Network said the deal included $2.1 million guaranteed.
A source confirmed Lewis is indeed returning but wouldn’t say which guarantee figure was correct.
That news should make quarterback Aaron Rodgers — as well as coach Matt LaFleur — happy. Rodgers and Lewis have become very close during Lewis’ first three seasons in Green Bay. LaFleur was so impressed with Lewis’ locker-room leadership and held up Lewis’ team-first attitude as an example to players so often head coach’s assistants got him a Lewis No. 89 jersey as a gift.
“Marcedes embodies everything that I think we’re all about here,” LaFleur explained when asked about the story late last season. “Everything he does is so selfless. It’s for the team. He doesn’t necessarily go out there and catch a bunch of balls, but he takes pride in what he is asked to do, whether it’s run-blocking, whether it’s in (protection in) some of our play-pass stuff.
“He just does all the little things right. He’s always constantly talking to the younger guys, not only on offense but on our team about doing the little things the right way. He embodies everything we want to be about around here.”
Said Rodgers: “It’s hard to really with words describe how much he means to me. He’s become a real close friend the last couple years, but the way that he supports me is really, really special. … He’s got such an incredible charisma about him, and just a great energy. Just one of those guys you love playing with, and so much love, respect and gratitude for him.”
Lewis’ statistical production certainly isn’t what it was during his first 12 NFL seasons in Jacksonville. In his three years in Green Bay, he’s caught just 28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns in 47 career regular-season games, including 10 catches for 107 yards and three TDs last year.
But the value of his blocking and his mentoring of breakthrough tight end Robert Tonyan aren’t easily calculated. Tonyan, who caught 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, credited Lewis for accelerating his development.
“He’s unreal, man. All he wants to do is give me knowledge and whatever I need and whatever I want, he’s there for me,” Tonyan said. “When he re-signed last year, he calls me up, and he’s letting me know some of the reasons why he’s coming back is because of me…. He’s a great dude and I’m glad that I’ll have a friend for life. Whenever I need him, I’ll feel like he’s there for me.”
Lewis, who made the playoffs only twice in his 12 seasons with the Jaguars but has now made the playoffs twice in his three years in Green Bay, seemed to revel in his role despite the limited statistical production.
“I understand that my type is not necessarily in the league as much anymore, and there’s a premium with what I can do,” Lewis said during the playoffs. “I get the same excitement out of pancaking a guy or making a great block as I do catching a touchdown or making a great catch. I think my teammates understand that and know that.
“I feel like every year, it’s like, ‘OK, let’s see where we are,’ and then we get towards the end of the year and I’m like, ‘Oh, I still feel really good.’ and I know it comes from my routine that I’ve had for over 10 years now, as far as making sure that my body is in the best shape it can be. It’s definitely a blessing.”
Long snapper added
Lewis wasn’t the only player to come to terms Wednesday. The Packers announced the signing of long snapper Joe Fortunato, who could compete with incumbent snapper Hunter Bradley.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Fortunato entered the league with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 as an undrafted free agent from the University of Delaware and has never played in an NFL game. He spent time last offseason with the Dallas Cowboys as well.
Bradley, a 2018 seventh-round pick, has been the Packers’ long snapper for the past three seasons but had several off-target snaps last season. New special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton said last month Bradley and punter JK Scott, a 2018 fifth-round pick, know that they are on notice.
“I call our room where we are the ‘Truth Room.’ We’re going to tell the truth,” Drayton said. “They’re getting better and they will be better, (but) they understand that their backs are against the wall.”
Fackrell to Chargers
The Associated Press reported that the Los Angeles Chargers have agreed to terms with outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell.
Fackrell will be going into his sixth season, He had four sacks in nine starts for the New York Giants last season along with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown against Dallas in a Oct. 11 loss.
Fackrell entered the league as a third-round selection by Green Bay in 2016 and played four seasons for the Packers. His best season was in 2018 when he had a career-high 10 1/2 sacks.
He joins former Packers teammates Bryan Bulaga and Corey Linsley with the Chargers.
Photos: Packers’ 2020 season in pictures