One player to keep an eye on at the Green Bay Packers mandatory minicamp this week is veteran tight end Josiah Deguara. The fourth-year University of Cincinnati product is at a critical point in his career and looks like a potential breakout candidate for the Packers this season.

Deguara spent most of the time reporters were permitted to observe working with Harry Pearson, the only true fullback listed on the roster. During his first three seasons with the Packers, Deguara has lined up at the traditional tight end position, at fullback and at H-back.

This season looks very different for Deguara. If he has a strong training camp and gets off to a good start, Deguara could carve out a larger and more varied role in Matt LaFleur’s offense this year.

Here are four reasons the 2023 season will be pivotal for Josiah Deguara:

  1. Josiah Deguara Is Out of Aaron Rodgers’ Doghouse

For whatever reason, former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers never learned to trust Josiah Deguara. Rodgers often refused to throw the ball to Deguara even when he was open. That certainly limited Deguara’s role in the Green Bay attack.

Part of that was that Rodgers didn’t feel as comfortable with pre-snap motion which is one of the things that H-backs and fullbacks often do in the LaFleur offense.

Of course, Rodgers is now a New York Jet and that creates new opportunities for Deguara this season.

Deguara’s best statistical season was 2021 when he caught 25 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns while playing in 16 games. Last year, he made only 13 catches for 114 yards despite playing in all 17 games.

He should have the chance to exceed those numbers this season.

  1. There Will Be More Throws Over the Middle of the Field with Jordan Love

While Deguara never developed a good on the field relationship with Rodgers, he has a much better connection with Jordan Love.

Deguara’s longest catch was a 62-yard touchdown pass that came in the 2021 season finale when Love was the quarterback.

One of Rodgers’ weaknesses was also an unwillingness to utilize the middle of the field when attacking defenses. Many believe this was due to a desire to limit interceptions and improve his personal statistics.

Love is expected to throw to the middle of the field which is a bigger part of LaFleur’s traditional plan of attack. The middle of the field is also where tight ends and H-backs make most of their catches.

This change plus the increased chemistry Love has with Deguara should help increase the tight end’s productivity.

  1. The Packers Are Inexperienced at Tight End

The Packers drafted two tight ends on day two of this year’s NFL Draft in Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft. The duo both possess outstanding athletic ability but lack experience.

Scouts and coaches consider tight end one of the more difficult positions to learn at the NFL level. In addition to running pass patterns like a wide receiver, tight ends need to know how to block for both the run and the pass.

It may take Musgrave and Kraft some time to master the playbook and be effective in the NFL. Deguara would be the most likely player on the roster to get additional playing time while the two rookies are still learning.

  1. This is Deguara’s Contract Year

Deguara is entering his fourth NFL season this year. That means that after this season, his entry-level contract will expire, and he will be a free agent.

This gives Deguara extra incentive to play well in 2023. Whether he gets a new deal with the Packers or with another team, Deguara wants to maximize his future income and guarantee that he can continue his football career in 2024.

Typically, NFL players play their best when they’re in their contract year. Deguara should be no exception to that rule.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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