The Green Bay Packers are one of the oldest and most storied franchises in the history of all of professional sports, let alone the NFL. Due to this, when team records are encroached upon, it is generally a pretty big deal. It is not easy to set a record or to be the first to accomplish something on a team that has been around for over 100 years.
Thus far in 2023, the Packers have two players, Luke Musgrave and Jayden Reed, that are on pace to challenge Sterling Sharpe‘s franchise record for most receptions in a season by a rookie. While the other key receiving records (yards and touchdowns) are far out of reach (Billy Howton owns both and set them back in 1952), Musgrave is closing in on one bit of history.
If he is healthy enough to play (he was listed on the team’s injury report on Monday), Musgrave could break a record set by Bubba Franks back in 2000.
Green Bay Packers Tight End Luke Musgrave Could Break Bubba Franks’ Record for Receiving Yards by a Rookie Tight End
Back in 2000, the last tight end that the Packers drafted in the first round of any NFL Draft, Bubba Franks, set the franchise record for the most receiving yards by a rookie tight end. His stat line does not look all that impressive, 34 receptions for 363 yards and one touchdown, but rookie tight ends have historically not put up big numbers for any NFC North franchise.
That appears to be changing this season. With 33 receptions for 341 yards and a touchdown already, Musgrave needs just 23 more receiving yards to break Franks’ record.
Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta is just eight receiving yards away from becoming the first tight end in the history of the NFC North with 500 receiving yards in his rookie season. If Musgrave keeps up his current pace, he will become the second before season’s end.
The Green Bay Packers Have Not Had a Pro Bowl Tight End Since Bubba Franks
It may or may not be hard to believe, but Franks was the last Packers tight end to make a Pro Bowl. He accomplished that feat in three straight seasons from 2001-2003. During that time, though, he never had more than 442 receiving yards in a season:
- 2001: 36 receptions, 322 yards, nine touchdowns
- 2002: 54 receptions, 442 yards, seven touchdowns
- 2003: 30 receptions, 241 yards, four touchdowns
Since Franks left Green Bay after the 2007 season (for the New York Jets, ironically), Green Bay has struggled to replace him. JerMichael Finley was drafted to replace him, but he could not stay healthy (though he had all the potential to surpass Franks).
Other tight ends that have suited up for the Packers since Franks left include Jared Cook, Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Donald Lee, Jace Sternberger, Josiah Deguara, Tom Crabtree, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, and Richard Rogers.
Of course, the Packers drafted two tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft: Musgrave and Tucker Kraft. So far, it appears that Musgrave is the more likely of the two to break the Packers’ drought of Pro Bowl tight ends, and he is close to starting his career by breaking the rookie record held by their last one.