GREEN BAY, Wis. – Jared Veldheer, who saved the Packers’ bacon when he replaced Bryan Bulaga for last year’s NFC Divisional playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, is back in Green Bay, according to a source.
Veldheer went through COVID testing in Indianapolis on Monday, then hopped in a car for the six-hour drive to Green Bay, the source said.
Veldheer was coaxed out of retirement to join the Indianapolis Colts for their playoff push following Anthony Costanzo's season-ending injury. Initially signed to their practice squad, he was elevated and started in Week 17 and again for Saturday's wild-card playoff game. After the loss to Buffalo, Veldheer reverted back to the practice squad. That’s how the Packers snagged him.
Veldheer was not signed to replace All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. Rather, he will provide critical depth behind the new starting tandem of left tackle Billy Turner and right tackle Rick Wagner. However, with Wagner’s on-again, off-again knee problems, he could be a vital addition.
In two games with Indianapolis, Pro Football Focus charged Veldheer with zero sacks, one quarterback hit and six total pressures in 76 pass-protecting snaps.
A 12-game starter in 2018 for Denver, Veldheer signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Patriots on May 13, 2019. He went through the first practice of the team’s OTAs on May 20. That was it. A lingering hip issue was too much to withstand. A day later, he told coach Bill Belichick of his decision to retire.
While Veldheer was retired, he kept up his training. Feeling better, he asked for his release by the Patriots and was grabbed by the Packers.
A month after joining the team, he replaced Bulaga (concussion) at Detroit with a first-round bye on the line. Two weeks later, with Bulaga out due to the illness that had swept through the locker room, he was the emergency starter in the playoff win over Seattle. In a total of 53 pass-protecting snaps, he did not allow a single pressure, according to PFF.
“It was an unbelievable opportunity,” he said at the end of last season. “It was really cool how it all played out. I was driving down [from his home in Michigan to Indiana] to visit family on Thanksgiving, got claimed and came up here. We had won every game until yesterday. It was one of the more fun seasons that I’ve been a part of. To actually be a part of it and play in some big situations was really great. To get to know everybody and be a part of the history here, it was really cool.
“It’s unbelievable. In sitting back and going back to Week 1, the opening kickoff, when I was in the stands at Soldier Field, to think that later in the season I was going to be a part of that team and be able to lend a hand to the journey – the thought didn’t even cross my mind. It’s funny how life works and what you can make of it if you want to. It was cool.”