File this under “something that could only happen during a global pandemic.” Jared Veldheer, who started for the Colts in place of injured left tackle Anthony Castonzo in Saturday’s Wild Card loss to Buffalo, has signed with the Packers, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. In doing so, Veldheer could potentially become the first player in NFL history to suit up for two teams in the same postseason. This will be the veteran’s second stint with Green Bay after appearing in four games (playoffs included) for the Packers last season.
Veldheer is what you would call a “serial unretirer.” The 33-year-old retired following a brief tenure (literally eight days) with New England last year, only to resurface months later for the Packers’ stretch run. Veldheer pulled a similar stunt in September, retiring once more in spite of a standing contract offer from Dallas. Veldheer’s second “retirement” lasted all of three months as the former third-round pick returned for a late-season cameo with the Colts in December.
Jumping from team to team like this would normally not be permitted in the playoffs, but thanks to a loophole Green Bay was clever enough to exploit, Veldheer will be in uniform when the top-seeded Packers host the Rams Saturday at Lambeau Field. The NFL instituted a number of new policies this year, affording teams more roster flexibility to combat the challenges presented by COVID-19. Because Veldheer was technically only a member of the Colts’ practice squad and never elevated to the 53-man roster (something that could never happen in a non-COVID year), the Packers were able to poach him from Indy.
Even after last week’s bye, the Packers remain shorthanded up front, which is the last thing Green Bay needs with two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald (who sacked Russell Wilson twice in the Wild Card round) coming to town. Blind-side protector David Bakhtiari was lost to a torn ACL late in the year while Green Bay’s other starting tackle, Rick Wagner, missed practice last week with his own knee injury. A right guard by trade, Billy Turner pivoted to left tackle in Week 17, adding another element of chaos to the Packers’ injury-depleted O line.
Veldheer, who has experience at both tackle positions, cleared all necessary COVID protocols during his short time with Indianapolis and can practice immediately. An alum of Division II Hillsdale College, the 6’8,” 321-pound Veldheer has appeared in 121 games including 114 starts for five teams (Oakland, Arizona, Denver, Green Bay and Indianapolis) since debuting in 2010.