GREEN BAY – It only took Jahri Evans one trip around Lambeau Field to get a feel for what it will be like to play for the Green Bay Packers.
“The stadium, the bleacher seating, how close proximity the houses are to the stadium – it speaks volumes,” Evans said. “It’s a community-based team and the fans are entrenched in the organization. It’s going to be fun to be a part of.”
The six-time Pro Bowler started a new chapter in his 11-year NFL career on Wednesday when the 6-foot-4, 318-pound guard signed with the Packers, who have an opening on their offensive line following T.J. Lang’s departure in free agency.
Evans, 33, started all 169 regular-season games in which he played for the New Orleans Saints, making six consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 2009-14 in addition to five All-Pro selections.
Evans, who won a Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009, has been heralded as one of the league’s most durable offensive linemen after starting all 16 games nine times in his career.
Known for his dependability in the trenches, Evans hoped to land with a contender in free agency. A tour of Lambeau Wednesday checked every box on Evans’ list.
“I just knew going forward in my career, I wanted to make sure I could link up with a team like Green Bay, a team that’s going to be in it, a team whose goal is to not only win the division, but win the Super Bowl,” Evans said. “I just want to be able to have the opportunity to get another championship because that’s what it’s about: it’s about winning championships.”
After entering the NFL as a fourth-round pick in 2006 out of Bloosmburg (Pa.) University, Evans remembers veterans preaching to him the importance of taking care of your body. It’s a mentality that’s stayed with him and enabled Evans to last.
During his time in New Orleans, he was an integral part of a Saints offense that finished inside the top 10 in total offense in all 11 of Evans’ seasons in New Orleans, leading the NFL in the category on five occasions.
After playing exclusively with 10-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees, the idea of blocking for two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers appealed to Evans.
“It’s a very unique situation,” Evans said. “It’s awesome to block for Drew for 11 years, but then have an opportunity in Year 12 to block for Aaron Rodgers, another great QB in this league who has won a lot and done a lot, I’m looking forward to it.”
While the Packers and Saints didn’t meet in 2016, the two teams had several common opponents. When watching film of Green Bay, Evans came away impressed by what he saw from the Packers’ offensive line last season.
That same line paved the way for an offense that ranked in the top 10 in scoring, total yards, passing yards, yards per carry and time of possession. For their efforts, both left tackle David Bakhtiari and Lang were named to the Pro Bowl.
Evans sees similarities between the two systems and doesn’t foresee too steep of a transition going from New Orleans to Green Bay.
As one of the elder statesmen in the room, Evans hopes his experience may be valuable for a line featuring only two players – Bryan Bulaga and Don Barclay – older than 27 years old.
“The guys here played well last year,” Evans said. “I just want to share my knowledge, bring my playing experience, my game-time experience and situations that I may have been in that they may not have been in. Ultimately, trying to make them better and try to make each other better. The trenches are unique. Sometimes you don’t know until you know.”
Evans returned home to Philadelphia Wednesday, but plans to be back in Green Bay next week to take part in the team’s ongoing offseason program and begin preparations for Year 12.
“I’m eager to meet my teammates and get to work,” Evans said. “I’m very excited to have an opportunity to compete for a championship and sign with an historic franchise that has so much history and has done so much. I’m just looking forward to being a champion again.”