Green Bay Packers Rumors & News

Latest On Harrison, Matthews, Peppers

This week, the NFL interviewed Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and Steelers linebacker James Harrison with regards to the allegations raised in the infamous Al Jazeera documentary. During those interviews, the league did not raise any new evidence or allegations, a source close to the situation tells Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. Clay Matthews/Julius Peppers (vertical)

After weeks of will they/won’t they talk, the three players consented to interviews with the league office under threat of suspension. Peyton Manning was the first player of the bunch to agree to an interview and free agent Mike Neal stands as the last straggler.

If the league has no further proof of anything tying these players to the Guyer Institute, then a statement clearing all three of them could be forthcoming.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Remove Josh James From IR

  • The Packers reached an injury settlement with tackle Josh James, according to Wilson (Twitter link).

NFL Sets Dates For PED Interviews

The NFL will meet with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers in Green Bay on Wednesday to discuss the league’s ongoing PED investigation, a source tells Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter links). Steelers linebacker James Harrison‘s interview will take place on August 30 in Pittsburgh, while free agent Mike Neal will sit down with the league this Thursday in Chicago.Clay Matthews

Last week, the NFL stated that the four players involved in the PED scandal — which was spurred by an Al-Jazeera documentary that aired earlier this year — would be required to submit to interviews by August 25 or face suspension. The NFL received written statements from the four players in question at the end of last month, and the NFLPA is of the opinion that those affadavits qualify as “cooperation.” The league disagrees, and is still requiring the individuals to partake in in-person interviews.

Harrison, for his part, has said he never denied any interview, but claimed he’d like like for the meeting to be televised (and also referred to commissioner Roger Goodell as a “crook”). He, Matthews, and Peppers agreed to sit-downs, but Neal was of a different mind, at least originally. One report indicated that Neal had no intention of meeting with the NFL given that he’s considering retirement, but that notion was quickly disputed, and Neal will interview with the league.

We’ve spent the last few days advising our players and letting them know in a completely honest and open way exactly what their options are, what they want to do,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said last week. “Each case is different, each guy is different. Each guy might want to do different things so no matter what we’re going fight for them like crazy like we always do, and we’re going go and have our players’ backs. That’s what we’re all about and that’s all we can do and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Release Matt Rotheram, Jesse Schmitt

  • The Packers announced that they’ve released offensive lineman Matt Rotheram and long snapper Jesse Schmitt from their injured reserve list.

Mike Neal To Agree To NFL Interview

It appears that Mike Neal has had a change of heart. The free agent linebacker will consent to be interviewed by the NFL with regards to the Al Jazeera documentary after all, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweetsMike Neal (vertical)

[RELATED: Mike Neal To Retire?]

On Friday morning, it was reported that Neal had decided against agreeing to an interview with league officials. Neal, apparently, decided that it did not behoove him to discuss the allegations, particularly since he did not plan on playing again. It’s not immediately clear whether Neal’s decision to comply with the NFL’s request is a sign that he believes he may continue his career. To date, interest in Neal has been lukewarm at best this offseason.

This week, the other three active players named in the documentary – James Harrison, Julius Peppers, and Clay Matthews – agreed to be interviewed by the NFL. The NFLPA was hoping that Neal would refuse the request and also file a lawsuit against the league, helping the union push back against Goodell’s authority.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mike Neal Likely To Retire?

While Steelers linebacker James Harrison and Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have agreed to meet with NFL investigators regarding the Al Jazeera documentary, free-agent Mike Neal has not consented to an interview. The league threatened suspensions for all four players if they did not cooperate, but that threat might not mean much to Neal, who is not expecting to play again, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (via Twitter links). Mike Neal (vertical)

[RELATED: Harrison, Matthews, Peppers To Meet With NFL]

The union is hopeful that Neal will decide to sue the league with support from the NFLPA, a union source tells Cole. The other players, meanwhile, want to testify because they claim they had no relationship at all with the Indiana-based pharmacy involved in the report.

Neal, who just turned 29, hasn’t gathered a ton of free agent interest this offseason. That’s surprising since the linebacker/defensive lineman started a career-high 15 games last season and has posted at least four sacks in each of the past four years. He met with both the Lions and the Seahawks this offseason, but they filled their front seven needs elsewhere. Neal said he was open to returning to the Packers, but the selection of linebacker Kyler Fackrell in the third round of the draft likely ended any chance of a reunion.

It also seems possible that the PED allegations in the documentary hurt his market, a sentiment with which Neal agrees.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Offseason In Review: Green Bay Packers

For the majority of NFL teams, finishing the regular season with 10 wins and picking up a playoff victory would constitute a successful year. The Packers accomplished those feats in 2015, yet their season was at least somewhat of a disappointment, especially after they got off to a 6-0 start. As the Packers scuffled over the season’s final 10 games, so did superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose descent (by his lofty standards) began in Week 8 during a 77-yard showing in a 29-10 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos.

Aaron Rodgers (vertical)

Including their shellacking in Denver, the Packers closed the regular season 4-6 and shockingly lost three of four games at Lambeau Field during that stretch. Each of those home defeats came at the hands of the NFC North, a division Green Bay had won four straight times entering last season. The final blow, a 20-13 decision against Minnesota in Week 17, cost the Packers the division and gave Minnesota its first North title since 2009. The Packers regained some of their mojo in the playoffs, going on the road to blow out the Redskins and then losing an overtime thriller to Arizona in one of the greatest games ever played, but they never really resembled Super Bowl contenders after their season-opening hot streak.

Part of the problem for Green Bay was the absence of standout No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson, who didn’t play a game last season after suffering a torn ACL over the summer. The loss of Nelson took a player who had combined for 183 receptions, 2,833 yards and 21 touchdowns from 2013-14 away from the Packers’ Rodgers-led aerial attack. Rodgers and the offense in general didn’t enjoy life without Nelson, but with the wideout now healthy, the team will try to return to its division-winning, championship-contending ways.

Notable signings:

As he has typically done since taking the reins as the Packers’ general manager in 2005, Ted Thompson largely eschewed the free agent market and mostly focused on retaining homegrown talent during the offseason. Of the Packers’ six most expensive signings this year, four were originally acquired either in the draft or, in offensive tackle Lane Taylor‘s case, as an undrafted free agent. Another, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, had been a Packer the previous two years.

Jared Cook

The Packers’ most notable outside pickup during the winter was tight end Jared Cook, to whom they committed just one year and $2.75MM. Given that Cook only ended up on the market after the Rams released him, the Packers won’t have to surrender a compensatory draft pick for signing the 29-year-old.

Before joining the Packers, the 6-foot-5, 254-pound Cook was durable and productive in Tennessee and St. Louis from 2011-15, missing a mere three of 80 games and combining for 235 catches, 3,064 yards and 15 scores. Last season was the only one during that five-year period in which Cook caught fewer than 44 passes (39) and three TDs (zero). He hasn’t visited the end zone since Dec. 7, 2014, to be exact, and on another alarming note, led tight ends in drops (10) last season, per Evan Silva of Rotoworld. Cook also underwent foot surgery a couple months after signing with Green Bay, but he returned to the field last week and has since impressed Rodgers. The two-time MVP lauded Cook’s speed Monday and likened him to field-stretching ex-Packers tight end Jermichael Finley.

Between Cook and Richard Rodgers, who caught 58 passes and scored eight times a year ago, the Packers have a tight end duo capable of being among the league’s most prolific. Rodgers will cede targets to Cook, though, after dominating Packers tight ends in snaps last season (799 to second-place finisher Justin Perillo‘s 115). Part of that was on account of a torn MCL that kept Andrew Quarless out for most of the season. When Quarless was healthy two years ago, he and Rodgers combined for 1,108 snaps. With Cook replacing Quarless, who’s now with the division-rival Lions, Green Bay’s reliance on its top two tight ends should revisit (and perhaps exceed) its 2014 level.

Continue reading about the Packers’ offseason..

Read more

Harrison, Matthews, Peppers To Meet With NFL

Steelers linebacker James Harrison and Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have agreed to meet with NFL investigators, sources tell ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. However, Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter) hears that free-agent linebacker Mike Neal has not yet agreed to an interview. The league threatened suspensions for all four players if they did not cooperate. The NFL has been pushing to meet with the quartet of notables after steroid allegations were made in an Al-Jazeera report.Julius Peppers (vertical)

Harrison has agreed to meet on August 29th at the team facility, though he says he will only answer questions concerning the segment of the documentary in which he was identified. It is not yet clear if the league will accept those conditions. It’s also not clear exactly when Matthews and Peppers will meet with investigators. The NFLPA will serve in an advisory capacity, even if they are not thrilled about the precedent the interviews may set.

On Tuesday, Harrison explained to reporters that he had serious reservations about the potential interview.

Somebody could come out and say James Harrison is a pedophile. They are going to suspend me, put me under investigation for being a pedophile just because somebody said it? I’m not going to answer questions for every little thing some Tom, Dick and Harry comes up with,” Harrison said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jordy Nelson Cleared To Return

In welcome news for the Packers, star receiver Jordy Nelson passed his physical Wednesday and was reinstated from the physically unable to perform list, according to Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link).

Nelson, who’s now cleared to practice, missed all of last season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in August. While his return this year was expected, he experienced “an incident” with his left knee less than a month ago. Given that it wasn’t his surgically repaired knee, Nelson wasn’t particularly worried about the issue, but he also couldn’t put a timetable on how much longer it would sideline him.

"<strong

“Our end goal is still the same,” Nelson said at the time. “We’ll be ready for the regular season. Like I said, there’s just a little hiccup with the other leg.”

Nelson’s comeback is certainly a huge development for the Packers, whose normally great offense went backward without him last year. As Green Bay stumbled to a 4-6 regular-season finish that prevented it from winning a fifth straight NFC North title, the absence of Nelson was obvious. The club struggled to find solid complements to Randall Cobb and MVP-caliber quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t as brilliant as he had been in previous seasons.

The last time he saw action, 2014, Nelson earned a Pro Bowl nod for the first time after posting career-high totals in receptions (98), targets (151) and yards (1,519). He also scored 13 touchdowns, giving him 49 in seven seasons. Since the Pack selected Nelson, now 31, out of Kansas State in the second round of the 2008 draft, he has piled up 400 receptions and 6,109 yards – good for a robust 15.3-yard average.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Waive Jesse Schmitt

  • The Packers have waived/injured long snapper Jesse Schmitt and will likely release him with an injury settlement, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).