Cole Madison

Packers Reinstate OL Cole Madison

A Packers fifth-round draft pick last year, Cole Madison did not play during the 2018 season. The guard prospect wound up on the reserve/did-not-report list.

As the Packers begin their offseason program, they reinstated Madison to their active roster, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. He has not been with the team since its 2018 minicamp. Madison was at Lambeau Field on Monday for the start of the Packers’ workouts, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets.

Brian Gutekunst said last year a personal issue kept Madison away from the team. It was later revealed that issue may well have been the death of former college teammate Tyler Hilinski. The former Washington State quarterback’s suicide affected Madison, who was a close friend of his, according to Michael Cohen of The Athletic.

Green Bay stuck with the embattled lineman, who is in line to participate in the team’s offseason program. Before this issue intervened, Madison was expected to compete for a starting job. But not reporting to training camp altered those plans, though the Packers kept in touch with their recent draft choice, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (on Twitter). Madison may now have a tougher road to that role, but it is certainly good news he is back with the team.

Packers’ Cole Madison May Not Return To NFL

The Packers drafted Washington State guard Cole Madison in the fifth-round of the 2018 draft, but he stayed away from the team after mandatory minicamp in mid-June and was placed on the reserve/did not report list at the start of training camp. The last report we heard on the matter came in August, when GM Brian Gutekunst indicated that Madison was dealing with a personal issue but that he was expected to eventually contribute to the team.

Michael Cohen of The Athletic has now provided some answers, but they are not pleasant. Cohen reports that Madison has been deeply affected by the death of former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who committed suicide two weeks after playing in the 2018 Holiday Bowl. Madison and Hilinski were close friends, and a source close to Madison said, “[t]he death of Tyler is in his head. I don’t think he’s coming back. At least he’s not showing signs of it right now.”

At the 2019 Senior Bowl last month, Gutekunst neither confirmed nor denied that Hilinski’s death was the source of Madison’s decision to step away from football. Like all other members of Green Bay brass that have been contacted about the matter, he simply said that Madison is dealing with a personal issue and that the team supports him.

Madison was reportedly in good spirits during the draft and all the way through minicamp, but something changed during the interlude between minicamp and training camp. Cohen suggests that Madison’s mindset may have changed when he learned that Hilinski had been suffering from CTE, which was reported in late June.

Green Bay had hoped that Madison could contribute right away and believe he has the potential to be a starting guard. The Packers will not receive a compensatory draft pick if Madison retires or never plays for them. They have paid out a $324K signing bonus — the only guaranteed money in Madison’s standard four-year, $2.78MM rookie contract — and they have made no effort to recoup that bonus at this point.

The Packers could use some help on their O-line, but they will not press the issue. Gutekunst said of Madison’s potential return, “If that happens, it’s great. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Extra Points: Packers, Collins, Broncos

The Packers selected Washington State offensive guard Cole Madison in the fifth round of this past year’s draft. However, the rookie has sat on the did not report list and hasn’t attended training camp. While his absence isn’t encouraging, general manager Brian Gutekunst is confident that he’ll be able to contribute eventually.

“We’re fully supportive of what’s going on,” Gutekunst told ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “He’s dealing with a [personal] issue, when that issue is resolved we’ll get back to the football part of it.”

Gutekunst added that he believes Madison wants to continue playing, and he even hinted that the rookie could end up returning to the team at some point during the preseason.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • The Cowboys received some good news today. Howard Balzer tweets that Maliek Collins has passed his physical and been activated from the physically unable to perform list. The 23-year-old has undergone a pair of surgeries over the past four months to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot. With several weeks to go before the end of the preseason, the Cowboys are confident Collins can return for the start of the regular season. “He’s just progressing,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said earlier this week (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “He’s done a really good job with his rehab, and we’re taking him day-by-day, we’ll see if he’s available at some point to come practice here in the next week or so.” Collins finished last season with 22 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
  • The Broncos signed Alexander Johnson earlier today, and it sounds like the organization has high hopes for the embattled linebacker. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that the organization is giving the rookie $50K in guaranteed money, more than they gave to any of their other undrafted rookies. The former Tennessee star, who has dealt with his share of off-field issues, hasn’t played organized football in more than four years.
  • Denver wasn’t the only suitor for Johnson. Volin tweets that the Dolphins (along with a “couple other teams”) had expressed interest in the rookie linebacker before he joined the Broncos.
  • The Cowboys worked out a number of players today (via Jon Machota of the Dallas News on Twitter): receiver Darren Carrington, offensive linemen Jacob Alsadek and Daronte Bouldin, and safeties Dominick Sanders, Ryan Murphy, and Deron Washington. The team ended up signing Alsadek and Carrington later in the day.
  • Former Southern Miss wide receiver Allenzae Staggers worked out for the Redskins today, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Following a breakout 2016 campaign where he hauled in 63 receptions for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns, the wideout took a step back in 2017, finishing with 44 catches for 471 yards.

North Rumors: Browns, Packers, Bears

The Browns plan to use Jarvis Landry, who ran 72.7% of his routes from the slot with Miami in 2017, as a part-time outside receiver during the upcoming season, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. Landry will almost assuredly still move inside in three-wide sets, and given the NFL’s ever-expanding use of “11” personnel (one back, one tight end, three wideouts), Landry will still see plenty of time in the slot. But the Browns seem intent on using Landry in a slightly different fashion, as Cabot reports Cleveland will send Landry on deep routes in Todd Haley‘s offense.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • When asked whether Josh Gordon will play for the Browns in 2018, general manager John Dorsey said “Yeah, I would think, absolutely,” per Cabot (Twitter link). It’s difficult to parse the words of a team executive, and even more difficult when it comes to a player with a history of off-field issues, but Dorsey’s answer wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of Gordon. Gordon did not report for training camp, and while it’s not believed that he failed another drug test, he’s thought to be in a rehab facility. With Gordon’s status in question, Cleveland is considering an addition of veteran wideout Dez Bryant.
  • The Browns inserted offset language into Baker Mayfield‘s rookie contract, and fellow first-rounder Denzel Ward made the same concession, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Ward, the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft, likely didn’t have much of an argument after Mayfield — the No. 1 overall selection — accepted offset language in his deal. Players with offset language in their contracts who are cut before the end of their rookie deals have their remaining guaranteed money reduced by what they earn elsewhere.
  • The Packers placed both receiver Michael Clark and offensive lineman Cole Madison on the reserve/did not report list, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. While Madison is dealing with a personal matter and figures to report at some point, Clark is ending his NFL career, per Aaron Nagler of PackersNews.com (Twitter link). Clark signed with Green Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and ultimately managed four receptions for 41 yards in two games. Madison, meanwhile, was selected out of Washington State in the fifth round of the 2018 draft.
  • Matt Nagy hired former Oregon Mark Helfrich as his offensive coordinator earlier this year, but the new Bears head coach had spoken with Helfrich in 2017, as Peter King of NBC Sports writes. When Nagy was the Chiefs’ OC last season, a fellow staff member advised him to call Helfrich, who immediately expressed interest in an NFL role were Nagy to land a head coaching job. Now, the two offensive minds are tasked with further developing quarterback Mitch Trubisky, while working in new weapons like Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton.

Packers Sign Six Draft Picks

The Packers announced the signings of six draft picks on Monday: 

The Packers already signed fifth-round punter J.K. Scott and seventh-round long snapper Hunter Bradley, leaving only three draft picks left to sign in first-round cornerback Jaire Alexander, second-round cornerback Josh Jackson, and third-round linebacker Oren Burks.

Moore is viewed as a largely green prospect with a tendency to drop passes and has some questions about his maturity, but his physical tools prompted the Packers to use a fourth-round pick on him. Last year, he was Missouri’s leader in catches and receiving yards with 65 grabs for 1,082 yards and ten touchdowns.

Madison started all 13 games at right tackle for Washington State in 2017, but the Packers plan on using him at guard. The position change could suit him well as he lacks the ideal wingspan for a tackle and doesn’t always do a great job of anchoring himself against oncoming defensive linemen.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.