- The Packers announced a series of personnel changes on Tuesday, with the most notable being college scout John Wojciechowski‘s promotion to director of pro personnel. Wojciechowski, who has also worked for the Cowboys, Jaguars, and Steelers, has been with Green Bay since 2012. The rest of the Packers’ front office changes, all of which include promotions or hirings in the scouting department, can be found at the link.
- The Packers added defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois earlier this year to bolster a defensive line that badly needed reinforcements, and as Ryan Wood of PackersNews.com writes, Green Bay has been interested in the LSU product for years. The club wanted to sign him after the 2012 season, but Jean-Francois joined the Colts instead before moving on to Washington. The Redskins released him in March, clearing the way for his one-year pact with the Packers.
Rashad Jennings has proven that he can dance. Now, he wants to prove that he can still play football at a high level. The free agent running back says that he is anxious to play in 2017 and eager for an NFL opportunity.
Jennings added that he has had “simple conversations” with the Lions, Packers, Ravens, Rams, and Dolphins. The veteran hopes that those simple conversations will lead to a deal from one of those teams, but for now, he’s in “wait and see” mode.
The reigning Dancing With The Stars champion had a paltry 3.3 yards per carry average last year on 181 rushes, but did record 35 receptions. On the plus side, Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the NFL’s best pass blockers in 2016 and he isn’t too far removed from a productive 2015 season in New York.
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The latest from Green Bay:
- The NFL announced Wednesday that it has suspended Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison one game for a violation of its substance abuse policy. Allison was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in December and pleaded no contest in April, when he paid a $330.50 fine to reduce the charge to an ordinance violation, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Allison’s Week 1 ban will cost him far more – a $31,764 game check. As a rookie in 2016, the undrafted free agent from Illinois racked up 12 catches, 202 yards and two touchdowns in 10 regular-season games. Allison will enter training camp as the fourth option in a packed receiving corps.
- Defensive tackle Letroy Guion will go to trial next month in Hawaii for intoxicated driving, reports the Associated Press. Guion was arrested in June on a driving under the influence charge, and his attorney is now seeking witnesses to the arrest, according to the AP. Guion had a blood alcohol content of .086 an hour after the arrest and smelled of both alcohol and marijuana at the time. He’s already set to serve a season-opening four-game suspension for a separate infraction – a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
- The Packers will have a new director of player development with Rob Davis having left the organization, Demovsky tweets. Davis spent 12 seasons as a long snapper in the NFL, including 11 with Green Bay, before embarking on a front office role with the Packers for nine years. He’s on to a “special opportunity,” though team president Mark Murphy declined to say where Davis is headed.
- In case you missed it, the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have not begun extension talks.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Packers have a surplus at wide receiver, and that leaves the team with a roster quandary, Ryan Wood of USA Today writes. Last year, the Packers were the only team in the league to carry seven receivers on the initial 53-man roster. This year, the Packers will have at least seven receivers deserving of a roster spot, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll go with that untraditional allotment again.
It will be interesting to see which receivers make the Packers’ final cut in early September. It seems like at least a couple of the discarded WRs could quickly find work elsewhere.
The Packers have not discussed a contract extension for Aaron Rodgers with his agent, David Dunn, the quarterback told a Milwaukee TV station last week (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). Given that Rodgers still has three years left on the deal he signed in 2013, the Packers don’t have to work anything out imminently. However, on the possibility of Rodgers becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player again in the near future, team president Mark Murphy admitted to Demovsky, “You need to plan for it.” Unsurprisingly, Murphy added that the franchise regards re-upping the two-time league MVP as a priority. Rodgers topped all NFLers when he signed his five-year, $110MM deal four years ago, but salaries around him have increased significantly. As a result, the 33-year-old is set to rake in just the sixth-highest amount at his own position this season ($22MM).
Given that he’s 64 years old and only under contract for two more seasons, Ted Thompson‘s shelf life as the Packers’ general manager has been a popular topic over the past several months. Packers president Mark Murphy addressed Thompson’s future Wednesday, suggesting to reporters (including Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal) that he doesn’t want the longtime GM to leave his post anytime soon.
“Ted and I, we have a great relationship,” said Murphy. “As long as he wants to continue to work, and he’s still doing a good job — and I think he still does a great job for us — we want him to continue to be our general manager. At a point he decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore for whatever reason, then we would do a search.”
Thompson has arguably earned the right to stay on until he sees fit, having served atop an organization that has generated outstanding on-field results since his hiring in 2005. Across 12 seasons, the Thompson-led Packers have made nine playoff trips, including eight in a row, earned six NFC North titles and won a Super Bowl. At the helm of that championship-winning team in 2010 was quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was Thompson’s initial draft pick as Green Bay’s GM. Rodgers, who unexpectedly plummeted to the Packers at No. 24 in the first round of the 2005 draft, has evolved into one of the greatest signal-callers in NFL history since he succeeded Hall of Famer Brett Favre in 2008.
While Thompson has brought Rodgers and a score of other quality contributors to Wisconsin during his tenure, the executive’s conservative approach to free agency has come under fire. Thompson has typically avoided making big splashes in free agency, thus making it easier to secure compensatory draft picks, but his decision to let guard T.J. Lang leave for NFC North rival Detroit over the winter reportedly left Packers coaches and players “incensed.” However, as evidenced by his satisfaction with Thompson’s work, Murphy wasn’t among the angered faction.
If Thompson does remain in charge of the Packers’ football department for the foreseeable future, it’ll be interesting to see if they’re able to keep his top underlings from taking higher-profile jobs elsewhere. Both director of football operations Eliot Wolf and director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst drew interest earlier this offseason from GM-needy teams, and vice president of football administration Russ Ball is also highly regarded. Wolf, Gutenkust or Ball could conceivably end up as Green Bay’s next GM, though Murphy hasn’t promised any of the three Thompson’s job when he departs. Another potential candidate for the Packers, ex-Chiefs GM John Dorsey, worked in Green Bay for nearly all of his career prior to taking over in Kansas City in 2013. Dorsey shockingly lost his job in late June, which could set up a return to the Pack’s front office, though that’s reportedly unlikely.
Asked Wednesday whether the Packers are interested in bringing back Dorsey, Murphy said, “I can’t answer that.”
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The Packers will be returning seven wideouts from last year’s roster, and they’ve also brought in rookies DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre. A number of players could logically slot in behind starters Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, and they’re all aware of the fierce competition.
“I’d like to think we have more than seven guys who can play in that group, for sure,” receivers coach Luke Getsy told Wes Hodkiewicz of Packers.com. “Circumstances dictate a little bit the way things go … but the thing I’m excited about is I really do think we have more than seven guys who can contribute to us winning football games.”
The Packers have signed third-round pick Montravius Adams. With the defensive tackle under contract, Green Bay has now signed its entire 2017 draft class.
Adams was highly recruited coming out of high school but it took him a little while to really get started at Auburn. In 2016, he seemed to put it all together has he totaled 8.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. The 6’4, 304 pound athlete may wind up starting at nose tackle for the Packers in the early going as Letroy Guion serves a four-game suspension.
Adams was one of ten unsigned rookies heading into Wednesday. With Raiders sign third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes also under contract, we’re now down to just eight unsigned draft picks league-wide. Interestingly, seven of those eight players are first-round selections.
Here’s the complete rundown of the Packers’ draft class:
- 2-33: Kevin King, CB (Washington)
- 2-61: Josh Jones, S (North Carolina State)
- 3-93: Montravius Adams, DT (Auburn)
- 4-108: Vince Biegel, LB (Wisconsin)
- 4-134: Jamaal Williams, RB (BYU)
- 5-175: DeAngelo Yancey, WR (Purdue)
- 5-182: Aaron Jones, RB (UTEP)
- 6-212: Kofi Amichia, T (USF)
- 7-238: Devante Mays, RB (Utah State)
- 7-247: Malachi Dupre, WR (LSU)
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A year ago at this time, the Broncos, Panthers and Cardinals were popular picks to rank among the NFL’s elite teams in 2016. Denver was the reigning Super Bowl champion, after all, while Carolina was coming off a 15-1, conference-winning campaign and Arizona was second to the Panthers in the NFC. Each of those teams won their divisions two years ago, and not only were they unable to repeat that feat in 2016, but all three watched the playoffs from home last winter. They were among a whopping six division-winning clubs from 2015 that failed to qualify for the playoffs last season, joining the Bengals, Redskins and Vikings.
If the volatility from 2015 to ’16 is any indication, some of the league’s eight division champions from last year are in trouble as the upcoming season approaches. Once again, both Super Bowl representatives won their divisions in 2016, with the Patriots coasting in the AFC East and the Falcons knocking the Panthers from the NFC South throne. Like the Pats and the Falcons, the Chiefs, Steelers, Texans, Cowboys, Seahawks and Packers are aiming to repeat atop their divisions this season.
Of those teams, the Patriots look as though they’re in the best position to secure their division again. The Bill Belichick– and Tom Brady-led outfit has ruled the AFC East eight consecutive times, and during New England’s latest Lombardi Trophy-winning season, the club was a 14-2 juggernaut that easily led the league in point differential. While Brady’s a year older, set to enter his age-40 season, he hasn’t shown any signs of mortality, and even if he suffers an injury or falls off dramatically in 2017, the Patriots may have a starting-caliber quarterback behind him in Jimmy Garoppolo. Of course, there’s also plenty of talent on hand elsewhere on the Pats’ roster, including new additions in wide receiver Brandin Cooks, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive lineman Kony Ealy, linebacker David Harris, tight end Dwayne Allen and running back Mike Gillislee.
There might not be any shoo-ins to repeat among the league’s seven other returning division winners, but it’s hard to bet against clubs with franchise quarterbacks. In the cases of the Falcons (Matt Ryan), Packers (Aaron Rodgers), Seahawks (Russell Wilson) and Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger), there’s little reason to expect anything other than excellence from under center, which makes potential playoff berths more realistic for each. The Cowboys also seem to have an outstanding signal-caller in sophomore Dak Prescott, who was so stunningly great as a fourth-round rookie that he took Tony Romo‘s job and essentially forced the four-time Pro Bowler into retirement.
Kansas City (Alex Smith) and Houston (Tom Savage) aren’t as well off under center, though the Chiefs have done plenty of winning in the regular season since turning to Smith in 2013. But if he and the untested Savage disappoint this year, they have first-rounders behind them in Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, respectively. Poor performances or injuries could force either Mahomes or Watson into action, perhaps paving the way for the emergence of a Prescott-like rookie this year in KC or Houston and making another postseason appearance more likely.
While some of these teams look to be in enviable shape at QB, the game’s most important position, things could still go awry. The Panthers had the reigning MVP 12 months ago in Cam Newton, but his play took massive steps backward, as did the team’s, en route to a 6-10 season and a last-place NFC South finish. The likelihood is that some of last year’s division winners will end up in similar situations in 2017, going from playoff teams to bitter disappointments overnight.
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