Packers Rumors

This Date In Transactions History: Reggie White Signs With Packers

27 years ago today, the Packers made a franchise-altering move that helped propel them towards the top of the league. On April 7th, 1993, Green Bay officially signed pass-rusher Reggie White to a four-year, $17MM deal (hat tip to @HistoricPackers on Twitter).

After starting his professional career in the United States Football League, White spent eight years in Philly. He quickly became one of the best players in the NFL, winning Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and earning Pro Bowl nods each year between 1986 and 1992. White is still the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks.

By the time the 1993 offseason came around, White found himself as a free agent, and he predictably had a number of suitors. The Packers, Redskins, and Browns all made a run at the defensive end, and there was some belief that free-wheeling Washington would sign the future Hall of Famer. However, the Packers ended up emerging with the best offer, and it didn’t take long for White to pounce.

While the $4.25MM average annual salary seems paltry in 2020, it actually made White the third high-paid player at the time (behind Broncos quarterback John Elway ($4.75MM) and Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino ($4.43MM)). Of course, it wasn’t just money that led White to Green Bay. As agent Jimmy Sexton explained, head coach Mike Holmgren and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes made the effort to visit the player’s family in Tennessee.

“It was huge,” Sexton said (via Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “They were smart enough and perceptive enough to know that Reggie was a relationship guy. They sold him on the fact that it’s like a big college atmosphere. He was coming out of a place where it wasn’t fun for him the last couple years.

“But if I had to pick one thing he liked most about Green Bay, Holmgren was it.”

White continued to dominate during his stint with the Packers. In six seasons, he compiled 68.5 sacks, which made him the franchise leader in that category (he’s since been passed by Clay Matthews and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila).

More importantly, the pass rusher (alongside a young Brett Favre) helped catapult the Packers atop the standings. Green Bay made the playoffs during each of White’s six seasons with the team, including three division titles. He also led the team to a pair of Super Bowls, including a Super Bowl XXXI victory over the Patriots.

Despite winning his second Defensive Player of the Year award in 1998, White temporarily retired. He returned during the 2000 season and played all 16 games for the Panthers. At the time of his second retirement, White was the all-time leader in sacks (he’s since been surpassed by Bruce Smith).

Still, what really cemented White’s legacy was the Super Bowl victory. Who knows if he would have reached that pinnacle if not for the transaction made 27 years ago today.

FIU QB James Morgan Drawing Interest

FIU quarterback James Morgan is starting to generate some buzz as we get closer to draft day, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. Morgan made his way onto our site for the first time today, when we wrote that the Patriots have shown some interest, and New England is not the only team sniffing around.

Per Wilson, a number of clubs are closely vetting Morgan, though COVID-19 restrictions obviously mean that he can’t visit teams or work out privately for them. Wilson’s sources say that in addition to the Patriots, the Packers, Bears, Colts, Raiders, Giants, Bills, Jets, and Dolphins are among the teams intrigued by Morgan.

It is not surprising to see most of the teams on that list. New England, of course, is in the market for a collegiate passer after watching Tom Brady sign with the Buccaneers, and the Dolphins have long been connected to this year’s top rookie QBs. The Raiders, Bears, and Colts have varying degrees of long-term uncertainty at the quarterback position, and the Packers had planned to host the best QB prospects before pre-draft visits were cancelled (Morgan is actually a Green Bay native, and the Packers may be starting to prepare for life without Aaron Rodgers).

Meanwhile, all three New York outfits seem to have a long-term solution under center already, although none of their incumbents are sure things at the moment. And given that Morgan is a mid- to late-round prospect, it couldn’t hurt for those teams to at least have a look.

Morgan performed well at this year’s scouting combine and at the East-West Shrine Game, and a Southeast Area NFL scout said Morgan has one of the three strongest arms in the draft, along with the intelligence and leadership qualities that teams covet. After an uneven tenure at Bowling Green, Morgan transferred to FIU in 2018 and earned Conference USA Newcomer of the Year honors by completing over 65% of his passes for 26 TDs and seven interceptions.

His 2019 effort was not quite as strong, but he has put together enough quality tape to start rising up draft boards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills, Packers Pursued Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders became the third-highest-paid wide receiver free agent this offseason, trailing younger cogs Amari Cooper and Robby Anderson. But before signing a two-year, $16MM Saints deal, the veteran received extensive interest on the market.

In addition to the 49ers wanting to retain him and some interest from the Cowboys and Jets, two 2019 playoff teams sought Sanders. The Bills and Packers were in the mix for the 33-year-old wideout, Sanders confirmed.

Both teams contacted him on the first day of the legal tampering period, as did the 49ers. While the Bills discussed a deal with Sanders, they reached an agreement to acquire Stefon Diggs less than an hour after the sides’ phone call.

I spoke with the Bills for a little bit and I told them, ‘Let me think about the idea; give me a night,'” Sanders said during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show (audio link). “And 30 minutes later the Stefon Diggs deal went through and I was like, ‘OK.’ So then I kind of waited. I was talking to Green Bay; I was talking to the Niners, just trying to figure out what type of deal, what type of money we’re talking about. And then the Saints called. I was ecstatic about them, the opportunity to play with Drew Brees, and the numbers made sense.”

While Buffalo unloaded a major asset to bolster its receiving corps with a younger player, Green Bay took the cheaper route in signing Devin Funchess. The Packers figure to still be in the market for receivers when the draft opens. Their Davante Adams sidekick contingent has not panned out, leaving the Packers with a clear need. The 49ers acquired the No. 13 overall pick from the Colts in the DeForest Buckner trade, and they also will likely be in the running for a first-round wide receiver.

Sanders said he signed with the Saints because of their consistent offense reminding him of his first season with the Broncos, in 2014, and because of Brees’ two-year contract. It is not yet known if Brees will play in 2021, but Sanders appears to be rooting for that to happen.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On QB Jordan Love

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where Utah State QB Jordan Love will land in this month’s draft, and as such, he is generating interest from plenty of teams. Kevin Patra of NFL.com says that the Saints, Packers, Chargers, Raiders, Dolphins, and Colts have all been in contact with Love via FaceTime and other virtual means.

Despite an uneven 2019 season, Love possesses all the physical tools that a team could want in a signal-caller and showed enough of his ability at the scouting combine to create some buzz. So while teams like the Chargers and Dolphins have more immediate needs at quarterback, it’s not surprising that clubs like the Colts and the Packers would be taking a look as well, as they could have Love learn from their current starters while he continues to refine his game. Indeed, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Green Bay had planned to host Love and most of this year’s top QB prospects at its facility before pre-draft visits were cancelled (Twitter link). Of course, the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was still playing at a high level, so if Love falls to them, perhaps they could make a similar move.

The Saints’ involvement is somewhat surprising since we heard last month that New Orleans was not interested in Love. But while the team holds Taysom Hill in high regard and views him as the heir to Drew Brees, the fact remains that Hill will be 30 in August and has thrown 13 passes in his professional career, so a little due diligence couldn’t hurt.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, are reportedly very high on Love. While Miami’s dream scenario remains one in which it acquires the No. 1 overall pick from Cincinnati to select Joe Burrow, the ‘Fins will definitely walk away from the draft with a high-end signal-caller in tow.

Love looked like such a player in 2018 by throwing 32 touchdowns against six interceptions. Unfortunately, his arm strength and stature didn’t yield the same results last year, as he had 20 TDs against 17 INTs while playing with a lesser supporting cast. But plenty of QBs have had disappointing final seasons in college and have gone on to do big things in the pros, and apparently a number of teams believe Love can do just that.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Zuerlein, Bills, Cardinals

Here are the latest details from the second wave of free agency. All links courtesy of the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, unless otherwise noted.

NFC Contract Details: Funchess, Blythe, Redskins, Cardinals

We’ve got a handful of contract details to pass along. We’ll start with the latest NFC notes, all via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter:

  • Devin Funchess, WR (Packers): One year, $2.5MM. Includes $3.75MM in receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns incentives.
  • Austin Blythe, OL (Rams): One year. Worth $3.9MM, including $3.5MM guaranteed. $950K signing bonus, $2.95MM salary (of which $2.55MM is guaranteed).
  • Peyton Barber, RB (Redskins): Two year, $3MM. Includes $600K signing bonus. Salaries: $910K (2020), $1.14MM (2021). $150K per-game maximum roster bonus in 2020, $199K+ per-game maximum roster bonus in 2021.
  • Nate Orchard, LB (Redskins): Re-signed. One-year, $1.047MM deal. Includes $137.5K signing bonus, $910K salary.
  • Seth Roberts, WR (Panthers): One year, $3.75MM. Includes $600K signing bonus, $3.1MM salary, $50K workout bonus.
  • Marcus Gilbert, OT (Cardinals): One year, $3.75MM. $1.05MM base salary (of which only $150K is guaranteed). Up to $2.7MM in playing time incentives.
  • Max Garcia, OL (Cardinals): Re-signed. One-year, $1.25MM deal, including $600K guaranteed. Up to $190K per-game maximum roster bonus, up to $1MM in playing time incentives.
  • Cameron Fleming, OL (Giants): Signed. One-year, $3.5MM deal (as opposed to previously-reported one-year, $4MM deal). Includes $2MM guaranteed. Up to $500K per-game roster bonus, up to $500K playing time incentives.
  • Kerry Hyder, DE (49ers): One year. $1.5MM, including $550K guaranteed. Up to $250K in per-game roster bonus.

Packers Lock Down Return Man

  • The Packers‘ agreement with free agent running back/return man Tyler Ervin is a one-year, $1MM pact, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Ervin will collect a $910K base salary. The Packers claimed Ervin off waivers from the Jaguars last year and used him on kick and punt returns.

Brandin Cooks Not On Trade Block?

The Rams have made some notable changes this offseason, with Todd Gurley‘s release being the biggest move from a team with some major questions atop its payroll. Brandin Cooks represents one of the big contracts on Los Angeles’ cap sheet, and a report earlier this month indicated the team was shopping him.

That no longer appears to be the case. The Rams do not have Cooks on the trade block, Peter King of NBC Sports notes. Considering Cooks’ concussion-marred 2020 and $12MM in guarantees due this season, this makes sense. The Rams would not be expected to collect full value for the twice-traded wideout, who is signed through 2023.

Cooks’ 1,000-yard streak stopped at four. In a down year for the Rams’ offense, the 26-year-old target only produced 582 yards in 14 games. Cutting Cooks would not be a realistic move for the Rams, who already ate considerable dead money from the Gurley release. Were Cooks to be shopped, King lists the Eagles, Packers, Raiders or Redskins as potential suitors.

Los Angeles still has Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Woods, however, has outplayed his five-year, $34MM contract and Kupp is going into a contract year. Neither is in Cooks’ NFL tax bracket, but both outplayed him last season. Each surpassed 1,100 receiving yards in 2019. The former Saints and Patriots wideout, however, totaled a career-high 1,204 receiving yards in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Funchess, Packers, Bell, Bengals, Vigil, Chargers

A few more recent contract figures to pass along:

  • Devin Funchess, WR (Packers): One year, $2.5MM. The $2.5MM is a far cry from the one-year, $10MM deal he got from the Colts last offseason. He got a $1MM signing bonus, $1.2MM base salary, and an extra couple hundred thousand in workout and roster bonuses. He has another $3.75MM in incentives available (via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network).
  • Vonn Bell, S (Bengals): Three years, $18MM. Bell got a $3MM signing bonus, with a $3MM base salary in 2020 and $1MM reporting bonus. He has base salaries of $4.1MM and $6.1MM in 2021 and 2022 respectively, with $400K in roster and workout bonuses in each of those years (via Albert Breer of SI.com).
  • Nick Vigil, LB (Chargers): One year, $2.4MM. Vigil had to settle for a prove-it deal despite starting 16 games for the Bengals last year. He got a $500K signing bonus, $1.9MM base salary, and can earn an additional $600K in playing-time incentives.