Johnny Jolly

Dunne On Replacements For B.J. Raji

An unfortunate injury to Packers’ nose tackle B.J. Raji has left the team looking for a way to replace his size and athleticism in the middle of their defense. The arm injury has been confirmed to be torn biceps, and will more than likely force him to miss the season, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN (via Twitter).

As big of a loss as this is for the defense, the team is not yet panicking, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter). The team has a number of in-house replacements, including Josh Boyd, Letroy Guion and undrafted rookie Mike Pennel, according to Dunne.

Guion was one of the favorite free agent signings this offseason, but has missed virtually all of training camp with a variety of hamstring problems. He was thought of as a possible PUP candidate, but Dunne notes that the team might not feel comfortable waiting that long to see him in action now without Raji (via Twitter).

Dunne also notes that former Packer Ryan Pickett is an option (via Twitter). Pickett, who played nose tackle and defensive end for the team since 2006, is a free agent who has expressed interest in continuing his career with the Packers, as Dunne wrote earlier this offseason.

However, Dunne also mentioned that the team would most likely stand pat with what they have, knowing they have the option to play more nickel packages, which would put Mike Daniels and Datone Jones on the field, and alleviate the need for a true nose tackle (via Twitter).

Johnny Jolly, another former Packer defensive lineman, is also not currently in the team’s plan as a replacement for Raji, (via Twitter).

Sunday Roundup: Thomas, Davis, Momah

It’s been a surprisingly exciting morning in the NFL, with the false report from the Dallas Police Department that Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib was arrested early this morning dominating the Twitterverse. Now that things have quieted down and Talib has been absolved–his brother, Yaqub, was the person taken into custody–let’s have a look at some links from around the league.

  • Mike Kiszla of The Denver Post writes that the Broncos cannot afford to overpay star wideout Demaryius Thomas. He adds that, although Thomas is set to become a free agent after this season, the franchise tag is a legitimate option if an extension cannot be worked out (check out our Luke Adams’ piece on what a deal for Thomas might look like). Kiszla believes that giving Thomas more than $30MM in easily-obtained guarantees is too much for a receiver who greatly benefits from being in the same huddle as Peyton Manning.
  • The Panthers exercised linebacker Thomas Davis‘ 2014 and 2015 options in February after his stellar 2013 campaign, but if they had not done so, Davis would have retired, according to Jonathan Jones of The Charlotte Observer. Davis said, “If I’m going to play football and represent an organization, it’s going to be with the team that stuck beside me and never gave up on me.
  • Read more here:

    Free agent defensive tackle Johnny Jolly, who played for the Packers last season, has gained medical clearance after undergoing neck surgery in January, writes Aaron Wilson of The National Football Post. As we learned several weeks ago, the Packers remain open to Jolly’s return.

  • The Titans‘ top three wide receivers–Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, and Justin Hunter–are set. But as Lauren Moore of The Tennessean writes, second-year man Michael Preston, who has been dubbed a “jack-of-all-trades” by wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, hopes to seize the fourth receiver role from the likes of veteran free agent acquisitions Brian Robiskie, Derek Hagan, and Dorin Dickerson, as well as a few 2013 and 2014 undrafted free agents.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that, although the Browns would love to extend tight end Jordan Cameron, Cameron’s agent, Tom Condon, will drive a hard bargain. She adds that wide receiver Josh Gordon must have some “compelling arguments” given that there has yet to be an announcement regarding his suspension (although an appeal hearing has not been set).
  • Ryan O’Halloran of The Florida Times-Union writes that the Jaguars will need to grab a standout pass rusher in the 2015 draft, and he lists some potential candidates for Jags fans to keep an eye on this season.
  • Tim McManus of writes that Ifeanyi Momah, the physically gifted wide receiver whom the Eagles released last season during final cutdowns, is back with Philadelphia this year and stands a real chance at making the roster.


NFC North Notes: Suh, Vikings, Packers

So far today, the Lions have officially signed first-round pick Eric Ebron to his rookie contract, and the Vikings have brought aboard former Browns wideout Josh Cooper. A few more Friday updates out of the NFC North have trickled in over the course of the day, so let’s round up the latest on the Lions, Vikings, and one of their division rivals….

  • A restructure of Ndamukong Suh‘s contract is a good bet to happen at some point this summer, but a trade remains unlikely. A source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that no discussions or negotiations about a potential deal involving the Lions star have occurred.
  • While Harrison Smith will be one of the Vikings‘ starting safeties this fall, the team continues to audition players for the other starting job, writes Ben Goessling of According to Goessling, Kurt Coleman, Robert Blanton, Brandan Bishop, and rookie Antone Exum have all received plenty of looks during OTAs.
  • Packers head coach Mike McCarthy continues to insist that the club hasn’t closed the door on the possibility of bringing back free agents Jermichael Finley, Ryan Pickett, and Johnny Jolly. “I would love to work with all three of those guys again,” McCarthy said during an appearance on the Bill Michaels Show on SportsRadio 1250 (hat tip to Pro Football Talk). We’ve heard for months that the Packers have been monitoring those free agents, with health an ongoing concern for Finley and Jolly.

NFC Notes: Eagles, Giants, Packers, Saints

In an attempt to narrow down the wide range of players the Eagles could select at No. 22,’s Jeff McLane focuses on 11 prospects who could pique the team’s interest and be available. Three receivers top the list.

In other NFC news and notes. . .

  • We know the Giants are “livid” at Will Hill over his most recent transgression, but in a mailbag piece,’s Dan Graziano writes the team doesn’t know whether Hill will be suspended (because he can appeal), doesn’t know how long the suspension will be or if he’ll be released. “As for a replacement,” writes Graziano, Stevie Brown was slated to be a starting safety for the Giants this time last year, and assuming he’s fully recovered from his ACL surgery in time for the season, they’d just make him the starter opposite Antrel Rolle.”
  • “The most important Giants player on the defensive side of the ball is Jason Pierre-Paul,” opines Paul Schwartz in the New York Post. “And no one is a close second.” After a breakout season in 2011 with 16.5 sacks, Pierre-Paul “got derailed by physical issues and, perhaps, motivational lapses.” The 25-year-old pass rusher is making his optimism for the upcoming season known, however, saying he’s healthy, in better shape (reportedly a lean 270) and ready for a leadership role. Perhaps most important, he’s motivated entering the final year of his rookie deal knowing he stands to make a fortune if he shows improved production, consistency, durability and stability.
  • Free agent defensive linemen Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly, who started 16 and eight games, respectively, for the Packers last season, remain on the team’s radar. However, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky describes their situation as a “holding pattern,” saying the Packers “will wait to see what comes of the draft and then reassess their needs.”
  • “The last time the Saints promoted two less-experienced starters into their starting o-line (Zach Strief and Brian De La Puente in 2011), they wound up setting the NFL record for yards gained in a season,” writes ESPN’s Mike Triplett. Three years later, the team is preparing for another pair of second-year players to step into starting roles: left tackle Terron Armstead and center Tim Lelito.
  • The 49ers have done their homework on San Jose State quarterback prospect David Fales, seeing him live during the season and working him out at the team’s pro day for local prospects. Head coach Jim Harbaugh thinks Fales is a top-five QB in the draft, according to ESPN’s Bill Williamson.

NFC Notes: Packers, Bucs, Vikings, Eagles

The Packers have two quarterbacks on the roster (Aaron Rodgers and Scott Tolzien), but the team is expected to sign a backup and draft a developmental passer, writes’s Rob Demovsky. In his mailbag piece, Demovsky also mentions the team is monitoring Johnny Jolly‘s progress from neck surgery and he could return.

Other NFC notes:

  • Sticking with the Packers, Demovsky provides a salary-cap breakdown of the team’s defense.
  • The Packers are famously conservative in their approach to free agency, but that has not been the Buccaneers’ philosophy this offseason, writes’s Pat Yasinskas. Since the start of free agency, the team has spent $74.3MM in guaranteed money, and “No other team is even close.”
  • Pass protection is a skill the Vikings are prioritizing as they search for Toby Gerhart‘s replacement, says’s Ben Goessling.
  • The Eagles prioritize size, speed and separation in their receivers, and believe this year’s draft crop is loaded with attractive prospects. In a piece for, Jeff McLane says, “…the Eagles won’t have to stray from their promise to select the best available player because — as general manager Howie Roseman said in February at the NFL combine — there will be a receiver the team covets in every round.”
  • The Redskins are also looking to add a receiver or two, but they’re looking to upgrade the bottom of the depth chart, writes the Washington Post’s Mike Jones and’s John Keim, who mentions the team “received little help on special teams from receiver last season.”
  • USC center prospect Marcus Martin has met with the Saints, Eagles and Panthers, according to Aaron Wilson of National Football Post.

NFC Notes: Rams, Bucs, Eagles, Packers

Speaking to Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk, Seahawks tight end Zach Miller suggested he had been willing to accept a pay cut this offseason because he was open to doing whatever it took to remain in Seattle. Miller’s restructure reduced the veteran’s overall compensation for 2014 and 2015.

“I’ve been around long enough that I know the business of the NFL,” Miller said. “It’s something you hear rumors about. You never know until you hear from the horse’s mouth. I’m just happy to be back. Love to be on this team, love playing with these guys. For me, it never was a question of being anywhere else, I wanted to be here.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • After he visits the Jaguars, Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins will meet with the Rams, then has a private workout lined up with St. Louis on April 18, says’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).
  • The Buccaneers are hosting Marshall left tackle Garrett Scott for a pre-draft visit today, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. However, the more noteworthy visit for the Bucs looks like it’ll come tomorrow, as Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune says (via Twitter) Johnny Manziel will be in town to meet with the club.
  • USC receiver Marqise Lee has met with the Eagles multiple times already, and will pay an official visit to the team this week, tweets Geoff Mosher of
  • According to Jason Wilde of, the Packers maintain interest in a few of their unsigned free agents, including tight end Jermichael Finley and defensive linemen Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Vikings, Bears

When evaluating potential free agents, teams certainly look at a players’ ability to stay on the field for as many games as possible. David Chao of the National Football Post ranked his top-ten injury risks among this year’s free agents and he featured two Packers on that list. Defensive lineman Johnny Jolly was seventh, with Chao pointing out that the 31-year-old will still need another month or two to recover from offseason surgery. Tight end Jermichael Finley was number-eight following his neck injury in October, and the writer believes he’ll be medically cleared very soon. Cowboys’ defensive end Anthony Spencer finished atop the list.

Let’s take a look at some more rumblings from around the NFC North…

  • The Packers ended up paying cornerback Sam Shields, which seems to go along with what Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson has done in the past, writes Tom Silverstein of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Based on Silverstein’s list of players the Packers have and have not extended, the team has typically made the correct choice in which players they’ve chosen to keep.
  • The number of signings, particularly in the NFC North, has shrunk the Bears‘ market, says John Mullin of He points to Shields as a player the team could have used.
  • After the Vikings signed Everson Griffen earlier today, Ben Goessling of took a look at what was next for the team. He estimated that the Vikings would have about $25MM left in cap room, which would be enough to sign Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner (the Vikings have expressed interest in both) but wouldn’t leave the team with enough room to extend Kyle Rudolph or sign other free agents.
  • Former Viking Jared Allen will likely take his team choosing a new team and probably won’t have a decision by Tuesday, tweets Ian Rapoport of

Demovsky On The Packers

The Packers and agent Drew Rosenhaus have engaged in open dialogue about free agent cornerback Sam Shields, according to’s Rob Demovsky, who participated in a chat with fans. Other tidbits:

  • Inside linebacker A.J. Hawk‘s 2013 season was his best yet, and Packers coaches value the veteran’s dependability, reliability and accountability despite his physical limitations. Brad Jones, however, must “play much better or they need to find a replacement,” says Demovsky.
  • Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy, the team’s first two 2012 draft picks, have both disappointed and it’s unknown if either fit the defensive scheme.
  • Demovsky spoke to a scout who believes Johnny Jolly could slide inside to nose tackle if he’s re-signed.
  • When asked about the team potentially locking up receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson long-term, Demovsky described Cobb as a “no-brainer,” but wondered if Nelson would “drive a harder bargain” because he took a below-market deal (four years, $12.6MM) in 2011 and his next deal will likely be his last big contract.
  • Demovsky does not envision the team splurging for a blockbuster free agent (i.e. a player requiring an $8MM-$10MM signing bonus), but sees a few “mid-level” signings as realistic.
  • “Chances are good” the team will draft a developmental quarterback in the mid to late rounds.

Extra Points: Packers, Muamba, Polian

Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette thinks that the Packers will be forced to lean heavily on a cadre of young defensive lineman that will step into starting roles next season. Defensive linemen Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, and Jerel Worthy will likely replace departing free agents B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, and Johnny Jolly on the defensive front of the Packers’ base 3-4 defense. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac expects Jones and Worthy to mimic Daniels’ 2013 campaign with breakout performances next year.

A few more Monday night notes: