17

April

Packers News: Clay Matthews agrees to contract extension

Packers OLB Clay Matthews

Packers OLB Clay Matthews

Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews has reached an agreement on a contract extension to keep him in Green Bay, according to his Twitter account.

The deal will be a five-year extension worth slightly more than $13 million per season, according to Jay Glazer. Matthews now becomes the highest-paid linebacker in the league, passing DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter had previously reported that Matthews would likely get around $13 million per season.

Coming out of the University of Southern California, Matthews was the 26th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, after the Packers used the No. 9 overall pick on B.J. Raji.

In four seasons with the Packers, Matthews has racked up 42.5 sacks in 58 regular-season games. He registered 13 sacks last season.

Matthews is the first domino to fall in what will likely be multiple blockbuster contract extensions for the Packers this offseason. He shares the same agent (David Dunn) as Raji and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Raji is entering the final year of his contract, and Rodgers is expected to sign an extension that will make him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

This was not a matter of if; it was a matter of when.

And now that Matthews has been locked up for the foreseeable future, the team can focus on putting the finishing touches on an extension for Rodgers. It’s been a quiet offseason for the Packers, but that’s due in large part to these upcoming extensions.

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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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10

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: A.J. Klein, LB Iowa State

A.J. Klein NFL Draft Profile

A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: LB A.J. Klein

Player Information:

A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State
6-1″, 250 pounds
Hometown: Kimberly, WI

STATS:

NFL Combine:

40yd dash: 4.66
Bench: 20 reps
Long Jump:  9’5″
(injured his knee in pass coverage drills)

Pro Day: (still favoring his knee)

Vertical jump: 33″
Short Shuttle 4.35
3-cone drill: 7.09

News and Notes:

Klein was an All-State pick from Kimberly, Wisconsin, having led his team to two straight State Championships. After not receiving an offer from the Badgers, Klein chose Iowa State over Northern Illinois. Klein played special teams as a true freshman and and then was a three-year starter at linebacker. Klein showed uncanny consistency, finishing with 111, 117 & 117 tackles in those three seasons. Klein also returned four interceptions for TDs in his college career, tying an FBS record.  Klein was named All-Big 12 in 2012 and the co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.

What they’re saying about him:

CBSSports.com: “Excellent key and diagnosis skills. Reads the action and gets a jump-start, often beating blockers to the ball. Better than advertised speed to the flanks and in pursuit downfield and is a quick accelerator, able to slip through gaps to make plays at the line of scrimmage.” “…Could be viewed by some as a bit of a ‘tweener as he lacks ideal athleticism for the outside and does not take on and shed blocks as well as preferred to remain inside. Usually has to give ground to release from blocks once his opponents get their hands into his chest.”

NEPatriotsdraft.com: “Klein is an intense competitor on the football field and is the type of player that every NFL head coach would want on his team. He is a leader on and off the field and has a work ethic that is infectious. On the field, Klein makes up for his less than elite athleticism with impeccable instincts. He plays within the defense, but is dead set on making every tackle of the game. He shouldn’t have to come off the field in the NFL if a team wants to play zone, although he may struggle playing man at the next level. His skill-set translates well to special teams as well, so he could be that rare 4-down linebacker that the NFL covets.”

Video: (Klein is # 47)

21

March

Packers Re-Sign LB Brad Jones

With Jones' return, the Packers keep their linebacker core intact from last season

With Jones’ return, the Packers keep their linebacker core intact from last season

It was announced today via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel that the Green Bay Packers have re-signed linebacker Brad Jones.  Terms of the deal have not been announced.  With the signing of Jones, the Packers will bring back the majority of their linebacking unit from last season, including all of the inside linebackers.

After stepping in last year for injured inside linebackers Desmond Bishop and DJ Smith, Jones had his best season in 2012.  He registered 77 tackles, two sacks and four passes defensed.  With some questions still lingering about Bishop’s and Smith’s recoveries, keeping Jones was a solid move by Green Bay.

Jones was a seventh round draft selection of the Packers in the 2009 draft.  After spending the first two years as an outside linebacker, Jones was moved inside.

While it isn’t the flashy move that most were hoping for, Jones does technically constitute a free agent signing by General Manager Ted Thompson.  That makes two including fellow inside linebacker Robert Francois, signed earlier in the week. Who says Thompson doesn’t sign free agents?

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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15

March

Packers News: A.J. Hawk restructures contract

Packers LB A.J. Hawk

Packers LB A.J. Hawk

A.J. Hawk has agreed to restructure the final three years of his contract with the Packers, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

In 2011, the team cut Hawk before re-signing him to a five-year, $33.75 million deal.

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted that Hawk’s contract was, in fact, restructured, and that the result was a pay cut. Silverstein went on to say that Hawk wasn’t thrilled about taking a pay cut, but the move will allow him to play in Green Bay for three more years.

Hawk was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the pick after the Jets took tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and just before the 49ers took tight end Vernon Davis. He hasn’t performed up to his draft position, but he’s only missed two games in his seven-year NFL career.

One could argue that 2012 was Hawk’s best season as a professional. Although he failed to come up with an interception for the second year in a row, he racked up 120 tackles and three sacks, according to NFL.com.

Hawk was a standout player at Ohio State University, starting 38 of 51 games. He was a unanimous All-American as a junior in 2004 and as a senior in 2005. Hawk also won the Lombardi Award during his senior season at OSU.

At the very least, Hawk restructuring his deal gives the team some insurance at inside linebacker. Desmond Bishop figures to return to the starting lineup in 2013 after missing last season, and third-year player D.J. Smith could compete for a starting job in training camp.

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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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15

March

Packers News: Francois returns to Green Bay on one-year deal

Packers LB Robert Francois

Packers LB Robert Francois

Who says the Packers never do anything in free agency?

On Friday afternoon, inside linebacker Robert Francois agreed to a one-year contract to remain in Green Bay, according to ProFootballTalk via Twitter. In the days leading up to free agency, Francois openly discussed his preference to stay with the Packers.

“They brought him in,” said Noel LaMontagne, one of Francois’ agents, according to JSOnline.com. “They gave him the opportunity. He’s been through the highs and lows there and obviously that organization is built for long-term success and Rob wants to be a part of it.”

By signing the one-year contract, Francois will spend his fourth season in Green Bay in 2013. Between 2010 and 2012, Francois has started a total of three games for the Packers, racking up 14 tackles, two pass deflections and an interception as a starter, according to NFL.com.

But his primary role with the Packers is on special teams.

As things currently stand, Francois joins Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk, Terrell Manning, D.J. Smith and Jamari Lattimore as the team’s inside linebackers. Brad Jones is a free agent and visited with the Tennessee Titans Mar. 15.

There has also been some debate regarding Hawk’s future with the team, as he’s currently set to count $5.45 million against the cap. Linebacker is certainly a position to keep an eye on this offseason.

(UPDATE: Hawk has accepted a pay cut to remain with the team, as of Friday afternoon)

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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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12

March

Packers News: Erik Walden bolts for the Colts

The Colts gave Walden $16 million

The Colts gave Walden $16 million

Who says there’s no such thing as exciting free agent news in Green Bay?

Former Packers outside linebacker Erik Walden raised some eyebrows today by reaching an agreement with the Indianapolis Colts on a contract worth $16 million over four years. Walden, 27, expects to be a starter opposite Robert Mathis, according to Bob McGinn on Twitter.

In three seasons with the Packers, Walden accounted for nine sacks. Among the 34 outside linebackers that played in a 3-4 scheme last season, Pro Football Focus graded Walden dead-last. In 2011, Walden also graded out dead-last among the 28 3-4 outside linebackers that played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps.

Just last summer, the Packers signed Walden to a one-year contract worth $700,000. Apparently, the Colts felt Walden’s 2012 season justified a pay raise of over $15 million.

Free agency never disappoints. The first wave of free agency brings both the expected moves (Mike Wallace to the Dolphins) as well as some head scratchers (Walden).

Not surprisingly, the financially cautious Packers have yet to dive into the free agent market.

Pro Football Talk reported that Green Bay is the favorite to sign running back Steven Jackson. Take that for what it’s worth, as it could simply be Jackson’s agent trying to drive up his client’s price tag. Personally, I’d be surprised if the Packers are willing to match the 30-year-old running back’s financial demands.

Free agent defensive lineman Chris Canty visited the Packers last week, but he visited and signed with the Baltimore Ravens today, according to his Twitter account.

If you’re sitting on pins and needles waiting for the Packers to make a big free agent splash, it’s probably safe to stand up and find your recliner.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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10

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Adam Czech usually puts together this post on Sunday, but he had other commitments this week, so I’ll do my best to pick up the slack.

Last Sunday, Adam called into attention the injury woes of the Packers’ recent first-round picks. Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod and Nick Perry missed a combined 33 regular-season games last year. It’s a concern to a certain degree, but at the same time, all three players will be expected to compete for a major role with the team in 2013.

On the flip side, the Packers have struck gold recently in round two. This past week, the team decided not to place the franchise tag on wide receiver Greg Jennings, a second-round pick in 2006. Jennings played seven years with the Packers, made two Pro Bowls and helped the team to Super Bowl XLV.

This year’s draft may lack elite talent in the top-half of the first round, but it’s an extremely deep class in the first few rounds. The NFL went to a three-day format in 2010, featuring round one on Thursday and rounds two and three on Friday.

Let’s take a look at the Day 2 gems Ted Thompson has brought to Green Bay:

  • 2012: Casey Hayward (2nd, No. 62)
  • 2011: Randall Cobb (2nd, No. 64)
  • 2010: Mike Neal (2nd, No. 56) and Morgan Burnett (3rd, No. 71)
  • 2008: Jordy Nelson (2nd, No. 34) and Jermichael Finley (3rd, No. 91)
  • 2007: James Jones (3rd, No. 78)
  • 2006: Greg Jennings (2nd, No. 52)
  • 2005: Nick Collins (2nd, No. 51)

Every year since taking over as Packers GM in 2005, Thompson has found a starter in either the second or third round. Now, guys like Brian Brohm, Aaron Rouse and Abdul Hodge may not have lived up to their expectations, but Thompson’s track record is impressive nonetheless.

With Jennings on his way out, perhaps wide receiver is a position to consider on Day 2 this year. There will be receivers galore available on in rounds two and three.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • Here’s a piece I wrote on Bleacher Report focusing on the depth of the wide receiver position in this year’s draft. They come in all shapes in sizes, and value will certainly be there on Day 2.