17

March

Former Packers WR James Jones Joins Oakland Raiders

James Jones

Jones leaves Green Bay after six seasons and will join the Oakland Raiders

James Jones is now a former Green Bay Packer.  The free agent wide receiver has signed a three-year deal with the Oakland Raiders.  The move will reunite Jones with former Packers personnel man and current Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Jones reportedly received some early interest from the New York Jets and was said to be in favor of joining the Carolina Panthers, had they expressed interest.  On Monday, Jones chose the Raiders and the San Jose native is headed home to California.

The Packers didn’t seem to have an early interest in bringing Jones back according to Frank Bauer, Jones’ agent.  This report emerged in late February.

Jones was a third round draft pick by the Packers in 2007 and his departure leaves only placekicker Mason Crosby left from that draft class on the current Green Bay roster.

Jones had 301 catches for over 4,300 yards and 37 touchdowns in his career with the Packers.  Jones led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2012 with 14.  Jones overcame early problems with dropped passes and entrenched himself as a top option in the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers offense.

Jones’ departure leaves the Packers with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boyking at wide receiver.  The emergence of Boykin last season likely gave the Packers confidence that he could fill some of Jones’ role.  With the draft upcoming in May and what is said to be a deep class for wide receivers, don’t be surprised to see the Packers get after one sooner than later.

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

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8

October

Raiders Release Matt Flynn: The Packers Should Bring Him Back

In a bit of shocking news that shouldn’t surprise anyone (as paradoxical as that sounds), the Oakland Raiders have released Matt Flynn after being demoted to 3rd string after a dismal showing against the Washington Redskins, who Packers fans are quite aware are currently fielding one of the worst defense this year.  The shocking bit is that the Raiders traded for Flynn with the Seahawks this offseason and brought over his $6.5 million guaranteed salary for 2014.  While this might not seem like much for a potential starting quarterback, keep in mind this is the Oakland Raiders, who have been so marred by the salary cap left behind by Al Davis that they literally needed to pinch every penny this year just to stay cap compliant.  So while Flynn’s performance certainly has justified his release, his contract (in context with the Raiders) make him prohibitively expense to let go.

Of course, Matt Flynn is still remembered by Packers fans as the guy with the lumberjack beard who managed to break all sorts of records against the Lions in 2011 and had a pretty good showing against a dominant New England Patriots defense in 2010.  Packers fans will also be quick to point out the disaster of an offseason where Graham Harrell never progressed, BJ Coleman got worse and Vince Young never figured it out.  In the end, the Packers settled on Seneca Wallace, who has experience but is essentially an unknown as he hasn’t appeared on the field.  I’m sure a lot of fans are hoping that the Packers sign back Flynn, bring back some known stability and maybe even resuscitate a career that’s been blown off course.  On the other hand, many fans will be quick to point out that Flynn was unable to beat either Wilson or Pyror despite coming into the season as the starter and in his brief showings with the Seahawks and Raiders looked out of place and unable to lead his team.

7

June

The Irreplaceable Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson

The Irreplaceable Charles Woodson

A lot of talk has been centered lately on Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson. Just yesterday, the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2012 revealed that he had been voted as the 36th best player in the league. But the big question on the minds of fans and pundits alike is: how much longer can he keep it up?

Entering into his seventh season with the team, Woodson is a 15-year veteran who will be turning 36 in October. He has just about seen and done it all, and is likely on the path towards becoming an NFL Hall of Fame member after retirement. One more Super Bowl win might just secure a spot for Woodson among that legendary group.

Charles Woodson currently ties for 20th among the NFL’s all-time career interception leaders with 54, and he is just one interception return for a touchdown away from tying the record held by former Pittsburgh Steeler Rod Woodson.

The story of Woodson’s arrival in Green Bay has been recounted numerous times. In 2006, he left his 8-year stint with Oakland for free agency after the Raiders made no attempt to re-sign him. Picking him up, however, was considered by many to be a risky proposition due to his injury history, coming off a broken leg in 2005.

But along came Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers, who were feeling some pressure after their worst season record since 1991. A slew of injuries to key offensive players, the release of Darren Sharper, and the allowance for Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle to walk in free agency would lead to a dismal 4-12 season. It was the first season as General Manager for Thompson, and it would become the last season as Head Coach for Mike Sherman.

It almost seemed like fate brought the two together.

Brett Favre, whose retirement was starting to become a question mark, was reportedly urging the Packers’ brass to make some “high-profile additions” to the roster. After signing veteran defensive lineman Ryan Pickett just a month earlier, Ted Thompson made a 7-year, $52 million deal to secure Woodson. It has since become his most notable free agency signing across his 8-year tenure as GM.

Of course, as Charles Woodson has admitted freely, he “did not want to come to Green Bay,” but was forced to when they became the only team to offer him a contract.

25

March

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

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

The Packers signed free agent center Jeff Saturday this week to replace the departed Scott Wells. Yes, I said the Packers signed a free agent. A free agent that I actually heard of, nonetheless.

I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to react to this occasion.  It’s been a while since Ted Thompson blew the dust off the checkbook he uses to sign free agents from other teams and actually brought someone in. Fans from other teams often celebrate like they just won the Super Bowl after inking a free agent so….congrats fellow Packers fans?

Thompson obviously didn’t know how to react to the occasion, either. He was so confused and out of sorts about what he just did that he turned around and did it again, signing free agent defensive lineman Daniel Muir.

Now, Muir fits the mold of a Packers free-agent signing much more than Saturday. Muir is a journeyman that Thompson signed and released once before. He’ll have to fight hard just to make the team and anything he contributes during the season will be a bonus.

Saturday, on the other hand, will be expected to be what he’s been his whole career: A reliable pass-blocking center who quarterbacks the offensive line for one of the most explosive offenses in the league, often during no-huddle situations. I’m sure Saturday is up to the task, but he’s also going to be 37 years old when the season starts.

Yes, Saturday has started all 16 games in six of the past seven seasons, but the thing with 37-year-olds is that they’re, well…old. You never know when the body of a 37-year-old football player might say enough is enough, or their skill set diminishes almost overnight.

Saturday was a good signing. No arguments about that. But it’s still going to be business as usual for the Packers at the center position. Saturday will (hopefully) fill in nicely this season and possibly next, but the Packers will still likely draft a center in April, both to solidify the position long-term and provide insurance in case age gets the best of Saturday.

Tim Tebow, Pat Lee/Jarrett Bush, Anthony Hargrove

7

January

Packers’ Winston Moss Surfaces as Coaching Candidate in Oakland

Winston Moss is being rumored as a coaching candidate in Oakland.

It’s nothing more than speculation at the moment, but Green Bay Packers inside linebackers coach and assistant head coach Winston Moss is being rumored as a potential candidate at head coach or defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.

Speculation regarding Moss comes on the heels of Oakland’s hire of former Packers director of football operations Reggie McKenzie as their new general manager. Pro Football Talk added fuel on the fire earlier today when they reported that McKenzie will be given the power to fire head coach Hue Jackson if he so pleases.

The majority of new GMs want their own hire at head coach, so the possibility exists that McKenzie could show Jackson the door. If he went that route, Moss would likely become one of McKenzie’s leading candidates to take the job. Most believe that McKenzie will keep Jackson, who led the Raiders to an 8-8 record in his first season, as the head coach, however.

But even if Jackson is retained, Moss could be a candidate for the Raiders’ looming defensive coordinator vacancy. Chuck Bresnahan, the incumbent at the position, is widely assumed to be done in Oakland after this season. At this point, a move to defensive coordinator looks like the most likely scenario for Moss to leave Green Bay for Oakland.

A veteran of 11 seasons in the NFL, Moss played four years in Oakland from 1991-94. The linebacker led the Raiders in tackles in ’93 and was a three-time defensive captain.

After retiring in 1997, Moss began his coaching career with the Seattle Seahawks as a defensive quality control assistant. Moss then went to New Orleans in that same capacity in 2000, and by ’01, had become the Saints’ linebackers coach. He coached five seasons in New Orleans with current Packers head coach Mike McCarthy from 2000-04.

When the Packers hired McCarthy in 2006, Moss was brought to Green Bay to be his linebackers coach. After just one season, McCarthy added assistant head coach to Moss’ title the next season. When defensive coordinator Dom Capers arrived in 2009 and hired Kevin Greene, Moss was re-focused as the inside linebackers coach.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

6

January

Packers’ Reggie McKenzie To Be Named Oakland Raiders GM

 

McKenzie appears headed to Oakland to be the Raiders new GM.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Oakland Raiders are planning to hire Packers director of football operations Reggie McKenzie as their next general manager.

McKenzie has long been rumored as a leading candidate for the job after Raiders owner and GM Al Davis passed away this fall. The two sides had reportedly been in contact this week, as McKenzie received a high recommendation from former Packers GM Ron Wolf for the job. Wolf has been assisting the Raiders in the search for new GM, along with former Raiders coach John Madden and Ken Herock.

McKenzie has served 18 years in the Packers personnel department, including the last four in his current capacity. He joined the Packers in 1994 as a pro personnel assistant and was later promoted to director of personnel in 1997.

McKenzie took over for John Schneider in May of 2008 as director of football operations after Schneider left to become the Seattle Seahawks general manager.

A former linebacker, McKenzie was drafted in the 10th by the Wolf-run Raiders in 1985 and played four years in Oakland. After two years in Phoenix with the Cardinals and another in San Francisco, McKenzie was out of the NFL. In 1993, he joined Phillip Fulmer’s coaching staff at his former alma mater in Tennessee. A later year, he landed in Green Bay in his first front office job.

McKenzie will land at a job that currently lacks draft capital, as current Raiders coach Hue Jackson doled out a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-rounder in ’13 for quarterback Carson Palmer before the trading deadline in October. As it stands before compensatory picks, the Raiders’ first pick next April would come in the fifth round.

A potential replacement for McKenzie could be Elliot Wolf, Ron’s son and currently the Packers assistant director of player personnel. NFL.com reported earlier in the week that he may be a candidate to leave with McKenzie to Oakland. John Dorsey, the Packers director of college scouting, turned down an offer to interview for the Indianapolis Colts’ GM opening and could also be a candidate.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

13

December

Which Green Bay Packer Benefits Most from Jennings’ Absence?

With Jennings out 2-3 weeks, it is time for the "next man up."

Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy announced Monday that wide receiver Greg Jennings has a knee sprain and will miss a couple of weeks. Suffering the knee injury against the Oakland Raiders, Jennings has a great chance to make it back for the playoffs. In his absence, the Packers will rely on Jermichael Finley and other playmakers to fill the void.

No stranger to injuries, the Packers will need to overcome the loss of Jennings in order to close out the regular season with continued momentum. With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Packers just need to win one game or have the 49ers lose once to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

With Jennings’ absence, plenty of different Packers will get increased opportunities over the next three weeks. The Packers use more formations than most teams in the league, and you can bet that will continue to be the case going forward.

Benefitting most from the success that Jennings has had this season, Jordy Nelson has had his finest year as a pro. Nelson leads the team in yardage with 957 yards on 51 catches. Nelson also has a team-high 10 touchdowns.

With Jennings out of action, Nelson will assuredly become the focus of opposing defenses. It may be more challenging for Nelson to find the same success while  likely facing safety help on many plays.

Donald Driver should see an increase in snaps over the next few weeks. The old man receiver is dying to prove he still has something left in the tank. Driver has played exceptionally well over the last two weeks with a total of eight catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers will need Driver to not only maintain his level of production, but increase it.

James Jones and Randall Cobb will also see their snaps increase on offense. Jones, who has been the forgotten man at times, has put up solid numbers with 479 yards and five touchdowns. The dynamic rookie Cobb, has also shown he has potential to be quite the receiver if given the opportunity.

While the snaps will increase for all the wide receivers, the player that will benefit most from Jennings’ absence is Jermichael Finley. Before Finley was injured early last season, the Packers offense was built around the match-up nightmare tight end. When Finley went down, Jennings stepped up and became the focus. The reverse will take place over the next three weeks.