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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12

April

Packers News: Evan Dietrich-Smith signs one-year deal

Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith

Evan Dietrich-Smith signed his restricted free agent tender worth $1.323 million, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He’s expected to be the Packers’ starting center next season after Jeff Saturday retired.

Dietrich-Smith, 26, was handed the lowest possible restricted free agent tender with no compensation. If a team wanted to sign him, they simply would have had to make an offer that the Packers couldn’t match.

But that never happened, and Dietrich-Smith will remain in Green Bay next season.

The only restricted free agent to receive an offer sheet is Pittsburgh wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders from New England. The Steelers have a week to match the Patriots’ offer.

Dietrich-Smith is now slated to participate in the Packers’ offseason conditioning program. Green Bay’s other restricted free agent, Sam Shields, has yet to sign his tender worth $2.023 million for the upcoming season.

Now that Dietrich-Smith is in the fold for at least another season, the Packers figure they have their starting center in place. But that doesn’t mean the Packers won’t consider adding a young player at the position relatively early in this month’s draft.

California’s Brian Schwenke or Wisconsin’s Travis Frederick will likely be the first center off the board at some point on Day 2. Alabama center Barrett Jones will likely start 2013 on the PUP list due to medical concerns. He was on the same level as Schwenke and Frederick prior to the medical issues becoming public, but he’s now expected to come off the board on late Day 2 or early Day 3.

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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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7

April

Packers News: Team reportedly adds TE Matthew Mulligan

Packers TE Matthew Mulligan

Packers TE Matthew Mulligan

Tight end Matthew Mulligan agreed to a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers, according to WCSH TV 6 in Portland, Maine.

Mulligan, a four-year veteran out of the University of Maine, played with the St. Louis Rams in 2012 after spending three years with the New York Jets. The Packers, having lost reserve tight end Tom Crabtree to Tampa Bay earlier this offseason, are looking for some depth at the position.

Mulligan was credited with 18 starts the past two years, catching a total of 13 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown over that span.

Behind starter Jermichael Finley, Mulligan will compete for playing time with the likes of Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor and D.J. Williams. If healthy, Quarless is likely the frontrunner to be No. 2 on the depth chart, but he missed the entire 2012 season after tearing his ACL and MCL in December of 2011.

Brandon Bostick, an undrafted free agent from Newberry College, stuck on the team’s practice squad last season after an impressive training camp. Bostick played wide receiver in college and could threaten for a spot on the Packers’ 53-man roster this season.

For depth and special teams purposes, the Packers typically carry multiple tight ends on the roster. Brining Mulligan into the fold is a minor move that could help mask the loss of Crabtree, while adding another capable veteran to a young group of tight ends.

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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: 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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14

March

Dirty Bird Steven Jackson Poops on Packers’ Plans

RB Steven Jackson

“Almost” Packers RB Steven Jackson

When free agency kicked off on Tuesday, Pro Football Talk suggested the Packers were the early favorite to sign running back Steven Jackson. Later, Bill Huber of Packer Report tweeted that Jackson will “likely” sign with Green Bay.

So much for speculation. ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Czar of inside NFL information, has just reported that Jackson has declined the Packers’ offer and signed a 3-year deal with the Falcons.

Jackson, 29, has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark every season since taking over as the starter in 2005. But with a great deal of production comes a lot of tread on the tires; Jackson has carried the ball 2,395 times in his nine-year NFL career.

Along with the Packers, the Falcons, Bengals, Lions and Steelers showed interest in signing the veteran running back. When Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King told Jackson that he should sign with Green Bay, Jackson responded, “It makes a lot of sense.”

Jackson would have been a short-term fix for the Packers at running back, considering he will turn 30 before the season. Green Bay signed Cedric Benson, then 29, last offseason to shoulder the load in the ground game.  Barring other developments, Benson will surely be back.

Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, making the team in 2006, 2009 and 2010. He was the 24th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, which is exactly where the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers one year later. And now he’s a Falcon.

The Packers’ contract is now lining the bottom of some Dirty Bird’s cage and Ted Thompson is left looking in the air and wiping something off his jacket.

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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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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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