7

May

With questions at safety, could Woodson return?

Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson

For seven years, Charles Woodson was everything Packers fans wanted–a leader and defensive difference-maker.

Oh, and an expensive free agent acquisition.

But scheduled to count $9,437,500 against the salary cap in 2013, the Packers opted to release Woodson and use that money elsewhere. Since then, the Packers have signed Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews to lucrative contract extensions and brought in 11 players via the draft.

But one position that wasn’t addressed by the Packers in April’s draft was safety.

Alongside Morgan Burnett, the Packers’ have questionable depth at the position. Second-year player Jerron McMillian has his sights set on the starting job, and M.D. Jennings has added five pounds in hopes of being an every-down player. Sean Richardson, an undrafted rookie last season, also figures to compete for playing time.

Entering the draft, many expected the Packers to address the safety position early. But with the No. 26 pick, they turned their shoulder to Matt Elam and Jonathan Cyprien, and instead selected UCLA defensive end Datone Jones.

Safety was widely viewed as one of the deepest positions in the entire draft, with starting-caliber players available into the middle rounds. But the picks kept coming, and a safety was not among the Packers’ 11 selections.

So is the door completely shut on Woodson’s potential return to Green Bay?

Immediately upon hitting the free agent market, Woodson’s agent expressed his client’s desire to play for a Super Bowl contender. He had a visit with the San Francisco 49ers in March but nothing came to fruition. General manager Trent Baalke said before the draft that Woodson remains on the team’s radar.

“We had a great visit with Charles when he was here,” Baalke said, via 49ers.com. “We feel he can still play the game. That’s something we’ll continue to look at.”

But other than a visit with the 49ers two months ago, it’s been 2006 all over again for Woodson. But after months of minimal interest on the open market, the Packers pushed the hardest to sign Woodson and, ultimately, signed him to a seven-year contract in late April.

At this point, it’s pretty clear that Woodson won’t get anywhere near the $10 million he was scheduled to make for 2013. And if he’s only interested in playing for a contender, he’ll likely have to drastically reduce his financial demands.

26

April

Packers News: Aaron Rodgers signs contract extension

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

According to the team’s official website, the Packers have signed quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a multi-year contract extension.

The move was announced Friday by Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Rodgers is now the highest paid player in league history after signing a five-year extension worth $110 million. Reports are that the contract calls for Rodgers to be paid 40 million in the first year and 62.5 million in the first three years (500K more than Joe Flacco). His salary cap number will never exceed 21M.

“Aaron is a true professional and a special player,” Thompson said, per Packers.com. “He works hard, is humble, and is focused on his actions, on and off the field. He is an excellent teammate and pushes himself and others to be the very best. We are happy to reach an agreement to extend his career with the Packers.”

Rodgers had two years remaining on his previous deal, but the new contract will keep him in Green Bay for the foreseeable future.

Thompson spent his first draft pick as Packers general manager on Rodgers, the No. 24 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. After sitting behind Brett Favre for three years, Rodgers took over as the team’s starting quarterback in 2008.

In his first season as the starter, Rodgers threw for 4,038 yards, 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His 93.8 passer rating was the lowest of his career, as he’s posted a rating of at least 101.2 in each of the past four seasons.

Widely regarded as the best quarterback in the league today, Rodgers was the MVP of Super Bowl XLV. He was named league MVP for the 2011 season.

When the Favre retirement fiasco went down in the summer of 2008, some fans were heckling Rodgers in hopes of the team bringing Favre back for another season. But Thompson and Mike McCarthy stood firm in their decision and remained fully committed to Rodgers.

And the rest is history.

During the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, Rodgers tweeted to West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, “Good things come to those who wait.” It appears Rodgers was absolutely right.

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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.

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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21

December

Packers News: Dietrich-Smith to start over Saturday

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers center Jeff Saturday has been benched in favor of Evan Dietrich-Smith.

“We’re at two totally different points in our career,” Saturday said. “His is on the up ramp, mine is on the way out.”

Saturday, 37, has not been playing up to his normal high level this season. Pro Football Focus ranks him 30th among 37 centers who have played at least 25 percent of their team’s offensive snaps.

Dietrich-Smith started four games this season after Bryan Bulaga went on the injured reserve with an injured hip. Left guard T.J. Lang bumped over to right tackle, while Dietrich-Smith filled in at left guard.

Saturday has started all 14 of the Packers’ games this season, but it appears the team is ready to go in another direction in the middle of the offensive line.

Saturday had been dealing with a neck/shoulder injury, and head coach Mike McCarthy says he’ll likely be available to play Sunday against the Titans. However, Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee says Saturday confirmed Friday that Dietrich-Smith will be the team’s new starting center.

Saturday has struggled particularly in the running game this season–ranking dead last in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. However, in the passing game, Saturday grades out as PFF’s third most-effective center.

Dietrich-Smith figures to be the team’s best option at center for the future. And Sunday against the Titans figures to be Dietrich-Smith’s audition for the starting job in 2013.

From left to right, the Packers’ offensive line will be Marshall Newhouse, T.J. Lang, Dietrich-Smith, Josh Sitton and Don Barclay.

With Alex Green questionable to play on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how the ground game fares against the Titans. This will be Green Bay’s first game with a new offensive line and perhaps either DuJuan Harris or Ryan Grant handling the majority of the team’s carries.

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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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26

October

Packers News: Goode signs three-year extension

Packers LS Brett Goode

Packers LS Brett Goode

Packers long snapper Brett Goode has signed a three-year extension to stay with the Green Bay Packers through the 2015 season. His previous contract was scheduled to expire following this season.

Goode is currently in his fifth year as the Packers’ long snapper, and he has yet to produce a single “aborted snap” on a field goal, extra point or punt.

And usually, when fans don’t hear the long snapper’s name throughout the course of a game, it’s because the player is doing his job.

According to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Goode’s contract was actually signed Oct. 13; however, it was not announced by the team until today. The contract, according to NFL Players Association salary information, reportedly contains a $325,000 signing bonus, while his base salary for this season remains at $700,000.

Goode’s base salary will rise to $715,000 next season, $730,000 in 2014 and $870,000 in 2015.

So, get used to him Packers fans. The long snapper position is in good–er, Goode–hands.

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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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24

October

Packers News: Practice squad adds two, Borel shelved

Packers RB DuJuan Harris

Packers RB DuJuan Harris

The Packers continued shuffling players on their practice squad Wednesday, adding running back DuJuan Harris and guard Justin Cheadle.

The practice squad had previously only had seven spots filled, and by shelving wide receiver Diondre Borel on practice squad/injured, the Packers now have a full eight-man practice squad.

Harris spent the first 11 games in 2011 on Jacksonville’s practice squad before playing in the final five games for the Jaguars. He carried the ball nine times for 42 yards, and caught one pass for four yards. Harris spent some time with the Pittsburgh Steelers this preseason after being claimed off waivers by Aug. 27. He will wear No. 26 with the Packers.

Cheadle, an undrafted rookie out of the University of California, originally signed with the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2012 NFL Draft. He spent the preseason with Kansas City before being cut Aug. 27. Cheadle started 35 games during is collegiate career and earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 as a senior last season. He’ll wear No. 65 with the Packers.

Borel was one of the team’s final cuts this offseason after spending the entire 2011 season on the Packers’ practice squad.

As things currently stand, the Packers only have three remaining players that were signed to the practice squad to start the 2012 season–quarterback B.J. Coleman, offensive tackle Andrew Datko and tight end Brandon Bostick.

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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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