9

August

Maybe Greg Jennings is jealous of Randall Cobb

If Greg Jennings is so happy in Minnesota, why does he keep talking about Green Bay?

If Greg Jennings is so happy in Minnesota, why does he keep talking about Green Bay?

Enough is enough.

Former Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings simply cannot stop talking about his former team. And despite his assertion that the grass is greener in Minnesota, his repetitive jabs at the Packers suggest otherwise.

The breakup between Jennings and the Packers wasn’t a “he dumped her,” or “she dumped him” situation. It was a mutual divorce that made sense for both sides.

Even without Jennings, the Packers still have one of the top receiving trios in the league in Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jordy Nelson. Extending Jennings likely would have resulted in the departure of someone else. Morgan Burnett was signed to an extension last month, and Jones, B.J. Raji and Jermichael Finley are scheduled to hit free agency next summer.

Jennings, on the other hand, wasn’t ready to give up his “go-to receiver” label. In Green Bay, he’d have to share targets with three talented receivers and an athletic tight end. In Minnesota, Jennings is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver and figures to be towards the top of the league in targets.

But throughout this mutual breakup, a cloud of jealousy is hovering over Jennings’ head.

After all, his ex (Green Bay) has continually replenished their receiving corps under the watchful eye of Ted Thompson, grooming potential replacements for players on the decline. After taking Jennings in 2006, the Packers drafted James Jones in 2007, Jordy Nelson in 2008 and Randall Cobb in 2011.

And now, it seems like Jennings is having trouble seeing his ex with a younger, prettier (and less costly) girl.

In October 2012, quarterback Aaron Rodgers made a bold statement about Cobb, telling Packers beat writer Jason Wilde on their weekly in-season radio show “Tuesdays with Aaron” that Cobb “is probably going to go down as one of the best picks in Ted Thompson’s career, if not the best.”

Thompson’s draft résumé boasts Rodgers, Nick Collins, Greg Jennings and Clay Matthews, among others. But still, Cobb, after appearing in just 21 games in the NFL, was already in the conversation, according to the 2011 league MVP.

Later in the season, in Week 17, Jennings’ sister Valyncia trashed Rodgers on Twitter during the Packers-Vikings game in Minnesota. On top of urging her brother to “go to South Beach and get paid” after the 2012 season, Valyncia suggested that Rodgers favors Cobb over the other receivers.

15

July

Packers News: Morgan Burnett signs contract extension

Packers safety Morgan Burnett

Packers safety Morgan Burnett

The Green Bay Packers have reached an agreement with safety Morgan Burnett on a four-year contract extension worth $24.75 million, according to Ian Rapoport via Twitter.

Burnett’s deal includes $8.25 million guaranteed.

Following the 2012-13 season, the Packers entered the offseason in hopes of signing several players to contract extensions. The team locked up Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers earlier this offseason, leaving Burnett, B.J. Raji and Jermichael Finley as the next players in line for new deals.

Burnett, 24, is entering his fourth season in the NFL. He missed the majority of his rookie year after suffering a torn ACL in Week 4, but he’s started all 16 games in each of the past two seasons.

The Packers will hope Burnett takes a step forward in his fourth year, which is when former safety Nick Collins was named to his first of three Pro Bowls.

Last year was Burnett’s best individual season as a professional. He set new career highs with 123 tackles and two sacks. Burnett’s two interceptions came against the Minnesota Vikings against quarterback Christian Ponder.

It was a matter of when, not if the Packers would strike a deal with Burnett. But with the deal done before training camp, the Packers can now shift their attention to someone else on the roster with an expiring contract.

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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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1

June

B.J. Raji: Next in line, when will he sign?

Packers DL B.J. Raji

Packers DL B.J. Raji

Despite being predictably quiet throughout free agency, the Packers have successfully locked up perhaps their two most valuable players.

The team locked up quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews to long-term contract extensions. Matthews signed a five-year deal that makes him the highest-paid defensive player in football, while Rodgers became the highest-paid player in league history.

The next guy in line for a new deal may be defensive lineman B.J. Raji.

The Packers spent the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft on Raji–a player they hoped would anchor the defensive line as they transitioned to the 3-4 alignment.

One Pro Bowl, a Super Bowl and four years later, Raji is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

Since becoming a weekly starter in 2010, he has started all but two regular-season games for the Packers. Statistically, Raji’s best season was in 2010 when he racked up 6.5 sacks and scored the deciding touchdown in the NFC Championship Game in Chicago. Following Raji’s breakout year in 2010,  he was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2011 despite an inconsistent season.

Pro Football Focus gave Raji a +15.1 season grade in 2010, -20.8 in 2011 and a +6.5 last season. And now, Raji has high expectations for himself as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

“I want to get back to the Pro Bowl,” said Raji, according to JSOnline.com. “I think that I have that ability. And I want to help other guys get to the Pro Bowl who haven’t been there. I want to obviously help us get back to being a top-five defense. And I just want to dominate the game, from Week 1 to whenever we’re done playing and just have an impact in every football game.”

Raji’s agent, David Dunn, also represents Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. Both Rodgers and Matthews signed contract extensions earlier this offseason.

“I’m not really going to talk contracts,” Raji said, per the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “Obviously, the Packers are a great organization and I’m sure they’ll do right by me. I’ll leave it at that.”

In 2012, Raji’s play improved dramatically after the team’s Week 10 bye.

Pro Football Focus: B.J. Raji in 2012

Pro Football Focus: B.J. Raji in 2012

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.

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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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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