12

March

Packers: Scott Wells “Appears Headed” to Free Agency

Scott Wells is likely to hit free agency, which opens Tuesday.

Barring any late change of heart or mind, Green Bay Packers center Scott Wells will get to the start of free agency without a new contract from the Packers.

According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wells “appears headed for free agency barring a last-minute deal.” The sides are still far apart on what the value of Wells’ new contract should be.

In my opinion, the two sides are playing a game of chicken, with the Packers going low and Wells going high and waiting to see which side breaks first. My guess is that the Packers are going to have to give in some, but whether it’s enough to sign Wells, I don’t know. Wells remembers that the Packers gave up on him two years ago only to see him beat out Jason Spitz for the starting job and become one of the most valuable players on the offensive line.

It appears that Wells is wanting a contract that puts him on par with the top centers in the NFL, somewhere in the $7-8 million a year range. The Packers are almost certain not to give him that kind of money, especially considering Wells will be 32 at the end of 2012-13 season and is a touch undersized for the position.

Given that wide impasse in yearly negotiations, the Packers are likely to let Wells scour the open market. Once there, it’s possible Wells will find out a harsher truth about his real value and the Packers will be able to negotiate a more cap-friendly deal for the veteran center.

GM Ted Thompson has seen this same scenario unfold with left tackle Chad Clifton and receiver James Jones, both of which got to free agency but re-signed with the Packers once they got a better grasp at what free agency valued them at.

Clifton flirted with the Washington Redskins back in 2010 but shortly returned on a three-year deal with the Packers. Jones was widely assumed to be finding a team that would make him a more targeted receiver last offseason but found no satisfying offers. He also returned on a three-year deal.

Despite that fact, Wells still has leverage in the talks because he’s coming off a Pro Bowl season and back-to-back years when many considered him one of the NFL’s top centers.

10

October

Packers: Chad Clifton Has “Significant” Hamstring Injury

Jim Biever, Packers.com

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy called Chad Clifton’s hamstring injury “significant” Monday afternoon, confirming that the 35-year-old tackle will miss several weeks but also that the Packers staff doesn’t exactly have a handle on the severity quite yet because of the swelling and bleeding around the injury.

Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel tweeted this from McCarthy’s press conference:

“McCarthy on Clifton: Suffered a significant hamstring, probably take a couple weeks to get hands around how significant. Will be out weeks”
Clifton hurt the hamstring in the first half of the Packers 25-14 win over the Atlanta Falcons. He was clearly in pain as he left the field under the assistance of the training staff, and a cart was needed to get him to the locker room.

McCarthy also confirmed that there has been no talk of putting Clifton on IR yet, but that internal discussions between he and GM Ted Thompson had begun on whether or not to bring in another offensive lineman. The Packers played the rest of Sunday night’s game with just Evan Dietrich-Smith as an active backup lineman.

The “next man up” mantra that has defined the Packers for the past two seasons was on full display against the Falcons, as they got solid play from both Marshall Newhouse, who shifted from right tackle to the left after Clifton’s injury, and rookie Derek Sherrod, who played on the right side and recovered nicely from a rocky start.

It’s possible that the Packers will also get back Bryan Bulaga for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams. McCarthy said that he’ll know more about Bulaga’s status tomorrow and he wasn’t sure if he’d play on the right or left. A rough guess at this point would say that Bulaga returns to the right side and Newhouse remains at left tackle, but that’s obviously a fluid situation. Much of the decision could depend on how long Clifton is expected to be out.

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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.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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29

July

Green Bay Packers Release Injured Brandon Chillar

Brandon Chillar

After reporting to camp with a hamstring injury, Brandon Chillar has reportedly been released by the Packers.

According to a tweet by Tom Silverstein of the Milwauke Journal-Sentinel, the Green Bay Packers have released inside linebacker Brandon Chillar. This report comes merely a day after news that he suffered a “serious hamstring injury” in the offseason. Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com also reported yesterday that the Packers intended to release Chillar but wasn’t given the news when Brady Poppinga and Justin Harrell were informed of their fate.

At the end of 2009, Chillar signed a four-year contract extension worth $19 million. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury at the end of November last season.

The release of Chillar clears $1.8 million in salary cap money.

This news puts the Packers into a slight predicament at the inside linebacker position. With the reports of Nick Barnett’s pending departure, the loss of Chillar would mean having zero veteran back-ups to A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop. The only exception would be if they signed free agent Matt Wilhelm to a new contract.

Ted Thompson could still keep Barnett on the roster and perhaps try to re-work his contract. He might also look into picking up a veteran free agent off the market, though at this point, it’s tough to say what kind of talent is still available for negotiations. The answer to this dilemma is unclear, but someone will probably need to be found soon.

As far as Brandon Chillar is concerned, he might have a hard time finding a new team to pick him up with his current contract and injury status. His time with the Packers has been decent yet unspectacular, and he might have already hit his peak as a player.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation at the now-thin inside linebacker position.

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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