Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Report: Rodgers' new contract includes a $35 million signing bonus

According to multiple sources, the contract extension recently signed by Aaron Rodgers includes a $35 million signing bonus. That means that, if Rodgers fulfills the entire deal, he will make a grand total of $130.75 million. In other words, more than enough to make a decent living.

The best part about this big contract is that, even if Rodgers gets all that cash, there will still be some left over. So if you think that the offseason is over, it's not. It could be just starting. I don't know who they would sign, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do add another piece.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Jets unsurprisingly release Tim Tebow

Today, after months of anticipation, the New York Jets finally released mop quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow didn't do anything in his only year with the team, spending most of the season either on the bench or playing terrible on the field. I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being the end of the lefty's time in the league, since nobody seems to be interested in him. But things could still change between now and training camp.

Now obviously, no team in the NFC North even cares about this news. The only teams that might show some interest are all rebuilding and probably wouldn't wouldn't keep him for more than a year.

2013 NFL Draft: Rounds 4-7 Packer Selections on Defense

I wrote about the five offensive players drafted by the Green Bay Packers on Saturday in an earlier post, and this one is about the four defensive players selected in rounds 4-7. There were 11 draft picks in all, and that doesn't even include all the undrafted free agents, with a slight six to five advantage to the offense after a defensive heavy 2012 draft.

5th round, Iowa CB Micah Hyde. He's listed as a cornerback, but he looks like a safety for the Packers.  He recorded 78 tackles and 14 pass defenses as a senior, so he seems like a player who's used to playing closer to the line of scrimmage and someone with good ball skills. The knock on him is that he looks better suited for zone coverage, which would make him a better fit for the Packers at safety instead of trying to run with receivers along the sidelines as a press corner. He'll help his cause if he can produce on special teams in kick and punt coverage.

5th round, Mississippi State DE Josh Boyd. He's a strong (32 bench press reps), high-energy guy who's not big enough to be a nose tackle on a 3-4 defense but doesn't have enough of a pass rush to be a highly regarded 4-3 tackle prospect. He should be able to hold up fine as a 3-4 DE for the Packers and he looks to be similar to DE C.J. Wilson. He doesn't really fill a need, but provides depth. The defensive line needs to get better next season, so if he can emerge in training camp, he could beat out another lineman for a roster spot. He might be a candidate for the practice squad, if he can slip through waivers.

6th round, Illinois State OLB Nate Palmer. Every year, the Packers are looking for a college DE to convert to OLB, and this year it's Nate Palmer. He also started a thing by being a player from Illinois State, and then the Packers went and signed a couple undrafted free agents from there too. There are a couple linebacker spots available to replace Erik Walden, D.J. Smith, and Frank Zombo, so this might be a good opportunity for him. He impressed scouts at his pro day, but I'm not sure about a guy who couldn't get playing time at Illinois so he decided to transfer to Illinois State.

7th round, South Florida ILB Sam Barrington. I had to dig a little to find out more about him, at first I thought he was an outside LB prospect, but instead he looks like someone who will play inside after watching his college highlight video. He's a solid tackler who can blitz up the middle and drop back in pass coverage. He seems a little undersized to me, but he may look just fine once he puts on a Packer uniform. As I mentioned with Palmer above, there are some roster spots available at linebacker, so Green Bay could be a good team for him.

Overall, GM Ted Thompson adds more depth to a young defensive group that was re-loaded last April, so these players are going to have to stand out because there might not be enough roster spots for them. But the Packers could use another defensive back and they never can have enough linebackers. It's not obvious what the Packers got with these players, so we'll have to wait and see how they play in the preseason.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

2013 NFL Draft: Rounds 4-7 Packer Selections on Offense

After trading down in the 2nd round, and still getting RB Eddie Lacy, and trading out of the 3rd round all together, the Green Bay Packers had 10 selection in the final four rounds on Saturday. They did surrender a couple picks to trade up in the 4th round which gave them one more polished prospect to go along with the projects they acquired in the later rounds.

What I love every year about GM Ted Thompson's selections is that he picks a lot of players at different positions, so he keeps his depth deep at every position. The players drafted late aren't likely to become stars, but there should be some future starters and key backups here. With so many picks, I'm splitting my analysis into two posts, the first one is on the offense.

4th round, Colorado LT David Bakhtiari. There's been a lot written recently about how LT Marshall Newhouse shouldn't be viewed as the starter of the future. While he did improve in 2012, he also showed his size limitations (he's short for a LT) and doesn't have quite enough strength and/or size. The team probably views Sherrod and Bulaga as the future at tackle, but they do need to improve their depth so they're not forced to rely on the poor tandem of Newhouse and RT Don Barclay as Plan B. There's a lot to like about Bakhtiari, he was a starter after his redshirt freshman season and he ended up with 33 career starts before leaving school early. He's got the big frame of a left tackle and he could still put some more bulk on it. He was told by the NFL advisory board that he was a likely 2nd or 3rd round selection, but I think he fell to the 4th round because not a lot of people saw Colorado's awful team last season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the mix at left tackle soon but he could play on the right side too.

4th round, Cornell OT J.C. Tretter. I'd been hoping the Packers would select one of the top centers available, but instead they'll convert an Ivy League tackle. It hasn't been announced that Tretter will switch to center, but it seems pretty obvious. The knock on him is that he doesn't have the size or length to play at tackle and he was going to have to move inside in the NFL. He's a former tight end who's quick and flexible and he has better size (6-4 height, 33 3/8" arm length) than many college centers.

4th round, UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin. They traded up to grab the player that was viewed as the No. 2 RB pre-draft. Obviously NFL teams thought otherwise, but the Packers made the move up because they did see his value. He's got the speed and quickness while Lacy has the size and strength, but the Packers haven't used a rotation at back in recent years. Maybe they would have if injuries and ineffectiveness hadn't gotten in the way. Franklin had some big question marks (6 fumbles in 2011) that he seemed to have overcome in 2012, but he doesn't look like an every down back due to his smaller size which is maybe why he fell in the draft. The Packers ended the 2012 season with former practice squad RB DeJuan Harris as arguably their best back, so more talent in the backfield can't hurt.

7th round wide receivers, Grand Valley St.'s Charles Johnson and Maryland's Kevin Dorsey. While the Packers haven't shied away from undrafted wide receivers, they usually draft wide receivers in the early rounds, so Johnson and Dorsey are some new ground for Ted Thompson. The two receivers were almost drafted back-to-back which is appropriate because they look very similar (6-2 height with good hands). The Packers lost two receivers this offseason so depth at the position was necessary, but Johnson and Dorsey were selected based on potential, not college performance.

It's an unknown whether these's players will succeed in the NFL, but the Packers addressed the positions where they lost depth (wide receiver) and where they needed better depth (offensive line, running back). I see the potential in all three players they selected in the 4th round, and they all could become involved in the offense as soon as this season.

Aaron Rodgers' brother signs with Jaguars

According to NFL.com, the Jacksonville Jaguars have signed Aaron Rodgers' little brother Jordan as an un-drafted free agent. Jordan is coming off a solid college career at Vanderbilt.

I'm pretty surprised that the guy wasn't just drafted, but at least he still got into the league. I don't think he's anywhere near as good as his older brother, but he can definitely play the game.

In case you're interested, no. The Packers do not play the Jaguars at all this season unless they both reach the playoffs. That scenario is obviously unlikely, seeing as the Jaguars are in a rebuilding phase.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thoughts on Rodgers' new contract

In case you didn't hear, yesterday the Packers signed Aaron Rodgers to a 5 year, $110 million contract extension. Obviously, Rodgers deserved this kinda deal, so it's no surprise that he got one. Every writer/fan knew by the early offseason that #12 would be get paid piles of cash. It was just a matter of time.

In year one of the contract, the 2015-2016 season, Rodgers will make $40 million for some reason. If you like math, that's a solid 36.4% of the total cash he's due. I don't understand why they're paying him so much more one year, but I guess it doesn't matter. It won't affect any of his on-field affairs.

Friday, April 26, 2013

2013 NFL Draft, Round 2, Packers Select Alabama RB Eddie Lacy

In the late 2nd round, the Green Bay Packers selected Alabama's RB Eddie Lacy. His selection reminds me of 2011, when the Packers grabbed a productive SEC skill player with a late 2nd round pick (WR Randall Cobb). If Lacy works out as well as Cobb, this will be a great pick.

While Lacy was considered the top running back prospect leading up to the draft, he's not the first running back selected because of some medical concerns. He had a slight tear of his hamstring back in February and wasn't able to work out at the NFL combine. Assuming that's not a major concern, here's what Lacy brings to the Packers.

He's a big back (5-11, 231 lbs.) so his slower 40 time, he ran a 4.59 earlier this month, is not a big deal if you know about speed score. While speed score doesn't necessarily equal NFL success, a low score is a red flag, and his 40 time at 231 lbs. would have put him among the Top 5 backs if he'd ran it at the NFL combine.

What stood out for me was his vision and his ability to run through arm tackles on the video below. He had some huge rushing lanes open up for him, which isn't a surprise since most of his 2012 college offensive line was just selected in the NFL's 1st round, but he made defenders miss downfield too. Not only will he fight for extra yardage in short yardage, but he'll be able to make a move downfield if his offensive line can open up a running lane for him. He'll give their offense something they didn't have the last three seasons.

Packers and Aaron Rodgers Agree To Five-Year, $110 Million Extension

It's been known for a while that the Green Bay Packers were probably going to extend QB Aaron Rodgers's contract this offseason, and now it's happened.
This is added to the remaining two years on his previous contract, so he's under the team's control for the next seven years. When the two contracts are combined (seven-years, $130.75 million), the average is less than the $20 million per year given in recent months to Drew Brees and Joe Flacco. But unlike those two quarterbacks, Rodgers wasn't an unrestricted free agent.

So in one way it's a discount because he'll be paid less per year than the highest paid quarterbacks, but in another way he's setting a new standard for total contract value. The most important thing was to keep Rodgers in Green Bay for as long as possible and this extension will do just that for the next seven seasons.

Geno Smith to stay in New York for Round 2

According to NFL.com, former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith will remain in New York for tonight's second round of the draft. Smith had originally told the media that he would leave NYC if he remained un-selected through the first round.

Smith seems like a solid player, so he'll probably get picked tonight. I don't know who would take him, but it definitely won't be the Packers. So I guess I could really care less. Right now, the Pack only care about playing defense. Their offense seems to already be set for another playoff run. The only kind of offensive player they might pick tonight would be a new lineman to help protect Rodgers.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 NFL Draft: Packers Select UCLA DE Datone Jones in the First Round

The Green Bay Packers have been needing a defensive lineman who can line up next to DE B.J. Raji on passing downs and rush the passer. They usually line up with only two down lineman in their nickel package, so it's impossible for them to generate an inside pass rush without two good pass rushing big men. They've been missing that type of player ever since DE Cullen Jenkins left in free agency. Hopefully they've found that player in UCLA's DE Datone Jones. Here's what I wrote about Jones earlier this week:
Jones isn't an obvious fit but he's versatile, played in three and four man fronts, and he can get after the quarterback. He might be a better fit as a 4-3 DE, but he's 6-4, 283 lbs. and might still be filling out. He was "extremely productive" as a senior and had a strong workout at the combine. If you can still remember the 1990s, he might be similar to former Packer DE Sean Jones. He could be what the Packers hoped DE Mike Neal would become.
After reading more about Jones, I think the Packers might have been the best fit for him, instead of a 4-3 defensive team. He won't anchor their strong side run defense, they have DE Ryan Pickett for that anyway, but he's big enough to play DE in their 3-4 scheme and he's good at getting into the backfield.

I've only read about two problems with him, and neither should be a problem for the Packers. While he's a little too small to play tackle in a 4-3 defense, and a little too big to play end in a 4-3, his size and height might be perfect as a three technique (lining up over the guard) lineman who they want to rush the passer.

The only concern here is that the Packers haven't done too well on their previous two attempts (DE Mike Neal in 2010, DE Jerel Worthy in 2012) to find a lineman like Jones. Maybe the third times the charm. Jones was the guy I hoped they would get, unless LSU's S Eric Reid fell to them (he went to the 49ers at No. 18 overall), so it's hard to complain with their selection.

Leading Up To The Draft: Packers Release Saine and D.J. Smith

A couple days ago I wrote that the Green Bay Packers probably weren't looking for an inside linebacker in the 1st round, in part, because they have third-year LB D.J. Smith. And one day later, Smith is a former Packer, along with RB Brandon Saine.
While the timing of their release, on the eve of the draft, seemed a little odd, I think Tom Silverstein is dead-on when he wrote that the Packers made the move now because they need the roster spots. The Packers usually bring in several undrafted rookies for tryouts post-draft, and once that's complete, the Packers' roster should be at it's maximum (90).

The Packers might have been surprised Smith was claimed by the Chargers. A former late-round draft pick coming off tears of his ACL and MCL shouldn't have a lot of value. They might have been hoping that Smith and Saine could continue to rehab while off the roster in the hopes of a future return. Who knows, Smith might not be long for the Chargers either. It wouldn't be a shock to see one of them return next season after someone else is injured.

In the short-term, the Packers have released two players coming off major injuries and will likely replace them with two healthy rookies, so I can see the logic in the moves.

Andy Reid: We've "made up our mind" for No. 1 Pick

Today, my hometown Kansas City Chiefs' new coach Andy Reid told the NFL Network that his team has "made up their mind" on who'll they'll select number one overall. Obviously, Reid didn't say who that was, but multiple sources are stating that the mystery player is likely Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher.

I personally agree with all of those sources. In my opinion, Fisher is the next Ndamukong Suh. He's not a dirty player, but he is pretty big guy who gets a lot of tackles. I have no doubt it my mind that he'll have success on whatever team ends up drafting him.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Matthews: I've earned my new contract

According to Bleacher Report, Packers LB Clay Matthews has apparently said that he's earned his new contract. I want to stand by him on that statement, but I can't. I'm not sure any defensive player deserves that much money.

I wouldn't consider this a bad thing to say, but it does sound a little "I'm above you." I mean, does he actually believe he deserves all that money? Because he shouldn't. His numbers have slowly declined in recent years. I think he deserved a new deal, but not one that makes him the highest paid linebacker in the entire league.

2013 NFL Draft and Clay Matthews' New Contract

Who will the Green Bay Packers will select on Thursday night? Kevin Seifert said no one knows, so my guess yesterday is as good as anyone else's.

There's a lot of talk about which teams might want to trade up, but NFL Network's Jay Glazer and Daniel Jeremiah aren't sure of a single team who wants to. The only player they mentioned as someone who teams might want to trade up for is West Virginia's WR Tavon Austin, and it would be a huge surprise to see the Packers trade up for a wide receiver.

As a side note, I don't know how Austin's become such a high riser when he's only 5-8 and 174 lbs. A wide receiver doesn't have to be over 6-0 to become a success in the NFL, but 5-8 is short. He's going to have to create some space on his routes because he's going to be tough to throw to in tight coverage.

Since I have no idea what's going on with the Packers' draft, I'll compare two recent mega contracts: LB Clay Matthews vs. CB Darrelle Revis.

Per Rotoworld.com, Matthews went the conventional route with a big signing bonus ($20.5 signing bonus) followed by an almost-certain-to-be-paid 2014 roster bonus ($5 million). Once all the guaranteed money is paid out in 2013 and 2014, he'll receive a big bump in annual salary ranging from $7.6 million in 2015 to $10.4 million in 2018. The average of the new money he'll receive (six years, $69.73 million) is $11.62 million.

Revis instead did something completely different: zero guaranteed money and a huge $16 million per season salary. Even TE Tom Crabtree was guaranteed $50,000 by the Buccaneers. Revis is thinking that there's no way the Buccaneers will release him in 2013 or 2014, so he'll receive $32 million for the first two seasons even though it's not technically guaranteed. For the Buccaneers, they'll take no salary cap hit if they decide Revis is too expensive, which he might be in a couple years (see CB Nnamdi Asomugha).

One way to look at it, though they're out a lot of money in 2013, is that the Packers got a bargain by agreeing to pay $4 million less per season to Matthews than Revis. Even with the signing bonus, the Packers will pay Matthews only $3 million more over the next three years ($35 million) than Revis will receive over the next two ($32 million). If you're not expecting the Packers to release Matthews in the next three years, and not worried about the salary cap hit his hypothetical release would cost, then the Packers did very well.

The plus side for Revis is that this was the only way he'd become the highest paid defensive player. DE Mario Williams got a huge guaranteed payout from the Bills and an annual salary of $16 million per season, but being paid greater than $12 million per season is something reserved only for defensive lineman who record sacks. The highest paid cornerbacks are guys like Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan at $10 million per season.

In the end, I can understand why each player and team did what they did, and it looks like everyone got what they wanted. Matthews' contract extension was something I had been concerned about, I thought it would create a future salary cap disaster, but now it's looking like the Packers did better than I was expecting. Keeping Matthews under their control for the next few seasons without making him one of the highest paid defensive players in the NFL looks like a win.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Packers, Benson to meet tomorrow

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, the Packers and running back Cedric Benson will meet tomorrow. Benson was solid last year in 4 games with the team before missing the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

As of now, the Packers interest level in the running back is unknown. But I still want him back. I'm kinda surprised that he wasn't shown interest already. He probably would've had a Pro-Bowl like season last year had he stayed healthy. If they sign him this offseason and are able to keep him healthy, they will get great production. I guarantee it.

Picture below from bleacherreport.com:

2013 NFL Draft: Who Might Be Available For The Packers?

With the NFL Draft only two days away, there's no consensus on who the Green Bay Packers will pick with their 1st round selection. Here's the recap:

Defensive line. As Kevin Seifert pointed out, the Packers would probably love to draft Missouri's DT Sheldon Richardson or North Carolina's Sylvester Williams. But right now, it looks like neither player will fall past the Cowboys at No. 18. If they're determined to draft a defensive lineman, two alternatives are Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins and UCLA's Datone Jones.

If you watched Hankins play in the Big 10 last fall, you'll remember he's a really, really big guy. He's not going to get after the QB, but he's surprisingly mobile for a guy his size and he should be an anchor against the run. He might be the next Ryan Pickett, unfortunately he doesn't fill an immediate need because the Packers already have Ryan Pickett.

Jones isn't an obvious fit but he's versatile, played in three and four man fronts, and he can get after the quarterback. He might be a better fit as a 4-3 DE, but he's 6-4, 283 lbs. and might still be filling out. He was "extremely productive" as a senior and had a strong workout at the combine. If you can still remember the 1990s, he might be similar to former Packer DE Sean Jones. He could be what the Packers hoped DE Mike Neal would become.

Inside linebacker. I don't expect the Packers to draft an inside linebacker in the 1st round, they just re-signed LB Brad Jones for starter's money and LB A.J. Hawk, who recently took a pay cut, is still being paid like a starter. Also, LB Desmond Bishop should still be in the discussion, along with LB D.J. Smith. While adding another inside linebacker seems like a stretch, there are three prospects who could carry a late 1st round grade. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o might have too many off-field issues, and Georgia's Alec Ogletree might be undersized for the Packers' scheme, but LSU's Kevin Minter could be a good fit. Mel Kiper Jr. wrote about Minter as a fringe Round 1 prospect. The only problems with Minter might be that he didn't emerge until his senior season and he's a bit short (generously listed at 6-0 by NFL.com). That might be a red flag for some teams, but the Packers really like D.J. Smith, who's a bit short too. Still, it would be puzzling to see to the Packers draft another linebacker in the 1st round.

Secondary. I still like LSU's Eric Reid the best, though the consensus on Reid seems to be all over the place, with two mock drafts expecting the Rams to select him at No. 22 overall, and everyone else seeming to consider him a 2nd round prospect. Even if the Packers do pass on Reid, and maybe go with someone like Florida's Matt Elam or Florida International's John Cyprien, I'd trust the Packers were making the right choice. The Packers have a good eye for young defensive backs and the last two safeties they drafted (Morgan Burnett and Jerron McMillian) have turned into good players.

I'm still expecting a defensive player in the 1st round, but it wouldn't be a shock to see them look for an offensive lineman. Cal's Brian Schwenke might sneak into the 1st round and Alabama's Eddie Lacy is still considered a fringe 1st round running back. Also, the Packers have seen two long-time receivers (Greg Jennings and Donald Driver) leave this offseason and GM Ted Thompson has selected a wide receiver in the 2nd or 3rd round in five of his eight previous drafts. If the Packers do surprise people, it could be with a wide receiver in the late 1st round.

Assuming no one surprising falls to them, such as Richardson or Williams, I'd like to see them draft Reid or Jones, but I don't have a favorite. Whoever they do select, I'll be assuming he's a really good player.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Thoughts on the Darrelle Revis trade

As you all know, yesterday the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers completed a huge deal that sent star CB Darrelle Revis to Florida. Revis hasn't done much in recent years, so it's easy to understand why the Jets traded him. He's spent most of the past few seasons either hurt or struggling. If anything, Jets fans should be happy that this deal got done.

All this deal really is is a publicity stunt. After week one, nobody will care that Revis switched teams since neither the Jets nor the Buccaneers will do anything in 2013. Don't believe me? Just wait and see.

Picture below from nj.com:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Giants WR Victor Cruz receives no offer sheets from other teams

Like with the Packers Sam Shields, Giants WR Victor Cruz received no offer sheets this week, meaning that he will remain in New York for the 2013 season. This news is pretty bad for the star receiver, as he seems to want to leave the team due to his current salary.

I don't know about you guys, but this news is surprising to me. I thought the G-Men would have to at least compete for the receiver's services, but I guess nobody else was interested. I don't know how not one of the other 31 teams at least liked this guy. But hey, they got lucky. Now they get to save some cash.

Picture below from dfw.cbslocal.com:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sam Shields to remain with Packers through 2013

Since Packers CB Sam Shields didn't receive any offer sheets from other teams by yesterday's 3:00 pm CT deadline, Shields will be staying in Green Bay for another year. In his three year career(all with Packers), Shields has 9 interceptions, 1 sack, and 102 tackles. Those stats seem good enough to keep him. That's the good thing about Shields, he'll definitely contribute somehow.

This year, the Packers will be paying Shields approx. 490,000 dollars. So at least he's not too much of a financial burden. I have no idea why they didn't want to keep him in the first place.

Picture below from jerseyal.com:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Packers 2013 schedule announced

Finally, the League has released the team schedules. At first look, the Packers don't have an easy one. All of their hard games are on the road while all of their home opponents will put up a fight. They'll have a tough year if they start the season unprepared like they did in 2012. Here is the full schedule:

Week 1 at San Francisco 49ers

Sunday, September 8, 3:25 PM
Candlestick Park, TV: FOX

Week 2 vs. Washington Redskins

Sunday, September 15, 12:00 PM
Lambeau Field, TV: FOX

Week 3 at Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday, September 22, 12:00 PM
Paul Brown Stadium, TV: FOX

Week 4 - BYE WEEK

Week 5 vs. Detroit Lions

Sunday, October 6, 12:00 PM
Lambeau Field, TV: FOX

Week 6 at Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, October 13, 12:00 PM
M&T Bank Stadium, TV: FOX

Week 7 vs. Cleveland Browns

Sunday, October 20, 4:25 PM
Lambeau Field, TV: CBS

Week 8 at Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, October 27th, 7:30 PM
Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, TV: NBC

Week 9 vs. Chicago Bears

Monday, November 4, 7:40 PM
Lambeau Field, TV: ESPN

Week 10 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, November 10, 12:00 PM
Lambeau Field, TV: FOX

Week 11 at New York Giants

Sunday, November 17, 7:30 PM (subject to flexible scheduling)
MetLife Stadium, TV: NBC

Week 12 vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, November 24, 12:00 PM
Lambeau Field, TV: FOX

Week 13 at Detroit Lions

Thursday, November 28, 11:30 AM
Ford Field, TV: FOX

Week 14 vs. Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, December 8, 7:30 PM (subject to flexible scheduling)
Lambeau Field, TV: NBC

Week 15 at Dallas Cowboys

Sunday, December 15, 4:25 PM (subject to flexible scheduling)
Cowboys Stadium, TV: FOX

Week 16 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, December 22, 4:25 PM (subject to flexible scheduling)
Lambeau Field, TV: CBS

Week 17 at Chicago Bears

Sunday, December 29, 12:00 PM
Soldier Field, TV: FOX

The most intriguing matchup for me is definitely the week one matchup in San Francisco. A win in that one would set a nice tone for the rest of the season.

Picture below from sbnation.com:

2013 NFL Mock Draft: The Packers Spot At No. 26 Looks Wide Open

While there's a lot of talent in the 2013 NFL draft, there are not a lot of stars. The consensus seems to be that the Chiefs will take OT Luke Joeckel, then the Jaguars will select DE Dion Jordan, and the Raiders will take DT Sharrif Floyd. OT Eric Fisher will probably be selected in the Top 5, and CB Dee Milliner will be taken shortly thereafter. But this isn't the strongest top of the draft in recent years so there could be some surprises.

What that might mean for the Green Bay Packers is more uncertainty as to who will be available when they select at No. 26 in the first round. While the Packers haven't been known for trading up or down, though either option is possible, there aren't a lot of obvious choices for them if they keep the selection.

Looking at seven different mock drafts, three at NFL.com and four at CBSSports.com, there are four positions mentioned; safety, defensive tackle, tight end, and offensive tackle.

Of the three safeties mentioned (Florida's Matt Elam, Florida International's John Cyprien, and LSU's Eric Reid), Reid seems like the best fit as a player who could challenge S M.D. Jennings as a deep coverage safety on passing downs. Both Elam and Cyprien seem better suited as strong safeties, which should be the role played by S Jerron McMillian next season. On the other hand, Reid started over 25+ games the last three seasons at LSU and he seems to be the best of those three safeties against the pass, though he's never recorded more than two INTs in a single season. However, he's expected in most mock drafts to be selected by the Rams at No. 22 overall.

North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams has been linked to the Packers in multiple mock drafts. He'll probably be the highest rated tackle left at No. 26, if he isn't drafted sooner. While he had 6 sacks last season, 4.5 sacks came against their early season schedule, and only 1.5 against the ACC. He might also be a good run defender based on his size (6-3, 313 lbs) and strength (27 reps at the combine). Unfortunately he might not be any better than the rotation they used of DE C.J. Wilson (against the run) and DE Mike Neal (obvious passing downs) late last season.

And I don't understand why anyone would expect the Packers to select Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert or Stanford TE Zach Ertz. They're both good players, but they're also pass-first tight ends who aren't 1st round prospects for their blocking. The Packers already have three tight ends (Jermichael Finley, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor) who can catch but can't really block. Eifert and Ertz would be an upgrade over Williams or Taylor but how important is that going to be in 2013? Maybe they could replace Finley in 2014, but the Packers seem very committed to him at the moment. If the Packers want to use their 1st round pick on another receiver, I'd rather it be USC's WR Robert Woods than another tight end.

The lone offensive tackle mentioned is Syracuse OL Justin Pugh, who doesn't have the best draft profile and might be a better fit as a guard. The Packers have used two recent 1st round picks on offensive tackles (Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod) so it doesn't seem likely the Packers will use another 1st round draft pick at that position.

None of the mock drafts linked them to Alabama RB Eddie Lacy, which makes sense because the Packers haven't paid a lot of attention to the position in recent years.

Of all these players mentioned, I'd like to see them draft S Eric Reid. I'd like to see them draft a defensive tackle but the end of the 1st round might not be the place to select one. Also, there should be some good ones still available at the end of the second. An inside linebacker would be great choice, but I'm not a Manti Te'o fan. It might not seem obvious to select a wide receiver, but the Packers could use another one for depth and there's no guarantee they'll re-sign Jordy Nelson or James Jones when their contracts expire.

There are a lot of ways the Packers could go in the draft and it doesn't seem obvious who might fall to them or who might be an obvious selection.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Finley to donate cash for every drop this season

According to NFL.com, Packers TE Jermichael Finley, who is notorious for dropping passes, will donate $500 to One Fund Boston Inc. for every throw he drops this season. The money will go to helping those affected by the Boston Marathon Bombings.

For me, this completely makes up for the "$100 million isn't good enough" comment he made a few weeks ago. This announcement should also motivate Finley to work on catching more. He really needs some extra practice on that, especially during the last few weeks of the season. The last thing the Pack need him to this is year is struggle again.

Picture below from jerseyal.com:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Clay Matthews Receives A $66 Million Contract Extension

It's really no surprise that the Green Bay Packers wanted to extend LB Clay Matthews's contract, that they wanted it to happen this offseason, and it would make him one of the highest paid players in the NFL. There was always the possibility that something might come between them, but that seemed unlikely and now Matthews has his new mega contract:
The extension is for five years, but it's added to the final year of his rookie contract, so he's now scheduled to be paid $69+ million over the next 6 years. The annual cost is $11.6 million. It doesn't look like a hometown discount, but it does look like he's giving up a little money for the security of a long-term deal.

The salary cap is going to be flat for the next few years, so the mega contracts signed a couple years ago by guys like DeMarcus Ware should remain the ceiling. While Matthews's extension makes him the highest paid linebacker, he's not the highest paid defensive player.

Which is a little surprising because I had expected Matthews to be paid like one of the top defensive ends, who receive the big bucks for their sack totals, and sacks are the biggest part of his game. But the Packers were able to negotiate like he's just another linebacker. It certainly helped their cause that the Packers are working out a deal now, when he's not an unrestricted free agent or wrecking their salary cap with a high franchise tag number, and it's allowed them to avoid the salary cap crushers like the Bills gave to DE Mario Williams or the Bears gave to DE Julius Peppers. It doesn't look like Matthews will even crack the Top 15 in yearly average for non-quarterbacks. Re-signing Matthews for less than the Dolphins gave to WR Mike Wallace makes this look like a deal for the Packers.

Hopefully this makes everyone happy, and it should. Matthews doesn't have to wait another year to become an unrestricted free agent and the Packers pay less than other teams paid for the top unrestricted free agents. This was a huge deal that seemed like it was just a matter of time, so I'm glad it's been wrapped up, and now the Packers can get back to the business of QB Aaron Rodgers's next big contract.

How DE Johnny Jolly Could Change The Packers' Draft Plans

I thought I'd be writing about the upcoming draft all this week, but instead I've found myself writing about veterans who could factor into their draft decisions. First it was about C Evan Dietrich-Smith, who signed his restricted tender. Now it's about recently reinstated DE Johnny Jolly.
There's been a lot written about drafting a safety, and there's no reason they can't add more depth in the secondary, but I'm expecting S Jerron McMillian to replace Charles Woodson's role next season. The two most important areas remain the interior offensive line and the defensive line.

With Dietrich-Smith back, the Packers have an adequate Plan B if they can't find a future starter in the draft. They don't absolutely have to draft a center. Also, California C Brian Schwenke would be a great prospect, and he's someone they could select in the second round.

While Jolly was reinstated recently, I didn't expect the Packers would have any interest in him, after he was arrested multiple times and has been out of football since 2009. To my surprise, the Packers have him under contract and he's scheduled to attend the Packers' offseason workouts this week. He won't be ready to put on pads and step on the field, but the Packers will get an extended look to see what's become of the player who started 39 games in his first four seasons.

Jolly's not a great pass rusher (2 career sacks) but he was surprisingly agile for a 325 lb. guy and he had a knack for getting his hand up in the passing lanes (10 pass deflections in 2009). I'd have liked to seen him record a few sacks per season, but otherwise he was almost a perfect fit as a 3-4 defensive end. He might compare to North Carolina's DT Sylvester Williams, who's been mentioned in mock drafts as a possibility for the Packers in the 1st round pick.

While this is a great draft for defensive lineman, if Jolly still looks a lot like the guy they remember from three years earlier, he could give them the option of passing on a defensive lineman in the 1st round. There's nothing wrong if they still take a defensive lineman at the top of their draft, but I wouldn't want them to feel like they have to draft one. Jolly might give them another option.

Andrew Luck's cellphone will surprise you

This story has nothing to do with football, but it's still amusing. According to NFL.com, Colts star QB Andrew Luck, who has it all, still carries around a Samsung flip phone in his pocket. I guess he's one of those rare people who actually uses his phone for the phone.

He probably just doesn't want to be too distracted from his work, but this is still very ironic. I guess you don't need to surf the web and text on a slide-out keyboard to raise the Lombardi Trophy. But, you know. He could probably afford an iPhone if he wanted one.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Should the Packers get Darrelle Revis?

In the last few days, it has become more and more likely that the Jets will trade star CB Darrelle Revis before the draft. This comes at no surprise, as the Jets appear to be preparing to rebuild.

This probably won't happen, but I would love to have this guy in Green Bay. Think about what he could do. The Packers just cut Charles Woodson earlier this offseason, so Revis could be a good replacement. We can't expect this to happen, but it would fun if it did. Revis has a ton of talent. But the Pack just don't have enough trade bait.

Monday, April 15, 2013

2013 NFL schedule release date not yet determined

Unlike most years, the NFL will not release the 2013 schedule the week before the draft this season. This is very unusual. I always look forward to the draft for just that reason, but not this time around.

"The schedule is not finalized, and no release date has been determined," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement to NFL.com's Around The League on Monday.

The league went on to add that the schedules should be released 1-2 weeks after the normal date. So I guess anyone who's excited about this doesn't have to wait too much longer to find out that info.

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith is $1.3 Million Richer

Back in March, when the restricted free agents were tendered contracts for 2013, there was some concern that the Green Bay Packers made a mistake with C Evan Dietrich-Smith because they didn't offer a high enough tender to secure a draft pick in return if he signs elsewhere. Now that bit of drama is over because he signed his tender and he'll return to the Packers in 2013.
I was on the fence back in March whether the Packers would even tender him a contract. They didn't appear to view him as a starter, and $1.323 million is rich (at least with the Packers) for a backup. But with no Plan B currently on the roster, paying Dietrich-Smith a premium (as far as the Packers were concerned) was probably worth it.

It was possible that another team might have offered him a multi-year contract and a starting role, Adam Czech thought it could happen, but as was the case with LB Brad Jones, it turned out that both players were more valuable to the Packers than any other team. While Jones received a multi-year deal because he was an unrestricted free agent, Dietrich-Smith is only re-signed for one year as a restricted free agent. Here's what I wrote about Jones a couple weeks ago.

While I'm not a big fan of Dietrich-Smith, he's OK as a backup but stretched as a starter, this is a no-risk signing. It's hard to disagree with a one-year contract when the Packers have cap room available, and he provides depth at a very thin position.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Donte Whitner: 49ers defense still the best

In an interview with NFL AM, 49ers Safety Donte Whitner claimed that his team's defense is the best in the league despite the recent acquisitions made by the Seahawks and Dashon Goldson's departure from San Francisco earlier this offseason.

"We feel like we're the best defense in the NFL," Whitner said Friday on NFL Network's "NFL AM." "We have pass rushers. We have a tremendous front seven. Two of the best -- if not the two best -- inside linebackers in the NFL."

I'm not sure I completely agree with him on this, but I will say he has a solid case. If he is right, we'll see it in the regular season.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Favre: Cowboys force Romo into reckless play

In recent years, Cowboys QB Tony Romo has faced a lot of criticism for making stupid decisions when the game's on the line. But former Packers QB Brett Favre, who was usually successful in the kinda situations that Romo struggles in, is not one of those critics.

"I like the way he plays," Favre said at a Southern Methodist University athletic forum luncheon Friday, The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota reported. "I think there's times that he's made plays or decisions that were bad. But I think based on how the team has played or the way that game has gone, for the most part, has kind of dictated the way his decision-making has played into it."

I'm not sure I'm on Brett's side on this. In my opinion, Romo is just naïve. He's just not able to perform in close games.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Even A.J. Hawk knows Rodgers has a bright future

According to multiple reports, Packers defensive player A.J. Hawk knows what the rest of the world does. He knows that QB Aaron Rodgers will be paid a ton of money before the offseason ends.

"Let's be honest, all of us minions have nothing that we can offer Aaron that would even come close to anything that he would get," said Hawk, who earlier this offseason agreed to take a $7.5-million pay cut over the next three seasons.

"He deserves every dime he's going to get; he's going to get a billion dollars, probably, so I'm OK with anything they want to give him because he's one of the best in the world and he deserves everything."

I'm not sure he deserves every dime he's gonna get, but he does deserve some of it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yesterday we learned how selfish Jermichael Finley is

Yesterday, while being interviewed by NFL.com, Packers TE Jermichael Finley was asked about his current $8.25 million dollar annual salary. Most of the interview was fine, until Finley said that "(even) if I was paid a $100 million, I wouldn't be fat and happy."

It's those kinda statements that give a player a bad reputation. Sure, Finley's still a solid TE, but now he'll be thought of as a selfish jerk. That quote just sounds careless. It might've just been a stupid mistake, but it's a big one. And it'll definitely give the Packers some very unwanted attention.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Report: Packers attended WR Keenan Allen's Pro Day

Yesterday, the Packers were one of many teams to have representatives at California WR Kennan Allen's Pro Day. Allen has not and will not work at the normal NFL combine this offseason due to an ankle injury he sustained last season. However, the former Golden Bear is still expected to be drafted in the top 30.

I would love to have this guy play in Green Bay. In the few times that I've seen him play before, he has done nothing but catch the ball. He's also as fast as a running-back, so if any NFL team wants to use him in a utility role, they probably could. I'm not saying he's the next Jerry Rice, but I do think he would make a fine addition to any roster.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Patriots TE Gronkowski could miss season opener

According to NFL.com, Patriots star TE Rob Gronkowski could miss the team's regular season opener. Gronkowski hurt his arm about mid-way through last season, causing him to miss the remainder of the schedule. Earlier this offseason, he again hurt his arm, leading to this news.

If you're a Patriots fan, you shouldn't be too concerned. Although it's obvious that you're team is better with the big guy, you don't necessarily need him. The Pats still have plenty of talent to back up any injured player. Even if he misses the entire season, they'll still win the division. He's not that valuable.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Packers sign TE Matthew Mulligan

Yesterday, the Packers finally a signed a notable free agent, TE Matthew Mulligan, to a one-year deal. Mulligan is coming off a solid season with the St. Louis Rams.

In his three year career(two others spent on practice squads), Mulligan has 14 receptions for 144 yards.

Mulligan also was reportedly offered a deal by the 49ers, but opted for Green Bay because the Packers offered him more guaranteed money. I'm not sure what they're gonna do with him now that Finley's staying, but I don't see how this signing can hurt anything. All he'll end up doing is helping off the bench.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Report: Lions sign David Akers

Earlier this week, the Detroit Lions announced that they had signed former 49ers kicker David Akers to a one-year deal. This coming just a day after Jason Hanson, who had spent his entire 21-year career in Motown, retired. Last season with San Francisco, Akers missed 13/42 regular season attempts, a career worst 31%.

This move is kind of a gamble, but I understand it. They're just replacing one veteran kicker with another. Akers will probably struggle, but it won't affect them too much. With or without him, they're gonna have a below .500 2013 season. They're just past their winning time.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Packers' GM Ted Thompson Runs A Clean Salary Cap

It's been reported this week that the Green Bay Packers aren't carrying a lot of dead money, salary cap charges for players who have been released or retired. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's a sign that GM Ted Thompson makes good salary cap related decisions, but does this really matter on the field?

One comparison that was made by Tom Silverstein was to the Ravens, who are carrying $7.5 million of dead money on their cap, but the players who caused these charges (LB Ray Lewis, C Matt Birk, WR Anquan Boldin) all helped them win a Super Bowl. In particular, they probably wouldn't have even made it to the Super Bowl without Boldin, who had a monster playoff run.

Another team of note was the Oakland Raiders, who have around $40 million in dead money on their 2013 cap, but all those dead charges probably won't hurt them, even after releasing their last mistake:
While the Raiders have zero room to maneuver in free agency, it's arguably that they made their team better this offseason. In the loss column, they've traded QB Carson Palmer, and watched several players sign elsewhere quickly, sometimes for big money, after they've hit free agency or been released (DE Matt Shaughnessy, P Shane Lechler, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, S Michael Huff, LB Philip Wheeler, DT Desmond Bryant, TE Brandon Myers). Those are some good players but the Raiders were still awful with them last season.

The plus column for Raiders isn't awe inspiring, but QB Matt Flynn should be better than Palmer (and his cost in draft picks was minimal) while free agent signings Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett could outplay what the Raiders got last season from Wheeler and McClain at linebacker.

My whole point is that there isn't just one way to improve a team and the Packers' clean salary cap isn't helping them much next season. Even with all the salary cap room the Packers have available, nearly $18 million currently, they couldn't keep the players they wanted to keep (WR Greg Jennings, TE Tom Crabtree), and despite all the salary cap problems for the Raiders, they've probably improved their team anyway. The fact that Raiders' GM Reggie McKenzie wants them to be more like the Packers doesn't make this offseason's free agency disappointments any easier for the Packers.

Former Packers DB Woodson facing quiet market

According to NFL.com, former Packers DB Charles Woodson is being shown little to no interest by other NFL teams. Woodson was released by Green Bay earlier this offseason.

A few weeks ago, Woodson visited and worked out for the San Francisco 49ers, but left without receiving an offer. When asked if the Ravens, who just let Ed Reed walk, had interest, Woodson said that he hadn't heard from them.

If I was him, I'd just retire. If he hasn't received any interest by now, he probably never will. He's had a great career and has pretty much guaranteed himself a spot in the Hall of Fame, but now it's just time for him to go.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Packers announce 2013 preseason schedule

Today, the Packers released their 2013 preseason schedule, with three of their four exhibitions being played against the NFC West. Technically, the preseason doesn't matter, but I still enjoy it. For me it's the beginning of football. Unfortunately, nobody else thinks that.

Their first game will be played at Lambeau against the Cardinals. The date and time for that one have not yet been released, but expect it to be around the second week of August. The next week, the Packers will be visiting the Rams, another team with no expectations. After that, they will return to Green Bay to host the Seahawks on August 23. That one will kickoff at 7:00 pm CT and be broadcasted nationally on CBS. In the final week, the Pack will head to my hometown of Kansas City. Expect me to be on-hand for that one.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Packers close to signing Matthews to new contract

According to NFL.com, the Packers are taking a break from their negotiations with Rodgers and are now focusing on re-signing star LB Clay Matthews to a deal that would pay #52 $13 million per season.

The deal would play Matthews a total of $78 million over 6 years. If it gets done, Clay would become the highest paid LB in the league.

Another source, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, is saying that the Pack are currently putting the finishing touches on both the contract for Matthews and the contract for Rodgers. If so, Ted Thompson can just sit back and relax. Knowing that he has two of the best players in the game re-signed before the draft.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Raiders trade QB Carson Palmer to Cardinals

In the wake of their recent trade to acquire Matt Flynn, the Raiders have made another move involving a quarterback. This time, it was getting rid of Carson Palmer. Palmer has been in Oakland for the past two seasons.

This trade isn't a surprise, but it's still a little interesting to watch Palmer get traded again. He's a solid guy, but nowhere near as good as Flynn. I have no doubt that he'll at least get this Arizona team to .500 in 2013. He's just too good to fail. In his career, he hasn't exactly been dominant, but he has been OK. Which is good enough for a Cardinals team that isn't planning to do anything in the coming seasons.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Rodgers wants $2 million more per season from Packers

According to NFL.com, Packers star QB Aaron Rodgers wants $2 million more per season than what the team is currently offering. The Pack's current offer is for just over $21 million, which apparently isn't enough to put food on the table. It's a shame to watch Rodgers become so selfish when it comes to money, but that's expected when he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco, who just won the Super Bowl, is due to make $19.6 million a year. That, while still being a ton of money, is a couple million less than what Rodgers'll probably make. So Rodgers better sign this deal, especially since all he's done the past two seasons is choke in the playoffs.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Flynn-to-Raiders trade imminent

According to NFL.com, former Packers QB Matt Flynn is likely about to be traded from his current team, the Seahawks, to the Oakland Raiders. If this deal gets done, which it probably will, Flynn will finally have himself that illusive starting job.

I gotta say, I'm happy for this guy. He's too good of a quarterback to spend his entire career on the bench. He might not've had the best preseason last year, which is the reason why Wilson started, but I believe that had he started the Seahawks would've been even better than they ended up being. He has a ton of talent and is probably the best backup QB in the league. It's about time that he finally starts for somebody.