11

July

Packers, Favre Stall Number Retirement

Brett Favre

Favre frowns on the idea of returning to retire his number amidst boos from fans

Earlier this week, Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy spoke to the media about the upcoming season and the talks that have been swirling about when the team might hold a retirement ceremony for former quarterback Brett Favre’s famous #4.

Just a few months ago, Murphy and Favre both admitted that there had been some dialogue between both sides and that a return to Green Bay was eventually in order.

It was sounding like it was all but a foregone conclusion that Favre would be back at some point during this next season for a ceremony of some sort.  The obvious thought was that it would be at one of the home games.

Murphy emphasized the team’s desire to get something done before Favre is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.  That means time is running out.

Speculation began about which game was best for the team and Favre to reunite.  That both of Favre’s former teams, the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, were scheduled to appear in Green Bay this year only added to the intrigue.  The Packers wouldn’t possibly bring Favre in with the Vikings in town, would they?

Well, not to worry about the possibility of choosing the wrong game or time this season.  Murphy has backed off of his earlier statements about retiring Favre’s #4 so soon and has seemed to place more emphasis on having further dialogue and simply having Favre attend a game.  He now says that a ceremony during the 2014 season is unlikely.

Fox Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig ran a recap of some of Murphy’s comments this week.  Murphy says that neither Favre nor the team want a scenario in which he returns and fans are booing him.  Murphy makes it sound like a mutual concern and cited the fact that they can’t control 80,000 people.

If that’s what he’s selling, I’m not buying.  Kudos to Murphy and the Packers if they’re trying to add some mutuality to this sentiment, but this seems like another attempt by Favre to have more control of a situation than he is entitled to and it has stalled the process.

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20

June

Packers Mini Camp and Offseason Recap

Jared Abbrederis

Abbrederis is one of many who need a strong training camp to crack the Packers final roster

The Green Bay Packers wrapped up their final mini camp practice on Thursday and thus ends another offseason in Green Bay.  The next team gathering will be on July 25th at the official opening of training camp.

Quite a few stories have come out during the team’s organized team activities (OTA’s) and this last week at mini camp so here is a recap of the highlights and latest on where the team stands as they prepare for the preseason.

Some of these notes are brought to you by a host of Packers beat writers and media including ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Mike Vandermause and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Ty Dunne.

Early offseason/free agency

The biggest move in terms of the interest and excitement created was the acquisition of defensive lineman and former second-overall draft pick Julius Peppers, who was released by the Chicago Bears shortly after the 2013 season ended.  The signing was significant in that it was the first time since 2006 that Packers general manager Ted Thompson signed a free agent of notable name.  Peppers was said to be in great shape during the offseason workouts and practices and is expected to provide a boost to the pass rush from the “elephant” end position.

Despite Peppers’ age (34), he says he has a lot left in the tank.  Playing in the same division against your former team who released you and may have thought you had nothing left to offer has served many past players in that same scenario.  Jay Cutler, you’ve been warned.

The Packers also signed former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Letroy Guion.  Guion is anything but a lock to make the team’s final roster, but he did choose Green Bay over other offers and if he can become serviceable, he could end up being a bargain.  Remember Howard Green in 2010?

The Packers re-signed cornerback Sam Shields to a four-year, $39 million contract.  The Packers also re-signed defensive lineman B.J. Raji to a one year “prove it” deal worth $4 million.  Other re-signings include Mike Neal, John Kuhn and Chris Banjo and Matt Flynn.  Shields was a must, in my opinion.  He knows the defense and has the speed to make up for errors.  He’s not the best corner in the league but he’s the best corner on the Packers.

6

June

Assessing the Green Bay Packers Quarterback Situation

Matt Flynn & Scott Tolzien

Flynn and Tolzien should return as familiar faces behind Rodgers in 2014

For a team that whose quarterback fortunes have been touched by the football Gods themselves over the past 20+ years, it would seem that the Green Bay Packers could probably write the book on how to handle and develop the most important position on the field.

Alas, they learned a tough lesson in 2013 and one that hopefully will set up a more ideal situation with their signal callers in 2014.  I tend to like to revisit history quite a bit so let’s recap the quarterback situation last year for the Packers.

Heading into 2013, Green Bay had Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman set to go at quarterback and there was little question about whether they would all be on the roster, just a matter of how.

There was hesitation about Harrell after his subpar performances during the 2012 season but his experience in the offense was enough to instill the coaching staff’s confidence in him.  Coleman was expected, by many, to step up and make a jump between his first and second seasons.  Still, he was a possibility to land on the team’s practice squad again.

Neither of them made it to week one and questions began to fly about why so much was expected out of such mediocre players.  Were the Packers losing their luster in being able to develop young passers?  Both Harrell and Coleman were released during the preseason and the Packers signed veteran Vince Young, who had not played at all the season prior.  Young was a complete dud and the Packers released him after the last preseason game.  The Packers then turned to Seneca Wallace to back up Rodgers but he had no time to practice or play with his new teammates in a game situation before the season started.

While Rodgers had missed a few games up until then, there was little reason to be too concerned about who was behind #12 as he had a strong history of being healthy and available.  Unfortunately, Rodgers’ collarbone wasn’t quite as strong and was broken during a week six game against the Chicago Bears.  Suddenly the Packers and their fans were in unfamiliar territory:  they would have to rely on their backup quarterback for an extended period of time.

10

May

Who’s Next for the Packers? Looking Ahead at NFL Draft Rounds 4 – 7

Carl Bradford

Arizona State LB Carl Bradford is one of the top defensive players still on the board heading into day three

The Packers came into the draft’s day two having addressed one of their biggest needs at safety with the addition of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.  Rumblings were that the Packers would be looking hard at the wide receiver position and with their first pick in round two, they chose Davante Adams out of Fresno State.  

In round three, the Packers stayed put with both of their picks.  The first was defensive lineman Khyri Thornton from Southern Miss and the last pick of day two was tight end Richard Rodgers out of Cal Berkeley.  The Packers struck gold with one Rodgers out of Cal.  Can lightning strike twice?  Here’s a look at some of the top names that could intrigue the Packers on the last day of the 2014 NFL draft.

Utah CB Keith McGill:  Originally projected in rounds two or three, McGill has now fallen into a position of value in round four or later.  He’s a taller corner at 6’3″ but only had one interception in two seasons at Utah.  McGill is also 25 years old.  It is often said that a team can’t have too many good cornerbacks and McGill could be an enticing choice when Green Bay is on the clock on Saturday.

Arizona State LB Carl Bradford: CBS Sports had Bradford ranked as the fourth-best outside linebacker coming into the draft. The three guys ahead of him: Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr and Ryan Shazier, all were drafted within the top 18 picks of the first round.  Bradford brings a lot of fire and enthusiasm to his game.  He had 27 sacks in three seasons with the Sun Devils.  He has the versatility to get after the passer or stop the run.  He can play in space too.  With many pegging linebacker C.J. Mosley as a possibility for the Packers in round one, one has to wonder if they want to address that position sooner than later on day three.  Bradford could certainly be an option.

8

May

My One and Only 2014 Packers Mock Draft – ALLGBP.COM

2014 NFL Draft

2014 NFL Draft

As the Packers’ draft analyst for DraftTek.com, I’ve been involved with more than 20 mock drafts since the 2013 season ended. They’re not entirely mine, however, as the actual picks are made by computer.  I get to input needs information, and can try to “grab” certain players (if they are available at that spot) or “lockout” players from contention.

Analysts for the other 31 teams all do the same thing. What results is the closest thing to a real draft simulation (they don’t call it a mock) I’ve seen anywhere. It ‘s quite unique and if you are not familiar with it, you really should check them out.

What’s even cooler is that on draft day, the “simulation” is updated within minutes of when each pick is selected. So, when the Packers are up at #21, it will re-run the simulation within minutes, eliminating the 25 other players already picked from contention for the Packers’ pick. So at any point in the draft, you can get a quick view at what the landscape looks like for the rest of the draft. Isn’t that rather amazing? It’s a great thing to be checking as you watch the draft unfold…

Here’s how today’s  today’s final DrafTek  NFL Draft simulation ended up:

1 Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
2. Deone Bucannon, SS Washington St.
3. Dion Bailey, FS, USC
3b) Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
4) Taylor Hart, DE Oregon
5) Corey Linsley, C Ohio State
5b) Daniel McCullers, DT Tennessee
6) Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
7) Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina

Picks 1,2,4 and 7 were mine.  I highly doubt Bucannon lasts past the early second and last few days have been full of speculation on Shazier being taken before the Packers pick. In all, this has been one of the toughest drafts for me to get a handle on. The #1 pick is still unknown and never have the QBs been such a complete question mark.  How they come off the board will have a lot to say what the first two rounds end up looking like.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for an “all-mine” mock draft, taking into account needs, value and trying to predict who might be available at each pick:

30

April

Lattimore Signs Tender

Packers Linebacker Jamari Lattimore

Lattimore will return to the Packers in 2014

According to Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, linebacker Jamari Lattimore has signed his contract tender, which is good for one year, and will remain with the Green Bay Packers in 2014.

Lattimore stands to make $1.4 million this season, up from the $561,000 he earned in 2013.  The Packers ultimately decided that it was too risky to let Lattimore become an unrestricted free agent and chose to place the original round tender on him earlier this spring.

By doing so, the Packers at least assured themselves the ability to match any offer sheet that Lattimore might have signed with another team.  No offers for Lattimore were reported and had he signed elsewhere with the Packers not matching the deal, they would have received no compensation for him because he was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011.

Lattimore stepped in adequately for a stretch at inside linebacker when starter Brad Jones suffered an injury early during the 2013 season.  Lattimore recorded 35 tackles and two sacks in 15 games.

He was also said to be one of the players who stepped forward and spoke to the team during halftime of the Packers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys last season.  Down 26-3 at the half, the Packers went on to beat the Cowboys behind backup quarterback Matt Flynn.  It proved to be a vital late-season win and it helped enable the Packers to edge out the Chicago Bears for the NFC North division title.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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21

April

Lattimore Remains Unsigned

Jamari Lattimore

Lattimore remains unsigned on the eve of Packers team workouts

According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN, Green Bay Packers linebacker Jamari Lattimore remains unsigned one day before the Packers will begin offseason workouts.  Without being signed, Lattimore won’t be permitted to join his teammates.

The Packers were not expected to tender Lattimore following the 2013 season, thereby making him an unrestricted free agent.  Instead in early March, the Packers did designate the original round tender on Lattimore.

Under the original round terms, Lattimore can sign an offer sheet with another team.  The Packers then have an opportunity to match those terms and keep Lattimore.  If they do not match another offer sheet, Green Bay would receive no compensation from the receiving team because Lattimore was originally an undrafted free agent back in 2011.

The current offer is for one year and $1.431 million for the 2014 season.

Lattimore filled in last season when starting inside linebacker Brad Jones was forced out with a hamstring injury.  In limited time, Lattimore was adequate and appeared to be making a case for more playing time.  After the 2013 season, there will still talk about whether Lattimore might push for a starting spot in 2014.

With the draft just over two weeks away and with much chatter about what the Packers could do to address the linebacker position, Lattimore’s unresolved contract will continue to hamper his prospects of moving up the depth chart.

In many instances and as former Packers Vice President Andrew Brandt has often said, deadlines spur action.  With the Packers starting to gather tomorrow, this could very well be a non-story soon.

 

 

 

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

Follow Jason at:

Jason Perone
                Add to Circleson Google+

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