The Green Bay Packers cleaned up at the 25th annual ESPYs on Wednesday night.
The team took home three awards, including a pair for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Before the show, Rodgers was named ‘Best NFL Player,’ the fourth time he’s earned that honor — the most of any player in the show’s history.
He beat out the likes of Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady and regular season MVP Matt Ryan after throwing for 4,428 yards and a league-high 40 touchdowns as the Packers won eight straight games before losing in the NFC title game.
Then during the show, the 33-year-old’s throw to tight end Jared Cook against Dallas in the playoffs was named ‘Best Play.’ It was the second consecutive year that the Packers won the award, with Rodgers’ game-winning ’Hail Mary’ to tight end Richard Rodgers against Detroit in 2015 winning last summer.
Finally, wide receiver Jordy Nelson won ‘Best Comeback Athlete’ after he returned from a knee injury that cost him the entire 2015 season to lead the NFL with 14 touchdowns in 2016. He’s the first Green Bay player to win that award.
The Green Bay Packers have now watched seven of their 11 unrestricted free agents sign with other teams, the latest being tight end Jared Cook.
Cook signed with the Oakland Raiders on Thursday, six days after the negotiations between the Packers and the tight end’s people broke off. In response, Green Bay went out and signed Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks to fill the void at tight end, leaving Cook to find a new team after just one year with the franchise.
When healthy, Cook was a big time weapon for Green Bay. He missed six games, but still caught 30 passes for 377 yards and one touchdown in the regular season, before hauling in the now famous sideline pass against the Dallas Cowboys that led to a game-winning field goal, sending the Packers into the NFC title game.
According to ESPN, the Raiders gave Cook a 2-year, $12.2 million deal.
Cook joins guard T.J. Lang (Lions), safety Micah Hyde (Bills), center J.C. Tretter (Browns), defensive end Datone Jones (Vikings), outside linebacker Julius Peppers (Carolina) and running back Eddie Lacy (Seahawks) as now former Packers.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Former New England Patriots and Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett is now a Green Bay Packer on a three-year deal worth more than Jared Cook would have received, a source tells ProFootballTalk.com.
It was originally believed Bennett would be coming to Green Bay on a three-year, $18.45 million contract, but after the official figures were released, it actually checks in at $21 million. Cook, now presumably out of a job in Green Bay, says he never turned down an offer from the Packers, so there’s no way to know for sure what kind of offer would have been made. ProFootballTalk.com’s source says the Cook deal would not have been larger than the $21 million Bennett signed for.
Bennett will earn an average salary of $7 million, with a $2 million roster bonus coming his way in March of 2018 when the new league year begins. Spotrac.com lists Bennett’s market value at $6 million per year.
The unnamed source says Green Bay was willing to offer Cook no more than $6 million per year — a deal which included incentives.
The Green Bay Packers have dipped into the free agent market in a major way.
Tight end Martellus Bennett, most recently of the New England Patriots, is expected to sign a multi-year deal with the Packers, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports.
Green Bay had reportedly made re-signing tight end Jared Cook a priority, but it appears once talks broke down earlier on Friday they moved on to Bennett, who should be an upgrade at the position. With the Patriots last season, the 30-year-old caught 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns as New England claimed its fifth Super Bowl title. The signing will give the Packers a chance to stretch the middle of the field, something Cook was able to do and something that had been missing since Jermichael Finley was forced to retire in 2013.
Bennett is known to speak his mind, and that’s likely at least partly responsible for him moving around so much during his 9-year career, with stops in Dallas, New York, Chicago and New England.
A foray into the free agent market like this is a rarity for Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Bennett will be the first unrestricted free agent he’s signed since 2012, the longest streak of any team in the NFL.
Bennett will join Richard Rodgers as the only experienced tight ends on the roster.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — NFL free agency begins on Thursday, but the Green Bay Packers won’t be able to keep all of their pending free agents.
That’s why it’s noteworthy Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson reported several NFL sources estimate right guard T.J. Lang‘s value to be at about $8 to $10 million per year. Spotrac listed Lang’s yearly value at $8.4 million. If that ends up being the range NFL teams would be willing to pay Lang, that leverage could be used against the Packers. Green Bay already pays right tackle Bryan Bulaga an average of $6.75 million per year, which ranks second in the league at his position.
Lang’s estimated value could create another problem for the Packers. Robinson noted Cincinnati Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler is expected to earn a new contract with an annual value of $10 to $12 million. Zietler was seen as a possible target for Green Bay in free agency should they have to part ways with Lang.
It was noted during Wednesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine that coach Mike McCarthy expected linebacker Julius Peppers to return for another season. That now appears to be coming to fruition, after Peppers’ agent, Carl Carey, told ESPN that “he still has the desire and enthusiasm for the game, and his intention is to play a 16th NFL season.”
Peppers ranks fifth on the all-time career sacks list, logging 143.5 sacks in 15 regular seasons. Carey met with the Packers during the Combine on Peppers’ behalf. Peppers is a pending free agent after completing a three-year, $26 million contract with Green Bay.
The Packers are also in discussion with tight end Jared Cook about returning to Titletown, but as Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reports, not much has been decided about Cook’s future. Cook signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract with Green Bay last offseason, and has a projected Spotrac market value of $3.4 million.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — After reaching the playoffs for the first time in his NFL career, tight end Jared Cook is expected to re-sign with the Packers, per Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press Gazette.
Cook has said in recent days that he “without a doubt” wants to return to Green Bay after signing a one-year, $2.75 million contract. Wood’s report cites unnamed league sources that expect Cook to remain a Packer in 2017. If Green Bay doesn’t offer Cook a new contract, he’ll become a free agent for the third time in his NFL career.
“I love it here,” Cook said. “I haven’t had fun playing football in a long time, and being here, being around these guys and this locker room and part of this organization, has allowed me to enjoy and see and do things that I’ve never been able to do in my career thus far.”
Cook says he hasn’t spoken yet with general manager Ted Thompson about the possibility of a return, but Cook has provided the downfield threat he was expected to provide when brought in to Green Bay this offseason. Cook has played 10 games so far, catching 30 passes for 377 yards and a touchdown. His 12.6 yards per reception rate is the third-best of his career (13.2 in 2013, 15.5 in 2011).
GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers might not practice before Saturday, but the Green Bay Packers are preparing like he’ll be able to play when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears this Sunday.
“He’ll be with the rehab group (Wednesday),” coach Mike McCarthy told reporters. “He won’t practice (Wednesday) and I’ll probably do the same thing (Thursday). We have a plan.”
The quarterback had been dealing with a hamstring injury suffered against the Philadelphia Eagles last month, and then injured his right calf on the third snap of the Packers win over the Seattle Seahawks. With a big lead, Rodgers was removed from the game in the fourth quarter but said afterwards he didn’t expect to miss any time.
“Game plan-wise, his comments were just don’t hold anything back,” McCarthy said of Rodgers. “We’re approaching this game no different than we did last week.”
Rodgers injured his other calf late in the 2014 season, and it limited him significantly down the stretch and in the playoffs, but he didn’t miss a game.
Meanwhile, McCarthy believes that tight end Jared Cook, who left the game on Sunday with a chest injury, should be available.
“I think we’re going to have him, but practice will dictate that,” McCarthy said. “The medical staff wants to see him go and see how he comes through.”
The coach also said linebacker Clay Matthews (shoulder) came out of the game better than he did a week ago, while outside linebacker Nick Perry, who missed the game after undergoing surgery to repair several broken fingers, won’t practice before Saturday.
A hamstring injury will keep linebacker Clay Matthews from playing in Green Bay’s matchup with Tennessee on Sunday.
That was the word from Packers coach Mike McCarthy when he met with the media Friday morning.
“We’re going to list Clay as out this week,” McCarthy said. “(He’s) making progress, (but) he won’t be available this week.”
This will be the third-straight game Matthews has missed due to the injury. He’ll be replaced by veteran Julius Peppers.
Also, McCarthy said running back James Starks and tight end Jared Cook have looked good this week, but it’s still unclear if either will play against the Titans.
Starks has missed the last month following knee surgery, while Cook hasn’t played since Week 3 when he suffered a high ankle sprain.
“James is very close,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see how Jared is coming Saturday.”
McCarthy believes that cornerback Damarious Randall has a chance to play after missing the last three games with a leg injury, while he anticipates wide receiver Randall Cobb not being limited at all after being used sparingly a week ago in a loss to the Colts because of a hamstring injury.
“It’s better than last week, so that’s an improvement,” McCarthy said of the injury list. “We’re getting healthier and that’s important. But frankly, the focus is on finalizing the preparation for the Titans.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. posted a tweet Friday night announcing he was on his way to Green Bay. The tweet has since been deleted.
While there’s been no news reported from the Packers or their beat writers, Winslow’s arrival could be a backup plan with the ankle injury to Jared Cook.
Winslow would need to pass a physical with flying colors if the Packers are indeed working out the 33-year-old tight end. He hasn’t played since 2013, with his career coming to a premature end due to injuries. His best year came in 2008 with the Cleveland Browns when he was elected to his only Pro Bowl. Winslow logged 82 receptions for 1,106 yards and five touchdowns.
The Green Bay Packers will start training camp without six players that are expected to have, in some cases, significant roles on this year’s team.
According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery, tight end Jared Cook, linebacker Sam Barrington and starting offensive linemen T.J. Lang and Corey Linsley will start camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. They are eligible to come off the list at anytime.
All six have dealt with injuries in the past year, including three that had their 2015 seasons cut short. Nelson missed the entire year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Barrington suffered a foot injury in Week 1 and didn’t play again, while Montgomery had his rookie season ended after six games due to an ankle injury.
Lang underwent offseason shoulder surgery and Linsley was held out of any offseason work with an undisclosed injury. Cook, who was signed as a free agent in March, underwent foot surgery in June and was expected to be out until training camp started.
The Packers have historically been overly cautious with injured players, but the number of guys on the list was a bit of a surprise, especially when head coach Mike McCarthy said at the end of minicamp in June that he’d be disappointed if they didn’t have their entire roster on the field for the start of camp.
McCarthy spoke to the media Monday morning, and though he wouldn’t discuss who would or wouldn’t be on the field for the first practice, his comments on injuries sounded ominous and now makes sense.
“I hope this is the year that there are no surprises [with injuries],” McCarthy said. “But that’s usually not the case.”