Report: Peppers “appears to be done” in Green Bay

GREEN BAY, Wis. — After three years in the green and gold, Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky writes that Julius Peppers’ time in Titletown “appears to be done.”

With free agency approaching on Mar. 9 and Peppers at 37 years of age, Green Bay is likely to cut ties with the nine-time Pro Bowler. In his 15th NFL season, Peppers logged 7.5 regular season sacks, along with 15 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

Outside linebacker Nick Perry’s emergence this season could play a role in the decision. Perry and Peppers combined for 18.5 sacks, compared to the team total of 40.

Peppers originally signed with the Packers prior to the 2014 season on a three-year, $26 million contract.

Rookie Geronimo Allison pleads not guilty to marijuana charge

MANITOWOC, Wis. — Green Bay Packers rookie receiver Geronimo Allison has pleaded not guilty to a marijuana possession charge stemming from a September 2016 arrest.

Allison was not required to appear in court Monday, having his plea entered by his attorney, Brian Maloney. The next court date is set for Apr. 25.

The University of Illinois product was stopped in Manitowoc County on Sept. 4 for a speeding violation. The responding officer detected the scent of marijuana coming from Allison’ vehicle, and a search uncovered three cigars, two of which contained marijuana.

Allison played a key role in the Packers’ stretch of eight straight wins. He recorded a pair of touchdowns in the regular season, finishing his year (postseason included) with 17 catches for 267 yards.

The Neighborhood: What decisions should the Packers make in free agency?

GREEN BAY, Wis. — I’ll begin by admitting I’m not an expert on the salary cap, and I don’t have a direct line to Ted Thompson’s office. But with about $42 million in cap space heading into the offseason, here are some of the options the Green Bay Packers are faced with, along with my predictions of how they’ll handle them. My predictions are only for those positions in which Green Bay also has options in free agency.

Center

Incumbent: J.C. Tretter has just finished up his four-year, $2.6 million contract and is an unrestricted free agent. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the 13th-best center in the league based on this past season’s performance, despite missing the last half of the season with a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL). That’s nothing new for the Cornell product, but it’ll cost him when it comes to contract negotiations.

Options: A.Q. Shipley | Arizona Cardinals, Joe Hawley | Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brian Schwenke | Tennessee Titans, John Sullivan | Washington Redskins

Prediction: With Corey Linsley as the only other experienced center on the roster and Tretter the best available, he’ll likely come back on a one-year contract.

Guard

Incumbents: T.J. Lang ranked as the No. 6 right guard in the regular season, according to Pro Football Focus, and has expressed his willingness to return to Green Bay at age 30. Don Barclay suffered a shoulder injury in November and was replaced by rookie Jason Spriggs, who showed promise for the future protection of the Green Bay backfield.

Options: Kevin Zeitler | Cincinnati Bengals, Ronald Leary | Dallas Cowboys, Larry Warford | Detroit Lions, Luke Joeckel | Jacksonville Jaguars

Prediction: I see this as a position the Packers only address in the draft, so the only move here is to re-sign Lang to a multi-year deal, while potentially cutting Barclay loose. With the promise of Spriggs and the frugal nature of Thompson, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barclay released.

Tight End

Incumbent: Jared Cook came over from the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams on a one-year, $2.75 million contract, and despite missing six games with a high ankle sprain, he performed admirably and became a keystone to their success entering the postseason. He averaged 55 yards and four catches per game over the last 10 games (including playoffs).

Options: Martellus Bennett | New England Patriots, Jack Doyle | Indianapolis Colts, Vernon Davis | Washington Redskins, Jacob Tamme | Atlanta Falcons

Prediction: After earning a Super Bowl ring with New England and making it clear he wants to get paid, Packer fans dreaming of a Bennett-to-Green-Bay scenario can forget about it. At 29 years old, Cook is productive enough to warrant a two-year deal to remain in Titletown.

Running Back

Incumbents: Neither Eddie Lacy, nor Christine Michael were dominant forces in the backfield for the Packers, but because of that, Green Bay can cash in when it comes to negotiations. Lacy logged just 360 yards and no touchdowns before an ankle injury sidelined him for the season. Michael was seldom-used, logging 114 yards on 31 carries in Green Bay.

Options: Le’Veon Bell | Pittsburgh Steelers, LeGarrette Blount | New England Patriots, Latavius Murray | Oakland Raiders, Danny Woodhead | San Diego Chargers

Prediction: Thompson doesn’t like to go with what he doesn’t know, so I don’t see him contacting any of the above options (Bell will re-sign with the Steelers anyway). It’s already being reported that Lacy is likely coming back on a one-year deal worth about $2 million. And with Ty Montgomery looking like a more sure bet, Michael will try to find work elsewhere.

Outside Linebacker

Incumbents: Nick Perry finally had a breakout year, posting 11 sacks, 35 solo tackles, and 17 assisted tackles. Julius Peppers‘ numbers weren’t as great, but he was still effective at 7.5 sacks, 15 solo tackles, and eight assisted tackles.

Options: Chandler Jones | Arizona Cardinals, Melvin Ingram | San Diego Chargers, Malcolm Smith | Oakland Raiders, Barkevious Mingo | New England Patriots

Prediction: While it’s been a nice ride for 37-year-old Peppers, he’ll likely hit the free market and end his career with his first team | the Carolina Panthers. After finally seeing one of “his guys” break out, Thompson will re-sign Perry to a three-year contract and probably overpay. Don’t be surprised if the Packers tease us with a nibble in free agency on an OLB.

Safety

Incumbent: It was a career year for Micah Hyde, matching his personal-best three interception mark on the season. That’s despite making a switch to slot cornerback due to injuries in the Green Bay secondary.

Options: Eric Berry | Kansas City Chiefs, Tony Jefferson | Arizona Cardinals, Barry Church | Dallas Cowboys, Johnathan Cyprien | Jacksonville Jaguars, Quintin Demps | Houston Texans

Prediction: Hyde had a relatively team-friendly contract of four years, $2.3 million, and after earning the performance-based escalator last season, I don’t see why that changes. He’ll earn a three-year deal with the Pack. Plot twist: Thompson nabs one of the above options at safety, but it’ll be a player we know little about.

While cornerback was largely ignored in this post due to the fact that Green Bay doesn’t have any on expiring contract, I’d expect that to be the area where the Packers find a piece in free agency. The best players available are A.J. Bouye (Houston Texans), Trumaine Johnson (Los Angeles Rams), Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo Bills), Morris Claiborne (Dallas Cowboys), and Captain Munnerlyn (Minnesota Vikings).

Packers confirm CB Sam Shields has been released

Sam Shields time in Green Bay has come to an end.

The cornerback posted on his Instagram account, “Sam Shields Released From The Green Bay Packers,” and among the hashtags under the message were #IWasGettingBetter, #StillMad, #AtleastLetMeRetireFromThePack, and #NoMoreFreezingWeather.

The Packers confirmed the release on Wednesday night.

An undrafted free agent out of Miami, Shields played seven years in Green Bay, including earning a Super Bowl ring his rookie year. The 29-year-old grabbed 18 interceptions in his career and was named to one Pro Bowl.

But he had missed more and more games in recent years, including 2016, when, in the season opener against Jacksonville, he suffered what is believed to have been at least his third concussion in his NFL career. Shields missed the rest of the season and still hadn’t made it through the league’s concussion protocol when coach Mike McCarthy held his end of the year press conference two weeks ago.

“I think we can all focus on Sam getting healthy,” McCarthy said. “Having a chance to visit with Sam in Atlanta (during the NFC title game) briefly, he needs to get healthy for himself and his family, and that’s the primary focus right now.”

Shields salary cap number on 2017 was $11.7 million. By cutting him, the Packers will reportedly save $8 million.

Packers cut running back James Starks

James Starks is no longer a member of the Green Bay Packers.

ESPN’s Field Yates was the first to report the team has cut the running back after six years. Yates said it came with a non-football injury designation. Starks suffered a concussion in a car accident in December, though he had also missed time in 2016 with a knee injury.

By cutting him, the team saves the $3 million he was due to make in 2017, though ESPN’s Adam Shefter tweeted he wouldn’t be surprised to see the team bring Starks back at a lower salary.

Since coming to the team as a seventh-round draft pick in 2010, Starks ran for 2,506 yards and nine touchdowns, while adding 1,017 yards and six scores receiving. But he managed to play all 16 games in just two of his six seasons, starting 13 games over that timespan.

Starks did play a significant role in the team’s 2010 run to the Super Bowl. After missing the first 13 games of the year, he had 101 yards over the final three games of that season, before rushing for 315 yards in their four playoff wins, including the Super Bowl XLV victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With Starks gone, and his backfield mate, Eddie Lacy, a free agent, the Packers have just Christine Michael and Ty Montgomery on their running back depth chart.

Jordy Nelson earns NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award

HOUSTON — After returning from a torn ACL suffered in the 2015 season, Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson was recognized Saturday night as the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.

Nelson’s production in 2016 was eerily similar to the numbers he produced in the 2014 season prior to the injury:
2014: 98 receptions, 1,519 yards, 13 touchdowns
2016: 97 receptions, 1,257 yards, 14 touchdowns

The 31-year-old Kansas State product wasn’t expected to be the same player he once was, considering the severity of an ACL tear and the length of time in recovery. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is another exception to the rule, returning from the same injury to put up monster numbers in the 2015 season (1,485 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns, long of 80 yards).

But unlike Peterson’s return from the injury, Nelson was not voted to the Pro Bowl roster. That’s despite leading the NFL this season in touchdown receptions.

Nelson has two more seasons remaining on his four-year, $39 million deal signed in July of 2014.

Brett Hundley headlines players attending Packers annual Tailgate Tour

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The 12th annual Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour will make stops in northern Wisconsin Apr. 4-8 featuring several current and former members of the team.

Below is all the information interested fans need to know before attending any of the five stops in northern Wisconsin and parts of Michigan:

The tour will make stops in Medford (April 4), Ashland (April 5), Houghton, Mich. (April 6), Rhinelander (April 7) and Iron Mountain, Mich. (April 8), with tailgate parties held in each city to support a local non-profit organization.

Tour celebrities will include Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, players Brett Hundley, Aaron Ripkowski and Jake Ryan, and Packers alumni Robert Ferguson, Ahman Green and Ryan Longwell.
The tour will take place aboard a customized motor coach emblazoned with the “Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour” logo and the phrase “Touching Down in Your Community.” In addition to the designated locations, tour celebrities will make surprise stops as the schedule allows.

The Medford, Ashland, Houghton, and Rhinelander tailgate parties will welcome the players and alumni arriving at 6 p.m., and festivities will run until 8:30 p.m. The Iron Mountain tailgate party will welcome the players and alumni arriving at 3 p.m., and festivities will run until 5:30 p.m. A local non-profit organization will host each party, which will feature food, giveaways, question-and-answer sessions and autographs. Tailgate party tickets cost $30.

General admission tickets also will be available for $10 for each location, which include access to the Q-and-A sessions as well as tailgate party activities. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

One hundred percent of the Tailgate Tour proceeds will benefit the hosting organizations.

“The Packers are very excited to embark on the 12th annual Tailgate Tour,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “Thanks to the loyalty of our fans, we are proud to celebrate 12 successful years of this event. We are looking forward to visiting several areas throughout the state of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, and we are proud to be supporting great organizations during the tour.”

Tickets for the tailgate parties at all locations will go on sale Monday, Feb. 6, at 8 a.m.

The tailgate party locations, hosting organizations and ticket information are as follows:
· Medford: April 4 at Black River Industries, Inc., at 650 Jensen Drive, Medford. To benefit Black River Industries. Tickets on sale at Black River Industries, Inc.; Medford Cooperative, 160 Medford Plaza; Cenex Convenience Store, 340 S. 8th S., Medford.
· Ashland: April 5 at the Bay Area Civic Center, 320 4th Ave W., Ashland. To benefit Baynet. Tickets on sale at the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, 1716 Lake Shore Dr., W.; Carlson Building Serv & Sup, 414 3rd Avenue E.; River Rock Inn & Bait Shop, 1200 Lake Shore Dr. W.; Neighborly Bar, 1301 Main St. W.
· Houghton: April 6 at the Michigan Tech Student Development Complex, 600 Macinnes Dr., Houghton, Mich. To benefit Dial Help. Tickets on sale at the Michigan Tech University Student Development Complex or online at tickets.mtu.edu.
· Rhinelander: April 7 at Rhinelander High School, 665 Coolidge Ave., Rhinelander. To benefit NATH Frederick Place. Tickets on sale at Trigs Service Desk, 232 Courtney St., Rhinelander, and at Best Embroideries, 22 W. Davenport St., Rhinelander.
· Iron Mountain: April 8 at Ford Airport, 2300 Woodward Ave., Kingsford, Mich. To benefit the Northwood’s Airlifeline. Tickets on sale at Econo Foods, 1600 S. Stephenson Ave., Iron Mountain, and at WJNR Radio Station, 212 West J St., Iron Mountain.

Fans interested in ‘Tailgate Tour’ details are encouraged to visit www.packers.com often, as tour information will be updated as the dates near.

McCarthy comments may indicate more active offseason

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be 34 years old by playoff time in the 2017-18 season, and coach Mike McCarthy’s comments during his end-of-season press conference on Thursday may indicate a more aggressive approach to a Super Bowl run.

“We all want to win the world championship, and I can just promise you and our fans that we’re doing everything we can to get that done. And I think — going back to Aaron [Rodgers’] statement, ‘all in’ — we can control what we can control. With everybody in football ops, we need to max out this opportunity and we’re already working on the next opportunity.”

The narrative for several years now has been on Rodgers’ perceived “window” for how long he can play at an elite level. Rodgers has already made several changes to his lifestyle to maximize his health, including the removal of dairy from his diet, a decision not taken lightly in Wisconsin, the nation’s dairy production leader.

But a healthy Rodgers hasn’t been enough to return to the Super Bowl after the team’s title run in the 2010 season. Much of the criticism has fallen on general manager Ted Thompson, whose “draft and develop” philosophy has largely meant straying away from signing players in free agency. Occasionally he’ll take a flier on a position of need, most recently signing tight end Jared Cook to a one-year, $2.75 million contract.

With the obvious success of Cook’s season, Rodgers and McCarthy have stated that re-signing the former Rams utility man is a high priority. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport says Cook’s emergence, as well as continued areas of need, could force Thompson to go away from his rule of thumb and get more weapons in free agency.

“From what I’m told,” Rapoport said, “I would think the Packers are going to go and get some free agents this year along with trying to re-sign Jared Cook — which is a priority for them.”

In his Thursday press conference, McCarthy added that Thompson would indeed return for another season, seeming to end speculation that either director of football operations Eliot Wolf or Kansas City Chiefs GM John Dorsey could be his successor next year. What McCarthy didn’t say, however,  is whether Thompson’s role would remain the same.  Rapoport reported earlier this month that Thompson may step down to become a senior scouting advisor — a position change McCarthy didn’t address.

Tom Clements is leaving Packers, no other coaching changes right now

GREEN BAY | Packers head coach Mike McCarthy announced that associate head coach/offense Tom Clements will not be back with the Packers next year.

Clements’ contract expired, and McCarthy said he “is going to move on to some other interests.”  Clements has 20 years of NFL experience and has been with the Packers the last 11 years, moving from quarterbacks coach to coordinator for a team whose head coach calls the plays.

McCarthy did not announce any other changes to the Packers coaching staff.  “I feel really good about our coaching staff. I feel they did an excellent job. We’ll go through our regular process and have evaluations.”

When asked about the status of defensive coordinator Dom Capers, McCarthy replied “This is no time for drama. Dom Capers is an outstanding football coach. He had a tough challenge and dealt with a lot. The team was motivated and a lot of good things came out of that.”

 

 

Packers’ Bakhtiari added to the Pro Bowl roster, Lang and Rodgers decide not to play

David Bakhtiari is going to the Pro Bowl after all.

The NFL announced Monday that Bakhtiari had been added to the roster as an injury replacement for Philadelphia’s Jason Peters.

The Green Bay Packers left tackle was among several players that were viewed as snubs when the Pro Bowl rosters were announced last month, but now he’ll get the experience in Orlando anyway.

He won’t, however, be joined by all of his teammates that were selected.

Guard T.J. Lang, a first-time Pro Bowler, will be replaced by former Packers guard Josh Sitton due to injury. Lang, who is a free agent this offseason, will undergo hip surgery on Friday.

“Definitely wanted to be there,” Lang said Monday. “But it’s not the end of the world.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers also won’t play in the game. He’ll be replaced by Washington’s Kirk Cousins.

Another first-time Pro Bowler, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, is from Orlando and said he intends to be there.