Packers reach deal with rookie S Josh Jones

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers announced on Friday that they’d signed rookie safety Josh Jones to his four-year contract, although details of that contract weren’t made public.

It’s expected that his deal is worth somewhere in the $4.23 million range based on where he was selected in the NFL Draft — 61st overall. The Packers noted his versatility as a big reason why they drafted the redshirt junior out of North Carolina State. During rookie orientation, Jones was also getting work at inside linebacker where he could see additional time on game days.

Jones recently fired his sports agent, First Round Management, and went with Drew Rosenhaus as his representative as he worked towards a contract agreement with Green Bay.

Biegel has foot surgery, could miss training camp

GREEN BAY | It’s not the way Vince Biegel wanted to start his Packers career. The former Wisconsin Badger linebacker, who was drafted in the 4th round by the Packers in last month’s NFL Draft, has undergone foot surgery to repair a Jones fracture according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. Biegel will almost certainly miss the Packers upcoming OTA’s and mini-camp and could miss training camp in late July.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, speaking Monday at his annual press conference to promote his annual American Family Children’s golf and dinner event, did not talk about Biegel’s injury. Instead he had this to say about the former Badger: “He’s definitely made of the right stuff,” said McCarthy. “I’m glad he’s a Green Bay Packer and excited about his future.”

This is not the first time Biegel has had foot issues. The same Jones fracture cost him two games last year in his final season at Wisconsin.

Biegel also left his first practice with the Packers on May 5th with a hand injury.

Packers announce dates for training camp, open dates for OTA’s and minicamp

GREEN BAY | Mark your calendars! The Packers have announced nearly their entire offseason schedule.

The Green and Gold will conduct organized team activities May 22-24, May 31, June 1-2, and June 6-9, and conclude their offseason program with mandatory minicamp June 13-15.  The Packers will then report to training camp on July 26th and have their practice the following day on the renovated Ray Nitschke Field.

The open OTA practices for fans to watch the team in action will be May 23, June 1 and June 6. OTA and minicamp practices will be held at Hinkle Field as Ray Nitschke undergoes renovations in preparation for training camp. Each minicamp practice June 13-15 will be open to the public.

 

Another announcement to expect near the end of this month will be the date of the Packers’ annual Family Night, which is a live scrimmage in front of roughly 70,000 people packed into Lambeau Field. The practice itself should be at the end of July.

 

Cutler: If Packers called, “I’d have to pass on that”

CHICAGO — Jay Cutler recently announced his retirement from professional football, but told Fox Sports One on Monday that he’d choose retirement over the opportunity to play for the Green Bay Packers if they ever needed his services.

Doug Gottlieb filled in as host of “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” and posed a scenario: Would Cutler sign with his former rival if Aaron Rodgers were ever hurt?

“Everyone loves hypotheticals,” Cutler began. “…Honestly, if the Green Bay Packers call, I’m probably not going to do it. I don’t think they would ever call me, but I’d probably have to pass on that.”

Cutler played in only five games in 2016, throwing four touchdowns and five interceptions before being replaced by Mike Glennon. Cutler ends his career in Chicago with at least 14 franchise records, including passing yards (23,443) and passing touchdowns (154).

Packers sign 5 rookie free agents after tryouts, cut 2 others

The Green Bay Packers had 25 players in for a tryout this past weekend as part of their rookie orientation camp, and on Monday signed five of them.

The team announced the signing of Cal Poly linebacker Josh Letuligasenoa, Southern Utah cornerback Raysean Pringle, Virginia Union running back William Stanback, Grand Valley State linebacker David Talley and Ball State safety Aaron Taylor.

To make room for the new players, the Packers released a pair of guys — wide receiver Antwan Goodley and long snapper Taybor Pepper — who were signed to the active roster following last season.

The signings, in addition to the team’s draft picks and undrafted free agents, will join the veterans for on-field work during OTA’s starting May 22.

Packers executive to interview for Buffalo GM opening

One of the Green Bay Packers most trusted front office officials is interviewing for the general manager job in Buffalo.

Multiple outlets reported that Director of College Scouting Brian Gutekunst was expected at the Bills complex on Monday to meet with team officials about the opening.

With the Packers since 1998, Gutekunst was in the running for the San Francisco 49ers general manager position this offseason before pulling his name out of contention and getting a new contract from Green Bay.

Among the others that have interviewed for the Buffalo job include Philadelphia Eagles director of college scouting Trey Brown, Houston Texans director of player personnel Brian Gaine and Carolina Panthers assistant general manager Brandon Beane.

Hand injury ends Vince Biegel’s day early

GREEN BAY — Vince Biegel’s first practice as a member of the Green Bay Packers came to end early on Friday, as the former Wisconsin outside linebacker left midway through the session with what turned out to be a minor injury to a finger on his left hand.

“It’s not too much of a concern. It’s not a season-ending injury by any means,” said Biegel, who underwent X-rays and was still being evaluated by the team’s medical staff. “This is a finger here. My whole body is ready to go. This is football. You get nicks and bruises. I’m not concerned at all about this moving forward.”

Being forced out of practice early was frustrating for Biegel, but he remained upbeat.

“[I’m] disappointed, obviously, that I didn’t get to finish my first practice as a Green Bay Packer,” Biegel said. “Obviously, I was really looking forward to this moment. [But]listen, this is going to be a bumpy road. There’s ups and downs in this journey.”

The injury has been the lone negative for the Wisconsin Rapids native since being selected with the first pick of the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday. A fan of the Packers for his entire life, the week has been one memorable moment after another.

“Given my situation, being from Wisconsin, it was really kind of a surreal moment to check out the locker room…check out the indoor facility, the weight room, the training tables [and the] training room,” Biegel said. “It was a really cool experience. I’m extremely blessed.”

When Biegel walked into the locker room, he found his nameplate and quickly noticed the two players on either side of him in veterans Nick Perry and Clay Matthews, the latter of which has been an inspiration for Biegel throughout his football life and stopped by to welcome him to the team.

“Clay approached me, and it was kind of fun to shake hands with Clay, see him, talk with him,” Biegel said. “It was a guy I looked up to. I’ve taken parts of his game and tried to include it in mine.”

Biegel felt that his locker placement was intentional, placing him between the team’s two best pass rushers and that it meant the coaching staff has high expectations for him. Though the three-year starter for the Badgers is likely reading too much into it, he’ll chase those perceived expectations anyways, and do so with a passion few others possess. That intensity won’t be reserved for the field either, as coach Mike McCarthy and the rest of the staff have learned in just a few days of being around him.

“He drove here. He was the first one here. He sat in the front row [in the first team meeting],” McCarthy said. “He’s off to a great start.”

Datone Jones sour over transition from Packers to Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS — New Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Datone Jones says the Green Bay Packers didn’t show serious interest in re-signing him until they learned he was meeting with the Vikings.

That was the crux of Jones’ explanation of his transition from Titletown to a city that hasn’t won a championship in the four major sports since 1991 (Minnesota Twins). He tells the Associated Press that as soon as he met with coach Mike Zimmer and rest of Minnesota’s staff, he was convinced he should sign with the Packers’ rival.

“I don’t think they really made a strong effort until I took a visit to Minnesota,” he said. “I think once I came to Minnesota, my mind was actually made up. Once I sat down with Coach Patterson, I think my mind was made up right then and there.

“Once I sat down with Coach Zimmer [and] the rest of the coaching staff, I think my mind was pretty much made up. I had some of the best years I could ever have in Green Bay, and I thank the Packers organization for those great years, but you know, I think it was just time for me to move on with my life and come somewhere new and get a new start.”

We may never know what offers Green Bay had on the table for Jones, but he signed with Minnesota on a one-year, $3.75 million deal after a productive “contract year” with the Packers. He logged 17 tackles, a sack, and two passes defensed in 2016. Much of that had to do with converting to more of a hybrid or “elephant” role that year, where he started a career-high four games.

But he’ll be reverting back to a familiar role once he arrives in Minnesota. Zimmer anticipates Jones will be moved to an interior lineman position in their 4-3 scheme, similar to what he ran in UCLA before being drafted in the first round by the Packers in 2013.

Packers give Jahri Evans $2.25 million on one-year contract

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers allowed Pro Bowl right guard T.J. Lang to leave in free agency, but replaced him with six-time Pro Bowler Jahri Evans on a one-year contract.

Details of the contract revealed by Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel show he’ll make up to $2.25 million, with a base salary of $1.15 million. Many pundits believe Lang would have commanded around $8 million per year to stay in Green Bay. He ultimately signed with Detroit on a three-year, $28.5 million deal.

The Evans deal nets him a $200,000 signing bonus, $800,000 per game roster bonus, $100,000 workout bonus, and $225,000 in other incentives.

Evans spent the first 11 seasons in New Orleans where he was named a First Team All-Pro guard four times. The Evans signing allowed Packers general manager Ted Thompson the flexibility in the NFL Draft to make trades and address defense.

Packers exercise fifth-year option on Clinton-Dix

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers hadn’t exercised the fifth-year option for any of their players since 2011 until Monday evening when they picked up the option on safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

The first-round pick from the 2014 NFL Draft is set to make $1.55 million in 2017 before his 2018 option kicks in at roughly $5.9 million. The decision was made after Clinton-Dix recorded a career-best five interceptions in 2016 and was selected to his first career Pro Bowl.

Derek Sherrod, Nick Perry, and Datone Jones all previous had their fifth-year options declined by Green Bay, and only Perry proved he was worth keeping after his contract year. The 2011 collective bargaining agreement gives all first-round draft picks a guaranteed four-year contract with a club option for the fifth year. Salaries are based on where the player is selected within the round.