The Green Bay Packers like restricted free-agent Jamari Lattimore enough that they’ve offered the reserve linebacker a low tender worth $1.431 million, his agent Tony Agnone has confirmed.
As recently as two weeks ago, Agnone told Press-Gazette Media he believed the chances of the team extending a tender were “slim and none,” but the Packers must have felt they'd lose him if he hit the open market.
USA TODAY's Tom Pelissero first reported the Packers' extending the tender to Lattimore.
In offering a low tender, it gives the Packers the right-of-first-refusal to match any outside offers for Lattimore’s services. If a player signs elsewhere, the low tender entitles his previous team compensation equal to the round he was drafted.
Because Lattimore was an undrafted free agent in 2011, the Packers wouldn’t receive any compensation, but it gives them options. They took the same approach with starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith last year. He signed before the start of the offseason program.
They took the opposite approach with tight end Tom Crabtree in hopes of re-signing him at a lower cost, but he wound up signing with Tampa Bay instead.
Lattimore, 25, has developed into a key special-teams contributor for the Packers and started four games at inside linebacker in what was his most productive season thus far (35 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in 15 games).
The Packers first moved the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Lattimore to outside linebacker after being an undersized defensive end at Middle Tennessee State before switching him to inside linebacker last year.
Many draft experts have labeled this year’s class of inside linebackers to be thin. In tendering Lattimore, it at least gives the Packers a proven veteran to compete with Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk this summer.
The tender amount is probably a bit high for a reserve player, but it's probably worth it if the Packers feel Lattimore can compete for defensive snaps in his fourth NFL season.
There's still no word on if the Packers plan to tender their other restricted free agent, safety M.D. Jennings.
email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.