Free-agency tracker: Former Broncos OLB signs
The NFL's new year began March 9, signaling the start of the free-agency signing period. So far, the Packers' biggest move has been signing former Rams tight end Jared Cook. We’ll keep you informed on all the free-agency action affecting the Packers right here, so check back often for updates.
Views: Mike Neal, your plane is leaving: McCray, a restricted free agent after the Broncos chose not to re-sign him, gives the Packers another outside rusher with only four full-time outside linebackers (Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Nick Perry and Jayrone Elliott) on the offseason roster. Neal remains unsigned and this move seemingly would indicate that the Packers are prepared to move on without him. McCray (6-foot-3, 249 pounds) is his fourth season after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Florida. McCray played 353 total snaps for the Super Bowl champions this past season, including 234 on special teams (28 in the Super Bowl).
News: Linebacker Andy Mulumba signs with the Chiefs
Views: The former Green Bay Packers outside linebacker signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs after a visit with the team, according to his agent Tom Tafelski. That deal included a small signing bonus. Mulumba, 26, spent his first three seasons with the Packers after first making the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent in 2013. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound outside linebacker hit the open market earlier this month when the Packers opted against tendering him a contract as a restricted free agent. Mulumba saw his most action as a rookie when he had 30 tackles with one sack in 14 games (three starts) in 2013, but missed most of his second NFL season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 2. Mulumba was active in only seven of 18 games (including playoffs) last season, finishing with five tackles.
News: Tight end Jared Cook signs with Packers
Views: The Packers agreed to terms with the eighth-year tight end on a one-year deal worth $2.75 million that could total $3.65 million with incentives. Cook, who turns 29 next week, visited with the Packers two weeks ago. At the owners meetings, coach Mike McCarthy confirmed he met with Cook during the visit and said he was "impressed" with the 6-foot-5, 254-pound tight end. Cook gives the Packers a big, speedy target who could stretch the field down the middle, which McCarthy said is imperative in today's NFL. He's a good complement to incumbent starter Richard Rodgers, who has good hands but doesn't run well after the catch. And he finally will get to play with a standout quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.
News: Packers say they won't re-sign James Jones.
Views: McCarthy confirmed at the NFL owners meetings that he sat down with Jones’ agent, Frank Bauer, and informed him the team doesn’t plan to re-sign the veteran receiver at this time. Jones, who turns 32 this month, returned on a one-year deal for the veteran minimum shortly after final cuts in September and wound up leading all Packers receivers with 890 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games with 15 starts. Another team likely will give Jones a shot in training camp, but there's a chance he could be available in the fall if the Packers are hit with a rash of injuries at the position.
News: Running back James Starks re-signs with Packers
Views: Eddie Lacy's sidekick will be back: Starks, a sixth-round pick in 2010 who spent his first six seasons in Green Bay, has agreed to terms with the Packers on a two-year deal worth a reported $6 million. The move makes sense: Although Starks had a career year in 2015, rushing for a career-high 601 yards and adding a career-high 392 receiving yards, he's 30 and likely didn't find a huge market for his services. He reportedly interviewed with the Patriots. With the Packers, Starks knows the system and is comfortable with his role.
News: Outside linebacker Mike Neal reportedly visits Seahawks, Lions
Views: The free-agent outside linebacker has visited with Seattle and Detroit, according to an NFL Network report. The Seahawks are among the Packers' most bitter rivals and the Lions are an NFC North foe. Neal has spent his first six seasons with the Packers after being drafted in the second round out of Purdue in 2010. He battled injury issues early in his career, but has stayed healthy and played each game the past three seasons. Neal could be expendable after the Packers re-signed fellow outside linebacker Nick Perry to a one-year, $5 million deal. Perry has shown more pass-rush burst than Neal, breaking out with 3.5 sacks in two playoff games. In addition, McCarthy has said that Clay Matthews will move back outside next season. The Packers also figure to target that position in the draft.
News: Free-agent tight end Jared Cook reportedly visits Packers
Views: Cook, a third-round pick by the Titans in 2009, makes sense for the Packers for several reasons. He was released from the Rams last month, meaning it would not require a compensatory pick for a team to sign him. Cook caught 39 passes for 481 yards – and, most importantly for the Packers, a healthy 12.3 yards per catch – with the Rams last season. That could make him a good rotation partner with tight end Richard Rodgers, who has been a fine possession target (58 catches for 510 yards last season) but whose paltry 8.8 yards per reception demonstrated an inability to make big plays downfield.
News: Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji stepping away from football
Views: The former first-round pick told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin that he’s walking away from a “very, very nice deal” from the Packers after consulting with "close family members and mentors." Raji said he also had interest from multiple other playoff teams.
Raji, 29, has 151 tackles, 11 sacks and 10 passes defensed in 91 regular-season games over seven NFL seasons. He returned to the Packers in each of the past two offseasons on one-year contracts.
The surprising move leaves the Packers thin on the defensive line in the aftermath of Mike Pennel's four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, and figures to make the position an even higher priority in the draft.
Also, the Packers signed free-agent defensive end Ray Drew, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound Georgia product who split last season between Miami's and Cleveland's practice squads.
News: Packers lose Casey Hayward to Chargers
Views: It was a foregone conclusion that Hayward would leave Green Bay to get more green elsewhere. The Packers are loaded with young talent in the secondary and weren't in any position to match what Hayward could fetch on the open market. The 2012 second-round draft pick will sign a three-year deal with the Chargers, a source confirmed. The deal is worth $15.3 million, according to an NFL Network report, although it isn't yet known how much of that is guaranteed. Hayward likely would have received reduced playing time in 2016 had he remained with the Packers, given the expected continued development at cornerback of 2015 first-round pick Damarious Randall and second-round pick Quinten Rollins, along with standout veteran Sam Shields, developmental player LaDarius Gunter and slot safety Micah Hyde.
Views: Indianapolis agreed to terms with the former Green Bay Packers quarterback on Friday, according to team owner Jim Irsay. The split made sense for both parties, as the Packers seemed poised to move forward with Brett Hundley as their primary backup and the Colts were in need of a backup to Andrew Luck after Matthew Hasselbeck’s retirement and Josh Freeman’s release earlier this week. Tolzien, 28, signed onto the Packers’ practice squad in September 2013 and has spent the better part of the past three seasons on the team’s active roster. After two seasons mostly spent as a third-string quarterback, Tolzien returned on a one-year, $1.35 million contract last March.
News: Packers re-sign free-agent outside linebacker Nick Perry.
Views: The one-year deal reportedly is worth $5 million. Recurring shoulder issues recently plagued Perry, causing him to miss three games and forcing him to play through pain. But Perry has gritted through a lot to stay on the field for the Packers. Once he came off the injury report in the playoffs, Perry came alive with eight tackles, 3½ sacks and a forced fumble, compared to 31 tackles, 3½ sacks and a forced fumble in 14 regular-season games. This move also could make free-agent outside linebacker Mike Neal expendable.
News: Packers free-agent running back James Starks courted by Patriots.
Views: The seventh-year running back visited with New England on Thursday, an NFL source confirmed. ESPN’s Adam Caplan first reported the meeting. Starks, who turned 30 last month, is one of the top remaining unrestricted free agents at the position after Matt Forte, Doug Martin, Lamar Miller and Chris Ivory all were scooped up on Wednesday. Starks recently completed a two-year, $3.25 million contract he signed with Green Bay in March 2014.
News: Packers tender tight end Justin Perillo, cut loose linebacker Andy Mulumba.
Views: Mulumba, a restricted free agent, is now free to sign with any NFL team. The lowest restricted tender the Packers could have issued the three-year veteran was worth $1.671 million, which is three times what Mulumba made when he had four tackles in six games last season. While the former undrafted free agent can negotiate elsewhere, the Packers also can re-sign him at a lower cost. The minimum for a player with three accrued seasons is $760,000 in 2016.
The Packers tendered an exclusive-rights contract to Perillo, who will make $675,000 if he makes the team next season. Perillo had 11 catches for 102 yards and one touchdown in nine games last season. He joins Richard Rodgers, Kennard Backman and Mitchell Henry as the four tight ends on the offseason roster.
Otherwise, the Packers were quiet on the first day of free agency. Former Bears running back Matt Forte signed with the New York Jets for $12 million over three years, with $8 million guaranteed, according to the New York Daily News. The Packers reportedly had shown interest in the 30-year-old veteran.
The Packers' NFC North rivals moved quickly. Chicago bolstered its defense by signing former Denver Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan to a four-year deal and also reeled in Arizona Cardinals free-agent tackle Bobby Massie. The Minnesota Vikings, who supplanted the Packers as division champions last season, fortified a shaky offensive line by reaching a deal with former San Francisco 49ers guard Alex Boone and re-signing guard Mike Harris. The Vikings also reportedly agreed to terms with former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and former Tennessee Titans safety Michael Griffin. And Detroit moved to replace the retired Calvin Johnson by reportedly signing Bengals free-agent receiver Marvin Jones.
Thompson spent Wednesday attending the Wisconsin pro day in Madison. The Packers GM got a head start in free agency by re-signing defensive linemen Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion and kicker Mason Crosby
News: Packers re-sign restricted free-agent guard Lane Taylor, extend qualifying offer to safety Chris Banjo.
Views: Taylor gets a $600,000 signing bonus as part of a two-year, $4.15 million deal that could be worth up to $5.15 million with incentives. Taylor, 26, played fine in two December spot starts at right guard in Detroit and left guard against Minnesota in the regular-season finale. While not as athletic as starters T.J. Lang or Josh Sitton, Taylor is a battler with a mean streak. If either veteran was out for an extended period, there’s no reason to think Taylor couldn’t handle the job. Banjo, a valued special-teams ace, got a one-year, $675,000 exclusive rights qualifying offer that brings him back to the team for next season.
News: Packers agree to four-year deal with kicker Mason Crosby.
Views: Re-signing their 10th-year kicker was the Packers’ top priority entering free agency. Crosby got a four-year deal worth $16.1 million that included a $5 million signing bonus. The deal makes sense for both sides: Crosby made it clear he wanted to stay with the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2007, and the Packers sought the stability of a veteran who has made 84 of his 98 attempts since 2013 and holds the active NFL record for most consecutive made field goals in the postseason (20).
Views: By bringing back Guion, the Packers bolstered their depth on the defensive line, which became even more important when Mike Pennel received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Guion’s deal — worth $11.25 million over three years, but with only $500,000 guaranteed — protects the Packers in case he has another off-the-field incident like he did in February 2015 when he was arrested on a charge of felony possession of marijuana and possession of a firearm in the presence of committing a felony. The deal also gives the Packers more leverage in their negotiations with free agent B.J. Raji.
Views: Daniels was the Packers’ top defensive performer in 2015, and keeping him from hitting the free-agent market would have been Green Bay’s top offseason priority. General manager Ted Thompson made a preemptive strike and secured Daniels’ services with a four-year, $42 million extension that included a $12 million signing bonus. The decision to remain in Green Bay was simple for Daniels, who maintains a year-round residence in the city.