Packers notes: Veteran guard Jahri Evans mulling retirement
DETROIT – Veteran right guard Jahri Evans said he’s considering retirement after his 12th season, but he wasn’t ready to “make an impulse statement” after Sunday’s finale in Detroit.
Evans, in his lone season with the Green Bay Packers after 11 years with the New Orleans Saints, played every snap through the first 14 games. He missed his second straight game in Sunday’s 35-11 loss because of a knee injury, which Evans described as a “contusion.”
Outside the visitors’ locker room at Ford Field, Evans said he won’t be in a rush to decide whether he’ll continue his career.
“I’m thinking about that,” Evans said. “I’m also thinking about how I played, and how my body feels. Mentally, I feel like I can play this game for as long as I want. It’s more the physical aspect of it.
“I’ll do a body evaluation, and see how I feel in a couple months.”
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A four-time All-Pro, Evans has been among the NFL’s best guards during his career. He filled a need at right guard this spring after the Packers failed to re-sign Pro Bowler T.J. Lang. In a busy offseason that featured seven free-agent signings, Evans was the Packers' best addition from outside their locker room.
But, considering his past production, Evans also has a higher standard for his own play. As successful as he was, Evans said it was clear this season he has lost a step.
“Definitely,” Evans said, “you could see me struggle with movement things. Just by movement, the way I move. But all in all, I think I did an OK job.”
Late in the season, a source said the Packers have interest in Evans returning for another season. It would be on another low deal, likely less than the $2.25 million salary he collected this season. But given the needs throughout their roster, the Packers would prefer to avoid needing to fill right guard with another player.
If Evans retires, Justin McCray would be his most likely replacement. McCray played admirably as a versatile backup this season, but his seven starts came almost exclusively at right tackle or left guard. McCray’s lone start at right guard, last week against the Minnesota Vikings, was derailed after one snap when right tackle Jason Spriggs dislocated his left kneecap.
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Evans was one of the leaders on a Saints team that won Super Bowl XLIV. Left tackle David Bakhtiari said he brought the same traits that made him successful in New Orleans to the Packers this season.
If Evans retires, it would leave a void in the Packers' locker room.
“The professionalism,” Bakhtiari said, “that is the epitome of a pro’s pro. That guy is going to be talked about for years to come in the Saints organization, and his name is going to be somewhere in that stadium. Whatever he decides to do, I’d love to have him back. Not only what he can do on the field, but off the field and in our locker room, it’s been amazing.”
Cobb noncommittal on contract: As pleased as veteran receiver Randall Cobb was to see teammate Davante Adams rewarded for his production with a lucrative extension Friday, the four-year, $58 million contract presents a logjam on the Packers receiver depth chart.
The structure of Adams’ new deal is not yet known, but the Packers' top three receivers are now earning an average of $34.5 million annually. Cobb and Jordy Nelson are entering the final year of their contracts. Without restructuring their deals, the two receivers will count $25.3 million against the 2018 cap.
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Cobb said nobody in the Packers' organization has approached him about restructuring his contract.
“I haven’t heard anything from my agent,” Cobb said, “so no.”
Cobb said he was happy to see the progression Adams has made in his first four seasons. Adams especially had a difficult second NFL season in 2015, but he recommitted himself to not only become the Packers' best receiver, but one of the most productive wideouts in the league.
“He dropped 20 pounds,” Cobb said. “That definitely helped his speed. He was faster and quicker in and out of his breaks. He was healthy, which is a huge thing for all of us. He played at the top of his game. That’s the player we saw when he walked into the building, and he’s shown that over the past few years.”
Now it’s just a matter of deciding how to best fit all three salaries onto the cap. Cobb was noncommittal when asked if the Packers have enough space for everyone.
“That’s not my job to decide that,” he said.
Surprise at start: With nothing tangible to lose, Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasted no time pulling out all the tricks Sunday.
After winning the coin toss, the Packers opened with a surprise onside kick, which safety Jermaine Whitehead recovered. The Packers seemed to gain momentum from the recovery, driving 30 yards on their first eight plays, but quarterback Brett Hundley’s interception on the game’s ninth snap prevented a field-goal opportunity.
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Kicker Mason Crosby said he has been waiting a while for the onside call.
“It was on regardless in that situation,” Crosby said. “I’ve been hitting them really well in practice all year. We really, unfortunately, haven’t played on any surfaces here the last five, six weeks that we felt like we could do a good one. Once we got inside here, we talked (Saturday), I hit a good one in practice. Coach talked about just opening up with it. That’s what we went with.
“Whitehead made a great adjustment to make sure we got 10 yards, and it worked when we needed it to.”