GREEN BAY - Geronimo Allison ended 2018 with a slight limp, the result of surgery to repair a core injury that ended his season. By the time the calendar flipped, fluidity had returned to his gait — even if the steps were measured.
But now as the calendar inches toward spring, the Green Bay Packers wide receiver is stuck in a bit of professional quicksand due to the machinations of restricted free agency.
The Packers have the first move to make regarding Allison’s future, deciding whether to tender him an offer as a restricted free agent by 3 p.m. March 13. But one thing Allison is sure of is that his injury shouldn’t be an issue, even when the team begins its voluntary workouts in just over a month under head coach Matt LaFleur.
“I’ll be 100 percent,” Allison told PackersNews.com. “No doubt that I’ll be 100 percent ready to go.”
An offseason of uncertainty and rehabilitation is not what he expected, however. Especially after a solid 2018 training camp had him positioned for a big season opposite Davante Adams.
The season opener didn’t dispel that notion, as Allison caught five balls for 69 yards and a touchdown in the Packers’ comeback victory over Chicago. He followed that up with a six-catch performance against Minnesota, a score at Washington and then another six-catch day for 80 yards against Buffalo.
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Through four games, his 19 catches for 289 yards had him on pace for a 76-catch, 1,156-yard season — numbers that would not only have been far-and-away career highs but put him solidly in the conversation for a contract extension and clear spot on the Packers going forward.
“I had a groove,” he said. “I had a groove. I had a routine. I just felt confident doing it. I was playing with a lot of confidence. And it shows.”
But then the groove was halted.
Allison suffered a concussion at the end of the Bills game, which forced him to miss the Week 5 game in Detroit on Oct. 7. And as he recovered that week, a hamstring flared up during practice. The hamstring kept him from playing against San Francisco on Oct. 15. Even after the bye week and as the team prepared to travel to Los Angeles, Allison remained limited in practice with the injury. But, he went into the Rams game without an injury designation.
He did not start and caught just one pass for 14 yards.
Seemingly healthy as the team readied to head to New England, Allison thought he injured his groin in practice Thursday, Nov. 1. By Saturday, Nov. 3 he was ruled out for the Sunday game against the Patriots and did not travel. Two days later, he was placed on injured reserve and his season was over.
But it wasn’t a groin injury.
Instead, Allison tore his adductor in that practice. The adductor is a muscle on the inside of the thigh and is important for the functioning of the hip joint.
“It was just unfortunate that the injury hit at that point, when I was kind of skyrocketing and climbing,” he said. “It hit me hard, but just going through the process mentally I just came to a point where I had to be positive about it to get back to myself and really attack this rehab like I needed to.”
Allison said it was all he could control, as everything else around him changed. Mike McCarthy was fired and now, coming off an injury while a new coaching staff tries to determine how he fits in the offense, all he can do is hope the Packers feel the same way about him as he does them.
“Honestly, I’m happy here,” he said. “This is my home. If it was up to me, I would want to be here and stay consistent here throughout my career. But, just going over the years, I understand I have a strong faith and a strong work ethic and my talent, my production; that playing in this league is all about mental toughness and then production.
"I feel like if God directs me down another path, I’m going to walk down that path with a mentally tough mindset and I’m going to do what I have to do. But if you ask me which one do I prefer? I’m going to tell you I’m a Packer for life baby. If I can do that, if I can make that happen, that’s what I prefer.
“But at the same time, it’s out of my hands.”
The league informed teams that the 2019 salary cap will once again skyrocket, this time by $11 million over last season to $188.2 million.
Within that, restricted free agent tender amounts were set as follows:
» First round: $4,407,000
» Second round: $3,095,000
» Original round: $2,025,000
It is unlikely the Packers will put a first- or second-round tag on Allison, which would mean a team would have to give the Packers a draft pick from that round should they offer Allison a contract the Packers did not want to match.
However, if the Packers place the original-round tender on Allison and choose not to match an offer that comes his way they will not receive any compensation due to the fact he was an undrafted free agent.
It would make sense for the Packers to put the original-round tender on Allison, securing him for their roster for 2019.
Allison knows it’s that time of the year, for what-ifs and speculation. And he knows he has nothing to do with any of it — other than to emphasize that he has no desire to go anywhere else if he has a choice.
“I see it, like in different articles out there, so at times it crosses my mind,” he said. “But for the most part I just try to stay in the moment and consistently understand that this is my home and I’m here. I’ve been doing well. I’m active in the community. My teammates love me. The organization loves me around here. So I’m happy here. It seems like they’re happy to have me here. I’ve been productive since I’ve been here, so I’m hoping to continue to be here.”