Packers bringing back Taylor, Banjo
The Green Bay Packers saw enough in Lane Taylor’s two spot starts last season to warrant a longer commitment.
The fourth-year guard agreed to a two-year, $4.15 million contract Tuesday morning that includes a $600,000 signing bonus and incentives that could push the total value of the deal to $5.15 million, according to an NFL source.
The Packers also tendered a one-year contract to safety Chris Banjo, one of their two exclusive rights free agents. A special teams captain in the playoffs, the 5-foot-10, 207-pound Banjo led the Packers with 21 coverage tackles last season, according to the coaches' statistics. He also provides depth as a fourth-string safety and backup slot defender.
Banjo will make $675,000 for the 2016 season once he signs.
Taylor (6-3, 324) has played in 30 regular-season games since signing as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State in 2013, but made his first two career starts during the final stretch of the 2015 season. He played well in place of an injured T.J. Lang at right guard vs. Detroit on Dec. 4 and handled left guard in the regular-season finale against Minnesota when Josh Sitton made an emergency start at left tackle.
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Taylor recently wrapped up a three-year, $1,503,100 rookie contract that included a $7,000 signing bonus. He made $590,850 last season.
The Packers have been in talks with Taylor's camp throughout the offseason, and it looked promising he'd receive a right-of-first-refusal tender coming out of the NFL scouting combine. Instead extending a one-year tender, the two-year extension gives the Packers time to determine whether Taylor could be a future starter at the position.
Sitton and Lang are entering the final year of their contracts. They're scheduled to hit free agency next offseason with left tackle David Bakhtiari and utility lineman JC Tretter if a deal isn't reached.
In the short term, it assures the Packers will have their primary interior backups in the fold for the 2016 season. Tretter (447 offensive snaps) and Taylor (153) were critical to an offensive line that was banged up for most of last season. The Packers' preferred starting five played only eight of 18 games together with 11 missed starts among them.
Along with Tretter and Taylor, the Packers return two large reserves in Josh Walker (6-5, 328) and former undrafted free agent Matt Rotheram (6-5, 325), whom the organization is very high on. The only unsigned offensive lineman is backup tackle Don Barclay, who struggled in his first season back after tearing his ACL in August 2014.
The Packers still have two other free agents — outside linebacker Andy Mulumba (restricted) and tight end Justin Perillo (exclusive rights) - before the start of the new league year at 3 p.m. CST Wednesday.
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