Green Bay Packers: Letroy Guion

Packers Camp Report: Day 3

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
6:30
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:


  • Lest you forgot about Sean Richardson when it came time to talk about playing time at the safety position, the third-year pro reminded everyone of his potential on Monday. With the pads on for the first time, Richardson made a play that has rarely been replicated by a Packers safety since the days of Nick Collins or Charles Woodson. During a team blitz period, Aaron Rodgers fired a pass over the middle to Jordy Nelson but Richardson jumped in and snatched the ball away from Nelson for an interception.
  • For the first padded practice of camp, the temperature on Monday morning when things kicked off at 8:20 a.m. local time was just 56 degrees. An hour into the practice, it was not yet 60 degrees, but the Packers took one of their TV timeout regeneration breaks and followed it with one short period followed by another water break. Still, when asked whether it was fun to put the pads on, veteran guard Josh Sitton said, "I mean, fun is a little strong." The practice lasted 2 hours, 26 minutes – or about 10 minutes longer than the non-padded practices each of the first two days.
  • Nose tackle B.J. Raji got off to a strong start in the first one-on-one pass-rushing drill. He won all three of his reps. Of course, when someone wins, it means someone else looked bad. Twice, Raji beat JC Tretter, who is trying to lock down the starting center job. Raji beat Tretter with his quickness on one turn and then overpowered him on another. Tackle Bryan Bulaga also looked good in his first turns since blowing out his knee last camp. He won all three of his reps, including one at left tackle against Clay Matthews.
  • In other odds and ends from practice: Cornerback Davon House had a strip-sack of Matt Flynn and recovered the fumble during the team blitz period. … If you're looking for an undrafted rookie to watch, keep an eye on inside linebacker Joe Thomas of South Carolina State. He's a bit undersized (6-1, 227) but is around the ball often. … In what could be a bad sign for undrafted rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, he was relegated to the scout team that worked against the defense at the start of practice while the majority of the offensive players, including fellow undrafted rookie tight end Justin Perillo, practiced inside the Hutson Center at the start of the session.
  • Outside linebacker Mike Neal said he could be cleared to practice as soon as Wednesday. He remains on the PUP list with a core muscle injury but is scheduled to be examined on Tuesday. He said he reported to camp lighter than ever, at 263 pounds. He played last season at 275, which is about 25 pounds lighter than he was is first three seasons, when he played defensive end.
  • In addition to Neal, others who remained out were: Nick Perry (foot, knee), Jamari Lattimore (illness), Jeff Janis (illness), Letroy Guion (hamstring), and Jerel Worthy (back). Janis made an appearance at practice for the first time in camp.
  • The Packers do not practice on Tuesday. They return to the field on Wednesday at 8:20 a.m. local time.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A look at the hot topics from Friday's reporting day at the Green Bay Packers' training camp:
  • Matthews cleared: Although coach Mike McCarthy said he did not have any injury information during his Friday morning news conference, the daily NFL transaction wire revealed some details about the Packers' injury situation. While several players were listed in various injury categories, there was no mention of outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who missed the offseason program while recovering from a second surgery to repair his twice-broken thumb. That would indicate Matthews was cleared for the start of training camp. How much he will practice right away remains unclear. However, two others at his position, Nick Perry and Mike Neal, were placed on the physically unable to perform list, meaning they failed their physicals. Perry missed the entire offseason program with an undisclosed injury, but Neal had been a full participant. Defensive tackle Letroy Guion and defensive end Jerel Worthy were placed on the non-football injury list, and rookie receiver Jeff Janis was placed on the non-football illness list. All count toward the 90-man roster limit.
  • Top line: Given that the Packers will have a starting center who has never played in an NFL game, it was a bit surprising to hear McCarthy say this has a chance to be the best offensive line the Packers have had during his nine-year tenure as head coach. JC Tretter is the favorite to win the starting center job even though he has never played the position before (he was a tackle in college at Cornell) and did not play in any games (preseason or regular season) last season as a rookie. McCarthy also said he was impressed with rookie center Corey Linsley, a fifth-round pick from Ohio State. The Packers return starting guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton. At tackle, they will have Bryan Bulaga back at right tackle after he missed all of last season because of a knee injury, and second-year starter David Bakhtiari at left tackle. "I don't do comparables, but I think you have to feel good about the depth that we have in the O-line compared to prior years," McCarthy said.
  • Counting quarterbacks: One of the biggest issues facing McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson is whether they will keep three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster. The past five years, they have opened the season with just two quarterbacks, but this year they appear to have two capable backups for Aaron Rodgers -- Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien. "I know I said in the spring I'm not opposed [and] Ted’s not opposed to keeping three quarterbacks," McCarthy said. "It really depends on the competition at the other positions."
  • Talking to the team: The unofficial opening of training camp is Friday at 5:30 p.m., when McCarthy addresses the team for the first time. McCarthy said he spends plenty of time -- "probably too much time on it, frankly," he said. -- working on his speech. "You know when you have this much time to give a talk, my history has been to, I have to cut, I probably cut 60 percent of the stuff I have," McCarthy said. "You have to tighten it down and get it where you want it. Video is always a little better because [video director] Chris [Kirby] has more time to work on it. So the video will be awesome, and I hope the guy delivering the talk can deliver."
  • New hire: Despite a rash of injuries in recent years, McCarthy holds the team's medical, training, strength and conditioning staffs in high regard. Many of them predate McCarthy's time with the organization. But he also said on Friday that there will be a new addition in that area, although he did not get into specifics. When discussing injury prevention techniques, McCarthy said: "We have a young man coming aboard that we'll announce here in another day or so that will impact our team."
  • What's next: The first practice of camp begins at 8:20 a.m. local time on Saturday.
Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)
The Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster since 2008, but they might be inclined to do so this season in order to avoid a situation like last year, when Rodgers broke his collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy is high on Tolzien, who made two starts last season, but Flynn has proved he can win as a backup in Green Bay.

Running backs (4)

The return of Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, gives the Packers insurance behind Lacy and Starks. Kuhn is valuable both as a fullback and on special teams. It's possible they'll keep a fourth halfback, but the loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury has left them without a strong in-house candidate for that spot.

Receivers (6)

The Packers often keep only five receivers, but given that they drafted three -- Adams (second round), Abbrederis (fifth round) and Janis (seventh round) -- there's a good chance they will keep six. Abbrederis and Janis will not only have to show they're better prospects than second-year pros Myles White and Chris Harper, but they also could help themselves if they can return kicks.

Tight ends (4)

McCarthy likes tight ends (he has kept five before), and the wild card is undrafted rookie Colt Lyerla.

Offensive linemen (8)

The Packers typically only activate seven offensive linemen on game day, so they can get away with keeping just eight on the roster. Barclay's ability to play all five positions also allows them some freedom. Lane Taylor could be the ninth lineman if they go that route.

Defensive line (7)

Worthy and Guion have work to do to make the roster, but there's room for them if you count Julius Peppers and Mike Neal among the outside linebackers, which is where they lined up more often in the offseason.

Linebackers (8)

There will be some tough cuts here. Second-year pros Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba both played last year as rookie outside linebackers. It also may be tough for highly touted undrafted rookie Adrian Hubbard to make it.

Cornerbacks (6)

Hayward's return from last season's hamstring injury means he likely will return as the slot cornerback in the nickel package, a role played last year by Micah Hyde (who may primarily play safety this year).

Safeties (4)

The major question here is whether Hyde or Clinton-Dix will be the starter alongside Burnett. Chris Banjo, who played primarily on special teams last season, might be the odd man out.

Specialists (3)

There's no competition at any of these spots.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After looking at the Green Bay Packers' offensive depth chart on Monday, it's time to take a look at the defensive side of the ball.

Remember, this is an unofficial assessment, but it is based on observations during organized team activities and minicamp practices combined with interviews with assistant coaches and scouts.

Defensive line: Ends -- Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Khyri Thornton, Jerel Worthy, Carlos Gray, Luther Robinson. Tackles -- B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, Mike Pennel.

Notes: Raji, who returned on a one-year, $4 million contract, will move back to nose tackle in the base 3-4 defense. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers plans to pair Jones and Daniels together as the inside rushers in nickel and dime situations. Guion should provide some run-stopping bulk up front that was lost when the Packers chose not to re-sign Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly.

Outside linebackers: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, Nick Perry, Carl Bradford, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Adrian Hubbard, Jayrone Elliott, Shaun Lewis.

Notes: The Packers plan to move around Peppers, but he played almost exclusively out of a two-point stance during OTAs and minicamp practices that were open. Matthews and Perry did not practice all offseason because of lingering injuries. Bradford, a fourth-round pick, flashed some pass-rush ability, while undrafted rookie Hubbard brings some added size (6-foot-6, 257 pounds) to the position.

Inside linebackers: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Jake Doughty, Joe Thomas.

Notes: Linebackers coach Winston Moss insisted this offseason that Brad Jones remains one of the two starters despite an inconsistent 2013 season, and there was nothing in the offseason practices to suggest Jones' job is in jeopardy. However, the Packers want to get Lattimore more involved, so look for them to carve out a role for him.

Cornerbacks: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Demetri Goodson, Ryan White, Jumal Rolle.

Notes: The importance of Hayward's return from the hamstring injury that limited him to just three games last season was evident during minicamp, when the third-year cornerback picked off a pass in the end zone. The Packers remain high on House, who stepped in for Shields in the playoff game against the 49ers and performed well. Goodson, a sixth-round pick, brings athleticism to the group.

Safeties: Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo, Charles Clay, Tanner Miller.

Notes: Hyde, who played as a slot cornerback last season as a rookie, has looked natural in his conversion to safety and played ahead of Clinton-Dix, the first-round pick, with the defensive starters. Richardson also had a strong offseason.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' minicamp practice on Thursday:

1. Veterans gone: For the final practice of the team's mandatory minicamp, coach Mike McCarthy excused all veterans with five or more years of experience. Without the 16 players that fit into that category, it gave the rookies and younger players more reps than they had received at any point previously in the offseason. But it meant this week's mandatory minicamp was essentially one day of football for the full squad because the Packers spent Wednesday at their annual team-building event, which this year was bowling.

"A lot of younger players got a lot of reps today that did not have the opportunity in the other practices," McCarthy said Thursday.

2. Tolzien shines: With Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn among those excused from practice, it gave young quarterbacks Scott Tolzien and Chase Rettig the chance to run the offense. For Tolzien, it was his first time getting starter reps since the weeks leading up to his two starts last season against the Giants and Vikings. Tolzien looked especially sharp in the red zone. On consecutive plays, he threw short touchdowns to his former University Wisconsin teammate Jared Abbrederis and tight end Brandon Bostick. The throw to Bostick was a perfectly thrown fade in the left corner of the end zone.

"I think any time that guys are relying on you and you're the first guy in the huddle, that's a big chance for you," Tolzien said. "But at the same time it shouldn't really change how you are. You should prepare like a starter every day."

3. Rettig's reps: Any reps for Rettig would have been more than normal given that the fourth quarterback on the depth chart rarely gets any work during team periods, so Thursday was big for the undrafted rookie from Boston College. There's no guarantee the Packers will take four quarterbacks to camp, but Rettig helped his cause with a few nice throws. He hit tight end Ryan Taylor in stride on a seam route and also connected with receiver Kevin Dorsey and tight end Richard Rodgers.

4. Changing duties: At one point during position drills, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac worked with the offensive linemen. A few yards away, offensive line coach James Campen ran the defensive line drill. That was something new this offseason, but it makes senses that a defensive line coach could give pointers to offensive linemen and vice versa.

5. Bradford's bat down: Rookie outside linebacker Carl Bradford made perhaps the most impressive defensive play of the practice when he batted down a pass attempt by Rettig on a two-point conversion try. The fourth-round pick from Arizona State showed his athletic ability by leaping and swatting the ball away with two hands.

6. Changing of the guard: With starting guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton among the veterans excused from practice, Don Barclay and Lane Taylor worked with the No. 1 offensive line. Barclay played left guard, while Taylor lined up on the right side. It showed how committed the Packers are to leaving Derek Sherrod at left tackle. As a rookie in 2011, Sherrod battled Lang for a starting job at guard. Instead, he remained as the backup left tackle.

7. Roll call, part 1: The 16 veterans excused on Thursday were: kicker Mason Crosby, cornerback Jarrett Bush, fullback John Kuhn, cornerback Tramon Williams, linebacker A.J. Hawk, linebacker Clay Matthews, linebacker/defensive end Julius Peppers, linebacker Brad Jones, long snapper Brett Goode, receiver Jordy Nelson, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, Flynn, Rodgers, Lang and Sitton.

8. Roll call, part 2: The following players attended practice but did not participate: receiver Chris Harper, cornerback Jumal Rolle, linebacker Nick Perry, tight end Andrew Quarless and defensive end Jerel Worthy. Running back Johnathan Franklin, who will be waived/injured on Friday because of a career-ending neck injury, was not present.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers return to work on Tuesday to begin their longest week of organized team activities with four workouts scheduled.

The first two weeks included three sessions each.

Tuesday's practice at 12:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. CT) will be the only one this week open to fans (weather permitting) and reporters.

Here are some things to keep an eye on:

1. Undrafted rookies: It will be another couple of months before we have a solid feel for which undrafted rookies -- if any -- have a real shot to make the roster, but a few of them already have done enough to warrant some early consideration. While players like tight end Colt Lyerla of Oregon and outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard of Alabama have gotten the most publicity so far among the undrafted free agent class, it's worth watching how a few others progress. Among those who have stood out early on are North Carolina State defensive end Carlos Gray and a pair of inside linebackers, Jake Doughty of Utah State and Joe Thomas of South Carolina State.

2. Lyerla's return: Lyerla was excused from at least one of last week's OTA sessions. He was not present when reporters and fans were last allowed to watch last Tuesday, but the controversial rookie tight end was expected to return and should be on the field for this week's sessions. Because of his past troubles and transgressions, just about everything Lyerla does will be scrutinized.

3. Worthy's return: Third-year defensive end Jerel Worthy understandably was absent last week after his grandmother was accidentally shot near Dayton, Ohio. She died a short time later. It's not clear whether Worthy will return this week or not, but the reality of the NFL is that it waits for no one and Worthy has much to prove. He returned late last season from reconstructive knee surgery but so far has not lived up to his billing as a second-round pick in 2012. This is a big offseason for him.

4. Guion's role: Defensive tackle Letroy Guion was almost an after-thought signing in free agency. He received only a one-year deal with a signing bonus of just $100,000, but the former Minnesota Vikings role player is off to a good start with the Packers. Last week, with B.J. Raji absent, the 6-foot-4, 317-pound Guion took some meaningful snaps with the defensive starters.

5. Other receivers: While much of the attention has been on draft picks Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis, there have been some other receivers who have stood out so far in OTAs. Chris Harper, a waiver-claim addition last season, had a strong practice last Tuesday. So did Jarrett Boykin, who at this point remains the No. 3 receiver behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Second-year pro Kevin Dorsey, a seventh-round pick who spent all of last season on injured reserve, is healthy again and has shown signs of being productive. So has Myles White, who played some last season when injuries hit.

Note: This is the final week of OTAs. The Packers hold their mandatory minicamp next week. Exact practice times for the June 17-19 camp have not been announced.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' second open OTA session of the offseason Tuesday:

1. Rookie catch up: Second-round receiver Davante Adams and third-round defensive tackle Khyri Thornton returned after missing last week's OTA sessions to attend the NFL Players Association Rookie Premier event. Adams said he stayed in his playbook during the trip to and from Los Angeles. "When I was out there, I was studying my playbook," Adams said. "When I was on the flight, I was studying my playbook. That's pretty much all it was."

Boykin
2. Boykin, Harper shine: Receivers Jarrett Boykin and Chris Harper had big days during team and 7-on-7 passing periods Tuesday. Both stood out during the team blitz period, catching hot reads from quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Boykin has been working as the No. 3 receiver despite the arrival of Adams and fellow draft picks Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis. Harper, a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks last year, was claimed off waivers last Oct. 18 and is an intriguing prospect with good size (6-foot-1, 228 pounds). "Chris has really improved," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. "I mean, I think you saw the first snap there in the team period, I mean, he runs a great post and Aaron hits him right in stride. I mean, that's the kind of explosiveness that he has."

3. Barclay's versatility: Third-year pro Don Barclay is making a case for being the team's most versatile offensive lineman. He worked with the starters at left guard Tuesday, when Josh Sitton appeared to be limited. Last week, Barclay worked at right tackle behind Bryan Bulaga. He also could take reps at center. At this point, Barclay looks like he might be the team's top backup linemen at several positions. "Donny has the ability to potentially play five positions on the offensive line," McCarthy said. "I don't know how many guys you can say that about."

4. Inside pass-rush combination: It looks like defensive coordinator Dom Capers is going to give Datone Jones and Mike Daniels every chance to be his primary interior pass rushers in the sub packages. The Packers hope Jones can make the kind of jump Daniels made last year, when he increased his sack total from 2 to 6.5.

5. Another new guy: With B.J. Raji absent from Tuesday's practice, Letroy Guion took most of the reps at nose tackle with the starters. Guion, the former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman who signed a one-year deal with the Packers this offseason, gives the Packers a taller option at the spot. He has two inches on the 6-2 Raji.

6. To the House: Fourth-year cornerback Davon House, who is coming off an inconsistent season, came up with an interception during a team period, when he picked off a corner route thrown by Flynn that was intended for Kevin Dorsey.

Crosby
7. Kicking competition: There's not another kicker on the roster this year, but it's still worth charting all of Mason Crosby's field goals. He went 7-for-8 during a team period on a windy Tuesday. His only miss was wide right from 47 yards. He also missed from 43 yards, but that kick was whistled dead at the snap and therefore did not count. Last year at this time, Crosby was kicking for his job. This year, he's coming off a career-best season in which he made 89.2 percent of his regular-season field goals.

8. Punt return rotation: Randall Cobb, Micah Hyde, Tramon Williams and Abbrederis took turns catching punts during a special teams period.

9. Roll call: Add cornerback Jumal Rolle to the list of those who did not practice. McCarthy does not give injury updates during OTAs, and Rolle was not available for comment. Others who did not practice due to injuries were: running back Johnathan Franklin, linebacker Clay Matthews, linebacker Nick Perry, tight end Andrew Quarless and tight end Brandon Bostick. Those five also missed last week's sessions.

10. Roll call, part II: Rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, defensive end Jerel Worthy and Raji were not in attendance. Lyerla's agent, Vinnie Porter, said the Packers were aware of Lyerla's absence in advance and excused him even though that was not necessary because it is a voluntary workout. McCarthy said he expected Lyerla back Wednesday. Worthy's grandmother died last week after she was accidentally shot.

The Packers' next open OTA session is next Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. local time.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You can finally order your Julius Peppers jersey.

Nearly a month after the All-Pro pass-rusher signed with the Green Bay Packers, the team announced on Monday that he will wear number 56.

Peppers has worn number 90 his entire NFL career with the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears.

When he signed with the Packers on March 15, that number was not available because nose tackle B.J. Raji, who has worn 90 since he was drafted in 2009, had re-signed one day earlier.

The last Packers player to wear 56 was linebacker Terrell Manning, who played one season (2012) and then was released at the end of training camp last year. Linebacker Nick Barnett wore the number from 2003-10.

It has traditionally been a linebacker number. Although Peppers has played defensive end his entire NFL career, the Packers plan to use him as a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker that they are calling an elephant position. Coach Mike McCarthy said Peppers will work with linebackers coach Winston Moss rather than defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, who coached Peppers in Carolina.

As of late last week, an associate at the Packers Pro Shop said they were not selling Peppers' jerseys because they had not yet been informed by the team what number he would be wearing.

The Packers' other recent free-agent signing, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, will wear number 98.
Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then will deliver the answers over the weekend.

 
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When free agency began a month ago, the Green Bay Packers had the sixth-most salary-cap space among all NFL teams.

A month later, even after re-signing several of their own free agents and adding Julius Peppers, their salary-cap situation remains healthy.

They are currently $15,636,891 under their adjusted salary cap for the 2014 season. That ranks as the seventh-most cap space available, according to the latest figures from ESPN Stats & Information contract data.

The Packers will need about $5 million in cap space for their rookie salaries.

At this time of year, only the top 51 contracts count toward the salary cap.

With that in mind, here's a position-by-position look at the Packers' salary-cap situation under the top 51 rule. On Thursday, we looked at the offense. Today, we look at the defense:

Neal
Defensive end

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 7.56

Total cap charge: $9,648,919

NFL average: $12,840,629

Biggest cap hit: Mike Neal, $3,750,000

Biggest bargain: Mike Daniels, $645,146

Outlook: For the purpose of this exercise, we're putting Neal in the defensive end category along with Peppers ($3.75 million cap charge for 2014) because that's how the ESPN Stats & Information salary system has them categorized. In reality, though, Neal, Peppers and perhaps outside linebacker Nick Perry all will play a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position. Daniels made a jump from two sacks as a rookie to 6.5 last season and should get more opportunities this year. Peppers' salary-cap number spikes to $12 million next season. Also, Peppers currently counts nearly $8.3 million in dead money on the Chicago Bears' salary cap.

Raji
Defensive tackle

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 4.31

Total cap charge: $5,496,453

NFL average: $8,979256

Biggest cap hit: B.J. Raji, $4,000,000

Biggest bargain: Josh Boyd, $531,140

Outlook: Raji returned under a one-year deal after a disappointing 2013 season, but the Packers will move him back to his more natural position, nose tackle. Boyd, a fifth-round pick last season, saw increased playing time late in his rookie year and could have an even greater role this season. Letroy Guion, who signed to a one-year deal last month after he was cut by the Minnesota Vikings, would count $965,313 against the cap if he makes the team. If he doesn’t, only his $100,000 bonus would count on the cap.

Matthews
Linebacker

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 19.96

Total cap charge: $25,463,640

NFL average: $15,493,188

Biggest cap hit: Clay Matthews, $10,943,750

Biggest bargain: Andy Mulumba, $496,666

Outlook: The Packers have five linebackers, including Matthews, that count more than $1 million against this year’s cap. The others are A.J. Hawk ($5.1 million), Brad Jones ($3.925 million), Perry ($2.045 million) and Jamari Lattimore ($1.431 million).

Williams
Cornerback

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 15.81

Total cap charge: $20,173,209

NFL average: $12,150,127

Biggest cap hit: Tramon Williams, $9 million

Biggest bargain: Micah Hyde, $539,527

Outlook: There was some doubt last season about whether Williams would be back under the terms of the final year of his contract, but he finished the season playing perhaps as well as he did during the Super Bowl run in 2010. The four-year, $39 million contract that Sam Shields signed last month has a moderate cap number this year ($5.562 million) but jumps to $9.125 million next season and $12.125 million in each of the following two seasons.

Burnett
Safety

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 4.63

Total cap charge: $5,910,418

NFL average: $8,315,431

Biggest cap hit: Morgan Burnett, $4,843,750

Biggest bargain: Sean Richardson, $571,668

Outlook: There will be additions to this position, likely through the draft and perhaps even in the first or second round. The Packers also plan to use Hyde some at safety but haven't committed to him moving full time from cornerback. Richardson is a promising prospect who returned late last season from neck surgery.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With the bulk of the free-agent work done, it's a good time to recheck the Green Bay Packers' depth chart leading up to the May 8-10 NFL draft.

On Thursday, we broke down the way things look on offense.

Next up is the defense:

Defensive end: Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Jerel Worthy.

[+] EnlargeDatone Jones
AP Photo/Morry GashThe Packers are counting on defensive end Datone Jones to rebound in his second season.
Analysis: The Packers have high hopes for Jones despite a disappointing rookie season in which the former first-round pick was slowed by an ankle injury and recorded just 3.5 sacks (two of which came in one game). "I feel he's one of those second-year players who [can] take a huge jump," coach Mike McCarthy said of Jones earlier this offseason. "That will be my expectations for him." Boyd, a fifth-round pick, actually saw more playing time late last season than Jones. Worthy played in only two games a year after he blew out his knee.

Defensive tackle: B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion.

Analysis: Moving Raji back to nose tackle on a full-time basis should help his production, which declined sharply over the last three years following a move to defensive end. Daniels was perhaps the team's most improved player last season, which should lead to an even bigger role this season. Guion, who was cut the Minnesota Vikings, will have to battle for a roster spot.

Elephant: Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Mike Neal.

Analysis: Elephant is a catch-all term for the multiple positions this trio will play. They will be part outside linebacker, part defensive end and part defensive tackle. The addition of Peppers, who was signed last month after being released by the Chicago Bears, should boost the pass rush. Expect Perry to play more on the right side this season, where he was far more impactful last season. These players will actually be tutored by linebackers coach Winston Moss.

Inside linebacker: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Victor Aiyewa.

Analysis: Hawk had perhaps his best season last year, but Jones was a disappointment after signing a three-year, $11.75 million contract and could be on shaky ground for a starting job. Lattimore, a restricted free agent who has yet to sign his tender, got some playing time last year while Jones was hurt and could push for the starting job. So could Barrington, a promising rookie who missed the second half of the season because of a hamstring injury.

Outside linebacker: Clay Matthews, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Chase Thomas.

Analysis: Neal and Perry played almost exclusively at outside linebacker last season, so there's a good chance they'll be a big part of this group again. But behind Matthews are a couple of second-year players, Mulumba and Palmer, who played more than anyone expected last year as a rookies. Mulumba, an undrafted free agent, played better than Palmer, a sixth-round pick. Thomas was signed early in the offseason off the street after spending most of last season on the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad.

Safeties: Morgan Burnett, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo.

Analysis: Easily the thinnest position on the roster, there's still likely to be several additions here, probably via the draft. However, McCarthy said cornerback Micah Hyde will get some work at safety. Whether he's a candidate to start next to Burnett (a strong safety), however, remains to be seen. Burnett needs to bounce back from a disappointing season, but there's little reason to think his job is in jeopardy. Richardson returned late last season from a serious neck injury and showed promise. Banjo played more early in the season than he did late last year.

Cornerbacks: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Jarrett Bush, Davon House, James Nixon, Jumel Rolle, Antonio Dennard.

Analysis: This is among the Packers' deepest positions thanks to the return of Shields, who signed a four-year, $39 million contract, and Hayward, who is expected to be healthy after a hamstring injury limited him to just three games last season. Williams closed the season playing perhaps as well as he did during the Super Bowl season of 2010, which is why they kept him despite a $7.5 million salary. Bush had his best season in coverage last year, while House was a disappointment. Nixon's speed makes him an intriguing prospect. Rolle was promoted from the practice squad late last season, while Dennard joined the practice squad late last season.
The Green Bay Packers have four picks in the first 100 selections of the upcoming NFL draft -- something they haven't had since 2008, when they drafted receiver Jordy Nelson (36th), quarterback Brian Brohm (56th), cornerback Pat Lee (60th) and tight end Jermichael Finley (91st).

If draft analyst Mel Kiper were in charge of the Packers' draft room, he'd find plenty of defensive help along with an intriguing tight end prospect. In an ESPN Insider exclusive, Kiper put a different twist on the mock draft. Rather than predicting who he thinks the Packers will pick, he detailed who he would pick if he were in charge.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's never too early to start looking ahead to the next class of free agents. That's part of what Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and vice president of player finance Russ Ball have been doing while also dealing with their more immediate concerns.

Although they're not done assembling their roster for 2014, for every move the Packers make now, they must also consider how it will impact their ability to re-sign their players who will be free agents next offseason.

It's not as lengthy a list as it was this offseason, when the Packers had 17 unrestricted free agents and two restricted free agents, but next year's group is no less important with receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson at the top of the list of players entering the final year of their contracts.

There's a good chance one or both of them will have their contracts extended before the start of this season. Thompson and Ball no doubt kept enough salary-cap space available -- $16,168,766 to be exact as of the beginning of this week, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- with that in mind.

Here's a look at the players entering the final season of their current contracts:

Offense
Defense

*Scheduled to be a restricted free agent

Also, it's likely tackle Derek Sherrod will be a free agent next offseason. He was part of the 2011 draft class in which all first-round picks signed four-year deals with a club option for a fifth year. It's unlikely the Packers will exercise that option, a decision they must make next month, given that the pay for that option year is expected to be around $9 million for offensive linemen.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers signed Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion in free agency to bolster their defensive line, not necessarily to replace certain players.

That was the takeaway from comments coach Mike McCarthy made at the NFL annual meetings this week when asked about the possibility that free-agent defensive linemen Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett could return to Green Bay.

Both remain on the open market.

However, their situations are different.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Jolly
AP Photo/Tom LynnJohnny Jolly recently was cleared to resume normal offseason workouts after neck surgery in January.
Jolly's is mostly a medical one. He had neck surgery in January to repair a bulging disc that bothered him late last season. Doctors fused together his C-5 and C-6 vertebrae using bone from his hip. He recently was cleared to resume normal offseason workouts.

McCarthy said the Packers remain interested in bringing back the 31-year-old, who returned to football last season after sitting out for three years while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and also spending time in prison.

"Yeah, if it definitely works out, I mean we're monitoring that," McCarthy said. "I think Johnny did a nice job last year. You have to be very pleased for where he started and where he finished. I think he gave us every inch of what he had and then some. I was very pleased with Johnny's contribution last year."

Jolly played last season for the veteran’s minimum of $715,000.

Pickett, 34, made $6.2 million in base salary and bonuses last season in the final year of a four-year, $24.925 million deal. Although he played in all 16 games for the second straight season and missed only four games during his most recent contract, his production dropped off last season, when he recorded only 19 tackles, his fewest since his rookie season of 2001.

"We'll watch what's going on with Ryan," McCarthy said.

There might not be room on the roster for both Jolly and Pickett. Even though McCarthy said Peppers will work mostly with the linebackers, he still has a deep defensive line group. The Packers return Josh Boyd, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones and Jerel Worthy -- all four of which are still on their rookie contracts. They also plan to return Mike Neal back to the defensive line, at least on a part-time basis, after playing almost exclusively at outside linebacker last season. Nick Perry and Peppers also could split time between the two spots in what McCarthy calls the elephant position.

The Packers also re-signed nose tackle B.J. Raji and brought in Guion, who played for the Minnesota Vikings.

"Let's not forget about Letroy," McCarthy said. "I thought he was an excellent acquisition that we haven't even brought up. I thought he's played very well the last three times we played the Vikings. So he's been an excellent addition to our defensive front."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The seven players the Green Bay Packers signed or re-signed since the start of free agency received a total of $24.175 million in guaranteed money.

However, more than 80 percent of that went to two players -- cornerback Sam Shields ($12.5 million) and defensive end Julius Peppers ($7.5 million).

All of the guaranteed money came in the form of signing bonuses. For salary-cap purposes, that means each player's bonus will be prorated over the life of the contract. For example, Shields' bonus will count for $3.125 million on the salary cap during each of the contract's four years.

Let's review the highlights of each deal the Packers have done:

Sam Shields, CB
  • Details: Four years, $39 million, including a $12.5 million signing bonus.
  • 2014 cash value: $15 million.
  • 2014 salary-cap charge: $5,562,500.
  • Full breakdown available here.
Julius Peppers, DE
  • Details: Three years, $26 million, including a $7.5 million signing bonus.
  • 2014 cash value: $8.5 million.
  • 2014 salary-cap charge: $3.5 million
  • Full breakdown available here.
B.J. Raji, DT
  • Details: One year, $4 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus.
  • 2014 cash value: $4 million.
  • 2014 salary-cap charge: $4 million
  • Full breakdown available here.
Mike Neal, OLB/DE
  • Details: Two years, $8 million including a $2.5 million signing bonus.
  • 2014 cash value: $5 million.
  • 2014 salary-cap charge: $3.75 million.
  • Full breakdown available here.
James Starks, RB
  • Details: Two years, $3.165 million including a $750,000 signing bonus.
  • 2014 cash value: $1,732,813.
  • 2014 salary-cap charge: $1,370,313.
  • Full breakdown available here.
Andrew Quarless, TE
  • Details: Two years, $3 million including a $350,000 signing bonus.
  • 2014 cash value: $1.425 million.
  • 2014 salary-cap charge: $1.25 million.
  • Full breakdown available here.
Letroy Guion, DT
  • Details: One year, $985,000 including a $100,000 signing bonus.
  • 2014 cash value: $985,000.
  • 2014 salary-cap charge: $985,000.
  • Full breakdown available here.

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