NFC North: Nick McDonald

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When ESPN's three days of live draft coverage finally goes off the air Saturday evening, 256 players will have been drafted.

But player acquisition will be far from over.

In fact, some NFL personnel executives have said the most stressful part of draft weekend is the process of signing undrafted free agents as soon as the seventh round finishes.

In a matter of a few hours, some teams sign as many as 20 undrafted rookie free agents. It's a process the Green Bay Packers take seriously. It's why they use many of their allotted pre-draft visits on players likely to go undrafted. They consider it part of the recruiting process.

But they aren't the only ones who actively recruit potential rookie free agents. The Seattle Seahawks distributed a 12-page brochure to agents showing them how the team covets and strongly considers undrafted free agents for its roster.

Among the charts in the brochure is one that shows preseason playing time for undrafted free agents and another with the percentage of undrafted free agents who make the 53-man roster.

In terms of playing time, last preseason, the Seahawks led the league in playing time percentage by undrafted rookies at 36.2 percent, according to their research. The Packers were second at 33.6 percent.

On that page, the Seahawks noted: "If your client doesn't get on the field in the preseason, he'll have a tougher time making that team's roster or any roster at all. Last season, the Seahawks ranked No. 1 in total offensive and defensive playing time by undrafted rookies."

When it comes to making the roster, the Seahawks said 22 percent of their undrafted free agents since 2010 have spent time on their active roster, which ranks eighth in the NFL, and according to the brochure, “the Seahawks have been selective in the number of UDFAs they sign each year. The team has signed 68 of them, which ranks 17th."

The Packers actually have a higher percentage of undrafted free agents who appeared on their active roster at various points during the season since 2010, according to the chart, at 24 percent, which is tied for fourth in the NFL.

The Packers have had at least three undrafted free agents make their opening-day roster each of the last four years. In that time, 13 undrafted free agents have made the Week 1 roster, which is tied for the third most in that span behind only St. Louis (17) and Cleveland (16), according to the Packers.

Here are the undrafted free agents that have made the Packers' roster coming out of training camp the last four years:

2013: S Chris Banjo, OLB Andy Mulumba, Lane Taylor.

2012: T Don Barclay, WR Jarrett Boykin, OLB Dezman Moses, S Sean Richardson.

2011: S M.D. Jennings, LB Jamari Lattimore, OLB Vic So'oto.

2010: G Nick McDonald, CB Sam Shields, OLB Frank Zombo.

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Exactly three years ago -- on Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, much has happened to the 53 players who were on the roster for that 31-25 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas.

Free agency, injuries, retirement and declining performance cause roster turnover.

Still, it’s eye-opening that from the group that suited up for the Packers’ last championship, only 12 players (just 22.6 percent) remain under contract with the team for 2014. Another 11 are still officially members of the Packers, but have contracts that expire next month. There are 13 players with other NFL teams, and 17 are out of football -- perhaps for good.

Here’s a look at the status of every player who was on the active roster three years ago today at Super Bowl XLV:

Under contract for 2014

  • [+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThree years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Packers.
    QB Aaron Rodgers: Threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to winning the Super Bowl XLV MVP, then won the NFL MVP award the next season. Signed a five-year, $110 million contract extension last April.
  • G Josh Sitton: Started Super Bowl XLV at right guard, but moved to left guard in 2013 and was a second-team, All-Pro selection. Signed a five-year contract extension on Sept. 2, 2011 that averages $6.75 million per season.
  • T Bryan Bulaga: Started at right tackle, but moved to left tackle last offseason. A training camp knee injury ended his 2013 season, and he now enters the final year of his rookie contract.
  • G: T.J. Lang: Served as a backup, but became the starting left guard the next season. Signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 14, 2012 that averages $5.2 million per season. Moved to right guard last season.
  • WR Jordy Nelson: Caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and went on to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons in two of the next three years. Entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
  • OLB Clay Matthews: Forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that the Packers recovered and turned into a touchdown to pad the lead. Four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension last April.
  • LB A.J. Hawk: Started and made seven tackles in the Super Bowl. Was released two months later, only to re-sign a more salary-cap friendly deal. Is under contract through 2015.
  • CB Tramon Williams: Broke up three passes in the Super Bowl, including the one that sealed the game on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 33-yard line in the final minute. Entering the final year of his contract. Scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2014, and could be a candidate to be released or restructured despite a strong finish to last season.
  • K Mason Crosby: Made a 23-yard field goal in the game and signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract on July 29, 2011. Struggled in 2012, but bounced back last year to post his best season.
  • P Tim Masthay: Capped his first season with the Packers by averaging 40.5 yards and allowing the Steelers just 5 yards on punt returns in the game. Signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract extension on July 26, 2012.
  • LS Brett Goode: Has been the long snapper since 2008 and signed a three-year, $2.715 million contract extension on Oct. 13, 2012.
  • CB Jarrett Bush: Special teams player who was pressed into defensive duty in the game after injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the second quarter. Signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 26, 2012.
Headed for free agency next month

  • RB James Starks: Started the Super Bowl and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Battled injuries most of his career, and might not be re-signed.
  • WR James Jones: Caught five passes for 50 yards in the game, and signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract on Aug. 2, 2011. Caught 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards in 2013, and could be a re-signed despite his age (will turn 30 next month).
  • DT Ryan Pickett: Started the game, made two tackles and was in on the play in which Matthews forced Rashard Mendehall's fourth-quarter fumble. Played in all 16 games last season with a base salary of $5.4 million, but might be at the age (34) where the Packers let him walk.
  • DT B.J. Raji: Capped a strong 2010 postseason with a pair of tackles in the game. Finished his rookie contract in 2013, and reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer last season.
  • DE C.J. Wilson: Started the game, but played only 14 snaps. Biggest impact came the night before the game, when he kept things loose in the team hotel by playing piano and leading a team sign-along. Finished his rookie contract in 2013.
  • FB John Kuhn: Played on both offense and special teams in the game. Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract on Aug. 1, 2011.
  • CB Sam Shields: Suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game. Had his best season in 2013 while playing under the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million. Will command a big contract either from the Packers or another team in free agency.
  • LB Robert Francois: Went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster throughout the 2010 season, and played on special teams in the game. Played last season under a one-year, $725,000 deal, but tore his Achilles tendon on Oct. 6.
  • TE Andrew Quarless: Caught one pass for 5 yards in the game. Suffered a major knee injury the next season and missed all of 2012. Returned last season to catch 32 passes for 312 yards (both career highs) in the final year of his rookie deal.
  • QB Matt Flynn: Served as Rodgers’ backup but did not play in the Super Bowl. Left after the 2011 season as a free agent, and after stints with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, he returned to the Packers last season for a one-year minimum deal and played in five games after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was inactive for the Super Bowl. Became a starter late in 2012 and for all of 2013, when he played under the restricted free agent tender of $1.323 million deal.
With other teams

  • [+] EnlargeMcCarthy
    Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike McCarthy and the Packers have seen a lot of roster turnover since winning Super Bowl XLV.
    WR Greg Jennings: Started and became just the third player in team history to catch multiple touchdowns in a Super Bowl by recording touchdowns of 21 and 8 yards. Signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings last March.
  • G Daryn Colledge: Started at left guard, but left in free agency a few months later to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Cardinals. Has started every game for the Cardinals since.
  • C Scott Wells: Started at center and remained with the Packers through the 2011 season before signing a four-year, $24 million contract with the Rams. Has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
  • LB Desmond Bishop: Became a starter earlier in 2010 after Nick Barnett's wrist injury and made nine tackles in the Super Bowl. Also recovered the fumble that Matthews forced. Signed a four-year, $19 million contract in 2011, but was released after missing the entire 2012 season because of a hamstring injury. Signed with the Vikings last offseason, but appeared in only four games.
  • OLB Frank Zombo: Started the game and had the Packers’ only sack of Roethlisberger but battled injuries the next two years and was released. Signed with the Chiefs last year and appeared in all 16 games.
  • CB Charles Woodson: Started at cornerback, but broke his collarbone late in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Played two more seasons with the Packers, who released him last year. Returned to his old team, the Raiders, and played in all 16 games last season.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins: Played 36 snaps and had a pair of quarterback pressures. Left in free agency the following year and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles, who released him after two years. Signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Giants last season.
  • TE Tom Crabtree: Played on both offense and special teams in the Super Bowl, catching one pass. Left last year to sign with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, but was limited to seven games because of injuries.
  • CB Josh Gordy: Was inactive for the game, and the next season was signed off the practice squad the by the Rams. Spent the past two seasons with the Colts.
  • G Nick McDonald: Was inactive for the game, like he was for every game that season. Was released in training camp the next year, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the Patriots. Did not play in 2013, but was recently signed by the Chargers.
  • OLB Erik Walden: Was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game. Played the next two seasons before signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Colts last year.
  • DE: Jarius Wynn: Was active but did not play. Played in Green Bay through 2011, and with the Titans and Chargers before landing with the Cowboys last season.
  • FB Quinn Johnson: Inactive for the game. Was traded to the Titans in 2011. Has played in 24 games for the Titans over the past three years.
Out of football

  • T Chad Clifton: Started at left tackle, but his long career with the Packers ended when they released him after he played in only six games in 2011. Was never signed by another team.
  • WR Donald Driver: Started the game and caught two passes for 28 yards before leaving with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Retired after the 2012 season as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
  • S Nick Collins: Started and made a key early play when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of 2011 and hasn’t played since.
  • DT Howard Green: Claimed off waivers earlier that season and started the game. His hit on Roethlisberger led to Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. Returned in 2011 and played in all 16 games, but has not played since.
  • WR Brett Swain: Posted a team-high four special teams tackles. Was released the following season and played briefly with the 49ers. Was cut in training camp last season by the Seahawks.
  • S Atari Bigby: Played on special teams. Signed with the Seahawks the following season and played in 15 games. Played in eight games with the Chargers in 2012, but did not play in 2013.
  • CB Pat Lee: Special teams player who saw action on defense after injuries to Woodson and Shields. Played one more season in Green Bay before splitting time in 2012 between the Lions and Raiders. Did not play in 2013.
  • RB Brandon Jackson: Played as the third-down back, but did not have any carries in the game. Caught one pass for 14 yards. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Browns in 2011, but missed all of that season and played in only two games in 2012.
  • FB Korey Hall: Caught one pass for 2 yards and made one special teams tackle in the game. He played in 13 games with the Saints in 2011, and retired after going to camp with the Cardinals in 2012.
  • S Charlie Peprah: Led the Packers with 10 tackles (including nine solo stops). Returned as a starter in 2011, when he had five interceptions, but was released shortly before training camp in 2012. Played in five games for the Cowboys in 2012.
  • LB Diyral Briggs: Made one special teams tackle in the game, but never played in another NFL game.
  • LB Matt Wilhelm: Made two special teams tackles, but seven-year career ended after that game.
  • G Jason Spitz: Played on special teams. Left in free agency the next year and signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract with the Jaguars, who released him in training camp last summer. He signed with the Seahawks, but was released on Oct. 12.
  • TE Donald Lee: Played in the game, but did not have a catch and was released two months later. Played in nine games for the Bengals in 2001.
  • QB Graham Harrell: Inactive for the game. Remained with the Packers until he was released in training camp last summer. Also spent time briefly with the Jets before being released.
  • RB Dimitri Nance: Inactive for the game. Was released by the Packers the following summer and never played in another NFL game.
  • CB Brandon Underwood: Inactive for the game. Was released in 2011. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2012 and Cowboys in 2013, but did not make either team.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Former NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp piled on Tuesday to the season-long criticism of Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh during a media session at the site of Super Bowl XLVI, wondering "what universe" Suh is living in after minimizing his culpability in various interviews. (Anwar S. Richardson of has more.)

But what I found far more interesting was Sapp's analysis of Suh's performance on the field, which dipped significantly in 2011 from a statistical standpoint. As Chris McCosky of the Detroit News points out, Sapp wonders if the offseason surgery Suh had last season on his shoulder sapped some strength and exposed his lack of technique in the pass rush.

"He plays such a power game," Sapp said, "just grabbing people and slinging them out of the way. He had rotator cuff surgery. I had one on each shoulder and I know what that's like."

Sapp added: "From his first year to his second year, he hasn't worked on anything. We're looking at the same guy rushing in the same fashion as he did when he first got into the league. You can get away with that at first because they haven't seen you. But that second year, you've got to come show me something, son. He came with that same bull rush."

As we've said many times, the best way for Suh to overcome criticism of his style is to be an elite producer on the field. Sapp's insight on that issue is not to be ignored.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Lions defensive end Cliff Avril during a radio interview, via the Detroit Free Press: "[I] would love to be a Lion, I'd love to be in Detroit. I've been here four years, I see how good the team can be, and I'd like to be a part of it. But it's also a business. Like I said, I think it will play itself out and hopefully I'm here."
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reiterated on his ESPN 540 radio show that he hopes quarterbacks coach Tom Clements stays with the team in some capacity in 2012. Jason Wilde of explains.
  • Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette checks in with former Packers offensive lineman Nick McDonald, who caught on this season with the New England Patriots.
  • New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks remains "baffled" by how the Packers defended him on a Hail Mary touchdown pass two weeks ago at Lambeau Field, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Tom Pelissero of grades the Minnesota Vikings' offense.
  • Minnesota leaders are confident that the legalization of electronic pulltabs in bars could generate $72 million annually, more than enough to fund the state's share of a new Vikings stadium, according to the Star Tribune.
  • The Vikings signed linebacker Solomon Elimimian, who was named the hardest hitter of last season in the CFL, notes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
  • Former Chicago Bears defensive end Mark Anderson has thrived in the Patriots' 3-4 defense, writes Jeff Dickerson of
  • New Bears general manager Phil Emery will bring a different philosophy of scouting to the franchise, notes Michael C. Wright of
  • Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell on why he turned down a similar job with the Bears in 2010, via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times: "I love Lovie Smith and enjoyed my time in Chicago. [but] I knew that was Coach Smith's defense. He is an excellent defensive coach and I just thought that at the time, I probably needed to step out on my own and run my own defense. It was always going to be coach Smith's defense and if I was going to make my mark in coaching I had to do it Perry Fewell's way, and that was one of the main reasons I came to New York."
We're Black and Blue All Over:

It's starting to look like I'm going to have to learn to spell Dane Sanzenbacher's last name rather than continue copy and pasting it from's website. Nothing is guaranteed at this point, but Sanzenbacher not only appears to have a good chance at making the Chicago Bears' 53-man roster, but the undrafted rookie could also have a role in the team's offense pretty soon (if not immediately) as well.

Jeff Dickerson of provides an update on Sanzenbacher's status. Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz and quarterback Jay Cutler have both complimented his performance as a slot receiver, and he was on the field for the Bears' second offensive series last weekend against the Tennessee Titans. He has reliable hands and understands the Bears' route tree.

At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Sanzenbacher might not be big enough to fill a coverage role on special teams that normally goes to a reserve receiver. But if he is as good of a pass-catcher as the Bears believe, that might not be a deal-breaker.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Bears coach Lovie Smith downplayed any interest the team might have in former defensive end Alex Brown, who was released Tuesday by the New Orleans Saints. Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times has more.
  • Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice said his group played its best game of the preseason against the Titans, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Neal (knee) believes he will be ready for the team's Sept. 8 season-opener, writes Jason Wilde of
  • Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette looks at Packers' depth at cornerback.
  • Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Just one week remains before the start of the regular season and the Green Bay Packers still don't know if they have a functional backup at center or guard. The situation is about clear as mud because rookie Caleb Schlauderaff and veteran Nick McDonald, the two players the Packers hoped would solidify their interior, have failed to emerge."
  • Clarifying earlier remarks, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said that he is neutral on a voter referendum for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, according to Rochelle Olson of the Star Tribune. Dayton said he would sign a bill that included a referendum but isn't advocating for one.
  • The Vikings have a continuing competition for the starting safety spot alongside Husain Abdullah, notes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Neither Tyrell Johnson nor Jamarca Sanford have won the job.
  • The Vikings could lose linebacker Jasper Brinkley for an extended time because of a hip injury, writes Tom Pelissero of
  • Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best (concussion) is expected to see action in Thursday's preseason finale, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Lions are continuing to stage a punting competition between Nick Harris and Ryan Donahue, notes Philip Zaroo of
  • Lions rookie linebacker Doug Hogue is hoping to make a good impression in the final days of the preseason, writes Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Rookie receiver/kick returner Randall Cobb has been the talk of Green Bay Packers training camp. But will he disappear from the public spotlight during the walk-up to the regular season? An unusual injury has called his immediate availability into question, notes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Cobb apparently suffered contusions on both knees during a kickoff return during last weekend's preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. He has not practiced since, is walking somewhat gingerly and can't say for sure that he will play in the Sept. 8 season opener against the New Orleans Saints.

These types of injuries are why teams build depth, and the Packers at this point are more than prepared to absorb it. Rookie Alex Green could return kickoffs while Jordy Nelson and Chastin West are candidates to return punts. And if anything, they have a surplus of receivers to use on offense at this point.

Obviously everyone wants to see a dynamic playmaker on the field right away. But it's not yet clear if that will happen for Cobb.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • The Packers had an unusual fight Tuesday in practice, notes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Two offensive linemen, Marshall Newhouse and Nick McDonald, had to be separated by teammates and coaches at the end of a team drill.
  • The Packers' young offensive linemen need more time to develop, notes Jason Wilde of
  • Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune is starting to wonder if Chicago Bears receiver Roy Williams is going to make the impact the team has hoped for. Pompei: "Williams has pedigree, having been the seventh pick of the 2004 draft. He has history with [offensive coordinator Mike] Martz on the Lions and with receivers coach Darryl Drake at Texas. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he has the size that causes matchup problems. What he does not have is evidence, at 29, that he is a dynamic receiver."
  • Williams isn't in good enough shape, writes Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • The Bears should be happy about the way their offensive line played Monday night against the New York Giants, writes Michael C. Wright of
  • The Detroit Lions sold out Saturday's preseason game against the New England Patriots, notes the Detroit News.
  • The Lions have been practicing this week with a number of important veterans on the sideline, including defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (shoulder) and running back Jahvid Best (concussion). Philip Zaroo of has the complete list.
  • Maurice Stovall is trying to make the Lions' roster as a receiver/special-teams ace, notes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
  • It will be good for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to get a hit a few times this weekend by the Patriots, writes Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has brought stability to the franchise, writes Judd Zulgad, who is now with
  • Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on that topic: "Apparently, there is something to be said for tranquility."
  • Vikings defensive tackle Letroy Guion is turning some heads in Vikings training camp, notes Tom Pelissero of
Multiple reports suggest it's only a matter of time before the Green Bay Packers formally part ways with offensive lineman Daryn Colledge. The Arizona Cardinals appear to be the leading candidate for his services.

This news should come as no surprise because the Packers have declined numerous opportunities to sign Colledge to an extension in recent years. He is now an unrestricted free agent. Clearly, the Packers are comfortable with depth along the offensive line and decided to allocate their cash and salary-cap space elsewhere.

So who will take over for Colledge at left guard? The best guess, as suggested by's Jason Wilde, is T.J. Lang. I believe Lang has played every position except quarterback in his three seasons with the Packers, and if anything he's proved a quick study. And although it's totally irrelevant, Lang has also demonstrated a solid John Madden-like sense of humor on his Twitter feed (@TJLang70).

Recently: "I hate dropping ketchup on clothes I just washed."

Who doesn't?

Seriously, there are two other backups who could figure into this competition: Nick McDonald and Marshall Newhouse. But what interests me the most is if the Packers will feel compelled, as they have in the past, to shift a starter or rising starter from another position into an open spot in the name of getting their best five linemen on the field.

In this case: Would the Packers move right tackle Bryan Bulaga to left guard, where he spent a bit of time in training camp last summer? Or would they try to get first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod, a left tackle in college, onto the field as a left guard?

We have no immediate indication on those possibilities. Coach Mike McCarthy is scheduled to speak with reporters Saturday morning. Stay tuned.

Recent Packers posts: The Packers trust Mason Crosby as their place-kicker of the future. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers really, really wants the Packers to re-sign receiver James Jones. To little surprise, the Packers told linebacker Nick Barnett he will be traded or released.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Green Bay Packers won't have linebacker Erik Walden for Super Bowl XLV.

Walden (ankle) was among eight game-day deactivations the Packers just announced. Rookie Frank Zombo, who has missed most of the past two months because of a knee injury, will reclaim his starting job.

There was one mild surprise on the Packers' inactive list: Fullback Quinn Johnson, who has been part of the Packers' jumbo wishbone formation on the goal line, won't play. Johnson has been the Packers' primary fullback for a while, but I imagine fullback Korey Hall would take his place if necessary. Here is the rest of the list: