Tagged in: packers

Green Bay Packers sign former Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

The Green Bay Packers didn’t land former All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore but may have found help for their defense after all in former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Smith signed with the Packers on Thursday, with his agent, Doug Hendrickson of Wasserman, telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter it is a one-year deal.

The move came a day after news broke that the Packers were a potential suitor for Gilmore shortly before he was traded from the New England Patriots to the Carolina Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick. But the Packers did not have enough salary-cap space to get Gilmore in a trade because they would have to inherit the remaining $5.8 million of his base salary on this year’s salary cap.

The Packers started Thursday with about $6.5 million in cap space and still need room for the in-season moves that injuries might necessitate. Smith, however, fits under the cap because the Cowboys are on the hook for the entirety of his $7.2 million base salary this campaign as a result of veteran termination pay rules.

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He filled the roster spot of outside linebacker Chauncey Rivers, who was placed on injured reserve.

Rivers tore an ACL on the second-to-last play of practice Wednesday, a source told ESPN.

“Nothing’s official yet, but I go back a long time with Jaylon,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur, who coached Smith at Notre Dame, said before the signing was announced.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for him, not only as a football player but as a man. He was one of my favorites when I was at Notre Dame. I just think a veteran guy who’s played at a really high level and just can bring kind of a mentality and leadership to our defense.

“Certainly, he’s going to be behind quite a bit, being the fact we’re heading to Week 5 and it’s a totally different system, so there’s going to be a lot of work that needs to be put in, not only from him but from our coaching staff to get him up to speed. But we’ll let him kind of come in here and compete to play.”

With the Packers, Smith could work his way into the starting lineup alongside De’Vondre Campbell, who has been one of their biggest playmakers this season, or simply offer backup depth.

Second-year pro Krys Barnes opened the season as the other starting inside linebacker; he missed last week’s match versus the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a concussion he suffered the previous week against the San Francisco 49ers.

Without Barnes, the Packers used a combination of Ty Summers and Oren Burks next to Campbell.

LaFleur said it was unlikely Smith would play Sunday at the Cincinnati Bengals.

Smith, 26, saw his role with the Cowboys diminish with the addition of first-round pick Micah Parsons, the production from Leighton Vander Esch and the return of Keanu Neal from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Smith was a second-round pick by the Cowboys in 2016 even though they considered it unlikely for him to play for a year given the knee injury he suffered in his final college game.

He made his debut in 2017 and has played in every game since.

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Green Bay Packers bringing back Jake Dolegala for QB depth

With Jordan Love’s shoulder still an issue and Aaron Rodgers not expected to play in the preseason, the Green Bay Packers are bringing back quarterback Jake Dolegala.

The signing was not revealed by the team but was made public by his agency, Generation Sports Group.

The team will have to make room on the roster before it can make it official. They were at the NFL-mandated limit of 85 players as of Tuesday.

Dolegala spent nearly two months with the Packers this offseason. He was signed in June after participating in the team’s mandatory minicamp but was released on July 27 shortly before training camp, when Rodgers ended his holdout and returned to the team. The Packers also released veteran Blake Bortles on the same day.

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Love injured his right (throwing) shoulder in the Packers’ preseason opener on Saturday. Coach Matt LaFleur implied that there’s no long-term concern but that Love might miss some time. He was held out of practice on Monday, and the team did not practice on Tuesday. They Packers start two days of joint practices with the New York Jets on Wednesday leading into their preseason game on Saturday.

LaFleur said Love could “potentially” play versus the Jets.

Love was expected to play into the third quarter last week against the Houston Texans but instead was pulled at halftime. Kurt Benkert, the third quarterback on the roster, played the second half.

Dolegala was originally signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He was the Bengals’ No. 3 QB that season but was released following the 2020 training camp. He spent parts of last season on the Patriots’ practice squad and briefly returned to them early in training camp this year.

Before Tuesday’s cut to 85, the Packers also swapped cornerbacks with the New York Giants. They traded 2018 second-round pick Josh Jackson for 2018 third-round pick Isaac Yiadom.

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Jordan Love prepared to be Green Bay’s starting quarterback but says it’s ‘great’ Aaron Rodgers returned

He’s not to the point where he’s giving long and revealing answers like Aaron Rodgers, and he’s not one to crack up the room like third-stringer Kurt Benkert, so what is Jordan Love as he settles into the No. 2 quarterback job with the Green Bay Packers now that the reigning NFL MVP has returned?

No one’s immediate future was more up in the air during Rodgers’ standoff with the team than Love’s. Yet to hear his teammates tell it and to listen to him answer questions, Love was — and still is — nothing if not calm and even-keeled.

“Obviously there’s going to be either two options: Either he was going to be back or he wasn’t,” Love stated of Rodgers on Thursday in his first public comments since training camp opened on July 28.

“So yeah, I mean, it’s obviously very great to have Aaron back just on this team. Obviously he’s a huge presence at the quarterback position and in the locker room as well and then as a leader on the team, so it’s great to have him back.”

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A day after Rodgers said he tried to keep Love abreast of any developments during the offseason — because as Rodgers said, “I just felt that’s what I would want in that situation, just to hear from the guy” — Love called their relationship like a Master and Padawan, referring to one of Rodgers’ favorite movies, “Star Wars.”

Love said he found out about Rodgers’ return just before he boarded a plane to Green Bay for training camp.

“Actually, the whole time I had to convince myself that I was going to be the starter,” Love said. “That’s the only way you can look at that situation. I feel like if you don’t, you won’t be ready. That’s how I looked at it the whole way — is in my head he wasn’t coming back, I’ve got to get myself ready to be the starter.”

It was an invaluable offseason of work for Love, the 26th overall pick of the 2020 draft, given that he served as the No. 3 quarterback last season and did not even suit up for a single match as a rookie.

Much like in offseason practices, Love has experienced good and bad days so far in camp. Take Thursday, for example. He completed a tight-window crosser to Reggie Begelton and had perfect placement on a deep sideline out to Devin Funchess. But then during the two-minute drill, he went 0-for-3 with a pair of turnovers on downs and an interception by undrafted rookie Christian Uphoff on a wobbly deep ball.

“It was funny, I was talking to him in pre-practice today just about how things are going, and he seems so calm this year,” Packers guard Lucas Patrick said Thursday. “You can tell that he’s picking up on everything, and I think those OTAs reps were crucial for him. Just a ton of reps to say the cadence, say the playcall, go through things, hit strikes on quick stuff. Yeah, so I think he’s handling it well.”

Love said it helps that he can work in what he called “a great quarterback room” where he’s surrounded by the thoughtful Rodgers and the outgoing Benkert. While Rodgers was revealing again in his comments on Wednesday and Benkert cracked up the room by telling reporters the story of how he got cut by the Falcons earlier this year and that he basically invited himself to a July 4 cookout with some Packers fans, Love was his composed and buttoned-up self as he waits his turn.

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Green Bay Packers complete deal with Houston Texans for Randall Cobb

The Green Bay Packers have formally brought back Randall Cobb, with the team announcing a trade with the Houston Texans for its longtime receiver Wednesday night.

Green Bay said they sent Houston an undisclosed draft pick in return. A source told ESPN that the Packers only had to give up a sixth-round pick and got the Texans to eat $3 million of Cobb’s salary; the cap hit on the Packers will be slightly under $3 million.

Cobb, who will turn 31 on Aug. 22, played his first eight seasons in Green Bay, where he was one of Aaron Rodgers’ go-to receivers — especially in the slot.

Earlier Wednesday, Cobb tweeted: “I’M COMING HOME!”

He left in free agency following the 2018 season and spent one year with the Dallas Cowboys. He then signed a three-year, $27 million deal with Houston, where he played 10 matches last season — one more than he did during his final season in Green Bay, where he battled lingering hamstring problems.

He suffered a toe injury in Week 11 last year and missed six games. He concluded with 38 catches, 441 yards and three touchdowns.

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Rodgers hasn’t had a true slot receiver since Cobb’s departure.

To fill that void in their offense, the Packers drafted Amari Rodgers in the third round of this year’s draft.

Apparently, Rodgers-to-Cobb had a better ring to it than Rodgers-to-Rodgers, but it’s unclear if bringing back Cobb was a condition of Rodgers’ return or merely a suggestion that the Packers decided to honor.

When Cobb left the Packers, he did so ranked sixth in franchise history with 470 catches and 11th in both receiving yards (5,524) and touchdown catches (41). His best season came in 2014, when he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was one of two times in his career in which he did not miss a game.

While Cobb’s role is yet to be determined and could hinge largely on his facility to stay healthy, he also could help mentor Amari Rodgers.

There’s already a connection between the two; Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin, coached Cobb in college at Kentucky. The trade no doubt will include a contract restructure for Cobb, who was scheduled to make $8.25 million this season.

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Green Bay Packers sign QB Jake Dolegala after minicamp tryout

Make it five quarterbacks now on the Green Bay Packers’ roster.

Jake Dolegala signed with the team after his tryout during the three-day minicamp finished Thursday.

He did not get many reps during the 11-on-11 portions of the three practices, but he showed enough during drill work that the Packers want to take a longer look.

In other news, the NFL revealed Thursday that Packers tight end Jace Sternberger was suspended without pay for the first two games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy and program on substances of abuse.

With the addition of Dolegala, the Packers’ quarterback depth chart looks like this: Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, Blake Bortles, Kurt Benkert and Dolegala, who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019 as an undrafted free agent out of Central Connecticut and also spent part of last campaign on the New England Patriots’ practice squad.

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While Rodgers was a holdout during mandatory minicamp, the Packers gave Love the bulk of the work in team periods. Instead of dividing reps during 11-on-11s, Love took the majority of the snaps. Of the 31 snaps Thursday, Love took 26, while Bortles got two and Benkert three.

Less than a month ago, the Packers had only two quarterbacks on their roster: Rodgers and Love. They added Benkert, who had previously been on the Falcons’ practice squad, after a tryout during their rookie camp and then added the veteran Bortles just days later.

The Packers released defensive tackle Anthony Rush to make room for Dolegala.

Sternberger said in a statement posted to Twitter that he fell asleep behind the wheel in February 2020 after making the “horrible decision” to drink after taking anti-depressants.

“I want to apologize to the GB Packers organization and everyone else who has supported me along this journey,” Sternberger said in the statement. “It is never okay to drink and get behind the wheel.”

Sternberger, who said he has been going to therapy over the past 16 months, can participate in all offseason and preseason practices and matches but then will be out until Week 3.

“I will never ignore my mistakes,” he said. “I have owned up to my poor decision and accept the consequences.”

Sternberger, a third-round pick in 2019, has 12 career catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. He was a healthy scratch in both of the Packers’ playoff games last season.

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Green Bay Packers bring back Kevin King despite struggles in NFC title game

The Green Bay Packers are bringing back cornerback Kevin King on a one-year deal worth up to $6 million, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

King, the Packers’ top pick in the 2017 draft, had been much maligned throughout his career for injuries and inconsistent play. He concluded his season by allowing Tom Brady’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Scott Miller with one second left in the first half of the NFC Championship Game, then was flagged for pass interference on the drive that permitted the Buccaneers to run out the clock.

King has never stayed healthy for an entire season. He missed five matches last season because of a quad injury. He has missed 23 of a possible 64 regular-season games over his four-year career. He missed more games (17) than he played in (15) during his first two NFL seasons.

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Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson traded back from No. 29 overall in the 2017 draft, passing on T.J. Watt, among others, and picked King at No. 33 overall.

King has six career interceptions, five of those coming in the 2019 season, when he played a career-high 15 matches.

His signing keeps intact the starting secondary from last season, including second-team All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander along with safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage.

The Packers have a new defensive coordinator, Joe Barry. Former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s contract was not renewed following last season.

The Packers lost All-Pro center Corey Linsley, who joined the Los Angeles Chargers on a five-year deal worth an average of $12.5 million per season.

The move reunites him with offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, who left the Packers for the Chargers via free agency a year ago.

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Packers host Rams with NFC championship game berth at stake

No NFL team scored more points during the regular season than the Green Bay Packers. Nobody has played better defense than the Los Angeles Rams.

That sets up an intriguing showdown of strength vs. strength when MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (13-3) host All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams (11-6) in an NFC divisional playoff match Saturday.

“This is what you love,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “These are the type of matchups and opportunities that as a competitor, you can’t wait for.”

Both of these units are at the top of their game.

The Packers have won six consecutive games and have been held below 22 points just once all campaign. Los Angeles got to this point by sacking Russell Wilson five times in a 30-20 triumph at Seattle last week.

“They went to Seattle, played a familiar opponent and played really, really well, and they’re coming in with the confidence that they should have,” Rodgers said. “And we’re coming in with confidence as well, the season that we’ve had and what we believe we’re capable of.”

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Rodgers has set franchise single-season records for touchdown passes (48) and completion percentage (.707) this year while throwing just five interceptions for an offense scoring 31.8 points per game. Donald calls Rodgers a “great quarterback that’s playing lights out this year.”

Donald leads a defense that permitted the fewest points and yards of any team during the regular season.

“At any time, at any quarter of the game, a different guy could make a big-time play for us,” Donald said. “It’s not just one or two guys. When you’ve got a group of guys – all 11 out there – who are pretty much playmakers who can make that game-changing play at any time, you’ve got a great group.”

This will be the first time the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense and scoring defense have faced off in the postseason since the New England-Atlanta Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2017. The Patriots had the top-ranked defense and the Falcons had the No. 1 offense that year.

This also will be the Rams’ first playoff game at Lambeau Field. These two franchises have met in the postseason just twice before, with the Packers winning 28-7 in Milwaukee on Dec. 23, 1967, and the Rams winning 45-17 in St. Louis on Jan. 20, 2002.

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Packers rookie tight end Josiah Deguara has season ending knee injury

The surging Green Bay Packers lost another offensive weapon to injury, as rookie tight end Josiah Deguara suffered a season-ending knee injury in Monday night’s triumph over the Atlanta Falcons.

A source told ESPN that Deguara, a third-round draft pick, suffered a torn ACL.

“Unfortunately it looks to be a pretty bad one,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said without revealing details of the diagnosis. “I hurt for Josiah. I love what he’s all about — the mentality he brings, and he’s certainly somebody we were really excited about.”

Deguara appeared to injury his left knee while blocking on the punt team late in the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 30-16 triumph at Lambeau Field.

The Packers had big plans for Deguara, who was seemingly tailor-made for LaFleur’s offense that moves tight ends around within a variety of formations.

He played 24 snaps in the Week 1 win over the Vikings and caught one pass for 12 yards.

But his best play was perhaps a block in which he took out two defenders on an end around by receiver Allen Lazard that gained 19 yards. He missed the next two games due to an ankle injury but returned in Week 4 versus the Falcons.

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“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster because in terms of I thought he had a great game vs. Minnesota in Week 1, and then he goes out with an ankle injury,” LaFleur stated. “It’s been tough. But we expect him to bounce back from it and, you know, we still think he has a really bright future in this league.

The Packers played Monday without their top two receivers, Davante Adams (hamstring) and Lazard (core muscle injury), and also were missing veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee).

The Packers held out Adams, who wanted to play so badly that he tweeted (and then deleted the tweet) that the team was holding him out even though he felt he was ready to play.

LaFleur stated Tuesday that he did not tell Adams to take down his tweet. “I can understand why he’s frustrated,” LaFleur said.

“He’s a competitor, wants to be out there with his brothers, and any time you don’t get a chance to go out there it’s disappointing. He’s worked his tail off ever since this thing occurred, and it’s just one of those deals where the long term, potential long-term effects, you just got to take that into consideration. And we know that in order for us to be at our best he needs to be a part of those long-term plans.”

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