The deal is for one year and $1.35 million, according to the source.
It’s a key move for the Packers, who view Tolzien as a potential long-term backup to MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This year will give the team a gauge on whether Tolzien is ready to live up to that potential and capable of putting together his intelligence, work ethic and above-average arm.
“I think Scott is definitely an ascending player,” coach Mike McCarthy said at the Scouting Combine. “I still think he has more growth in front of him.”
The transaction was anything but a surprise. According to McCarthy, Tolzien had asked for his iPad and had outlined his offseason training plans with second-year Packers receiver Jared Abbrederis.
What isn’t clear is what’s next at the position. Matt Flynn, who beat out Tolzien to be the No. 2 last year, remains a free agent. Green Bay could turn to the draft, though this is not considered a good class for quarterbacks. The Packers have drafted only one quarterback since landing Brian Brohm and Flynn in 2008 — B.J. Coleman in the seventh round in 2012. Guys like Brandon Bridge, Cody Fajardo, Connor Halliday or Shane Carden might be worth a shot in the sixth or seventh round.
“I don’t think you ever pass on a quarterback,” McCarthy said. “It’s the most important position in the game. If you have one at a value that you’re comfortable and he’s in a position to pick him, I think you pick him.”
Tolzien was inactive for the first 15 regular-season games before being on the gameday roster due to Rodgers’ injured calf for the Week 17 game against Detroit and the two playoff games. He did not play in either of those three games.
Still, Tolzien thought he made progress in his first full year with the team.
“I’d like to think that I was getting better each and every week,” Tolzien said at the end of the season. “I feel good about that. I love it here. Great organization, great locker room. But I also know that as far as getting better, that’s an every-year thing. Now, that goes straight into this offseason and trying to get stronger and do anything I can to get better.”
For Tolzien, the next step is to be the No. 2 quarterback. He couldn’t knock off Flynn last summer, though that had as much to do with Flynn’s performance in 2013 as anything. Based on preseason stats, it wasn’t even close: Tolzien completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 477 yards (8.5 per attempt) with three touchdowns and no interceptions and a rating of 112.0. Flynn completed 47.4 percent for 232 yards (6.1 per attempt) with three touchdowns, one interception and a rating of 82.3.
“You’re always trying to be a starter,” Tolzien said. “You’d be cheating yourself if you’re not trying to achieve that. The way to approach that is being focused on trying to get better, whether it’s in-season or out-of-season.”
It’s possible the Packers will wait until after the draft to make a decision on Flynn, since he’s unlikely to have much appeal around the league.
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