Here is a look at the Green Bay Packers’ offseason transactions.
July 12: Packers Add Running Back
Just 14 days before the start of training camp, the Packers signed Brandon Ross, an undrafted rookie running back out of Maryland. Ross was honorable mention all-Big Ten with 958 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior, with his 6.4-yard average leading the conference. He ranks fourth in school history with 2,543 rushing yards.
Ross, who spent three weeks with the Vikings after the draft, joins John Crockett and fellow undrafted rookies Don Jackson and Brandon Burks in the battle to be the team's No. 3 running back. Physically, Ross is 5-foot-10 and 201 pounds with a 40-yard time of 4.44 seconds, a 37.5-inch vertical jump and just 10 reps on the 225-pound bench press. Jackson is 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds with a 4.50 in the 40, 38.5-inch vertical and 15 reps on the bench. Burks is 5-foot-8 5/8 and 208 pounds, with a 4.56 in the 40, a 37-inch vertical and 24 reps on the bench. At the 2015 Scouting Combine, Crockett compiled a 4.62 in the 40, a 40-inch vertical leap and 15 reps on the bench.
June 17: Clark Wraps Up Draft Class
The Packers signed first-round pick Kenny Clark, a defensive tackle from UCLA. With that, the entire seven-player draft class has been signed with time to spare, since the rookies will stay in Green Bay for another week for the rookie symposium.
The four-year deal will be worth in the neighborhood of $9.36 million, including a $1.70 million signing bonus. Just more than $5 million will be fully guaranteed.
Before Clark signed on Friday, there were 11 unsigned draft picks around the league, including five first-round picks.
Because school was still in session at UCLA, Clark essentially was taking online classes under Professor Mike Trgovac, the Packers' defensive line coach.
June 1: One Tryout Lineman Replaces Another
The Packers have an additional roster spot available after signing guard Lucas Patrick and releasing receiver Devonte Robinson and guard Cory Tucker on Wednesday.
Patrick, an undrafted free agent from Duke, started the final 21 games of his collegiate career at left guard. He was an honorable mention on the all-ACC team as a senior. At pro day, he ran his 40 in 5.26 seconds with 29 reps on the bench. Patrick (6-3, 313) participated in the Packers’ rookie camp on a tryout basis, as did Tucker. Robinson, who received a $2,000 signing bonus, did not practice when media was in attendance at last Tuesday’s organized team activity.
The moves leave the Packers with 88 players on their roster.
May 26: A Swap of QBs Named Williams
It took just one week of organized team activities for the Packers to move on from quarterback Ryan Williams. The Packers released Williams, who was signed on Jan. 5 after going undrafted in 2015 and spending the entire year out of football. He barely played at Miami following an impressive freshman season at Memphis. He was replaced by Marquise Williams, an undrafted rookie quarterback from North Carolina.
Marquise Williams (6-2, 220) started 33 games for the Tar Heels and set school records with 10,423 yards of total offense, 2,458 rushing yards by a quarterback and 35 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. He also ranks third in school history with 61 touchdown passes. He was all-ACC second team during each of his final two seasons. As a senior, he threw for 3,072 yards on 61.3 percent accuracy with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, plus rushed for 948 yards (6.0 average) and 13 more scores. He had a huge game vs. Duke, a reward for his work on deep passing. He played through an injured hip in 2014 and had surgery in February 2015.
May 25: Kowalski Released Again
The Packers released Vince Kowalski, about two-and-a-half months after re-signing the offensive lineman. Kowalski was an undrafted rookie out of Villanova in 2015. He spent most of training camp with the Packers before he was released, then was re-signed on March 11. He worked with the No. 2 offensive line during Tuesday's organized team activity. The transaction puts the Packers' roster at 89 players,
May 18: Whitehead Joins Mix at Safety
The Packers filled their 90-man roster by signing safety Jermaine Whitehead.
Whitehead (5-11, 195) went undrafted out of Auburn last year. He signed with San Francisco after the draft and spent most of his rookie season on the Niners’ practice squad until being signed to Baltimore’s active roster on Dec. 23. He was inactive for the final two games of the regular season and released on April 19.
In nine games as a senior, Whitehead posted 36 tackles and a whopping six interceptions. He was suspended for four early-season games due to an altercation with a coach and only started for half of the season. At the 2015 Scouting Combine, Whitehead ran his 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds and posted a 37-inch vertical leap.
Whitehead gives the Packers a full 90-man roster. That means if the Packers want to bring back fullback John Kuhn, a corresponding roster move will have to be made.
May 12: Fackrell Leaves One Unsigned Pick
The Packers have signed six of their seven draft picks, with the latest being third-round pick Kyler Fackrell.
Fackrell’s four-year contract will be worth about $3.216 million, including a signing bonus of just more than $694,000.
Fackrell played outside linebacker in Utah State’s 3-4 scheme. After missing almost all of the 2014 season with a torn ACL, his five sacks as a senior doesn’t tell the full story of his effectiveness. Fackrell will join a crowded group led by starters Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. He will vie for playing time with Jayrone Elliott and elephants Nick Perry and Datone Jones.
May 9: Boyd Released Amid Flurry of Moves
The Packers made a barrage of roster moves, including releasing veteran defensive lineman Josh Boyd.
They also added a second fullback, gave up on offensive tackle Jeremy Vujnovich and swapped out one young tight end with another.
The big move, considering the lack of depth on the defensive line, was the release of Boyd. Boyd, who had 34 tackles in 15 games (four starts) in 2014, beat out sixth-round pick Christian Ringo for a roster spot last summer. Boyd played in only two games (one tackle) before going on season-ending injured reserve with an ankle injury. Boyd, who was entering his final season under contract, was waived due to a failed physical, according to the NFL's transaction wire.
Also, the Packers signed second-round pick Jason Spriggs, an offensive tackle from Indiana. The four-year deal is worth just more than $5 million and includes a $1.839 million signing bonus and almost $2.97 million guaranteed. With left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Bryan Bulaga, the Packers have their starting tandem set for 2016. But Spriggs, a four-year starter at Indiana, should provide an immediate upgrade from a depth perspective. The Packers lost their final two regular-season games without Bakhtiari, with Don Barclay starting a Week 16 throttling at Arizona and Josh Sitton moving from guard to start at Week 17 loss to Minnesota that decided the NFC North title.
May 6: Four Picks, 19 UDFAs Sign
The Packers opened their rookie orientation camp with four members of their seven-man draft class under contract. According to sources, the Packers signed linebacker Blake Martinez and defensive lineman Dean Lowry, their fourth-round draft picks, fifth-round receiver Trevor Davis and sixth-round guard Kyle Murphy.
Nineteen undrafted free agents signed, too, including six we have featured: quarterback Joe Callahan, running back Don Jackson, receiver Geronimo Allison, safety Kentrell Brice and inside linebackers Beniquez Brown and Manoa Pikula.
April 18: Barclay Returns
The Packers re-signed offensive lineman Don Barclay and added former Denver Broncos outside linebacker Lerentee McCray.
Barclay played in all 16 games, with four starts at right tackle and one at left tackle. He gave up a whopping 10.5 sacks — with 6.5 at right tackle and the other four coming at left tackle at Arizona in Week 16. McCray, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2013, played in 24 games over the past two seasons, recording 19 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble on defense and four tackles on special teams.
"We thought he had some good snaps over there in Denver," GM Ted Thompson said, "and we think he’s got a nice body type, he’s got good athletic ability, shows the ability to be an outside backer with length and that sort of thing."
April 8: Palmer Released
The Packers released linebacker Nate Palmer. A sixth-round pick as an outside linebacker in 2013, Palmer missed the entire 2014 season with a knee injury and started 10 games at inside linebacker in 2015. He finished third on the team with 80 tackles (55 solos) and added one sack and three passes defensed this past season. He lost his starting job to rookie Jake Ryan down the stretch.
Even with Clay Matthews moving back to outside linebacker, Palmer was deemed expendable with the return of Sam Barrington, who missed most of last season with an ankle injury.
March 28: Cooking in Free Agency
Jared Cook, who was released by the Rams on Feb. 19, provides the athletic tight end the Packers have lacked since Jermichael Finley’s career ended prematurely with a neck injury sustained during the 2013 season. The one-year deal is worth up to $3.65 million. They tried to acquire Cook at the trade deadline last year but the Rams wanted at least a second-rounder in return, according to a source.
With the Rams last season, Cook caught 39 passes for 481 yards, with his 12.3-yard average ranking among the leaders at the tight end position. In seven seasons, Cook has averaged 12.8 yards per catch and scored 16 touchdowns — with three of those scores covering at least 59 yards.
Cook (6-5, 254) would provide some of the game-breaking element the Packers lacked with Richard Rodgers the past two seasons. Beyond stretching the field, Cook has averaged more than 5.0 yards after the catch in four of his last five seasons. Rodgers averaged 2.75 in 2014 and 3.78 in 2015.
Finding a quarterback was first and foremost on Cook’s mind while considering his free-agent options. In four seasons with the Titans, who drafted him in the third round in 2009, Cook played with five starting quarterbacks. In three seasons with the Rams, who signed him as an unrestricted free agent in 2013, Cook played with six more starters.
That’s a total of 11 quarterbacks in seven seasons — not to mention six offensive coordinators.
The deal left Green Bay with just over $11 million of cap space.
March 17: Starks Remains Backup Plan
James Starks is back in the backfield, having agreed to a two-year deal worth $6 million that has cap charges of $2.25 million for 2016 and $3.75 million in 2017. If he doesn't make it to 2017, he could be released and the Packers would only be on the hook for $750,000 of signing-bonus pro-ration.
Once Matt Forte signed with the New York Jets – he received $9 million guaranteed as part of his three-year, $12 million contract – Starks became the obvious target for Green Bay to serve as the No. 2 at running back behind Eddie Lacy.
Starks, who turned 30 on Feb. 25, set career highs in rushing yards (601), receiving yards (392), total yards (993), receptions (43) and total touchdowns (five). Starks’ 993 total yards led the team.
March 14: Add One, Lose (Big) One on DL
Ray Drew (6-4, 300), an undrafted free agent in 2015, was added to the defensive line mix. Drew spent training camp and most of the preseason with Miami, then had a one-month stay on Cleveland's practice squad. He started 11 times as a senior at Georgia, recording 39 tackles (1.0 sack, 1.5 tackles for losses) while tying for the NCAA lead with three blocked kicks. Drew recorded six sacks and eight TFLs as a junior, when he started seven times.
What the Packers didn't announce was B.J. Raji's decision to sit out the 2016 season. Raji, who will turn 30 in July, had an offer to return to Green Bay. "Coach Lombardi once said that 'unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it – his mind, his body, his heart – what’s life worth to him?' That is the approach I have taken with football since I was a 2-star high school recruit," Raji said in a statement. "That total commitment was the foundation of my success at Boston College, helped me become a top ten pick in the NFL and helped me both make a Pro Bowl and win a Super Bowl. However, when my agents Brian Murphy and Camron Hahn informed me that they had a new deal with the Packers, I knew that I would not be able to live up to Coach Lombardi’s 'total commitment' standard and made this decision out of respect to this great organization."
March 13: Hayward Joins Chargers
Cornerback Casey Hayward’s relatively lengthy wait in free agency came to an end when he signed a three-year, $15.3 million contract to join the Chargers.
In a perfect world, the Packers would have retained Hayward, a solid slot cornerback with a history of big plays. However, because of the promise of 2015 rookies Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, along with the financial ramifications, it’s quite possible the Packers didn’t make a viable offer to retain him.
Hayward was the second free-agent defection. The first came a couple days earlier, when the Indianapolis Colts announced they had signed Scott Tolzien to be the backup to star quarterback Andrew Luck. He inked a two-year contract worth $3.5 million.
March 11: Packers Re-Sign Nick Perry
Green Bay made official its re-signing of outside linebacker Nick Perry. Perry and the Packers agreed to terms the day before, the team’s first move since the start of free agency. The one-year deal is worth $5 million, which includes a $2.3 million salary, $1.5 million signing bonus and weekly roster bonuses worth $62,500 per game — or $1 million if he plays in all 16 games.
Perry had only 3.5 sacks last season but played his best down the stretch, matching that sack total with 2.5 sacks in the Wild Card game at Washington and another sack in the Divisional round against Arizona. Impressively, the big game against the Redskins came against Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. His 3.5 sacks tied the franchise’s single-season playoff record, set first by Clay Matthews in 2010.
March 11: Packers Sign Offensive Lineman
Along with making the Perry signing official, the Packers brought back offensive lineman Vince Kowalski, who spent most of training camp with the team last summer. Kowalski (6-4, 305), who signed with the Packers as a rookie free agent in June, started all 48 games in his four-year career at Villanova, earning first-team all-Colonial Athletic Association honors as a senior.
March 11: Packers Add Compensatory Picks
The Packers picked up a pair of additional fourth-round selections when the NFL awarded compensatory draft picks. Green Bay was awarded the 131st overall selection for losing Tramon Williams to the Cleveland Browns and the 138th overall selection for losing Davon House to the Jacksonville Jaguars during free agency last year. No. 131 is the first pick at the end of the fourth round.
March 8: Taylor Provides Insurance at Guard
One day before the start of the free-agent signing period, the Packers came to terms with guard Lane Taylor. The two-year deal is worth $4.15 million and includes $600,000 guaranteed. His cap numbers are $1.45 million in 2016 and $2.7 million in 2017.
Taylor started two games in 2015 and allowed a half-sack and was not penalized in those games. With Taylor under contract in 2017, he could be in the mix should either Josh Sitton or T.J. Lang depart in free agency next offseason.
The Packers also knocked safety Chris Banjo and tight end Justin Perillo off the to-do list. The exclusive-rights free agents received the $675,000 tender.
March 2: Packers Bring Back Crosby
A few years after swallowing a pay cut, kicker Mason Crosby was rewarded with a four-year contract.
“Man, they’re somewhat similar of motivation to continue to be successful and continue to work hard,” Crosby said. “That was obviously a different situation – not necessarily back against the wall but, OK, I knew what I needed to do. I have that same mind-set here. I feel so thankful and so happy to be part of this organization again for another four years and continue that run that we’ve had. With that comes that responsibility and that motivation that I want to keep working hard and do something better next year than I have in the past. That’s the mind-set I’m taking forward. It’s exciting.”
The deal is worth $16.1 million. It includes cap numbers of $2.4 million in 2016, $3.6 million in 2017, $5.25 million in 2018 and $4.85 million in 2019.
Feb. 12: Packers Move Quickly on Guion
The Packers signed one of their two free-agent defensive tackles, Letroy Guion, to a three-year deal that’s worth $11.25 million and included a $500,000 signing bonus. His cap numbers are $3.52 million in 2016, $3.67 million in 2017 and $3.92 million in 2018.
Guion totaled 41 tackles (14 solos) in 13 games in 2015. After serving a three-game suspension to start the season due to his March 31 arrest on gun and drug charges, it predictably took Guion time to get back in the swing of things. When that happened down the stretch, he became a key element of the Packers’ defense even while losing playing time to Mike Pennel. Guion’s play on an early goal-line series at Washington might have saved the season. He finished with two tackles for losses, six pressures and two quarterback hits. His 8.67 snaps per tackle ranked second on the unit. Teams averaged 0.61 yards less per carry with Guion on the field.
Jan. 18-19: Ten Sign Futures Contracts
In the days following the playoff loss to Arizona, the Packers signed nine of their practice-squad players to futures contracts: receivers Ed Williams and Jamel Johnson, tight end Mitchell Henry, offensive linemen Matt Rotheram and Jeremy Vujnovich, defensive linemen B.J. McBryde, Christian Ringo and William Campbell, and inside linebacker Carl Bradford. Ringo was a sixth-round pick in 2015 and Bradford a fourth-round pick in 2014. McBride ended the year on the practice squad injured reserve list. At the end of the regular season, the Packers signed quarterback Ryan Williams, a quarterback from Miami who had a predraft visit with the team.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.