When Green Bay Packers players gather in full Monday for the first time since exiting town with a San Francisco-sized fat lip, they won't have trouble learning the names of their new teammates. Through exactly three months of the off-season, the additions to the roster can be counted on one hand. The Packers are one of only two NFL teams that have not signed another team's unrestricted free agent in the month since free agency began. The other team, the Baltimore Ravens, has spent $43 million alone on three players who were released and thus don't count as UFAs. Outside of re-signing linebacker Brad Jones to a three-year, $11.25 million contract, the Packers have signed three "street" free agents: tight end Matthew Mulligan (one-year, $810,000), cornerback Loyce Means (three years, minimum) and K Giorgio Tavecchio (three years, minimum). Those three are the extent of the new faces in the locker room. Maybe the biggest changes ahead will be with the bank accounts of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews, who are both expected to sign huge contract extensions that will eat up a good portion of the Packers' $17.45 million salary cap space. It has been several weeks since numerous reports and one source said it's possible both deals could be done soon. Basics of the Matthews deal were said to be agreed upon as early as February's scouting combine, but Rodgers' deal, which is expected to make him the highest-paid player in the league, was apparently more than a few crossed T's from being done. It is possible the two deals have been completed and the Packers were merely waiting until Rodgers and Matthews returned to town to sign them. More than a week ago, Rodgers' camp sent out a message through a couple of national NFL writers that getting the deal done before the start of off-season workouts would be important to the quarterback. The Packers are likely to announce both deals at once. There have been no indications either wouldn't attend the initial workouts even though they are voluntary. Both have workout bonuses (Rodgers $500,000 and Matthews $40,000) in their current contracts and need to attend a minimum number of days over the 10-week program to get their money. Whenever the contracts are signed, their completion does not affect the significance of the reunion that is about to take place at Lambeau Field. General manager Ted Thompson has placed his bet on the 68 players on the roster and the 20 or so others he'll acquire in and after the draft April 25-27. If he does spend on an unrestricted free agent later, it's likely to be one that comes at a low cost and doesn't meet the definition of an impact player.
Packers' conditioning begins with familiar faces, new programs
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Apr 15