Packers Rumors

Packers Add Two Coaches To Staff

The Packers coaching staff continues to take shape. The Packers have hired Kevin Koger as their offensive quality control coach and Jason Vrable as an offensive assistant, according to Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com.

Koger has spent the past three seasons as the wide receivers coach at Eastern Kentucky, and he also served as the special teams coordinator during the 2018 campaign. The 29-year-old also had coaching stints at Michigan and Tennessee.

The former tight end was a standout at Michigan between 2008 and 2011, but a torn Achilles tendon seemingly ended any chance he had of making the NFL. Now, he’ll have a chance to make his mark as a coach under Matt LaFleur.

Vrabel has spent six seasons coaching in the NFL, including the past two years as an offensive assistant with the Jets. He was previously the offensive quality control coach for the Bills, and he had a brief stint as Buffalo’s running backs coach. Vrabel will now play an important role on offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett‘s staff.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers’ Cole Madison May Not Return To NFL

The Packers drafted Washington State guard Cole Madison in the fifth-round of the 2018 draft, but he stayed away from the team after mandatory minicamp in mid-June and was placed on the reserve/did not report list at the start of training camp. The last report we heard on the matter came in August, when GM Brian Gutekunst indicated that Madison was dealing with a personal issue but that he was expected to eventually contribute to the team.

Michael Cohen of The Athletic has now provided some answers, but they are not pleasant. Cohen reports that Madison has been deeply affected by the death of former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who committed suicide two weeks after playing in the 2018 Holiday Bowl. Madison and Hilinski were close friends, and a source close to Madison said, “[t]he death of Tyler is in his head. I don’t think he’s coming back. At least he’s not showing signs of it right now.”

At the 2019 Senior Bowl last month, Gutekunst neither confirmed nor denied that Hilinski’s death was the source of Madison’s decision to step away from football. Like all other members of Green Bay brass that have been contacted about the matter, he simply said that Madison is dealing with a personal issue and that the team supports him.

Madison was reportedly in good spirits during the draft and all the way through minicamp, but something changed during the interlude between minicamp and training camp. Cohen suggests that Madison’s mindset may have changed when he learned that Hilinski had been suffering from CTE, which was reported in late June.

Green Bay had hoped that Madison could contribute right away and believe he has the potential to be a starting guard. The Packers will not receive a compensatory draft pick if Madison retires or never plays for them. They have paid out a $324K signing bonus — the only guaranteed money in Madison’s standard four-year, $2.78MM rookie contract — and they have made no effort to recoup that bonus at this point.

The Packers could use some help on their O-line, but they will not press the issue. Gutekunst said of Madison’s potential return, “If that happens, it’s great. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Packers Hire Two Assistants

  • The Packers announced that they’ve hired Luke Butkus as assistant offensive line coach and Rayna Stewart as a special teams quality control coach. Butkus, the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, will work under new Green Bay OL coach Adam Stenavich, while Stewart will advise new ST coordinator Shawn Mennenga.

Aaron Rodgers Gets 2020 Bonus Guarantee

  • Aaron Rodgers‘ 2020 $19.5MM roster bonus became fully guaranteed today, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link), virtually ensuring what we already knew: Rodgers will be the Packers‘ quarterback for at least two seasons. Rodgers, 35, inked a four-year, $134MM extension last August that made him the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback by a wide margin. He’s collecting $33.5MM annually, $3.5MM more per year than Matt Ryan. Rodgers finished in 10th in adjusted net yards per attempt (the passing stat which correlates most with winning) in 2018, but ranked just 20th in ESPN’s Total QBR, a metric based on expected points.
  • The Steelers have hired Adrian Klemm as assistant offensive line coach, the club announced this week. Pittsburgh lost offensive line coach Mike Munchak to the Broncos earlier this offseason, and replaced him by promoting Shaun Sarrett from within. Klemm, 41, enjoyed a six-year playing career with the Patriots and Packers before joining the collegiate coaching ranks in 2006. Most recently, Klemm was the offensive line coach/run game coordinator at UCLA from 2012-16.

Latest On Packers’ Coaching Staff

The Packers are just about done filling out Matt LaFleur’s inaugural staff. They’ve made a bunch of moves over the past couple of weeks, and made several more today. While LaFleur is keeping defensive coordinator Mike Pettine from Mike McCarthy’s staff, most of the assistants are being changed out. Pettine is staying and the team previously hired Nathaniel Hackett to coordinate the offense, and today they found their third coordinator.

Vanderbilt special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga will take the same job with the Packers, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As Demovsky points out, Green Bay’s special teams were some of the worst in the league last year, so Mennenga will have his work cut out for him. Mennenga was previously an assistant special teams coach with the Browns while Pettine was the head coach in Cleveland.

The team also has a new wide receivers coach, as they’re hiring Alvis Whitted, according to Demovsky. Whitted has been in the same position at Colorado State for the last seven years. Before that Whitted spent nearly a decade in the NFL as a player, with stops in Jacksonville and Oakland.

The team also announced they were keeping four of McCarthy’s other assistants, tweets Jason Wilde of ESPN. Running backs coach Ben Sirmans, defensive backs coach Jason Simmons, defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, and assistant defensive backs coach Ryan Downard are all staying. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets that both Simmons and Downard actually received promotions.

Packers To Bring Back TE Jimmy Graham In 2019

The Packers are expecting to have tight end Jimmy Graham for at least another season, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

Rapoport writes that Graham is “due a $5M roster bonus on 3/15, and the expectation now is they pay it and he returns.” Green Bay signed Graham to a three-year $30MM deal back in March, but his first season with Aaron Rodgers was a bit of a disappointment. Graham ended up playing in all 16 games, but he was hampered by a broken thumb the last couple months of the season.

Graham ended up catching 55 passes for 636 yards and two touchdowns. He came to Green Bay after spending three years in Seattle, and hasn’t quite been able to replicate his early career success in New Orleans in either stop. There was speculation the Packers might move on this offseason, but paying him the $5MM roster bonus indicates they still believe he can produce at a high level.

Recently fired coach Mike McCarthy caught a lot of flack for not getting Graham more involved, and it’s possible he could see a late career resurgence under new coach Matt LaFleur. The two touchdowns were the lowest of any healthy season of his career, and the 55 catches the lowest since his rookie season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers, Packers Interview Wes Welker

Wes Welker spent the past two seasons working as a Texans offensive assistant, but other teams are interested in the former All-Pro wide receiver.

Both the 49ers and Packers met with Welker, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

It is unclear if Welker’s contract is up, because the Texans recently blocked the young assistant from an interview. Last year, the Texans didn’t allow Welker to interview for the Broncos’ wide receivers coach position. But Welker met with the 49ers and Packers this year, indicating he could be on the move soon.

The 49ers employ a wide receivers coach, Mike LaFleur, but the Matt LaFleur-led Packers do not. The Packers were interested in Shawn Jefferson for that role, but he since accepted a job with the Jets.

Welker, 37, played 12 NFL seasons before retiring as a member of the St. Louis Rams after the 2015 campaign. He spent 2018 assisting Texans wideouts coach John Perry, working with the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, former teammate Demaryius Thomas and rookie Keke Coutee.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Hire OLB's Coach

The Packers have made their latest addition to Matt LaFleur’s staff, hiring Mike Smith to coach their outside linebackers, the team announced in a tweet. No, it’s not former Falcons head coach and Buccaneers defensive coordinator, but a different Mike Smith. Smith was drafted by the Ravens back in 2005, and spent three-plus seasons in the league with Baltimore. He started as a coaching intern with the Jets in 2010, and has steadily moved his way up the ranks.

He was on Andy Reid’s staff in Kansas City for the past three seasons, where he served as assistant defensive line coach and then outside linebackers coach. When the Chiefs fired longtime defensive coordinator Bob Sutton earlier this week and hired Steve Spagnuolo, it meant Smith was unlikely to be retained. Smith coached under current Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in New York, so the reunion makes sense.

Packers Interview Tom Quinn

  • Former Giants special teams coordinator Tom Quinn is a candidate for the same position with the Packers, reports Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), who adds Quinn has spoken with Green Bay. Quinn was New York’s coordinator from 2007-17 before being let go by Pat Shurmur last offseason. However, Quinn re-joined the Giants staff in September 2018 after new ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey began cancer treatments. The Packers were thought to be a serious contender to hire Dolphins’ special teams coach Darren Rizzi, but that union won’t be happening.
  • Adam Gase is bringing a familiar face to New York, as former Dolphins wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson has taken the same job with the Jets, per Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link). Jefferson, 49, started his coaching career in 2006 with the Lions before moving on to Tennessee in 2013 and Miami in 2016. He was reportedly a candidate to become the Packers’ new wide receivers coach, a role which still hasn’t been filled.

Packers Notes: Rizzi, Dennison, Angelichio, Outten

The Packers will not be hiring Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Green Bay was reportedly one of five teams with interest in Rizzi, who also holds the title of assistant head coach in Miami, but the two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement. Per Silverstein, Rizzi’s price tag is believed to be “high,” but he’s still expected to land with another club in the near future. The Dolphins would like to retain Rizzi (whom they interviewed for head coach), but they figure to install an all-new staff under presumptive head coach Brian Flores, so it’s unclear if there is still a fit in South Beach.

  • Like the Packers, the Vikings expressed interest in hiring Rizzi, but they’ve since gone in another direction. Minnesota has hired Rizzi’s assistant in Miami, Marwan Maalouf, as their new special teams coach, tweets Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio. Maalouf served as the Colts’ special teams coach in 2012 before joining Miami the following season. He’s replacing Mike Priefer, who left the Vikings to take the Browns’ ST job. Last year, the Vikings ranked 20th in Football Outsiders’ special teams metrics, while the Dolphins were one spot behind at No. 21.
  • Rick Dennison preferred to stay on as the Jets‘ offensive line coach under new head coach Adam Gase, but New York instead hired Frank Pollack to guide their front five. However, both the Vikings and Packers remain “strong possibilities” for Dennison, per Marvez (Twitter link). Dennison had been expected to immediately follow Gary Kubiak — who was recently hired as a Vikings’ offensive advisor — to Minnesota, but that union hasn’t yet happened. Green Bay, meanwhile, has already hired Adam Stenavich as its offensive line coach, so Dennison would come aboard in a different position.
  • Early reports suggested the Packers were interested in retaining incumbent tight ends coach Brian Angelichio, but Green Bay has instead hired Falcons quality control/assistant offensive line coach Justin Outten as their new TEs coach, tweets Silverstein. Angelichio was one of a few assistants that was expected to stick around under new Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur, but things must have changed over the past several weeks. Outten, for his part, joined Atlanta as an intern in 2016, and was coaching in the high school ranks as recently as 2015.