GREEN BAY – The Packers got an early jump on the offseason when they took care of two of their biggest upcoming unrestricted free agents in the final 48 hours of the 2017 season.
In what turned out to be two of the final decisions Ted Thompson would make as Green Bay’s general manager, the Packers reached contract extensions with both receiver Davante Adams and center Corey Linsley.
The moves prevented two of the top players at their respective positions from hitting the open market in March and ensured quarterback Aaron Rodgers would have both his trusted perimeter weapon and center back in 2018.
Adams, who turned 25 in December, led the Packers with 74 catches for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance. Adams’ 22 receiving touchdowns lead the NFL over the past two seasons.
A second-round pick out of Fresno State in 2014, Adams’ 237 receptions in his first four seasons rank fourth in team history behind Sterling Sharpe (281), Greg Jennings (246) and James Lofton (242).
“When we had so much adversity throughout the season, you just love to see guys step up like he did,” said new receivers coach David Raih, who served as Green Bay’s offensive perimeter coach last year. “I told him that, too. I was very moved at him stepping up. I’m talking in practice initially and then you saw it develop. We want to continue that and try to improve on it.”
Meanwhile, Linsley became the Packers’ first starting center to sign a second contract with the team since Scott Wells in November 2006. A fifth-round pick out of Ohio State in 2014, Linsley has started all 61 games (including postseason) he’s played in.
After undergoing surgery to repair a lingering ankle injury, Linsley was the only Packers’ player who didn’t miss an offensive snap last season, playing all 1,047.
Re-signing Linsley ensures the Packers will keep the starting left side of their offensive line intact for the foreseeable future after also reaching extensions with two-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari (Sept. 2016) and left guard Lane Taylor (Sept. 2017).
“You don’t want to ever get complacent, but I’m sure it’s comforting for any quarterback standing back there knowing I can do this and it should be taken care of,” run-game coordinator/offensive line coach James Campen said. “I’m very proud of all three of them. They’ve worked extremely hard to get where they’re at. I expect them to take another step.”
The Packers have four other offensive players who are set to become unrestricted free agents, including six-time Pro Bowl right guard Jahri Evans, who played 912 offensive snaps after signing a one-year contract with Green Bay last April.
Here is a quick look at the 28 offensive players the Packers have under contract for next season and their nine free agents. Of those nine, five are controlled free agents who can be re-signed with an exclusive-rights or restricted tender.
Under contract for 2018 (28): QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Jordy Nelson, T Bryan Bulaga, WR Randall Cobb, TE Lance Kendricks, T David Bakhtiari, G Lane Taylor, WR Davante Adams, C Corey Linsley, RB Ty Montgomery, QB Brett Hundley, FB Aaron Ripkowski, T Jason Spriggs, T Kyle Murphy, WR Trevor Davis, RB Jamaal Williams, RB Aaron Jones, RB Devante Mays, QB Joe Callahan, RB Joel Bouagnon, WR Jake Kumerow, WR DeAngelo Yancey, WR Colby Pearson, TE Emanuel Byrd, TE Robert Tonyan, C Dillon Day, G/T Adam Pankey, G Kofi Amichia.
Unrestricted free agents (4): G Jahri Evans, WR Jeff Janis, TE Richard Rodgers, T Ulrick John.
Controlled free agents (5): FB Joe Kerridge, WR Geronimo Allison, WR Michael Clark, G Justin McCray, G Lucas Patrick.