GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It’s the potential of a job -- not a few extra dollars -- that the Green Bay Packers use to lure rookies who aren’t selected in the NFL draft.
That was evident again in the Packers’ undrafted free agent signing bonus list.
According to NFL Players Association salary records, the Packers did not give out a signing bonus greater than $5,000 to any undrafted rookie in their class of 20 players this year.
“We very much push the notion that if you come here, historically speaking, you have a pretty good chance of making the team, making the practice squad, making something where you can ply your trade,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said.
Last year alone, the Packers kept six undrafted rookies after final cuts (although only four were on the roster for the regular-season opener). Since 2010, 21 undrafted rookies have made the Packers’ Week 1 roster and many others have played their way onto the roster via the practice squad, as Geronimo Allison did last season.
“You can look at our roster and see that we’ve got players from there and they’re still here,” Thompson said.
The Packers haven’t given out more than a $5,000 signing bonus to an undrafted free agent since Lane Taylor got $7,000 in 2013. Taylor, the Packers starting left guard, parlayed that opportunity into a two-year, $4.15 million deal that included a $600,000 signing bonus last year.
Here’s a look at last year’s undrafted rookie signing bonuses. Earlier this offseason, an NFL scout agreed to pick what thought were the Packers’ top three undrafted free agents. It’s interesting to note that one of those three, cornerback Donatello Brown, received one of the smallest signing bonuses.
NFL teams can spend up to $98,300 on signing bonuses for undrafted rookies and also can guarantee a portion of their base salary. However, the Packers totaled only $63,000 in bonuses and did not make any salary guarantees to their 20 undrafted free agents (which includes six players who received no bonus money, five of whom were signed after participating in rookie camp on a tryout basis).
By comparison, the Vikings paid out $85,000 in signing bonuses, including a $15,000 signing bonus to one player, and guaranteed another $107,500 in base salaries for their 13 undrafted rookies.
Here’s a player-by-player look at the Packers’ undrafted free agent signing bonuses:
Johnathan Calvin, DL, Mississippi State
Michael Clark, WR, Marshall
Thomas Evans, G, Richmond
Geoff Gray, G, Manitoba
Cody Heiman, LB, Washburn
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU
Izaah Lunsford, DT, Bowling Green
Adam Pankey, G/T, West Virginia
Aaron Peck, TE, Fresno State
Lenzy Pipkins, CB, Oklahoma State
Justin Vogel, P, Miami
David Rivers, CB, Youngstown State
Montay Crockett, WR, Georgia Southern
Donatello Brown, CB, Valdosta State
Kalif Phillips, RB, Charlotte
Josh Letuligasenoa, LB, Cal Poly*
Raysean Pringle, CB, Southern Utah*
William Stanback, RB, Virginia Union*
David Talley, LB, Grand Valley State*
Aaron Taylor, S, Ball State*
*Signed after a tryout during rookie camp.