The Green Bay Packers coach

Mike McCarthy’s staff appears to be taking shape, and it’s a bit of a different shape in terms of job responsibilities.

The Green Bay Packers coach has all three coordinators in place, and a fourth assistant with a new title.

Here’s a look at McCarthy’s staff as it stands now. Most of the new positions have not been announced by the Packers but have been confirmed to ESPN.com:

Offense

Joe Philbin: The former Dolphins coach returns to the offensive-coordinator position he held before he got his first head-coaching job. Although Philbin did not call plays then and won’t this time around, either, the Packers offense never finished outside the top 10 when he held that job from 2007-11.

Frank Cignetti: The new quarterbacks coach replaces Alex Van Pelt, whose contract expired and was not renewed. His hiring was first reported by WTMJ-TV on Wednesday. Cignetti spent the past two seasons as the Giants quarterbacks coach under Ben McAdoo, a former Packers assistant coach. McAdoo was believed to be a candidate to rejoin McCarthy’s staff, but nothing is in the works.

Jim Hostler: Like Philbin, he comes from the Colts and will coach receivers. He and McCarthy worked together in San Francisco in 2005, when McCarthy was the offensive coordinator and Hostler the quarterbacks coach. He replaces Luke Getsy, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State.

James Campen: The veteran offensive-line coach is expected to return for his 15th season on the Packers’ staff, making him their longest-tenured assistant coach. He essentially serves as the run-game coordinator.

Jeff Blasko: Campen’s assistant is expected to return for his third season on the staff.

Ben Sirmans: The running-backs coach will return for his third season.

Brian Angelichio: The tight-ends coach will return for his third season.

David Raih: Promoted to offensive-perimeter coach last season, he spent most of his time with the quarterbacks. With a new coordinator and QB coach, his role is yet to be determined.

Up in the air: Edgar Bennett, who served as offensive coordinator for the past three seasons, is not expected to return, although he’s still listed on the team’s website as a member of the coaching staff.

Defense

Mike Pettine: The former Browns coach was hired as defensive coordinator Tuesday. In his five years running defenses for the Jets and Bills, his units have never finished outside the top 10.

Joe Whitt: One of the three internal candidates for defensive coordinator, the longtime cornerbacks coach will return but with the title of passing-game coordinator, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Up in the air: The rest of the defensive staff will be put together by Pettine and McCarthy, who let go of defensive-line coach Mike Trgovac and assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley when he fired Dom Capers as coordinator. Linebackers coach Winston Moss and safeties coach Darren Perry were the other two internal candidates to interview for the defensive-coordinator job. Moss is far from a lock to be retained, and Perry’s status is still being worked out. Assistant defensive-line coach Jerry Montgomery also left to become the defensive-line coach at Texas A&M.

Special teams

Ron Zook: McCarthy said after the season that Zook would return for a fourth season as coordinator.

Jason Simmons: Zook’s assistant also is expected to return.

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Their first four draft picks were designed to help the struggling defense, but the Green Bay Packers got their biggest rookie impact from two of the three running backs they selected on the final day.

Here’s a breakdown of the Packers’ 2017 draft class:

Grade: Below average.

Best rookie: Fourth-round pick Jamaal Williams was the workhorse running back, while fifth-rounder Aaron Jones provided the explosive change. Williams led the Packers in both carries (153) and rushing yards (556), but his average of 3.6 yards per carry suggests he’s more of a plodder. He also might be the more capable back in the passing game, both as a receiver and a blocker. Jones, despite a pair of knee injuries, showed more big-play ability. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry on just 81 attempts (448 yards) and matched Williams with four touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime against Tampa Bay to help the Packers stay alive in the playoff race at the time. Both had at least one 100-yard rushing game, and this duo looks more promising than opening-day starter Ty Montgomery as the future of the Packers’ backfield.

Most improved rookie: This one has to go to an undrafted rookie, punter Justin Vogel. He looked shaky in training camp but progressed as the season went along. He set the franchise record for net punting average (41.6), although a relatively mild weather season at home helped. Still, this spot should be solidified for next season.

Most disappointing rookie: Throughout the offseason practices, Josh Jones was seemingly around the ball at every turn. But the second-round pick couldn’t carry that over when it mattered. He bounced between safety and inside linebacker in the Packers’ nitro package, but other than the overtime interception in Cleveland that set up the game-winning score, he struggled in coverage most of the season. This was a classic case of a player who looked good in helmets and shorts but struggled when the pads came on. Top pick Kevin King also could be thrown into this category, but as cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said during the season, no one saw the real King because when he played, he was limited by a shoulder injury that eventually ended his season and required surgery.

Jury is still out on …: Montravius Adams and Vince Biegel. Both missed the early part of the season because of injuries. Adams, the third-round defensive tackle, broke his foot during the opening week of training camp and played in only one of the first seven games. Biegel, the fourth-round outside linebacker, had foot surgery in May and missed the entire offseason, training camp, the preseason and the first seven games of the regular season. The Packers hoped Adams would bolster their run defense and Biegel would provide some pass rush. Neither happened.

Undrafted rookie evaluation: The most promising undrafted rookie didn’t even see the field until Week 16. Receiver Michael Clark, a 6-foot-6 former college basketball player, caught four passes for 41 yards in the final two games combined. Yes, he struggled with drops, but his length and athletic ability make him a player to watch next summer after he has had a full year to refine his skills. Cornerback Lenzy Pipkins also looks like he might have potential.

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The most important offseason of Clay Matthews’ career began with knee surgery.

A source told ESPN that the Green Bay Packers linebacker underwent a procedure that was described as “a cleanup” last week shortly after the season ended.

Matthews, the Packers’ career sacks leader with 80, missed two games last season, but neither was because of a knee injury. In 14 games, he recorded 7.5 sacks — his highest total since 2014.

The 31-year-old former Pro Bowler is entering a critical offseason. He’s scheduled to make $11.4 million in salary and bonuses in the final season of his five-year, $66 million contract that still has him as one of the highest-paid linebackers in the league. The Packers could ask Matthews to restructure his deal this offseason.

Matthews’ status with the team will be one of the first decisions for new general manager Brian Gutekunst.

Matthews, who missed one game last season because of a groin injury and another because of a hamstring injury, has not recorded a double-digit sack season since he had 11 in 2014.

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Here’s how one highly placed source at Lambeau Field handicapped the Green Bay Packers’ general manager race: “John Schneider would be a grand slam, but Brian Gutekunst would be a home run.”

Short of luring Schneider out of Seattle, the hiring of Gutekunst, the team’s director of player personnel since 2016, might have been the best-case scenario to both keep continuity and rebuild the Packers after a drop-off in the talent level that was exposed this season when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone.

The Packers are expected to introduce the 44-year-old Gutekunst as their new GM on Monday. The Packers announced Tuesday that Ted Thompson would no longer be in charge of the team’s personnel department but would remain senior adviser to football operations.

Among internal candidates, Gutekunst offered the best combination of scouting experience — both on the pro and college side — and people skills. This should offer coach Mike McCarthy the kind of pairing he’s looking for: a partner in roster building and the front-facing parts of the job.

Both Eliot Wolf and Russ Ball — the other two in-house candidates considered by team president Mark Murphy — came with plenty of upside as well. At age 35, Wolf is viewed as a dynamo in the area of pro scouting. The 58-year-old Ball, meanwhile, is masterful contract negotiator and salary-cap manager. When have the Packers entered into a bad contract or been in salary-cap hell since Ball took over in 2008?

The Packers risk losing Wolf, most likely to Cleveland, where former Green Bay scout John Dorsey already hired Alonzo Highsmith away from the Packers and would love the chance to bring on Wolf.

But if Ball can work under Gutekunst, the Packers want him to continue to manage their player-finance area. A raise and a promotion in title might do the trick because unlike Wolf, Ball probably wouldn’t have as many options to become a GM down the road.

The internal reluctance to hire Ball was rooted in the idea that he would be a continuation of the Ted Thompson way, i.e., largely ignoring free agency and relying heavily on the draft. In fact, Ball has had a large role in the Packers’ roster-building efforts the past two seasons as Thompson, 64, aged and cut back his schedule. It’s believed that Ball actually made the call on whether to re-sign free agents Julius Peppers and Micah Hyde last offseason.

Murphy said last week that the new general manager will be free to build the roster any way he sees fit, and that includes a more aggressive approach to free agency. Yes, Gutekunst worked under Thompson, so he’s likely to share some of the same views, but he’s expected to be more aggressive with veteran players.

Gutekunst also should be a more forward-facing leader of the personnel department. As Murphy joked last week, it would be hard to imagine the next GM being less visible and less accessible than Thompson, who left McCarthy to always have to answer in-season questions about roster moves.

For example, it was McCarthy who in 2008 had to be the main spokesman during the Brett Favre saga. In more recent times, it was McCarthy who had to answer for why the Packers surprisingly cut Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton right before the 2016 season opener or the Martellus Bennett situation this past season.

Issues remain after Gutekunst’s promotion. For one, where does it leave the Packers’ relationship with the Wolfs? Yes, Eliot is young enough and has plenty of time to find a GM job, although unless he’s willing to wait years, it won’t be with the Packers. And although former GM Ron Wolf hired Gutekunst, he hoped his son would someday hold his old job.

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At this point, it might be easier to list who’s still on the Green Bay Packers coaching staff rather than who isn’t.

After major changes on both sides of the ball, here’s how things look now under coach Mike McCarthy, who is under contract through the 2019 season after he signed a one-year extension late last year:

OFFENSE

Coordinator: Position open.

Edgar Bennett was removed on Wednesday. It’s possible Bennett could return in a lesser capacity, but his three-year run as a non-playcalling coordinator is over. Top candidates include former Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, former Giants coach Ben McAdoo and current offensive line coach James Campen.

Quarterbacks: Open.

Alex Van Pelt’s contract expired after this season, and he was not retained. Van Pelt spoke late in the season about his desire to once again serve as an offensive coordinator, which he did for the Bills in 2009. Van Pelt and Aaron Rodgers worked well together, but fill-in quarterback Brett Hundley was not consistent enough after Rodgers broke his collarbone. Offensive perimeter coach David Raih worked closely with the quarterbacks this season, but Rodgers might rather have someone with NFL playing experience like Van Pelt did.

Receivers: Open

Luke Getsy, known as the coach who introduced juggling and other tricks to the receivers in his two seasons on the job, left to become the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State. If Bennett stays on staff, he could go back to coaching receivers like he did from 2011-14.

Offensive line: Position filled

Campen is a top-five offensive line coach in the NFL. He also is essentially the run-game coordinator. He developed middle-round draft picks like David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley into players at the top of their position, and is extremely popular among his players. He’s the Packers’ longest-tenured assistant coach, dating to 2004, but this job could open if Campen becomes coordinator either in Green Bay or elsewhere.

Assistant offensive line: Filled

Jeff Blasko, considered a rising star, finished his first season as Campen’s assistant.

Running backs: Filled

Ben Sirmans completed his second season with the Packers, and helped develop rookies Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones into the top two backs on the roster. Sirmans’ teaching background served him well, and he’s well-liked among players and staff.

Tight ends: Filled

Brian Angelichio has held this job for two seasons after coaching tight ends in Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Whoever becomes the new general manager needs to address the talent level here this offseason after the Martellus Bennett signing failed.

Offensive perimeter: Filled

McCarthy created this position for Raih last offseason but never really defined his role. He appeared to spend more time with the quarterbacks than the receivers.

DEFENSE

Coordinator: Open

Dom Capers survived Colin Kaepernick running for 181 yards against his defense in 2012, the NFC title game meltdown in 2014, Larry Fitzgerald carving it up in overtime in the 2015 playoff loss and a No. 31 ranking in passing defense in 2016. But his nine-year run came to an end this week, when McCarthy fired him. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and safeties coach Darren Perry likely are the top two internal candidates, but expect McCarthy to interview Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and other experienced coordinators.

Defensive line: Open

Despite developing Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark into bona fide three-down players, Mike Trgovac was out after nine seasons. Some thought he could be a candidate for defensive coordinator, a job he held with the Panthers from 2003-08. Assistant D-line coach Jerry Montgomery could be in line to replace Trgovac.

Inside linebackers: Open

This was one of the more surprising moves given that under Scott McCurley, second-year linebacker Blake Martinez led the league in tackles. McCurley had only two other players at his position group – Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas. McCurley had been with the Packers since 2007.

Outside linebackers: Filled (for now)

This job, held by associate head coach/defense Winston Moss, also could open soon. Indications are the Packers might move on from Moss even if he doesn’t get another job. He reportedly is on the Lions’ list of head-coaching candidates. Moss has been with the Packers since 2006, McCarthy’s first season as coach.

Safeties: Filled

Perry has deep ties to Capers; he played for the Steelers and Capers was his defensive coordinator. He came to Green Bay with Capers in 2009. He’s one of the internal candidates to replace Capers. Unlike Moss, there’s a good chance Perry remains with the team no matter what.

Cornerbacks: Filled

The young and energetic Whitt might be just what the Packers need in a coordinator. He’s tough on players, but they respect him. Whitt joined the Packers in 2008, one year before Capers arrived. He’s viewed as the leading internal candidate to replace his former boss.

Defensive front assistant: Filled

Jerry Montgomery was a highly successful college coach and recruiter before he took his first NFL job in 2015 with the Packers. He’s the likely replacement for Trgovac.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Coordinator: Filled

Ron Zook, the former college head coach at Florida and Illinois, completed his third season in charge of the Packers’ special teams. He replaced Shawn Slocum, who was fired after the 2014 season (a year in which Zook served as his assistant).

Assistant: Filled

Jason Simmons has been with the Packers since 2011 and in this spot since 2015. Zook relies heavily on Simmons.

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By signing Davante Adams and Corey Linsley to contract extensions before the regular-season ended, the Green Bay Packers were able to use $5.6 million in 2017 salary-cap space, therefore lessening the burden on future caps over the life of those contracts.

Davante Adams four-year, $58.9 million extension contained an $18 million signing bonus which will be prorated over five years, meaning $3.6 million was charged to this past season’s cap. In all, over the five years it’s worth $58,961,963.

Based on average per year, Adams ($14.5 million) is the fourth-highest paid receiver in the NFL behind Antonio Brown ($17 million), DeAndre Hopkins ($16.2 million) and A.J. Green ($15 million), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Linsley’s three-year, $25.5 million extension contained an $8 million signing bonus which will be prorated over four years, meaning $2 million was charged to this past season’s cap. In all, over the four years, it’s worth $27,303,450

Before the two deals were completed last week, the Packers still had nearly $10 million in available 2017 cap space. They will be able to carry over a little more than $4 million unused cap space to next season.

Here’s a breakdown of the contracts:

Davante Adams

2017

  • Cash value: $18,961,963
  • Salary-cap charge: $4,857,127
  • Signing bonus: $18 million
  • Existing base salary: $956,373
  • Workout bonus: $5,590

2018

  • Cash value: $7 million
  • Salary-cap charge: $10.6 million
  • Roster bonus: $5 million (due the third day of the league year)
  • Per-game roster bonuses: Up to $500,000 ($31,250 per game active)
  • Base salary: $1 million
  • Workout bonuses: $500,000

2019

  • Cash value: $7 million
  • Salary-cap charge: $10.6 million
  • Roster bonus: $3.5 million (due the third day of the league year)
  • Per-game roster bonuses: Up to $500,000 ($31,250 per game active)
  • Base salary: $2.5 million
  • Workout bonuses: $500,000
  • Incentives: $250,000 for the Pro Bowl

2020

  • Cash value: $13 million
  • Salary-cap charge: $16.6 million
  • Per-game roster bonuses: Up to $500,000 ($31,250 per game active)
  • Base salary: $12 million
  • Workout bonuses: $500,000
  • Incentives: $250,000 for the Pro Bowl

2021

  • Cash value: $13 million
  • Salary-cap charge: $16.6 million
  • Per-game roster bonuses: Up to $500,000 ($31,250 per game active)
  • Base salary: $12 million
  • Workout bonuses: $500,000
  • Incentives: $250,000 for the Pro Bowl

Corey Linsley

2017

  • Cash value: $9,803,450
  • Salary-cap charge: $3,849,700
  • Signing bonus: $8 million
  • Existing base salary: $1.797 million
  • Workout bonus: $6,450

2018

  • Cash value: $2.85 million
      • Salary-cap charge: $4.85 million
    • Roster bonus: $1 million (due the third day of the league year)
    • Per-game roster bonuses: Up to $500,000 ($31,250 per game active)
    • Base salary: $1 million
    • Workout bonuses: $350,000

    2019

    • Cash value: $6.185 million
    • Salary-cap charge: $8.185 million
    • Roster bonus: $1 million (due the third day of the league year)
    • Per-game roster bonuses: Up to $500,000 ($31,250 per game active)
    • Base salary: $4.3 million
    • Workout bonuses: $350,000
    • Incentives: $250,000 for the Pro Bowl

    2020

    • Cash value: $8.5 million
    • Salary-cap charge: $10.5 million
    • Per-game roster bonuses: Up to $500,000 ($31,250 per game active)
    • Base salary: $7.65 million
    • Workout bonuses: $350,000
    • Incentives: $250,000 for the Pro Bowl

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Here’s how one NFL agent described the Green Bay Packers’ general manager position:

“It’s the best job in the NFL,” he said. “Two reasons: No owner and Aaron Rodgers.”

Actually, there are 361,060 owners, and every last one of them is powerless.

The shareholders have zero say in anything that happens at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, and the de facto owner — team president Mark Murphy since 2008 — draws a salary just like any other team employee. It’s not Murphy’s own money on the line, which inherently means less meddling and more patience from the top. In other words, ideal working conditions.

Then there’s the quarterback. Rodgers turned 34 years old last month but was off to one of the best starts of his two-time NFL MVP career before he broke his collarbone in Week 6 of the 2017 season. Yes, Rodgers has had two major injuries — both times to his collarbone — in the last five seasons, but neither would suggest he’s injury prone.

The next general manager will have the unenviable task of finding a third franchise quarterback to follow Brett Favre and Rodgers. The last two full-time GMs (not counting coach/GM Mike Sherman) built their legacies because they nailed the quarterback spot. Ron Wolf wouldn’t be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame had he not pulled off the trade that brought Favre to Green Bay in 1992, and Ted Thompson wouldn’t have lasted 13 years had he not taken Rodgers with the first pick of his first draft in 2005.

Sure, Rodgers essentially fell into Thompson’s lap, but he learned under Wolf the value of a franchise quarterback. It was Wolf who asked Thompson to study film on Favre during Thompson’s first month on the job as a Packers scout. Wolf already had made up his mind about trading for Favre, but he wanted to see Thompson’s reaction.

Now that Thompson is out as general manager, it’s his successor’s job to continue the tradition of top-level quarterback play. The next GM will have the luxury of having perhaps a handful of drafts to find a quarterback and would be wise not to wait until Rodgers is at or near the end of his career.

The new GM also has a proven coach in Mike McCarthy who is easy to work with, which is key in a situation where a head coach is inherited and not hired. McCarthy showed he wouldn’t stand pat after the Packers’ streak of eight straight playoff appearances ended this season. He fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers plus at least two other assistant coaches Monday, and more changes could be in the works before the week is over.

All of that means Murphy should have his pick of the plum candidates. There are almost too many candidates, if that’s such a thing. There are at least three top-line personnel evaluators already in the building: Eliot Wolf, Brian Gutekunst and Alonzo Highsmith. Yet Murphy respects Russ Ball, who worked closely with Thompson as his contract negotiator, but Ball doesn’t have a scouting background and hiring him could risk alienating — and perhaps eventually losing — the other three.

Current GMs John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks), Reggie McKenzie (Oakland Raiders) and John Dorsey (Cleveland Browns) know exactly why the Packers job is one of the best in the league, and if any of them could get out of their current positions, they might jump at the chance. But because they’re all under contract, their current owners would have to let them out or accept players/draft picks as a trade. Dorsey just got hired in Cleveland last month, so that would likely eliminate him. But perhaps Schneider or McKenzie would push for the job.

“It’s a top-three job in the league,” another NFL source said. “You look for stability. That’s what you have in Green Bay.”

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The Green Bay Packers are only halfway to fixing their problems on defense.

The decision to change coordinators was the first step. Packers coach Mike McCarthy fired Dom Capers after Sunday’s season-ending loss at Detroit.

Whether it was Capers, the revered Fritz Shurmur or the inventive Buddy Ryan, it might not have mattered who devised defensive game plans and called plays for the Packers. The resources weren’t there.

Like most things in the NFL, it comes down to playmakers.

And that’s where general manager Ted Thompson failed Capers. Yes, Thompson devoted draft pick after draft pick to the defensive side of the ball, yet a dearth of impact players still exists.

Despite what coaches will say, the NFL isn’t about depth. Teams can lose players in bunches, but as long as they have one or two more difference-makers than everyone else, it doesn’t matter.

Quickly scan the Packers’ defensive depth chart — and consider the players on injured reserve, too — and it explains why Capers’ unit ranked 22nd in the NFL this season and hasn’t been in the top 10 since the Super Bowl season of 2010.

That Super Bowl defense had impact players at every level. There was B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett on the front line, and Clay Matthews and Desmond Bishop at linebacker. The secondary was loaded with talent — Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Tramon Williams and a young Sam Shields.

Like this season, that Super Bowl team faced injuries in mass quantities, but the injured-reserve list isn’t about numbers but rather names. There were so many playmakers on the 53-man roster that it didn’t matter who was on 15-man IR list.

That defense, also coordinated by Capers, ranked No. 5 overall and came up with key takeaways in every postseason game, including Collins’ interception return for a touchdown early and the Matthews/Pickett forced fumble late in the Super Bowl.

What did Capers have to work with this season?

The veterans among his group were an aged Matthews, who still plays with high energy but hasn’t been as effective; an oft-injured Nick Perry, who was a risk to re-sign last year in free agency; an inconsistent Mike Daniels up front and Morgan Burnett, who for all his versatility in the secondary is a jack of all trades but master of none.

The secondary was supposed to be built around Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who made his first Pro Bowl in 2016. But he inexplicably regressed. Veteran cornerback Davon House provided the steady play the Packers expected when they signed him to a one-year deal in free agency, and he battled gallantly through injuries, but the young defensive backs were either too inconsistent (Damarious Randall and Josh Jones) or too injured (Kevin King and Quinten Rollins).

The best prospect Thompson acquired on defense is Kenny Clark, the 2016 first-round pick who finished the season strong with 4.5 sacks in the final five games.

It’s not like Thompson ignored that side of the ball and tried to load up with weapons for Aaron Rodgers, although perhaps that would have been a better roster-building strategy.

In his 13th draft as GM last year, Thompson used his first four picks on defensive players: King and Jones in the second round, defensive tackle Montravius Adams in the third and linebacker Vince Biegel in the fourth. King didn’t have an interception before he went on injured reserve in need of shoulder surgery, and Jones had just one. Adams and Biegel were non-factors after both suffered offseason foot injuries.

Assuming Clinton-Dix bounces back next season, it’s not a stretch to say he and Clark are the only two defensive picks in the past five drafts that could be considered young defensive playmakers.

As much as coaching has been to blame for the Packers’ defensive struggles, the shortcomings in personnel remain as big an issue — if not bigger — for a defense that’s now in transition.

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If Davante Adams had not already proved his worth to the Green Bay Packers, what he did without Aaron Rodgers solidified it.

In parts of seven games with Brett Hundley as his quarterback, Adams caught 46 passes for 543 yards and five touchdowns. In parts of seven games with Rodgers as his quarterback, he caught 28 passes for 342 yards and five touchdowns.

He was the Packers’ only receiver who managed consistent production after Rodgers broke his collarbone on Oct. 15.

It’s why last week coach Mike McCarthy, for the first time ever, proclaimed that Adams was the Packers’ “best perimeter player.” It was an unofficial moniker that previously belonged to Jordy Nelson.

The only issue with signing Adams to a four-year, $58.75 million contract on Friday was his concussion history. The 25-year-old suffered his third concussion in 14 months when Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis hit him with a blindside block on Dec. 17 at Carolina. Adams hasn’t played since, although it’s unclear if he could have played this week had the Packers not been eliminated from playoff consideration.

Adams returned without missing a game following his first two concussions, including the vicious hit he took earlier this year from Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan.

Last week, it was suggested to Adams’ teammate, Randall Cobb, that Adams shouldn’t play another game until he got a new contract.

“OK, well you tell him that,” Cobb said. “I’ll let you tell him that.”

Either way, the Packers did right by Adams with this deal.

They could have had him for somewhere in the $9 million to $10 million per year neighborhood had they done a deal in August or September, but Adams’ price just kept going up during the season.

Who knows what Adams would have drawn had the Packers let him get to free agency in March, especially if teams felt comfortable with his concussion history.

The Packers clearly did, even though they need to look back only one year at the case of cornerback Sam Shields, whose career ended last season because of multiple concussions. Shields was older (age 29) when the Packers released him with one year left on a four-year, $39 million contract in February. Shields suffered a concussion in the 2016 season opener and never played again. It was the fourth known concussion of his NFL career.

Adams’ known concussion count is at three in his four NFL seasons. As long as it stays that way, the Packers should be glad they kept their best perimeter player.

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Luke Getsy praised his blocking earlier this year. Mike McCarthy called him “the ultimate pro” this week.

Those are the kinds of things coaches say about a receiver when his best days are behind him.

So if the best thing Jordy Nelson’s receivers coach could come up with was his ability to block, and his head coach chose to praise his work ethic, what does that say about Nelson’s future with the Green Bay Packers — or at least his future as one of their $10-million-a-year receivers?

For years, Nelson was viewed as a bargain — both after he signed a three-year, $12.6 million contract extension in 2011 and then again after a four-year, $39 million deal in 2014. He’s had four 1,000-yard seasons and three with 85 or more catches, including two years with at least 97 catches.

That no longer looks like the case.

He’s due to make $10.25 million in salary and bonuses next season in the final year of the deal that still has him ranked as the 15th-highest paid receiver in the league based on average per year.

With fellow Packers receiver Randall Cobb also in the $10 million range (at $9.5 million next season) and Davante Adams expected to command even more than that as a pending free agent, it’s difficult to see how the Packers can keep all three around at those prices.

Perhaps it’s Cobb who would have to restructure his deal or be released, but he’s more than five years younger than Nelson, who will turn 33 in May.

So at this point, all eyes are on Nelson, who might not even play Sunday in the season finale at Detroit because of the shoulder injury he sustained last week against the Vikings.

Even Nelson admitted this week that he’s not sure what his future holds with the only NFL team he’s ever played for, the one that picked him in the second round of the 2008 draft and the one for which he and Aaron Rodgers have the franchise record for most touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver combination — a total that reached 65 with Nelson’s six touchdowns this season before Rodgers broke his collarbone on Oct. 15.

“That’s not [a question] for me,” Nelson said. “I’m not worried about that right now.”

After the fast start this season, Nelson’s production plummeted. He didn’t catch a single touchdown pass in the eight games that Brett Hundley started. Anyone who thought it would automatically return when Rodgers came back in Week 15 at Carolina need only look at Nelson’s numbers from that game, too: three catches for 28 yards. That’s on par with Nelson’s season averages of 3.5 catches per game for 32.1 yards.

Nelson looks like he’ll finish with his fewest catches (53) since 2012, when he missed four games, with the fewest yards (482) and fewest touchdowns (six) since 2010.

“I’ve never put anything in my career on numbers,” Nelson said. “That doesn’t change if it’s a bad season or a good season.”

When asked if he’d call this a good season or a bad season, Nelson said: “I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it too much. Obviously we’ve been in it week in and week out, so that’s something that you’ll think about after the season’s over.”

Nelson also said he hasn’t thought about what might happen if the Packers ask him to take a pay cut or restructure his deal.

“That would be a discussion we’d have if it happens,” Nelson said.

Hundley said he “couldn’t put a finger on it,” when asked this week why he hasn’t been able to get the ball to Nelson as much and in as many playmaking positions as he has with, say, Adams, who has flourished despite the change in quarterbacks. Nelson has averaged just 7.1 yards per catch from Hundley but 11.7 with Rodgers this season.

It was during Hundley’s long stretch as a starter that Getsy took to praising Nelson for his blocking.

“He’s been outstanding,” Getsy said. “He really is. There’s never been a blink of an eye. It really hasn’t. We’ve got to find a way to win games, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to do that.”

But it doesn’t change the fact that Nelson is having one of his least productive seasons or the fact that Packers coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged for the first time last week that Adams — not Nelson — is the Packers’ “best perimeter player.”

“Jordy’s the ultimate pro, he’s the ultimate teammate,” McCarthy said. “So he hasn’t [changed] at all, from my perspective. He’s the same guy every day. I understand what numbers say, but it’s about opportunities and being in rhythm. So I mean, if you look at some of the production even with the younger players in the Minnesota game, I don’t think it’s a surprise you see Brett, he throws to Trevor [Davis] more, he throws to Michael Clark more, just because that’s who he’s been practicing with.

“But Jordy, he’s going through a tough week with the shoulder, but like he always does, he shows up every day and he’ll do everything he can to get out there Sunday.”