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Packers release LB Antonio Morrison, retain TE Robert Tonyan

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Packers release LB Antonio Morrison, retain TE Robert Tonyan

-- While teams around the league wonder and infer about the status of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, a pair of separate roster moves surfaced out of Green Bay on Friday, 

The Packers released linebacker Antonio Morrison, according to ESPN's Field Yates. He was acquired in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts last August in exchange for cornerback Lenzy Pipkins.

Morrison never stood out as an impactful linebacker, but his "psychotic" play -- as some would characterize it -- made him a desirable candidate to assist the Packers in run support. He wasn't set to be a free agent, however, the Packers opted to pocket the $2.02 million that was set to be paid out to Morrison in 2019.

Morrison played in all 16 games for the Packers last season -- he's played in 47 of a possible 48 career games -- and started eight of them. There's a chance the Packers could reconfigure a new deal for Morrison and bring him back at a lower number.

Later that afternoon, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Packers also issued tight end Robert Tonyan his one-year exclusive rights tender, paying out the former undrafted free agent $570,000 for 2019.

Tonyan was originally picked up by the Detroit Lions in 2017, but released before the beginning of the regular season. The Packers added him to their practice squad later that season, eventually becoming one of five players to net a futures deal by the team for 2018.

Tonyan caught four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in his first full season with the Packers, one of them being a 54-yard heave against the Seattle Seahawks. He flashed with potential that the Packers could certainly deem of interest for their future plans. though, that likely won't stop the team from aiming high for a tight end in this year's draft.

Tonyan was one of several exclusive rights free agents (ERFA) that the Packers needed to make a decision on before the free agency period begins next week. Guard Lucas Patrick, linebacker Reggie Gilbert and wide receiver Jake Kumerow are the three remaining ERFAs.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (38) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Packer Fan's picture

The pieces are starting to come together. Yes for both releasing Morrison and keeping Tanyon. Morrison is too expensive.

Here is what another site suggested. Release Tramon Williams and with the release of Morrison, then BG can use this money to sign Breeland to a multi-year deal. Then sign a safey FA and draft a safety within the first three rounds. Round two if they trade up. This sets up the secondary for basically the price of a safety. I wanted to keep Williams, but there just isn't money to sign everyone that is needed. I'm in with this.

Dzehren's picture

Good point. Cut Tramon and sign Breeland (6M) and Adrian Amos safety ($7M).

stockholder's picture

Amos over Breeland. Tramon will stay. Breeland won't get 6 mil. from the packers. He's leaving.

jannes bjornson's picture

Breeland made plays. They should try to bring him back. Amos may go to Denver and play for Vic Fangio. Tramon is not a tackler any longer, he is a liability on punt return coverage, he does not have the range to play single high. He may be cut loose.

stockholder's picture

I like Breeland. Just saying he walks. Tramon will play FS and be insurance for 1 more year. He won't be in on punts. disagree on playing high. Amos has more of a shot then Collins and Thomas.

jannes bjornson's picture

Yes, someone may overpay Breeland @8 M. A fair deal for him is the 6M range. Tramon is due to play at 5M. I would ask for a renegotiation or let him move on. There are true FS in this draft. Maybe they move at Amos who I like but he has a history with Vic.

Coldworld's picture

One of the things to come out of the combine is that there appears to be a market for Breeland. He is not our top CB and we have other needs. There is a limit on what we could justify. I think the odds are another team will out bid us for him unfortunately.

Williams will stay because he can back up most of the positions in the secondary and knows the system and is a positive mentor as well as reliable on the field.

I don’t know what the Morrison thinking was. It could be Burkes or even that they believe Ryan offers more. Alternatively it may be a sign that they won’t keep players too limited to back up Martinez let alone provide coverage. Finally, they may just believe they can resign him for much less than the escalator would have earned him. Time will tell.

I agree that Amos has a lot going for him as a fit.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I agree with your thinking on Tramon. He can be the 3rd CB or the 3rd safety and start at FS based on guile and being sound in his assignments and getting the other DBs on the right page. I didn't see much confusion in the secondary in 2018. I think I'd release Tramon anyway, but only because I think I could use his money better, and I don't think we're going to compete in 2019. Moving into more long-term plans, and Tramon does not belong in long term thinking.

Morrison is a one-down LB. Can't pay $2.045M for a guy like that. So I agree we can't pay that much to guys who can't back up Martinez.

Breeland is interesting. Purely a cost issue: what's his market? $8M tops, but that might be too rich for me. Neither the draft nor free agency are good for CBs, as far as I can tell. He is young enough to be a long term choice.

canadapacker's picture

We need somebody who can make sure that there are no blown coverages. Who will do that if Williams is gone. Glad for Tonyan think that he can develop into a serviceable Tight end while doing good special teams work for the right price. See that Amendola has been released. Like the toughness and the talent to get open in the middle of the field. Hope he gets a chance here at a reasonable price - think that his YAC has always been better than Cobb.

jeepingmakooi's picture

Danny is too old... Might as well keep Cobb then.

canadapacker's picture

Probably Cobb could/will get more and is gone, Amendola is only 33 and still has some good years left, he still led Miami last year and was only cut to reduce salary and a change of organization. I think that he will do ok running those routes better than some others and if we dont get a fast tight end ( Graham is too slow) that is what we need.

haseo's picture

you are a genius. I like it.

Marcelo Mendes Lima's picture

I am very sorry disagree Packer Fans. We do still need help to solve the cornerbacks equation. We have Alexander, Jackson, king and that´s it. Breeland is good, but we don´t need to pay him more than 3M. I agree we should leave Tramon, Perry, Graham and Bulaga. But we need to hire at least 53 guys to play. We need a slot corner much more than sign Breeland. And we need safeties, inside linebackers, edge rushers, Right Tackle, Right Guard, another running back who could play outside zone running, once jammal is not the guy and Jones will not deliver 100% of snaps... The list is long. The money is short. We need to prioritize. In terms of cornerbacks, to sign a good slot corner, now is much more important than to sign Breeland.

OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

Alexander is our slot CB.

Breeland would be great opposite of King, assuming he's healthy, with up and coming Josh Jackson and Tony Brown. That's 4 solid CBs not including Breeland and I think him back on a $6-$8m per year deal is solid and will give us a veteran presence.

Agree on Edge, Safety and ILb. Would love to see Thomas, Mosley and Z'Darius signed quickly to round out the roster pre-draft to help relieve some of the pressure.

#12 - Burns/Sweat EDGE
#30 - Risner OT/OG
#44 - Irv Smith TE
3rd - Hooker S
3rd* (trade both 4ths and 5th) - Andy Isabella WR

dobber's picture

Alexander played a lot of snaps on the outside last year, and showed he belonged.

Guam's picture

You have heard the NFL has a salary cap, right? The Packers will be able to sign one of the four FA's you mentioned.

Guam's picture

delete, double post

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

The Pack's draft end up like that and I would be very happy. Smith and Isabella would really round out the offense.

haseo's picture

no you are crazy if you think Breeland is only worth 3M. He’s 5M easily.

Coldworld's picture

Breeland was worth a lot more before his freak foot injury in the minds of the Panthers: 24 million over 3 years. If we could get him for 5 million I’d be shocked.

I am sure he agreed to a minimum deal with us with the intent of proving that. He is fit, young and showed enough flashes that they or another team might pay him that again.

stockholder's picture

Do You really watch the packers? The Cb is the strength of the club. Tramon, Perry, Graham and Bulaga. Will all have their contracts honored. Breeland will not be signed. Somebody will offer him more money. And he'll take it. Ryan will be signed. He offers depth regardless of the drafting. The Needs aren't long. The OL needs better depth. Gute stated he was happy with the OL. Later Picks. Ronyan was just signed. Good Bye to the Hoek. Prioritizing: The packers will draft edge, DL, and safety. Why? T. Williams, Perry, and Daniels will all be leaving next year.

jannes bjornson's picture

Signing Ryan would be a mistake. They will draft an ILB and maybe are in the discussion for Mosley, a guy Ted did not move up for during that draft.

stockholder's picture

You still sign Ryan. I believe Ryan was the reason Morrison got cut. White will not be drafted! Smiths before Mosley. I haven't read anything on Mosley being on the packers list. Smiths are the option. And nobody is sure on CM3 being a rotation at all LB positions.

James Martins's picture

Breeland can be our slot CB. King and Alexander on the outside. Plus... We get a insurance in case King goes down because injuries. He was good enough and improved our secondary. But as much as I like him, I think teams will overpay him to be their second corner. He is worth much more than $3M. Spotrac has his market value around $6.9M, but I think teams will pay more than that for him. Instead of throwing out "we need a slot corner", I would suggest you research candidates to this position in FA. You will see that good slot defenders are paid much more than $5M and there aren't many candidates better than Breeland. Why don't you name a few? Or even draft candidates? It is hard to find those guys in later rounds and they aren't worth a early pick. Another point... Cut Bulaga ? To make our O-Line even worse? We can't get a good OT with his cap savings . Cut Perry? To save $3M? God, We can't even get an average player with this money. Tramon, yes, we can get a average and younger safety with $6M. We need a lot of players, but cutting a lot of them won't help. Sign 3 good free agents and hit on at least 4 draft picks and we're back on track. I don't care which position. 7 more starters and Packers will be back at least to the playoffs

jannes bjornson's picture

Bulaga's not going anywhere. We assume they will draft an OT and a guard in this loaded draft. They have McCray as the plug-in guy and are probably looking for a veteran after the free agency period cools down or post draft cut downs. Breeland made plays. If Gutekunst wants him he wll pay market rate. They need veterans and at least five capable CBs to be competitive.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Morrison didn't seam like a fit for what the Packers D wants to do.

Glad Tonyan is back.

jannes bjornson's picture

I don't know, he had a couple picks. One for a pick six. Broke up passes and knows the game, but hey, crazy Tony is just as good?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Are you thinking of Breeland? Morrison had 0 ints.

jannes bjornson's picture

Breland. the cursor moved from the other post.

Rossonero's picture

I liked Morrison's mean streak. He was very good in run support, even though he was a liability on passing downs.

Our LBs are weaker than ever. We have Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell and that's about it. Clay is as good as gone and Nick Perry is Mr. Invisible.

This position group has been ignored in the draft and free agency for YEARS. I wanted Eric Kendricks in 2015. Seemed like a no brainer pick, instead Ted went with Damarious Randall.

I'd gladly take Devin White at #12 or best available pass rusher. My goodness our defense still needs so much help.

jannes bjornson's picture

Time for a remodel.

SJ EC's picture

Totally agree - I really thought Morrison had a high motor and could have continued to contribute, as I thought he was a pretty bright spot in our otherwise pretty “meh” LB corps... I’ll chalk this one up to the Packers knowing a helluva lot more about player evaluation than I do!

jannes bjornson's picture

Maybe they bring him back in the next couple weeks. He has the attitude that soft-serve defense needs.

Lphill's picture

Morrison was hurt early on , later in the season when the D line started going down with injuries Morrison’s play improved and he was solid against the run . I would like to bring him back.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

Morrison was one dimensional and liability in coverage.

Lphill's picture

Packers showing interest in Dee Ford , as stated on NFL .com

D Ernie's picture

Listening to all this chatter just reaffirms for me this team cannot turn it aound in one draft. Way too many people to get rid of and you cant replace them all 7 picks and possible free agents. Thus, some guys have to stay on the roster like em or not.
I just hope the guys that stay are not in key matchup positions where they expose the team to weaknesses.
Linebackers can kind of fake it making a play here and there, no so for safeties who are 35 years old. Experience cant make up for speed.

Coldworld's picture

At FS safety, speed doesn’t help much if the brain can’t keep up. Goodness knows we have watched enough examples of that last season.

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