GREEN BAY — Well, so much for that, Aaron Rodgers.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback was surprised earlier this week when the team parted ways with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Mike Daniels on the eve of training camp. Amid all the nice things he had to say about his friend and suddenly ex-teammate, Rodgers also made it clear he had one hope in addition to his well-wishes for Daniels: That he would not have to see him again on the field with an opponent.
On Friday, Rodgers got the opposite: Daniels agreed to a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions that ESPN reported was worth up to $9.1 million and includes $7.8 million in fully guaranteed money.
“Mike has been such a great contributor for us for so long. Not just a great player on the field, but a great person in the locker room and so fun to be around. And lastly, the part that kind of makes you the total package as a Packer, is what he did in the community,” Rodgers had said on Thursday.
“Mike will definitely be missed. (We) wish him well — and hope we don’t have to play against him.”
Daniels, 30, had been entering the final year of his contract with the Packers and was scheduled to earn $8.1 million in 2019, counting $10.7 million against the salary cap. While the Packers wanted to reallocate that money and spend it on extensions on younger players — defensive tackle Kenny Clark chief among them — the Lions had $23 million in cap space to start the day and easily accommodated a contract for a player they’ve been having to block over the past seven seasons.
NFL Network reported Friday evening that 13 teams expressed interest in Daniels, who as a vested veteran immediately became a free agent after his release instead of going through waivers.
Daniels joins a defensive line in Detroit that includes end Trey Flowers, whom the Lions signed in free agency; nose tackle Damon Harrison, acquired in a trade with the New York Giants last fall; and past draft picks Da’Shawn Hand and A’Shawn Robinson.
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“It’s tough man. He’s obviously been a big part of this team. We’re definitely going to miss him,” wide receiver Davante Adams said. “It’s a business. You start to get numb at some point to some of these things. I know that definitely isn’t going to be the end of what he’s done, all the big plays and all the good things he’s done. I’m praying he’s healthy and everything works out for him.”
Grant speeds into backfield
The last time running back Corey Grant was in Green Bay, it was to have foot surgery. On Friday, he was back in town — having signed with the team that plays across the street from where he’d had the procedure.
“It’s kind of funny now, coming back here with him being here,” Grant said after taking part in his first Packers practice. “But it’s maybe a good situation.”
Grant’s 2018 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars ended with a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot. He came to Green Bay in October to have it repaired by renowned foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, a member of the Packers’ medical staff who practices at the nearby Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine & Orthopedics center.
Grant’s speed appealed to the Packers — “I know he’s really, really fast,” said coach Matt LaFleur — and Grant said despite the foot injury he still believes he can run the 4.24-second 40-yard dash he delivered at Auburn’s pro day in 2015.
Grant, who for his career has carried 81 times for 454 yards (5.6-yard average) and three touchdowns, played for new Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett in Jacksonville.
“When he called me and after I talked to him, I thought it was a done deal,” Grant said of his conversation with Hackett. “He knows my skill set and with him, we’ve had success in the past. If we can get that going again, I think it will be pretty good.”
Kicker Mason Crosby (calf), cornerback Josh Jackson (foot) and safety Darnell Savage (tooth) remained sidelined, but running back Dexter Williams (illness) was back in action. New to the injury list was outside linebacker Kendall Donnerson (hamstring). … LaFleur chuckled at a question about the intermittent rain that struck briefly during practice and said he never considered moving inside. “You guys call that rain? Come on. That wasn’t rain. That was a drizzle,” he said. “Last time I checked, this is football, and I’m sure we’re going to play in some elements up here in Green Bay. So unless it’s going to be a situation that’s going to put our guys at risk, we’re going to be outside.” … Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham, whose reputation as a blocker has been less than stellar, looked terrific lead-blocking on a Trevor Davis jet sweep during an 11-on-11 period. “That was awesome,” LaFleur said. “You go back and study Jimmy from his days in Seattle even, they asked him to do some in-line (blocking) stuff and he did a pretty decent job. (But) I don’t think we’ll get a true test of where we are until we start getting the pads on and then we get into some of those game situations.”