AP NEWS

Packers: Eddie Lacy, T.J. Lang appear headed for free agency despite contact with team officials

March 1, 2017

GREEN BAY — Both Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang and running back Eddie Lacy have heard from the Green Bay Packers about returning to the team this offseason, but no deals are imminent and both players appear headed for the open market when free agency begins next week.

Lang said in an interview on ESPN Wisconsin’s “Wilde & Tausch” on Tuesday that his agent and the Packers have had some “good conversations” and are set to talk more at this week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, while Lacy said in a podcast with ESPN’s Adam Schefter posted Tuesday that the Packers have been very “vocal about having me back.”

Lang and Lacy head a lengthy list of Packers players headed to free agency — tight end Jared Cook, outside linebackers Nick Perry, Datone Jones and Julius Peppers and defensive back Micah Hyde also are key contributors whose contracts are expiring — when it opens March 9.

Lacy is coming off ankle surgery that ended his season after only five games last season, but he was averaging 5.1 yards per carry before being placed on injured reserve. He told Schefter the injury, which he suffered Oct. 9 against the New York Giants and exacerbated by carrying 17 times for 65 yards against the Dallas Cowboys the following week, is still preventing him from running on regular surfaces. Lacy has been working out at the University of Alabama and posted a video last week on social media of him running in a pool.

“I messed up my deltoid ligament and widened the bone on my ankle, so I had to get two screws, two wires and a plate to fix it because I messed up my deltoid ligament (so badly),” Lacy said. “That’s the longest thing to heal.

“My healing process is 4-6 months; on the 26th it (was) the fourth month. I’m going to try and go out and run, but if it’s not comfortable then I’m just going to continue doing what I’ve been doing. But by April, whenever I have to report, I should be able to go out and do everything.”

Having released veteran James Starks earlier this offseason, the only running backs under contract for the Packers are converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery and fullback Aaron Ripkowski.

Asked if he’s thinking about where he might end up in free agency, Lacy told Schefter: “I’m trying not to think about all of that right now. I’m just trying to make sure whether I end up in Green Bay or somewhere, I’m in the best shape or I’m in the best position I can be in personally, so when it’s time for me to contribute to whatever team that it is that they’re getting 100 percent of me.”

Lang, meanwhile, has made it clear he wants to return to the Packers, having spent all eight of his NFL seasons in Green Bay — and made the playoffs in each of those seasons. He expressed some concern in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio in mid-February about not having heard from the Packers, but said Tuesday the team reached out shortly thereafter.

“(We) definitely have plans to sit down with Green Bay and talk things out. Nothing aggressive yet; just kind of playing the waiting game still. But at least there’s been a little bit of contact,” said Lang, who was named to his first Pro Bowl team in 2016. “There’s been good contact, I’d say good conversations. Nothing crazy yet, but hopefully this week they’re going to sit down and discuss things so we can get a better vantage point of what to expect and what’s going to happen here in the next week and a half before free agency starts.”

Lang said he and his agents have told the Packers they’ll be given the chance to match whatever outside offers he gets.

“We told Green Bay all along that we’ll keep them updated on any other offers that come in, and really at that point it would just be, ‘Hey, this is what we’ve got sitting on the table, can you guys compete with it?’ Obviously we’re going to give them the first right of refusal,” Lang said.

“But at this point, it’s like, we’re nine days away from free agency starting up. I think every player, once they get to this point, it’s just smart business to go out and check out the market and see what you’re actually worth.”

The 29-year-old Lang said both the broken left foot that he re-injured in the Packers’ season-ending loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game, and a left hip injury that bothered him all season, feel great. Lang underwent surgery to repair his hip on Jan. 30 and remains on crutches following that procedure but said Tuesday that both his foot and his hip feel great.

“I feel awesome. I really do. I’m not just saying that because it’s a week away from free agency,” said Lang, who also underwent shoulder surgery last offseason but has still started 91 of a possible 96 regular-season games since becoming a starter in 2011. “(And) my foot feels amazing. My foot feels awesome. I knew that was going to heal with time — it would’ve healed last season if I had let it, but I’d have had to miss an extra three or four games, which wasn’t an option.

“To some teams, I think they might see it as a negative that I’m coming off surgery, but for me, it’s nothing but a positive. … In my mind, there’s going to be nothing holding me back this year. It’s going to be my first camp really where I can go in feeling 100 percent healthy. Last year I had the shoulder fixed, had the hip bugging me going into camp. This year, the shoulder’s fixed, the hip’s fixed, the foot’s going to feel great. I’m really looking forward to just finally having a healthy camp, coming in 100 percent. I still feel like my best football is ahead of me.”