No, it’s not the big free agent announcement Green Bay Packer fans have been waiting for – but there is news along the Packers free agent front as the team is reportedly close to reaching a one-year agreement with linebacker Robert Francois, according to a report by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Francois, who joined the Packers back in 2010 as an un-drafted free agent out of Boston College, has been a pleasant surprise in Green Bay and has carved out a niche for himself on the team as a backup linebacker, who also plays a key role on special teams.
Last season, Francois played in all 16 regular season games for the Packers but did not see much time from scrimmage. Most of his action came on special teams, where he was one of the teams leading tacklers. On the year he finished with a total of 13 tackles.
2012 was Francois’ best year with Green Bay as he was forced into starting a couple of games due to injuries to linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk. The former B.C. standout actually held up quite well in his two starts and notched two interceptions as well as one forced fumble in 2011.
Francois has not played much from scrimmage during his time with the Packers but he gives the team some much needed insurance at inside linebacker with both Bishop and D.J. Smith coming off season-ending injuries. In addition to that, Brad Jones, who started a majority of the 2012 season (in place of Smith and Bishop) is a free agent and Hawk, a seven-year starter at linebacker, is owed over $5 million this season and could be a salary cap casualty.
The terms of the deal are not yet disclosed but they are certainly going to be below the minimum tender for restricted free agents, which is $1.323 million. Francois entered the offseason as a restricted free agent but because of the high cost of the restricted tender, the Packers didn’t tender him an offer, hoping to re-sign him for less.
Apparently, in the end the money didn’t matter as much as Francois wanting to stay in Green Bay – now it looks like he will get his wish.