In a somewhat surprising move, the Green Bay Packers have elected to tender one of their two restricted free agents this afternoon. Most reports indicated that they would not be tendering either inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore or safety M.D. Jennings, but the team evidently decided that Lattimore was too valuable to chance him signing with another team in free agency:
Kind of interesting: #Packers put the low ($1.431M) restricted tender on LB Jamari Lattimore.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 11, 2014
The low tender comes with no draft-pick compensation if Lattimore is signed by another team. However, it does allow the Packers to match another team's contract offer sheet, if Lattimore were to receive one.
The Packers used this same tender on center Evan Dietrich-Smith a year ago, and he signed the tender and now is hitting unrestricted free agency this year. Lattimore clearly has been judged as a capable backup inside linebacker and a critical part of the Packers' special teams, and the team values his contributions enough that the difference of around $750,000 between the tender and the fourth-year minimum salary is worth paying in order to ensure his return for 2014.
UPDATE: According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Silverstein, Lattimore would have had some suitors on the free agent market if Ted Thompson did not tender him:
If #Packers didn't tender Lattimore, KC (Dorsey) and Oakland (McKenzie) would have been all over him, source told me.— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) March 11, 2014