27

March

Is Michael Huff the Answer to Green Bay’s Safety Needs?

free agent safety Michael Huff

Huff will visit with the Packers later this week. If signed, he would add a veteran presence to a young Green Bay defensive backfield

It is being reported that free agent safety Michael Huff has a visit scheduled with the Green Bay Packers later this week.  Huff has previously spent all of his seven seasons in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, who selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft (just two spots after the Packers selected linebacker A.J. Hawk).

Huff has already met with the Dallas Cowboys and keep in mind that he grew up in Texas and starred with the Longhorns during his college days.  But Dallas has salary cap issues and can’t sign Huff right now.  He is also scheduled to meet with the defending champion Baltimore Ravens this week.  Huff recently turned 30, which in NFL terms is when players tend to gain the “aging” moniker.  If signed by the Packers, he would bring some experience to a secondary that just got a lot younger with the departure of long-time veteran Charles Woodson.

Currently, the Packers have Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian and Sean Richardson as true safeties on their roster.  If you count the 2010 season that Burnett missed most of due to injury, that’s a combined eight years worth of experience.  They certainly have enough men, but do they lack some savvy with such a green group at the safety position?  If so, is Huff the answer?

Let’s take a look at a little Packers history first.  Prior to the 2006 season, Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson was gearing up for the team’s first season under his new head coach, Mike McCarthy.  Ted was still working with some of the leftovers from the Mike Sherman era and needed to turn around a team that had finished 4-12 the year prior.

The team needed defensive help but more so, they needed leadership.  At the time, Woodson was a free agent after spending his first eight seasons with the Raiders.  The Raiders weren’t interested in bringing him back and he was getting next to no interest on the open market.  Woodson was 29 years old, coming off of an injury and there were concerns about his ability to play at a high level again.  Woodson had a few offers, but none near what he was looking for.  Thompson entered the fray and was the highest bidder.

Today, that sounds strange to hear, given what we have seen from Thompson in free agency since that time.  However back then, Packers fans saw Thompson as a GM who was willing to get after guys on the open market who could seemingly help the team.  He had already signed free agent safety Marquand Manuel to a hefty deal and didn’t seem afraid to spend where there was a need.  We all know how the Manuel signing turned out, but for the purposes of this discussion, put yourself back in “pre-2006” mode.

In the end, Woodson was signed and all he did was spend the next seven seasons in a Packers uniform racking up 38 interceptions (nine for touchdowns), 11.5 sacks, one Defensive Player of the Year award (2009) and helping the team to their fourth Super Bowl victory a year later.  Looking back, the Woodson signing has been debated as one of the best in Green Bay history, second only to Reggie White’s arrival in 1993.

It was a gamble that paid huge dividends for Thompson and the Packers.  They got the player and the man in Woodson.  Now, I’m not comparing Michael Huff to Charles Woodson, but there are similarities in the scenario surrounding his scheduled visit to Green Bay:  Former Raider defensive back, 30 years old, still unsigned well into the free agency period and having already met with other teams.

That, to me, is where the parallel ends.  As I said, Huff is no Charles Woodson.  In 2006, Woodson signed a seven year, $52 million deal with the Packers.  Huff won’t get close to that kind of money and certainly (also ironically) not from the same GM who engineered that Woodson deal.

Many have speculated that it was that very contract that Thompson gave to Woodson that caused him to abandon the use of free agency and concentrate more on the draft.  The pressure that Thompson was said to have felt in hoping that Woodson would live up to the money he was given caused him a lot of anguish and lost sleep.  Again, that was speculation, but it’s believable as Thompson has rarely dipped into free agency since and certainly has not spent much in doing so when he has.

That said, it stands to reason that the only reason Huff is likely coming to Green Bay this week is because his price has likely been driven down by his extended time on the open market.  Ironically, the fact that Woodson himself is also unsigned is another reason why Huff won’t command top dollar.  There are still a few good veteran safeties out there and the market is a bit soft.  Huff can likely be had for as little as $3 million/year or less.  Not a bad deal for a veteran safety of his caliber and that is the kind of money that Thompson would realistically spend if needed.  Again the question is:  Is it needed?

Huff has been durable throughout his career and has appeared in all 16 games in each season but one.  He missed four games during the 2011 season.  Beyond that, Huff doesn’t have anywhere near the stats that Woodson has had during the same span.  Huff has just 11 total interceptions (none returned for a score) and 5.5 sacks in his career.

Yes, bringing in Huff would add some experience but it would also stall the development of both Jennings and McMillian, who would lose valuable snaps with Huff in the fold.  McMillian showed some promise last season and needs this 2013 season to show the Packers what they have in him.  It’s not certain that Green Bay is sold on Jennings at safety and I have heard some rumblings that they may move Casey Hayward to safety in order to keep the playmaker on the field.  That would further diminish the need to add a new face to the mix.

To me, all of this says that the Packers are either much less sold on their two young guys at safety and Huff would potentially fill a bigger hole than was previously thought, or they’re simply kicking the tires and doing their due diligence.  In my opinion, the Packers should pass on Huff.  They have enough promise in McMillian and Hayward to focus on that or add some young depth via this year’s draft.

If they really want to add a veteran defensive back who can bring the most value to the team, Green Bay should consider none other than. . . . Charles Woodson.  This idea is based on the premise that the Packers are bringing in Huff to potentially add a veteran presence to the defensive backfield.   In Woodson, the Packers not only have a veteran who already knows the scheme, but he gels well with the current safety unit and also now knows his market value.  He’s not going to get top dollar and may become viable to return at a bargain rate for a bargain-shopping GM.

McCarthy has often said that he prefers guys that he knows over someone new.  It’s not that crazy of an idea.  In Woodson, the Packers get some of that savvy back and virtually have a player/coach on the sidelines.  Clearly Woodson wouldn’t be a starter anymore but it’s worth arguing that he can still add value as a part-time player.

I realize that the team let Woodson go for a reason and they may have no intention of even looking his way.  But when I read that the Packers were bringing in Huff, I couldn’t help but ponder a better alternative:  a Woodson/Green Bay reunion before all is said and done.

——————

Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

Follow Jason at:

Jason Perone
                Add to Circleson Google+

——————


---- Get AddToAny

35 Responses to “Is Michael Huff the Answer to Green Bay’s Safety Needs?”

  1. Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

    I guess not… Adam Schefter just tweeted that the Ravens signed Huff to a 3yr, 6M contract.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Scott 1956 says:

      Al, TT won’t sign anyone that played for a team other than the Packers.
      I have an idea for your next article. Seeing that TT almost always keeps his draft picks, why don’t you try to figure out who’ll be the 8 or so players who will be cut? I know it would be easier to do after the draft. Just an idea.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

      • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

        “Al, TT won’t sign anyone that played for a team other than the Packers.”

        2012: Nick Hill, Jeff Saturday, Philip Merling, Anthony Hargrove, Cedric Benson

        2011: K.C. Asiodu, Herb Taylor

        2010: Charles Dillon, Charlie Peprah, Jason Chery, Maurice Simpkins

        This also doesn’t include guys like Anthony Smith, Derrick Martin, Charles Woodson or Ryan Pickett.

        Shall I continue?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

        • Scott 1956 says:

          You mean all those FA’s that NOBODY wanted! Why don’t you tell all of us about the FA’s that somebody else wanted that TT outbid.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          • Oppy says:

            So in your world nothing is worthwhile unless you paid more for it than someone else?

            I’d love to see your finances.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

            • Scott 1956 says:

              The point is that TT doesn’t sign free agents that other teams want.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

              • Oppy says:

                Perhaps the point is, TT doesn’t sign free agents who want more money then his scouts and personnel dept have decided they are worth.

                Just a possibility, see?
                If someone else is offering more than the talent is worth, there’s probably not much of a chance of the Player taking a lesser offer. Does that mean the Packers should pay people more than they think a particular player is worth? If a free agent was worth the money they want, don’t you think the chances are their original team wouldn’t have let them get away in the first place more often than not?

                Things to consider.

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Stroh says:

        Michael Huff is nothing but another Marquand Manuel! Do you remember him? Most of us are trying to forget him. If you don’t remember him he played Safety for a year, never made any plays and didn’t tackle a soul!

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

        • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

          I DO remember Manuel! In fact I remember him so well I wrote about him in this very piece!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

          • PatMc says:

            I had forgotten Manuel until I read his name in your piece. Good job. I think it was a very good piece and informative.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • Stroh says:

            You merely glossed over him as a FA that was signed. You didn’t write anything about him. There’s a difference. And this very piece also talks bout bringing Woodson back, which is as likely to happen as bringing Manuel back! Just one of the holes in the “piece”.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

            • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

              Stroh, it’s obvious from your initial comment that you didn’t read the entire “piece” and are backtracking now. You don’t understand the intent beind the writings because all you’re looking for is an argument and a “flaw”. It’s sad.

              The people have spoken, look at your rating. You might want to consider a more positive attitude otherwise all we hear is “whaa whaa whaa”.

              It’s a wonder why you come back day after day to read our stuff when it’s so full of holes and “glossy”. You seem more interested in critiquing than discussing. But whatever works. I guess I’ll just say thanks for reading, dude!

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

              • Stroh says:

                Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

                Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

    • Bob Thomas says:

      The Packers should just bring Woodson back. He still a very good role model and a person that could further these young players a couple of notches.He’s popular and would be nice to see him back in the Green and Gold.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Razer says:

    I doubt that TT would have taken a shot at this guy. He is no Woodson and we are not going to throw big money with the pending contracts to our studs.

    Having said that, if after the draft we still see a need in the secondary and, if we have cap room, I could see us throwing some coin at Woodson for another season. Rather than just let cap dollars fall away, 4 million to Woodson to play safety would be good insurance and give us another year to get guys up to speed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

    • Stroh says:

      No way Woodson comes back to GB. Get over it. The Woodson era was great but its over unles he’ll play for the league minimum which he won’t. Woodson is too prideful to stay in the same place and take a massive pay cut.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  3. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    That idea was erased quickly,but the idea of Woodson coming back is,I guess,still on the burner.

    IMO,I don’t see Woodson coming back for $2 mill a year as Huff signed.I would think TT had already made a similiar offer and even if more,it may be too big a chunk of pride for Woodson to swallow as he could have just agreed back then if pride isn’t a factor.

    I will stand on my initial thoughts with Woodson,time to move on and it’s still time to move on,even if he’ll take $2 mill a year.

    The only upside to offset the multitude of downsides,which regrettably,would be fine with some,is they can cheer once more for an aged veteran offering next to nothing in the large scope.

    Again,for those who will pounce on the leadership defense for Woodson,I again say,”if you need to buy leadership,you’re not developing it”and that is where the large benefit comes,via the ranks within.

    DWTS has been cast I assume,so Woodson may simply just need to accept a pom-pom job like Driver ended up with,without the fan adulations of his dance moves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Dave H says:

    Looks like Teddy slept again or should I say didn’t try again, because his ego believes he drafts his players and don’t need any FA. Latest update is Huff agreed to terms with the Ravens

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

    • Dobber says:

      That said, his ego has done a pretty good job over its tenure in GB.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

      • Oppy says:

        Agreed, Dobber.

        Jeesh, I thought the “TT Ego” stuff went away years ago. It’s hilarious.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  5. Razer says:

    I am having a hard time believing that a guy who was scheduled to make 7 million this year and 11 million next year just signed for 2 million per year. What a mess Al Davis left in Oakland!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    • Ron LC says:

      2 mil a year ain’t big money in the NFL. It’s the typical “CAP VETERAN” contract. Al Davis is DEAD and has been for a couple of years if my memory is right.

      2 mil a year for an eperienced safety would have been a bargain.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  6. BartyS says:

    No. He was a free agent who played for another NFL squad. Hence, he is of no use to the Green Bay Packers.

    Who is the Giorgio Tevecchio/Daniel Muir of Safeties?

    He is TT’s man.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  7. PatMc says:

    There are plenty of Safeties in this year’s draft. at least 4 that will probably be starting for a NFL team day 1. TT knows he can get a young guy in the 1st or 2nd that will be able to start for the same money. Keep the youth movement going.

    If TT / MM & Dom decide to move Hayward to S to have him on the field – I’m all for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. GBPDAN says:

    Why did you write this article? Did you forget TT is our GM? There was no way ted was bring in someone that made sense. 2M a year!

    Also, just read your list of FA ted signed, aside from Woodson and picket, that were signed a decade ago, the rest of this list just goes to show the losers tight wad teddy signs.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

    • Oppy says:

      One thing these TT-fans can not deny, can not ignore:

      Ted Thompson’s ignorance in all things roster-related is highlighted by his absolutely abysmal track record in Green Bay- the stunningly poor W/L ratio, the lack of post season appearances, the empty trophy case where a Lombardi should be resting.

      Oh, wait..

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

    • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

      It was written before today and was worth a conversation. Just because we know Ted’s MO doesn’t mean we can’t talk about some possible moves. Let’s just hope he’s right in holding out the cash for Rodgers, Matthews and Raji

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Oppy says:

        I really don’t think Raji is a lock to get a block-buster extension as many think.

        I feel like the Packers will offer him a decent contract extension before he hits FA, and if he doesn’t like it, they’ll let him explore FA readily. There’s no way I would pay him a great deal more than his rookie contract was worth. But then, I’m no GM.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

        • Stroh says:

          I think he’ll get an extension just not a “blockbuster”. He’s bring paid pretty well already as the #9 pick in the draft. He’ll get a modest raise only.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. SDPackfan says:

    When TT backers start crowing about TT signing Herb Taylor and Jeff Saturday you know the argument that he does not participate in free agency — or at least has not since 2006 (when he signed Woodson and Pickett) is over.

    The Pack with ARod at QB will continue to be a successful team. But they are a success not because of TT’s participation in free agency as he has all but shunned it the past 7 years.

    Here’s hoping an exclusive reliance on the draft and signining UDFAs and street FAs leads to greater success in 2013.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Stroh says:

      You mean like the starting CB’s, the starting Center. Yeah those guys all suck AZZ!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  10. mark in Portland says:

    I would have liked to see the Packers sign Umenyiora but the Falcons shagged him too. TT seems to know what his is doing but it does seem that he has missed out this FA go around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Stroh says:

    Huff might have been worth 2M per. But lets be honest here. He would be nothing but a stop game to give young safeties a little more time. Huff lacks physicality and playmaking ability. He’s a decent Safety that would be worth a year contract but will likely be a FA again next year. Don’t see any upside in signing him except to buy a year in time. But all those Thompson haters will trumpet Huff like he was the 2nd coming of Ronnie Lott, When he’s nothing more than Marquand Manuel!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  12. Epy says:

    It’d be Saturday 2.0 ;P or at least Marquand Manuel 2.0.

    Forget that crap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1