Could Pollard Be Packers Answer At Safety?
The Baltimore Ravens continued their house cleaning today by releasing veteran safety Bernard Pollard. He had spent the last two seasons with the Ravens and was a vital part of the team’s success during each playoff run.
Pollard was a second round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2006 draft. In fact, he was chosen just two spots after the Green Bay Packers selected receiver Greg Jennings. Pollard played three seasons with the Chiefs before joining the Houston Texans for two years and then on to Baltimore.
In his seven seasons, Pollard has seen a lot of quality football and has shown no signs of diminishing skills yet. He was a veteran of the Ravens defense and played alongside of some of the better defenders in the NFL in that of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. He knows how to win and he’s a proven leader.
Pollard is a player the Packers should take a look at. With Green Bay picking 26th in the first round, it’s unlikely that they will find a starting caliber safety in this year’s draft. The incumbents opposite Morgan Burnett are M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian and neither are without some doubts that they can be effective in a starting role. When Charles Woodson was hurt last season, both M.D. and McMillian had to platoon at safety as neither stepped up and took hold of the starting position. Replacing Woodson is tough. Replacing him with either of these two young players is asking the impossible. Pollard, at a reasonable price tag, could be a solution and a very effective one for the Packers.
Pollard is 28 and won’t turn 29 until the latter part of this next season but he is nearing that 30 year old mark. While questions about Jennings’ age have been aplenty (he will turn 30 this upcoming season), we must remember that he is a wide receiver. There is plenty of valid evidence that receivers’ skills diminish after age 30. Safety is another story altogether.
We need look no further than Green Bay’s own history to find some examples of safeties who played some of their best football after age 30: LeRoy Butler, Eugene Robinson, Charles Woodson and Darren Sharper (although he was released prior to 30, he did have some productive years with the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints).
Pollard is also a hard-nosed safety and has made waves with some of the hits he has delivered over the years. No team knows this better than the New England Patriots. You may recall the hit that Pollard put on Pats quarterback Tom Brady in week one of the 2008 seasons. Some say it was “dirty” as Pollard fell to the turf during a pass rush and then lunged at Brady’s knee. Brady was lost for the remainder of that season due to the injury and eventually a rule was put into effect that a defensive player on the ground may no longer lunge or dive at the quarterback’s lower legs.
Pollard was also involved in a tackle on receiver Wes Welker in the 2009 season finale that resulted in Welker tearing his ACL and ending his season. In the 2012 playoffs, Pollard rolled up on tight end Rob Gronkowski’s ankle and rendered him ineffective in the Patriots ensuing Super Bowl appearance. During this past season’s AFC championship game, Pollard delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on running back Stevan Ridley that knocked Ridley unconscious. Why the Patriots haven’t signed Pollard already is beyond me!
The big questions are going to be Pollard’s price tag and his health. One of those two reasons or both are why the Ravens let him go. Obviously both are a concern and could end this discussion in a hurry. Consider that with Pollard’s release coming after free agency has started, his market has not benefited from any build up and so I don’t see his price tag being as high as it may have otherwise been. If available at a reasonable rate and if Pollard sees the value in playing for another contender, he could end up on Green Bay’s radar.
With speculation that the Packers could land free agent running back Steven Jackson and bring back Greg Jennings, also adding Pollard would catapult the Packers to the front of the free agency sweepstakes. There is no such thing as winning in March, as Packers General Manager Ted Thompson would say, but with the right fireworks this March, they could prove to be a winner in early 2014.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason at: Jason Perone
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