Category Archives: B. J. Raji

15

February

Cory’s Corner: Ted Thompson will stick to his script

Ted Thompson is preparing for his 10th NFL Draft as general manager of the Packers.

Ted Thompson is preparing for his 10th NFL Draft as general manager of the Packers.

Now I don’t want to totally dismiss anything that NFL writer and analyst Ian Rapoport said…but I don’t believe any of it.

For those that missed it, Rapoport said that the Packers could sign as many as five free agents to take advantage of the Packers nearly $28 million in cap space.

Anyone who has been around a stale Ted Thompson press conference knows that the Packers general manager prefers to assemble his team through the lower risk, higher reward of the draft, which actually suits a small-market team just fine.

The Packers have not and are not in a position to be like the Redskins or Cowboys who routinely throw money at free agents just because they can. Washington and Dallas are more suited to sign high-priced free agents because they can absorb more mistakes than a team like the Packers.

But that doesn’t mean the draft is an exact science either. There are guys like Brian Brohm, Justin Harrell and Javon Walker in every draft. Obviously the key is finding out which one truly loves the game of football and which one just loves being the star.

The most important free agent signing Thompson has made was Charles Woodson back in 2006. That pales in comparison to Ron Wolf who brought in the hallmark free agent of a generation in Reggie White and then smartly paired him with free agents Sean Jones and Santana Dotson.

Of course Thompson could try and lure the top defensive end in Greg Hardy who has said is looking for a “crapload of money.” Hardy and agent Drew Rosenhaus have already turned down a contract for four years and $32 million. The 25-year-old wants security after netting 15 sacks, which led to his first Pro Bowl bid.

But Thompson cannot do that because dropping that much this year will severely hamper Green Bay’s chances of signing both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, whose contracts expire after the 2015 season.

Basically what Thompson has to weigh is Aaron Rodgers. The Packers’ best quarterbacking mind has a limited window of dominance. He will enter his seventh season as a starter next fall and will turn 31 next December. He has four years of being a game-changing quarterback in the NFL. In that time, the roster has to evolve. It not only has to get better around him, but also must prepare itself for Rodgers’ inevitable diminishing return.

14

February

Andrew Quarless Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

quarless_andrew_2151) Introduction:  ”God’s gift” has been forgotten by many Packers fans after a gruesome knee/leg injury caused Andrew Quarless’ sophomore season to vanish.  However with the looming contract situation with Jermichael Finley and the loss of Greg Jennings during the offseason, there were plenty of balls to catch and Quarless’ figured to be one of the guys the Packers wanted to see before they decided on an extension.  The stars basically aligned themselves with Quarless, first with mounting injuries to the receiving core and then with a terrible neck injury to Jermichael Finley, and then with Aaron Rodgers being replaced by a spate of quarterbacks that would naturally look to for a tight end as a safety valve.  Unfortunately, Quarless did not capitalize on his fortunes and looks to make a fortune probably smaller than he hoped.

2) Profile:

Andrew Christopher Quarless

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 10/6/1988 in Brooklyn, NY
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 252
  • College: Penn State
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 4

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Moderately low. On one hand, Quarless suffered a brutal knee injury that was significant enough to cause him to miss the entire 2012 season.  Naturally it wasn’t expected for Quarless to immediately return to football shape let alone reintegrate himself back into the offense.  On the other hand, Quarless should have been fully healed after taking a year off was considered by many to be the Packers most complete tight end with the ability to both operate as an inline blocker (which is a little bit odd since he’s not a very good blocker), a pass catcher as well as the H-back/fullback that the Packers love to employ.  Add to that 2013 was Quarless’s contract year along with fellow tight end Jermichael Finley and the Packers were probably hoping that Quarless would blossom into a tight end that would lessen the blow should Finley find employment elsewhere next year.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Quarless’ best game of the season was undoubtedly against the hapless Falcons in week 14 where he recorded 6 receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown on a nice back shoulder throw with Matt Flynn under center.   Quarless’ lowlight was also undoubtedly against the Cleveland Browns in week 7 after he was thrusted into the spotlight with Jermichael Finley leaving with a neck injury.  Perhaps unready to be “the guy” or shook up over Finley’s injury, Quarless was abysmal in run blocking and failed to record a reception even with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.

14

February

Big-name free agent targets for the “big-spending” Packers

Could free agent safety Louis Delmas join Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb in Green Bay? Never say never.

Could free agent safety Louis Delmas join Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb in Green Bay? Never say never.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Feb. 12 that the Packers, armed with $30 million in cap space, are prepared to spend on outside free agents this offseason to remake the defense in Dom Capers’ image.

Capers has been in Green Bay for five seasons, so the wording is a bit confusing. Surely, the Packers haven’t given Capers a team of bobsledders and asked him to mold them into an attacking 3-4 defense. But regardless, Rapoport’s report ignited a spark of hope among Packers fans that the team would make a rare dip into free agency.

With all due respect to Matthew Mulligan and Duke Preston, the Packers haven’t made any “splash” moves in free agency since 2006 — when they signed both cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett.

The Packers’ offseason spending spree got off to a roaring start with Thursday’s addition of fourth-year undrafted free agent tight end Raymond Webber. That was sarcasm. But it’s rather comical that a portion of the fan base almost seems upset that Webber’s name isn’t Jimmy Graham.

Of course, the Packers’ $30 million in cap space won’t be $30 million for long, as they’ll be forced to spend about $5 million on this year’s rookie class. And with Sam Shields, Evan Dietrich-Smith, and others (perhaps Jordy Nelson and/or Randall Cobb) likely to receive contract extensions, that number will continue to shrink.

But should the Packers let B.J. Raji walk — which seems more likely than not, given Raji’s production, or lack thereof, the past two seasons and his reported rejection of a contract extension that would have paid him $8 million per year — then they’ll have some financial flexibility to perhaps spend on veterans. Take into account Jermichael Finley’s cloudy future coming off major neck surgery, and the Packers could, really, become players in free agency.

As far as positions of need, the Packers could use help at every level of the defense. The opposite can be said about the offense, with the exception of tight end, at which they could still bring back Finley or opt for a cheaper option in Andrew Quarless.

Here are a few bigger-name free agents the Packers could — probably won’t — but could target once free agency hits.

13

February

Mike Daniels Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  When looking for defensive linemen for the 3-4 defense, tradition dictates you are looking for two types of players: a stout nose tackle who can command double teams with his raw power and two big and tall defensive ends who can maintain the edge for the linebackers and occasionally rush the passer.  Mike Daniels is neither.  Daniels was a surprise pick in the 2012 NFL draft as he essentially had no position, he was probably too short and light for a 4-3 defensive line, let alone a 3-4 defensive line which emphasizes size and strength to make up for losing a man.  Where does Mike Daniels actually belong and can he contribute for the Packers despite not fitting the stereotypical 3-4 defensive linemen?

2) Profile:

Mike Daniels

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 5/5/1989 in Stratford, NJ
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 300
  • College: Iowa
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 2

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Low.  Daniels had a pretty nondescript rookie season highlighted by a fumble returned for a touchdown against the Lions at home, but otherwise only played 280 snaps the entire season but did manage to record 2 sacks and 7 quarterback hurries but was only on the field in obvious passing situations as he only recorded 8 tackles.  Going into 2013, it was expected that Daniels would continue to get used to the 3-4 defense, probably be used a similar capacity as he was used in his rookie season, namely in the nickel package as a down defensive tackle in obvious passing downs and perhaps become part of the rotation in the base 3-4 defense as a defensive end.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Daniel’s biggest game came against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 10, where he recorded a sack, 2 quarterback hits and a hurry against the quick paced Eagles offense.  Daniel’s lowlights both involve the Minnesota Vikings and All-World running back Adrian Peterson, who embarrassed Daniels (and the rest of the defensive front 7 in all honesty), especially in week 11 when he rushed for 146 yards.

5

February

Johnny Jolly Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Johnny-Jolly-071610T1) Introduction:  People might have forgotten but before BJ Raji’s interception against Chicago during the Packers 2010 Super Bowl run, there was another defensive linemen with soft hands and a penchant for stealing passes from the offense and that was Johnny Jolly, who ironically also intercepted a pass from a Chicago Bears quarterback in 2009 and was looking like a priority resign for the Packers.  Unfortunately, Jolly was suspended indefinitely in 2010 for a codeine addiction (i.e. “purple drank”) and had to watch the Packers win the Super Bowl without him and lose out on probably the biggest contract in his career.  Now 3 years wiser and cleaner, Jolly makes his improbably comeback into the NFL with the same team he started with, would this be a Cinderella story or just another cruel tale?

2) Profile:

Johnny Ray Jolly Jr.

  • Age: 30
  • Born: 2/21/1983 in Houston, TX
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 325
  • College: Texas A&M
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Experience: 5

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  None.  No one really knew what to expect from Jolly and most thought it was lucky of him to even be invited back to training camp.  After 3 years of rehab and a short stint in the cooler, was Jolly physically or mentally ready to get back into the NFL?  Was his remarkable redemption story going to be short lived once he was back making good money or was it really true what Aaron Rodgers has said where the Packers could be Jolly’s support group and help him remain clean?  Realistically nothing should have been expected from Jolly in 2013 and simply making the team is a major accomplishment on its own.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Jolly’s big day came against the Atlanta Falcons in week 14 and dominated against the run, recording 4 tackles and 1 assist, a pass break up and 3 run stops.  Jolly’s lowlight was certainly injuring his neck and getting sent to IR, which further complicates his future.  The question now becomes are the Packers (or any other NFL team for the matter) willing to risk money on an aging player with a history of drug abuse and is coming off a significant injury?  Only time will tell.

4

February

BJ Raji Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

B.J. Raji

B.J. Raji

1) Introduction:  BJ Raji was once held in the same high esteem as Clay Matthews, a defensive player that the Packers could build the next decade around.  Add to that a little bit of flair moonlighting as a jumbo full back, a dance that got him a commercial with Aaron Rodgers and you had the recipe for a fan favorite.  However, Raji has quickly fallen out of favor, perhaps topped by the rumor that Raji rejected a contract extension worth $8 million annually in favor of testing free agency; a grain of salt needs to be taken with this number as annual salary says nothing most importantly about guaranteed money and could be tied heavily to incentives but Raji took a big risk by betting on himself in 2013.  Now that 2013 has come and gone and $8 million with all strings attached probably looks like a good deal, what is in future of the Packers 1st pick in 2009?

2) Profile:

Busari J Raji

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 7/11/1986 in Zephyrhills, FL
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 337
  • College: Boston College
  • Rookie Year: 2009
  • NFL Experience: 5

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  High.  Raji was the 7th best 3-4 defensive end in 2012 according to ProFootballFocus and while Raji didn’t have outstanding statistics, most notably recording 0 sacks in 2012, Raji was still the best defensive linemen for the Packers, especially against the run.  Many fans were expecting Raji to be a candidate for a mid-season extension in 2012, much like fellow 2009 1st round draft pick Clay Matthews but instead the Packers allowed Raji to finish out his contract with Raji trying to maximize his next contract with some great play.  Again while impressive number probably were never in Raji’s cards, a couple dominating games with Raji splitting double teams and getting a couple sacks was not out of the question if Raji returned to 2010 form.

22

January

Packers Free Agents: Top 10 to Re-Sign

Sam Shields is only the second most important UFA the Packers need to re-sign. Who's number one?

Sam Shields is only the second most important UFA the Packers need to re-sign. Who’s number one?

A couple weeks ago, our own Adam Czech took a look at the Green Bay Packers players hitting free agency this offseason.  Of the 19 offensive and defensive players, 16 are unrestricted and 3 are restricted. What I’ve done below is made a list of the top ten unrestricted players Ted Thompson should consider re-signing. They are listed in descending order of importance.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the ranking? Is there someone you would add or replace? Comment below!

 

10. Ryan Pickett

This could be the first year where Pickett’s age has been noticeable. The “Big Grease” has never been a flashy player, and he’s a true two-gap guy, but even in that role he saw some decline. Pickett could still be useful as a veteran leader and run-stuffer; there’s just not much more than that. If he returns, it shouldn’t be at a price anywhere near his last contract.

9. Matt Flynn

It seems like Matt Flynn is destined to be the back-up to Aaron Rodgers for the majority of his career. He got his payday in Seattle, never really saw the field as a starter, and eventually ended up back in Green Bay. The Packers have Scott Tolzien as a project this offseason, but wouldn’t they want to avoid the mess of a situation they had this year and sign Flynn as insurance?

8. B.J. Raji

This guy is going to be the biggest free agent storyline for the Packers. His performance doesn’t command a big contract, but his draft position does. It will all depend on the market, and I have a feeling Ted Thompson will let him test it. Still, if the price is right, it would be foolish for the Packers not to bring him back on board.

7. James Jones

Yes, James Jones can be considered “replaceable.” But this is the same guy who caught 14 touchdown passes for the Packers in 2012. In 2013, he was second in most statistical categories only to Jordy Nelson, and the only player who had fewer drops than him was Randall Cobb. (And Cobb was out most of the season.) James Jones didn’t get much from the market the last time he was a free agent, and he probably see less interest now that he’s hitting 30.