Category Archives: Nick Barnett

11

March

If Brad Jones Leaves, Packers Affected More Than You Think

 

Jones has garnered much interest in free agency.  If he departs, Jones could create a big void at inside linebacker for the Packers

Jones has garnered much interest in free agency. If he departs, Jones could create a big void at inside linebacker for the Packers

With free agency somewhat underway in that teams are free to contact players’ agents to discuss a deal, much of the talk in Green Bay has centered around wide receiver Greg Jennings.  Jennings is unquestionably the marquis name out of Green Bay that has very solid potential to be wearing a different uniform this next season.  He has even been debated as the top free agent receiver on the market with Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace the other half of that conversation.

But lost in the shuffle are some of the other free-agents-to-be in Green Bay, one of which is linebacker Brad Jones.  According to a piece published by Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel, at least eight other teams have already contacted Jones’ agent.

Jones filled in for the injured DJ Smith in week six last season and remained the starter for the balance of the season.  He did an adequate job in that role and gained some valuable playing time in the defense.  With 2012 being Jones’ fourth in the team’s defensive scheme and with his contributions on special teams, Jones has become a stronger veteran presence on this roster.

Now I’m not saying that Jones is a “must sign”.  If eight teams have already expressed interest, he will surely have some options to choose from, outside of Green Bay, when Tuesday rolls around.  As a reminder, Tuesday is the first day that free agent deals can be finalized.  But in possibly losing Jones, it does change the perspective of what the Packers may do in the draft and in free agency.

Many of you will recall that the Packers are hoping to get solid veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop and third year backer DJ Smith back in 2013.  While there is a good chance that both will return, it is not a given.

Bishop needed to have his hamstring re-attached to the bone.  He has been rehabbing the injury and has expressed his readiness when camp opens this summer, but that is going to be left up to the medical staff.  My guess is that Bishop will be on a snap count initially and so therefore is a bit of a question mark.

6

February

Green Bay Packers Offseason: Another Veteran Purge Could Be Coming

Packers WR Donald Driver

Packers WR Donald Driver might be a cut Ted Thompson makes this offseason. (Photo: Getty images)

It didn’t take long into Ted Thompson’s reign as Green Bay Packers GM for the unwavering 52-year-old to firmly establish that football moves under his direction would be made without the cling of emotion, void of any sentimental feelings that could effect a given decision one way or the other.

Among Thompson’s first moves as GM in 2005 were the releasing of guard Mike Wahle and safety Darren Sharper and declining to re-sign guard Marco Rivera, three players that were stalwarts for Packers teams that had won consecutive NFC North titles from 2002-04. Despite their undisputed contributions, each was shown the door both because of age and Thompson’s need to manage the Packers’ out of control salary cap.

Wahle was 28 years old and had played in 103 straight games when Thompson released him, but the move saved over $11 million in cap space. Axing Sharper, a 29-year-old All-Pro safety, saved another $4.3 million. Rivera went on to sign a five-year, $20 million contract with the Cowboys after Thompson let him walk at the age of 32.

All three of the moves were spurred by the Packers’ cap situation as he entered the job. No matter how unpopular, each needed to be made to get Thompson back into his salary cap comfort zone.

And while a drastic makeover like 2005 hasn’t been seen since, similar decisions to the ones Thompson made in that offseason have. In the end, making those tough decisions are a big reason why the Packers’ salary cap has never again reached 2005 levels.

Over subsequent years, Thompson released veterans Na’il Diggs (80 career starts, saved $2.9 million) and Bubba Franks (Three-time Pro Bowler, saved over $4 million), traded away an unretired Brett Favre, and let Ahman Green (the Packers franchise leader in rushing yards) and Aaron Kampman (owner of 54 career sacks in Green Bay) walk in free agency.

In 2010, Thompson released cornerback Al Harris, who started seven straight seasons for the Packers but was 36 years old and struggling to come back from a catastrophic knee injury in ’09.

Starting to sound like a broken record?  There was still more roster reshaping to do even after Thompson’s 2010-11 Packers reached the top of the NFL mountain.

8

November

Erik Walden’s On-Field Theatrics: Exit Stage Left?

There were a lot of things that can be taken away from the Packers more-difficult-than-it-should-have–been 45-38 win over the San Diego Chargers, in particular on the defensive side of the ball, but there is one player I want to focus on and what his role should be in the Packers defense going forward.

Erik Walden, come on down.

After watching his breakout game against the Chicago Bears in the 2010 regular season finale, my initial reaction was that we were witnessing another Ted Thompson-discovered diamond in the rough and that he would be a key player in the defense going forward, in particular with Nick Barnett gone.

Turns out Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers agreed with me.  When the season started, Walden was named the starter at right outside linebacker, opposite of Clay Matthews.  With Barnett having left for Buffalo, Walden beat out Frank Zombo in large part due to an injury Zombo suffered during training camp.

With Zombo finally becoming healthy, the time has come to evaluate Walden’s progress after half of the Packers’ schedule.

The verdict? Zombo better start sharpening his Zorro sword.

Walden is a great story.  Thompson signed him off the street basically and he was a big contributor in a game that the Packers had to have in order for them to make their magical run to Super Bowl XLV.

Since the however, Walden’s been a letdown and has become further proof of the old adage: “One big game does not an NFL superstar make.”

For evidence, all I would need to present was Walden’s game tape of his performance against San Diego.  It seemed at times he would throw fundamentals right out the window.  I saw on at least two occasions Walden trying to leap on or belly flop on top of Philip Rivers, which was followed by Rivers easily dodging that and making a key completion.  Those completions were a big part of why this game was in doubt until the final minute.

Capers and McCarthy are both big fundamental coaches and looking at this tape should (and likely would) throw them into a fit.  Walden needs to cut out the theatrics and get back to the basics of tackling: wrap up your man and bring him to the ground.

31

August

Kris Burke: My Initial 53-man Packers Roster Prediction

Packers on the bubble will be seeing this face VERY soon

It’s the time of year every NFL general manager seems to dread.  Selecting your final 53 man roster to bein the regular season.

Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson has arguably the toughest job in the league with perhaps the deepest team in the NFL. It’s tough to predict what is going through the mind of the mysterious Packers GM, but I’ll give it my best shot.

OFFENSE-27:

Quarterback -3: Rodgers, Flynn, Harrell

I think you have to keep Graham Harrell around.  The trade speculation around Flynn doesn’t want to go away and the more time he spends learning from McCarthy, the better. He showed promise against the Colts.  I’d be willing to bet this time next year Flynn is elsewhere and Harrell is the number two with a rookie on the practice squad.

Running Back -5: Grant, Starks, Green, Kuhn, Johnson

Pretty easy to see here.  The only question remaining is which order Ryan Grant and James Starks are in on the depth chart against the Saints.  It will start as a shared load but who knows what else will happen as the season unfolds.

Wide Receiver -6: Jennings, Driver, Nelson, Jones, Cobb, West

West locked in his spot after his display of talent against the Cardinals.  Tori Gurley will definitely get some looks from other teams.  After seeing both in practice personally, I knew it would be a tough call for Ted Thompson to make.  This remains the deepest position for the Packers and they go with six instead of five to enable McCarthy to use even more multiple packages.

Tight End -4: Finley, Crabtree, Quarless, Williams

Speaking of tough decisions, it was obvious the Packers were not going to hang onto five tight ends to start the season.  Finley was the only lock and the other spots were up for grabs.  Crabtree has proven his worth in blocking and on special teams and Quarless showed flashes in the passing game last year.  The final spot then comes down to DJ Williams and Ryan Taylor.  Much was said about Williams after the draft and Thompson sticks to his initial convictions and Taylor is gone.

Offensive Line -9: Wells, Sitton, Clifton, Bulaga, Lang, Newhouse, Sherrod, Smith, McDonald

29

August

Despite Losses, Packers’ A.J. Hawk Expects Big Things in 2011

Green Bay Packers Linebacker AJ Hawk

Jim Biever, Packers.com

A.J. Hawk knows the score. In the National Football League, roster turnover is part of the business. Teams change and evolve every season due to the draft and free agency.

The 2011 Green Bay Packers are no different.

After winning their fourth Super Bowl title in February, the Packers were forced to cut ties with several contributors from that championship team, including defensive end Cullen Jenkins and linebacker Nick Barnett.

In their place, the Packers are turning to two players—one who has proven he can play and the other who has failed to show he can stay on the field in his short NFL career. Of course, we’re talking about Desmond Bishop and Mike Neal.

When I talked to Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk on the phone last week, he said the team has high expectations for their defense despite the losses.

However, he did express that it might be difficult to replace Jenkins in the Packers defense.

“The thing about Cullen Jenkins is that you just can’t replace a guy like him,” Hawk said. “He’s a special player. He’s one of the best interior pass rushers I’ve ever seen. Just super quick, with good moves and a knack at getting to the quarterback.”

An unrestricted free agent this offseason, Jenkins signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles a week or so after the lockout was lifted. When asked if he thought the team would bring back Jenkins, Hawk seemed a touch surprised but also cognizant of the NFL’s business landscape.

“Yeah, I was hoping we were going to find a way to bring him back, but I understand there’s a business side to this,” Hawk said. “It hurts us, but I know those kind of things don’t always happen, especially this offseason with the lockout. We only had a short time to negotiate with him, which I’m sure made it tough on both sides.”

The Packers never did get serious in bringing back Jenkins, either because of the perceived cost it would take or the confidence the organization had in the players behind him. Being 30 years old and having an injury history likely also led to the Packers’ failure to offer any deal that Jenkins would have accepted.

7

August

Long Overdue: A Twentysomething’s First Ever Green Bay Packers Practice

For a Wisconsin boy, not previously experiencing what I experienced this past Thursday borders on criminal.

It’s something I always wanted to do, but for whatever reason (work and before that, getting ready for school as well as myA Packers Fan at His First Packers Practice. parents both working) I never got around to doing it.  This year however, after an extended NFL lockout, I decided I needed to do this……just a month shy of my 28th birthday.

I decided to attend a Green Bay Packers training camp practice.

I have outgrown the age where Packers players could ride my bike. Well, I don’t even have a bike but if I did I’d still be over the age limit.   So instead I packed up the car and decided to make the trip to Green Bay alone for Thursday night practice.

It was a trip that almost never even left the driveway.

As I sat down in my 2005 Cavalier, I tried to start the car only to be greeted by chugging and sputtering.  I thought to myself, “This can’t be happening.  You are going to your first Packer practice about 20 years overdue and your car decides to take a dump. Unreal.”

However, much like the 2010 Packers, a little adversity was not going to get in the way of my ultimate goal.  I was going to be there for 7:00 practice if I had to hitchhike my way there.

Thankfully, the repair shop had a loaner, a 2001 Buick Regal with 150,000 miles on it that I could use until Monday when my car would be repaired. Sold.

At about 3:30, I arrived at Lambeau Field.  With some time to kill before gates to practice opened, I decided to go through the Packers Hall of Fame and browse the Pro Shop.  If there is anyone reading this that has not yet been to Lambeau since the renovations, you need to get your tail to Green Bay.  There is so much history in that building you get chills.  I go through it a lot and never tire of it.

Anyway, I head over to Ray Nitschke Field around 5:10 and see a lot of people already lined up at the gate.  My first thought was that these people must be starved for football due to the long lockout, but then a reality check hit me.  This is Green Bay, Titletown USA. What I’m witnessing is normal. It’s cool to see this many people turn out for a practice.

1

August

Free Agent Status of Former Green Bay Packers

Tracking the free agent status of Packers released this offseason, with the exception of Al Harris, who was released during the 2010 season.

 

 S Derrick Martin: SIGNED WITH GIANTS  

UPDATE: Martin and the New York Giants agreed to a one-year contract on Monday, August 15. 

The Packers released Martin on March 3.

Despite being an important special teams contributor, the Packers let go of Martin early in the offseason. Injuries likely played into the decision, as Martin suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Washington Redskins.

Little has surfaced about team’s potential interest in Martin, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t find a team for 2011.

LB Brady Poppinga: SIGNED WITH ST. LOUIS RAMS 

The Packers released Poppinga on July 29.

UPDATE: Poppinga has reportedly agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Rams and was observing Rams practice on Tuesday night. He should get a chance to start at outside linebacker for St. Louis.

Much like Tauscher, Poppinga had similar factors working against him.

At 32 years old and coming off an ACL injury, Poppinga was due $2.34 million in 2011. For a guy that was going to be a backup and play primarily on special teams, that price tag was way too rich for the Packers liking.

He was also miscast in the Packers 3-4 defense, and he’ll likely look to team that runs the 4-3 as his next destination. Poppinga visited the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, but there was no word if a contract had been put in place.

LB Nick Barnett: SIGNED WITH BUFFALO BILLS

The Packers released Barnett on July 29, saving $5.9 million in cap room. Barnett then signed a three-year, $12 million deal with Buffalo Bills on July 31.

The Bills got a serious upgrade at linebacker, as Barnett averaged almost 110 tackles in his first seven seasons with the Packers. He’ll bring a veteran presence to a team that needs leaders on defense.

Barnett was expendable to the Packers after Desmond Bishop had a breakout season in his absence. Green Bay signed Bishop to a four-year, $19 million contract in January, putting the writing on the wall for Barnett’s eventual release.

TE Donald Lee: SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

The Packers released Lee on March 3. On July 29, Lee signed a one-year, $850,000 contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.