A Big Decision Looms: Should Ryan Grant Return To The Green Bay Packers?

The hot topic around the water cooler all around Wisconsin (and other businesses that are home to hard working Cheeseheads) has been the fate of Donald Driver.  As the most veteran member of the Green Bay Packers as well as one of the most beloved professional athletes in Wisconsin, whether Driver will be back on the team has been “the” discussion so far of the Packers offseason.

There is another decision looming however that arguably would have an even greater effect on the Packers roster: whether or not to bring back RB Ryan Grant who is now an unrestricted free agent.

This isn’t meant to diminish what Driver has meant to the Packers.  He’s been a locker room leader for practically forever and his off the field efforts have made Driver a legend in the mind of Packer fans.  He deserves every ounce of praise he’s getting.

With the Packers’ roster loaded with talent at the wide receiver position, Driver’s potential departure would not have as much an impact on the field as the loss of someone like Grant would potentially have.

Why would the loss of Grant, who entered the season as practically a backup to James Starks, have such a wide reaching effect on the offense despite its heavy reliability on the pass?

Well, let’s take stock of the other halfbacks on the roster:

First is Starks.  The second year running back spent much of 2011 nursing one form of injury or another.  Factor in his rookie season in which he spent a significant amount of time on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and his durability must be called into question.

Starks is still likely the future at the running back position with Grant approaching his 30th birthday this December.    However, Grant showed he still had some burst late in the season. Starks missed three of the final four games of the season (one being a meaningless game against the Lions) and Grant averaged 8.5, 5.5, 5.5 ad 4.0 yards per carry in those games, respectively. Starks in his final four games averaged 3.5, 4.8, 1.7 and 2.2 yards per carry.

Both backs nearly mirrored each other statistically. Keep in mind that Starks played in 13 games and Grant played in 15.  Starks finished with 578 yards on 133 carries (5.8 yards per carry average) and one touchdown while Grant had 559 yards on 134 carries (4.2 yards per carry average) and two touchdowns.



Quick Thoughts on the Packers 2012 Free Agents

The Packers should use the franchise tag on TE Jermichael Finley.

I tried writing a post about the Packers loss to the Giants, but the tears in my eyes prevented me from finishing it.

Once I stopped crying, I decided to look ahead and give my two cents on what the Packers should do with their 2012 free agents. These are off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts so I reserve the right to change my mind later.

Please join me in discussing the future, anything to forget about what happened Sunday.

Jermichael Finley
Franchise him. Very few Packers fans like Finley at the moment, but it’s too soon to give up on a 24 year old with his physical skills. A one-year franchise tag allows the Packers to cut ties after 2012 if Finley fades.

Matt Flynn
Let him walk. It sounds so simple to demand the Packers franchise Flynn and trade him, but it’s not that easy. Do you really want to waste the tag on Flynn and possibly not get what you want in return while Finley (who is only 24 years old!) walks? Ted Thompson will only tag Flynn if he knows he has a Packers-friendly trade lined up.

Scott Wells
Resign. I don’t like making a multi-year commitment to a 31 year old, but you can’t always have a rebuilding mindset. Locking up Wells keeps Aaron Rodgers upright and allows Thompson to focus more on defense in the draft.

Ryan Grant
Let him walk. I suppose the market could be soft for Grant, but I’m guessing someone will want to pay him more than he’s worth. Grant had a nice run toward the end of the season, but the Packers will be better off using their resources elsewhere.

Jarrett Bush
Resign. Unless someone offers him a chance to start (and starter money), why not bring him back for a year? Thompson likes versatile players and maybe someone could teach him to play backup safety.

Howard Green
Let him walk. Green was a non-factor all season.

Erik Walden
Let him walk. Hopefully the Packers find an OLB in the draft so they can cut ties with Walden, both for his lackluster play and off-field issues.

Pat Lee
Let him walk. No explanation needed.


Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.