Thomas Hobbes’ Green Bay Packers Offseason Blueprint

Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson
  1. Release LT Chad Clifton: The writing is on the wall.  Even Chad Clifton knew that it was unlikely that he would ever finish his 3 year and had most of the money guaranteed up front (which was helped by the cap-less season before the lockout).  Clifton has had issues staying healthy in the twilight of his career and this year was no different with Clifton being out for the majority of the season.  Added to that a $5.5 million salary in 2012, ascending player in Bryan Bulaga, 1st round draft choice Derek Sherrod and up and at least a serviceable backup in Marshall Newhouse and the Packers have set themselves well for life after Clifton.
  2. Renegotiate Charles Woodson and Donald Driver contracts:
    1. Charles Woodson: Woodson has undeniably lost a step and his high-risk high-reward style of play backfired a couple times last season.  Woodson currently leads the Packers roster with a salary of $11.5 million, some of which was a bonus for a NFL defensive player of the year award in 2009.  But what Woodson is still capable of is shutting down the new breed of tight end, like Jermichael Finley.  For instance, Woodson is still quick enough and physical enough to handle a Jimmy Graham, and I’m not sure who else on the defense could.  Unfortunately Woodson will turn 36 next season and at some point he’s going to have to realize that aging veterans start getting marginalized.  Hopefully Woodson doesn’t let his fiery attitude get in the way of business.
    2. Donald Driver: At 37, Driver has exceeded even the greatest expectations by still being in the NFL at all.  However, his production dropped drastically with the emergence of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson and has Randall Cobb and James Jones breathing down his neck for more playing time.  What Driver has to his benefit is experience, he’s well versed in the offense and isn’t likely to miss an assignment or a read.  What hurts him is that he’s not player he used to be and he wouldn’t survive playing on special teams.  In my opinion Driver should be retained since consistency at wide receiver (even as the 5th wide receiver) outweighs any benefits a player has on special teams.  Furthermore, I’m not convinced that any free agent/undrafted rookie would be better than Driver.  Are Cobb and Jones better than Driver?  Probably.  Are Tori Gurely or Diondre Biorel better?  I doubt it.


Thomas Hobbes: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction

I’m sure I’m going to be looking at this next week and wondering what the hell I was thinking, but below is my prediction for the starting 53 of the 2011 Green Bay Packers.

I tried to follow a couple of rules when making the roster:

  1. Drafted players almost always make the 53; only 6 drafted players (about one a year) have failed to make the roster during Thompson tenure.  This years draft had a lot of picks so I’m guessing Thompsons cuts two, Ricky Elmore and Lawrence Guy so I tried to keep everyone else.
  2. I tried to replace players with similar roles, for instance I think Caleb Schlauderaff plays very similar to Jason Spitz which is why I chose him over some of the other linemen.  Schlauderaff might not be the best player right now, but he has potential and the Packers have already shown that they like that kind of player (since they kept Spitz for 5 years), not to mention that he was drafted (see rule 1).
  3. I also tried to keep players as an insurance policy against 2012 free agency.  Again Schlauderaff adds some depth behind Josh Sitton should the Packers somehow end up being unable to keep him.


Quarterback -3: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell

No question that the Packers can’t get away with stashing Harrell on the practice squad, he’s played decent enough to be the backup quarterback on some teams (and maybe even the starter at San Francisco).  Also the Packers need insurance against Matt Flynn next year so the Packers will have to keep 3 quarterbacks on their roster this year.

Running Back -4: Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green, John Kuhn

Nothing really ground breaking here, though I would probably put Ryan Taylor as the backup fullback.  Quinn Johnson in my opinion was never that bruising blocker that he was supposed to become and his forte really doesn’t mesh that well with the forte of the Packers.

Wide Receiver -6: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Chastin West

Really the only question is if the Packers are going to keep 6 wide receivers and it might very well come down to that.  In my opinion Chastin West stays over Tori Gurley; the Packers have never been that big on tall wide receivers (outside of Jordy Nelson everyone is around 6 feet) and while blocking punts is a great skill, blocking punts on one of the worst special teams in the league during practice probably won’t translate well to real games.