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.

8

September

2011 NFL Week One: Packers vs Saints Preview: The Saints Go Marching In….And Crawling Back Out

Absurdly long lockout: over.

An abbreviated free agency period: completed.

A preseason that dragged on longer than War and Peace: finished

It is time.  IT. IS. TIME……for Green Bay Packers regular season football.

The last time the Packers played a game of any meaning was that game against the Steelers in February.  For just over seven months, the Packers have been the reigning Super Bowl champions.

After the opening kickoff against the New Orleans Saints on national television, the reigning ends and the defending begins. It has been said by players on teams lucky enough to win back-to-back Super Bowls that the only thing tougher than chasing the crown is defending it.

The Packers’ opponent ought to know.

Last season, the then-defending champion Saints got off to a sluggish 4-3 start and never were able to catch the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South title.  Instead they had to settle for a wild card and a trip to the 7-9 NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks where they were defeated 41-36 and done in by a bruising Marshawn Lynch touchdown run.

Like the Packers’ Super Bowl triumph, the disappointing end to the Saints’ season is a thing of the past.  The slate is clean and everyone for one week has the same record.

Let’s take a look at New Orleans.

Breaking down the Saints

As defending champions, the Packers don’t ease into their regular season schedule.  Instead they face team they could very well meet again in January for a trip to Super Bowl XLVI.

When discussing the New Orleans Saints, you have to begin with Drew Brees.  The calm and cool leader of the Saints offense is one of the most lethal quarterbacks in the game.  He isn’t as mobile as the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers but he is about as accurate and throws a pretty good deep ball.

While he doesn’t have the buffet of weapons that Rodgers does in the receiving corps, Brees still has chemistry with his playmakers.  With Marques Colston leading the way and Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem on the other side, Brees has a variety of targets to choose from.  With a creative play caller in head coach Sean Payton, the Saints passing attack rivals the Packers in terms of overall deadliness.  Throw in new stud TE Jimmy Graham and it’s almost like a mirror image of the Packers.