21

March

Why Haven’t the Packers Signed S Chris Clemons?

Free agent safety Chris Clemons seems like a logical fit for the Packers.

Free agent safety Chris Clemons seems like a logical fit for the Packers.

The Packers need a safety. Chris Clemons is a decent safety still on the NFL free agent market. So why haven’t the Packers signed Clemons?

Clemons isn’t a star, but he’d be an immediate upgrade over what the Packers already have. He hasn’t missed a start in two seasons and has 187 tackles, three interceptions and 12 passes defended over that stretch.

He won’t light up receivers over the middle like Earl Thomas, but Clemons has range and can cover. That’s what the Packers need.

If you’e into advanced metrics, Pro Football Focus ranked Clemons as the 19th best safety in the NFL in 2013 and the ninth best safety in pass coverage, one spot behind big-money free agent Jarius Byrd.

Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings were ranked as the 63rd and 67th best safeties, respectively. In pass coverage, Burnett came in 58th and Jennings 74th.

So what gives? Clemons seems like the type of player Packers general manager Ted Thompson would bring in. He’s still young, he won’t cost too much, and he’s a solid player.

Perhaps Thompson just doesn’t want to pay a safety again after committing so much money to Burnett. Maybe Clemons has injury concerns we don’t know about. There’s always the possibility of Micah Hyde moving to safety. Or maybe Thompson just wants to do what he always does: bring in someone through the draft.

I’ll be interested to see if Clemons to the Packers gains any steam as free agency advances. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t.

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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.

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16

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

The following is a transcript of a hidden camera conversation from Packers GM Ted Thompson’s office on the opening day of NFL free agency.

(Knock on the door. The Packers front office team enters Thompson’s office. Thompson is watching “True Detective” on his office television)

Thompson: Why did nobody tell me about this “True Detective” show before? This is amazing. I didn’t know Woody from Cheers was such a good actor. And how about Matthew McConaughey?! The guy can actually act when he keeps his shirt on. Yellow King?! I want to change our nickname from the Packers to the Yellow Kings!

Scout: Um, sir….we didn’t tell you about the show because you only allow us to watch film of college players nobody else has ever heard of. And free agency is now officially open.

Thompson: Shhhh! This episode is more intense than the last few minutes of Super Bowl XLV.

Scout: But sir, we’ve already lost Lamarr Houston and Arthur Jones. They’re off the market.

Thompson: Really? They signed like 7 seconds after free agency officially opened? That’s some quick negotiating. Because no NFL team would ever cheat and use the three-day window to talk to agents to actually work out a contract, right?

Scout: Ummm…..

Thompson: How much did they go for?

Scout: Houston for $35 million to the Bears and Jones $30 million to the Colts.

Thompson: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! That’s hilarious. No, seriously. How much did they sign for?

Scout: Sir, I was being serious.

Thompson: Dammit, you do this every year. You tell me who signed right after free agency opens and you make up some wild and silly number. Just tell me the real number.

Scout: But sir, that is the real number. I wasn’t kidding. Every year we have this same conversation 5 minutes after free agency opens.

Thompson: How about that other guy people want us to sign…what’s his name. Something to do with birds…

Scout: Jarius Byrd, sir. He signed with New Orleans for $54 million.

Thompson: I see. I can’t wait to see the headlines after the Super Bowl: “Jarius Byrd leads Saints to Super Bowl win.” Or maybe “Lamarr Houston makes people forget about the ’86 Bears.”

Scout: Sir, don’t you think we maybe should’ve gotten in on some of these signings? People are getting mad on Twitter.

13

March

NFL Free Agency: Packers Re-Sign TE Andrew Quarless

NFL, Green Bay Packers, NFL Free Agency, Packers free agency, Packers free agents, Andrew Quarless, Andrew Quarless contract, Andrew Quarless free agentThe Green Bay Packers have announced that they have re-signed tight end Andrew Quarless.  Terms of the new deal were not disclosed, but according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, it is a two year deal.

The tight end position had been labeled as one of the needs for the Packers this offseason after Jermichael Finley’s neck injury and subsequent unrestricted free agency.  With Finley’s football future in doubt, many wondered if the Packers would look outside the team for a tight end or give Quarless a shot.  He played well down the stretch last season and that apparently was enough for the Packers to bring him back for a couple more seasons.

Getting Quarless back is big after reports that Jermichael Finley is still awaiting medical clearance.  He’s reportedly a favorite to land with the Seattle Seahawks once/if doctors give him the all clear. That is still far from a certainty, however.

Green Bay had also reportedly been interested in former Texans tight end Owen Daniels and even had him in for a visit.  The signing of Quarless does not necessarily exclude the Packers from adding Daniels as Quarless and Brandon Bostick are currently the only tight ends under contract. Daniels was reportedly planning on visiting with the Washington Redskins soon, so the Packers will have some competition for his services.

As for Quarless, he finally began to show promise late in 2013.  He missed all of 2012 with a knee injury he suffered late in 2011.  He caught a touchdown and had over 50 receiving yards in two of the Packers’ final four games and was earning a much bigger role in the passing game.  Along with Bostick, the Packers have a pair of solid tight ends but may still be one player away from checking tight end off their need list.

Will it be Daniels or will it be someone else? Only Ted Thompson knows for sure so stayed tuned to ALLGBP.com for all your Packers free agency news!

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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10

March

Jared Allen and the Green Bay Packers: Crazy Enough to Work

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Allen, Packers free agency

Future teammates? It’s so crazy it just might work!

The Green Bay Packers have enjoyed a long run at (or near) the top of the NFC North and their divisional rivals are trying anything to knock Green Bay off of their perch, particularly the Minnesota Vikings.

It’s been a running joke amongst Packers fans for some time now that Minnesota is taking retread Green Bay Players in the hopes of passing them for supremacy in the NFC North.  History certainly makes it look that way, at least.  From Darren Sharper to Brett Favre to most recently Greg Jennings and Desmond Bishop, the Packers’ rivals to the west seem obsessed with getting as many former Green Bay players as they can.

Is it now turn for the Packers to return the favor?

With Sam Shields having recently signed a four-year contract to remain with the Packers, the team now turns its focus to improving the front seven of a defense that has fallen short of expectations three years running.  While safety seems to be the most glaring need on defense at the moment, the Packers also are still in need of improving their pass rush and allow their talented cornerbacks to get some turnovers.

That’s where a former Viking comes into play.  With the future of pretty much the entire defensive line in question (save Datone Jones), Packers general manager Ted Thompson may not be able to fill all the holes through the draft and very well may have to wade into the free agent waters.

If he does, there is one name he should consider and it’s a name that will make many Packers fans cringe: Jared Allen.

With recent reports that Allen will not be returning to Minnesota, he is set to test free agency for the first time in his career.  At the age of 31, Allen still has good years in him and would by no means be a “stop gap” solution for a team.  Adding him to the Green Bay defensive line would immediately add a pass rush and would take a lot of pressure off of Clay Matthews and the linebackers.

On the surface, Allen would not appear to be a “Packer person” and maybe that’s what the defense and the team as a whole needs.  While Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy focused strongly on toughening up their team in 2013, there is still a perception out there the Packers are not a team to bust the opposition in the mouth especially on defense.

9

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

With Sam Shields locked up for the next four years, it’s time to focus on the Packers other free agents.

News of the Packers offering B.J. Raji a short-term contract to return as the team’s nose tackle brought out all kinds of reactions. Many Packers fans want nothing to do with Raji after he fell off the face of the earth midway through last season.

Other Packers fans are willing to stick with Raji if all it takes a relatively cheap, low-risk one-year deal.

I’m in the latter category. There is rarely such a thing as a bad one-year contract. If Raji flops again next season, you’re not tied to him long-term. If he’s horrible in training camp, and a good portion of the contract isn’t guaranteed, the Packers can just cut him.

That might make me sound like a Raji defender, but I am anything but. There were several times in the second half of last season where I wanted Ted Thompson to enter the Packers defensive huddle and cut Raji on the spot. He was that bad.

One talking point from Raji defenders that drives me crazy is the notion that it’s his job to “occupy blockers” so the middle linebackers can make plays. Yes, often in a 3-4 defense, it is the job of the defensive lineman to absorb double teams and sacrifice a little bit of personal glory to free up teammates.

But most people don’t understand what “occupying blockers” really means. It doesn’t mean you stand there and belly bump with other fat guys. It doesn’t mean you simply take up space. It doesn’t mean you never get to make a tackle for a loss or pressure the quarterback.

It definitely doesn’t mean you end up on your backside or blown off the ball like Raji is all too often.

The best way to “occupy blockers” is to kick their ass, to win your match-up, whether it’s against a single offensive lineman or a double team. Knock your man back a step and force the running back to alter his course, even if it’s a minor detour. Anchor yourself in the hole. Split that double team.

A 3-4 defensive lineman who does that often enough will get a tackle behind the line or a sack every now and then. He’ll also be doing a fine job of “occupying blockers.”

20

January

Ted Thompson Could Learn Some Things From John Elway

John Elway showed the Packers how it was done in Super Bowl XXXII. 16 years later, he might be showing them again.

Approximately 16 years ago, John Elway broke the hearts of the Green Bay Packers and their fans when his Denver Broncos upset them in a 31-24 victory in Super Bowl XXXII.

That loss has gone down as one of the bitterest defeats in the history of the Packers and the failure to win that game hastened the departure of head coach Mike Holmgren from Green Bay. Holmgren coached only one more season before leaving to become both the head coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.

Elway meanwhile won his second straight ring the following year before retiring from pro football.  In 2011, not soon after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, the Hall of Fame quarterback was hired by Denver to run their football operations.  It was a move that was criticized by many as Elway didn’t have much front office experience, aside from owning Colorado’s arena football team.

Much like in his playing days, Elway silenced his critics.  In his first year at the helm, he picked up the pieces from the disastrous tenure of Josh McDaniels as head coach and the Broncos won the AFC West title with Tim Tebow (TIM TEBOW!) at quarterback.  Denver even upset the then-defending AFC champion Steelers in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the Patriots.

Elway then of course signed Peyton Manning the following offseason and the rest is history.  With the Broncos on their way to Super Bowl XLVIII, many teams around the NFL will be looking at how Elway built his roster. Despite a recent run of success, the Green Bay Packers should be one of those teams.

While a full roster rebuild is not necessary in Green Bay, Packers general manager Ted Thompson would be wise to look at exactly how Elway has built the Broncos and how that could serve as a blueprint to get the Packers back in contention for a Super Bowl.

The common excuse for Elway’s detractors is “Oh, he has Peyton Manning.”  That’s true, but remember this team won the AFC West in 2011 with a quarterback whose throwing style resembles loose Jell-O. There is plenty of talent on the team even if you don’t count Manning.

7

January

Packers Free Agent Overview: Offense

Will Packers running back James Starks return and once again team up with Eddie Lacy?

With 17 free agents and just under $10 million in salary cap space carrying over into 2014, changes are coming to the Green Bay Packers roster.

We’ve already taken a look at upcoming Packers free agents on defense. Now let’s examine the decisions Packers general manager Ted Thompson has to make about free agents on offense.

WR James Jones
When Jones hit the open market in 2011, there were few buyers and he ended up back in Green Bay. After three good seasons, will Jones find more suitors this time around? He’s been a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver his whole career, but Jones has had stretches where he kinda sorta looks like a No. 1. At 29 years old, though, I doubt anyone will pay Jones as a No. 1 receiver and it could lead to him once again landing back in Green Bay at another Packers-friendly contract. With the emergence of Jarrett Boykin down the stretch, Thompson has plenty of leverage when negotiating with Jones and might even feel comfortable enough to move on entirely from the man who wears a sleeveless turtleneck. It’ll be interesting to see if Aaron Rodgers lobbies for Jones to be re-signed like he did back in 2011.

TE Jermichael Finley
This one will be up to the doctors. If Finley is cleared to play football again, how big of a contract is a team willing to give him? Does Finley sign a cheaper one-year deal and try to prove himself all over again to land a fat deal in 2015? Even if he is cleared to play, are the Packers interested in re-signing him?

TE Andrew Quarless
Quarless didn’t come close to filling the playmaking void left by Finley, but he did have a few moments. Quarless’s future will be determined by what happens with Finley and whether the Packers address the tight end position in the draft.

C Evan Dietrich-Smith
The Packers put the lowest restricted free-agent tender on Dietrich-Smith last offseason and were able to retain him. When Dietrich-Smith hits the market this offseason, he should have more interest. The Packers were effective on the ground in 2013 and Dietrich-Smith’s physical play was a contributing factor. But with J.C. Tretter waiting in the wings and capable centers available in the mid-rounds of the draft, Thompson could choose to save some money for other areas of the team and let Dietrch-Smith find work elsewhere.