7

January

Packers Free Agent Overview: Defense

CB Sam Shields headlines the list of Packers free agents on defense.

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.

Debate about whether it’s time for Packers general manager Ted Thompson to finally dip into free agency will heat up as the offseason rolls along. Just as important for Thompson is deciding which of his own free agents to retain and which to let walk.

Everyone asks if the Packers should resign (insert name of pending free agent). The answer to that question is almost always, “Sure, if the price is right.” Unfortunately for the Packers, the price isn’t always right and not everybody can be retained.

Let’s take a look at pending free agents on offense and dig into a few reasons why they might stay or go. We’ll examine free agents on offense later today.

CB Sam Shields
Getting Shields signed to a long-term deal should be the Packers top offseason priority, but it might not be possible. Shields will likely command around $9 million per season and a shade under $20 million guaranteed. That’s a lot of dough to squeeze under the salary cap and remain flexible enough to address other areas of the team. With Casey Hayward coming back, I wouldn’t be surprised if Shields walks. And if the Packers want to slap the franchise tag on Shields, it will likely cost around $11 million, so that probably won’t happen.

DL B.J. Raji
Raji became the first player to depart his team via free agency smack dab in the middle of the season. Wait, what? You say Raji didn’t leave the Packers in the middle of the season? He was on the active roster the whole time and even on the field while real live games were going on? Hold on a minute, what? Repeat that again, please? You say that not only was Raji still on the team after week seven, but he turned down an $8 million per season contract extension? LMFAO. Quit kidding around. This is a serious football site with serious football analysis. Nobody in their right mind would offer Raji $8 million per season ever again would they? Right?

21

June

Who’s Next on the Packers’ Chopping Block?

tramon-picksix-atlanta

Could Tramon Williams fall victim to Ted Thompson’s axe before next season?

Packers fans have seen a lot of big names and sentimental favorites either cut or allowed to sign elsewhere in free agency over the last two seasons.

The most recent casualty was Desmond Bishop. The inside linebacker’s exit came after guys like Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Tom Crabtree and Scott Wells were given their walking papers or not resigned in the last two offseasons.

Of course, losing name players always gets a certain segment of Packers fans riled up. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of players cut or not resigned by Packers GM Ted Thompson have gone on to do very little once they’re picked up by another team. The initial shock of losing a player who fans have formed some type of connection with usually causes some sort of backlash.

So, who’s next? Which one of our beloved Packers will be axed by the evil Thompson or not resigned because Packers salary cap whiz Russ Ball says, “Screw the fans! This guy isn’t worthy half of what he’s asking!”

Here are some possible candidates (I tried to limit it to players that the fans generally like. Hence, Jermichael Finley was not included):

CB Tramon Williams
Throwing Williams’ name out there makes me feel like Skip Bayless, but consider: 1) Williams will be 31 next season; 2) He’s due to make $6.9 million in 2014; 3) He hasn’t been able to repeat the success he had in 2010; 4) The Packers have a lot of young talent in the secondary; 5) He’s been bothered by a bum shoulder going on two years now. Kind of sounds like a prime candidate to fall victim to Thompson’s axe, doesn’t it?

FB John Kuhn
If the Packers had any sort of confidence in the pass-blocking ability of the running backs currently on the roster, I think they would wave bye-bye to Kuhn and his $1.8 million salary today. Packers fans boo Kuhn whenever he touches the ball, anyway, so maybe they wouldn’t be too upset about this. Wait…oh, they’re saying “Kuuuuuuhn!” Never mind, fans would be pissed. But Kuhn isn’t going anywhere unless one of the young backs shows the immediate ability to read blitzes and be a shut-down pass blocker.

17

March

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Of the many things that make the NFL great, one of my personal favorites is how new trends tend to pop up out of nowhere.  Just when know-it-all types like yours truly think we have it all figured out, some new wrinkle arises that brings us crashing back down to Earth.

For example, we all understand that the NFL is a passing league these days, but it’s probably safe to say that next to nobody saw the read-option and power-running game trend that came on and played such a major factor in the league last season.

Read option? Power running? In today’s NFL? Nah! What coach is stupid enough to try that? Well, thanks to a new breed of quarterback, several coaches gave it a try and it worked. We’ll see if it continues.

In NFL free agency this offseason, thanks to a stagnant salary cap, there are a lot of usable veterans cut by teams and left on the market. In the past, many of these veterans would have signed bloated new deals with new teams on the first day or two of free agency.

These types of deals are still happening, but not quite like they used to.

Is this the new trend in free agency? It appears to be, for this offseason, anyway. More  teams are taking the Packers’ Ted Thompson approach and being patient, either because they think it’s the right thing to do, or because they have no other choice due to the stagnant salary cap.

Don’t get me wrong, few teams — if any — are taking the extreme draft and development approach that Thompson takes, but the general trend appears to be heading in that direction.

This raises several questions:

  • Will all of these unsigned veterans eventually just sign cheap one-year deals after a while?
  • Will prices for these unsigned veterans actually go up as free-agency wears on and teams realize they need to fill a few holes on their rosters?
  • Prices appear to be down for wide receivers and defensive backs this offseason. Is that because there are too many on the market? Is it becasue there are so many on the market? Is it because teams feel it makes more sense to draft and develop their own WRs and DBs?
15

March

Packers News: Francois returns to Green Bay on one-year deal

Packers LB Robert Francois

Packers LB Robert Francois

Who says the Packers never do anything in free agency?

On Friday afternoon, inside linebacker Robert Francois agreed to a one-year contract to remain in Green Bay, according to ProFootballTalk via Twitter. In the days leading up to free agency, Francois openly discussed his preference to stay with the Packers.

“They brought him in,” said Noel LaMontagne, one of Francois’ agents, according to JSOnline.com. “They gave him the opportunity. He’s been through the highs and lows there and obviously that organization is built for long-term success and Rob wants to be a part of it.”

By signing the one-year contract, Francois will spend his fourth season in Green Bay in 2013. Between 2010 and 2012, Francois has started a total of three games for the Packers, racking up 14 tackles, two pass deflections and an interception as a starter, according to NFL.com.

But his primary role with the Packers is on special teams.

As things currently stand, Francois joins Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk, Terrell Manning, D.J. Smith and Jamari Lattimore as the team’s inside linebackers. Brad Jones is a free agent and visited with the Tennessee Titans Mar. 15.

There has also been some debate regarding Hawk’s future with the team, as he’s currently set to count $5.45 million against the cap. Linebacker is certainly a position to keep an eye on this offseason.

(UPDATE: Hawk has accepted a pay cut to remain with the team, as of Friday afternoon)

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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12

March

Packers News: Erik Walden bolts for the Colts

The Colts gave Walden $16 million

The Colts gave Walden $16 million

Who says there’s no such thing as exciting free agent news in Green Bay?

Former Packers outside linebacker Erik Walden raised some eyebrows today by reaching an agreement with the Indianapolis Colts on a contract worth $16 million over four years. Walden, 27, expects to be a starter opposite Robert Mathis, according to Bob McGinn on Twitter.

In three seasons with the Packers, Walden accounted for nine sacks. Among the 34 outside linebackers that played in a 3-4 scheme last season, Pro Football Focus graded Walden dead-last. In 2011, Walden also graded out dead-last among the 28 3-4 outside linebackers that played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps.

Just last summer, the Packers signed Walden to a one-year contract worth $700,000. Apparently, the Colts felt Walden’s 2012 season justified a pay raise of over $15 million.

Free agency never disappoints. The first wave of free agency brings both the expected moves (Mike Wallace to the Dolphins) as well as some head scratchers (Walden).

Not surprisingly, the financially cautious Packers have yet to dive into the free agent market.

Pro Football Talk reported that Green Bay is the favorite to sign running back Steven Jackson. Take that for what it’s worth, as it could simply be Jackson’s agent trying to drive up his client’s price tag. Personally, I’d be surprised if the Packers are willing to match the 30-year-old running back’s financial demands.

Free agent defensive lineman Chris Canty visited the Packers last week, but he visited and signed with the Baltimore Ravens today, according to his Twitter account.

If you’re sitting on pins and needles waiting for the Packers to make a big free agent splash, it’s probably safe to stand up and find your recliner.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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22

January

2013 NFL Free Agents the Packers Could Sign, but Probably Won’t

Dan Kopen

Center Dan Koppen is a free agent the Packers could possibly sign, but likely won’t.

We started the conversation about the Packers biggest draft needs by position group on Monday. Now let’s take a look at possible free-agent targets for Ted Thompson.

It’s probably best to get this discussion out of our system right away. As usual, I doubt Thompson will do much in free agency. He signed Jeff Saturday last offseason, and Saturday ended up on the bench. That’s not going to entice Thompson to run back to the free-agent pool for immediate help.

If Thompson does bring in some free agents, they will probably be system-types — role players that most of us have never heard of that may or may not even make the team. But, hey, posting a blank page probably wouldn’t generate much discussion, so let’s pretend Thompson might want to bring in a guy or two from the outside.

Who might be a good fit? Again, don’t get your hopes up, but it’s at least worth discussing.

Jason Jones, DL
The Seahawks signed Jones to a one-year deal last offseason and he finished with just three sacks in 12 games before getting hurt. Since pass rush from the defensive line is a big need, Jones could fit well with the Packers as a situational pass rusher that can play all three defensive line spots. Jones likely won’t attract a lot of attention, but is still viewed as a guy with some upside, so who knows? The Seahawks signed Jones to a one-year “prove yourself” sort of deal. If he can’t get a multi-year offer anywhere, perhaps the Packers would offer him something similar to what he got with Seattle.

Dan Koppen, C
If one guy who used to snap it to Peyton Manning doesn’t work, why not try another one? Koppen is like a younger version of Saturday, with a little bit left in his run-blocking tank. As Manning’s center in Denver this year, Koppen also is likely used to the no-huddle and setting protection while the quarterback changes things at the line of scrimage. I’m sure Koppen isn’t a realistic option for the Packers, but you never know. Falcons center Todd McClure also will be on the market, but he’s probably not a good fit, either.

5

September

Greg Jennings And His Contract: The Sky is Not Falling

Greg Jennings

Could Greg Jennings be putting a different team on his back in 2013? Not likely.

The 2012 NFL season literally just got underway and already some Green Bay Packer fans are thinking about the 2013 offseason.

Thanks to some recent comments by free agent-to-be Greg Jennings and his MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers,  it’s becoming clear that Jennings could be playing the 2013 season in a uniform other than the Green and Gold.

First, here is what Jennings had to say on the matter on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the morning:

“I definitely want to be here, but understanding the nature of the business, you never know. There is really nothing else I can really say or do. The ball is not in my court at all. I have to play the cards that I’m dealt. Right now it’s football. That’s my focus.”

This really isn’t a cause for panic nor is it really any different than what he has said in the past.  Jennings has maintained all along he wants to remain a Green Bay Packer.  This mindset is the best for the Packers if this indeed truly Jennings’ mindset right now.

What Rodgers had to say, however, probably raised more than a few eyebrows.  Here’s what he told ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde on his weekly radio show on ESPN 540:

“I think you have to be realistic about it and think that it might be. I have loved my time with Greg. Greg and I are going to be buddies whether he’s here or not.”

The fact that Rodgers used “loved” vs. “love” is likely what has caught everyone’s attention.  Knowing that the Packers will very soon be faced with resigning Jennings, Rodgers, Clay Matthews and BJ Raji, as well as a possible pay raise for Jordy Nelson there seems to be a thought that thanks to these recent remarks there’s a good chance #85 will be elsewhere next year.

Folks, relax. While I am not inside the heads of Ted Thompson and Russ Ball, I would be willing to bet that Jennings isn’t going anywhere outside the state of Wisconsin.

Jennings’ recent comments are part of the all too familiar part of contract negotiations called “posturing.” Jennings (or more accurately, his agent) is publicly conveying the message that while he wants to remain in Green Bay, he is prepared to move on.  This is designed to force the team to sweeten its deal under the threat of one of its star players moving on.