It’s the offseason. Ugh. That means the Green Bay Packers will be turning their focus from actually playing football games to free agency and the draft.
We’ll get to the draft later, but the Green Bay Packers have more free agents this year than they typically do and a number of them are starters. That means there are going to be some holes to fill.
Here are the Packers free agents and their outlook for the future.
Matt Flynn — Flynn came in during the season and led the Packers to two wins. He also kept them in the playoff race while Aaron Rodgers sat. Flynn wasn’t brilliant, but he can obviously win games for the Green Bay Packers. Flynn failed twice as a starter — in Seattle and Oakland. Somehow, he’s able to flourish when starting in Green Bay. The problem here is the Packers like the potential of Scott Tolzien, who’s both under contract for next season and the guy Flynn had to replace in the starting lineup this year. Our bet is the Packers give Flynn a shot to compete with Tolzien for the backup job in training camp. They’ll have a tough decision if Flynn beats Tolzien though. Tolzien doesn’t have any practice squad eligibility left.
Seneca Wallace — Wallace was brought in to be Rodgers’ backup after training camp. The Packers praised his veteran leadership and the way he helped Rodgers in the film and meeting rooms. Then he tore his groin in his first start. At 33, Wallace is a real long shot to return.
James Starks — As the No. 2 guy in the 1-2 punch with Eddie Lacy, Starks was great. Not only that, he stayed healthy for probably the first time since college. Starks showed himself to be both a capable role player and spot starter. He had 132 yards rushing in week two after Lacy went out with a concussion. Starks finished the year with 493 yards and three touchdowns rushing. We’d suggest the Packers should make signing Starks a priority, but it’s not that simple. Starks may want to sign elsewhere — somewhere he has a chance to be the feature back. The Packers also have plenty of options at running back. After Lacy, they’ll get former starter DuJuan Harris and fourth-round pick Johnathan Franklin back next season. Running back is a strength for the Packers with or without Starks. That tells us the Packers will probably only re-sign Starks if they can get him for cheap.
John Kuhn — Kuhn proved himself invaluable down the stretch. That block on Julius Peppers in week 17 that allowed Rodgers to throw the game-winning touchdown pass alone should get him a new contract. Kuhn provides something else though. He provides veteran leadership. He’s a team guy, too. John Kuhn will go out and play special teams if that’s what he needs to do. We’re not saying the Packers don’t have enough team-first guys, but they do have a lack of veteran leadership. They could also use a bruising lead blocker for Eddie Lacy from time to time. The fullback position isn’t what it once was in the NFL. Therefore, we don’t expect a big market for Kuhn. The Packers would be wise to bring him back and we think they will.
Kahlil Bell — The Packers signed Bell late in the season to play special teams. They actually put him back on kickoff returns as well. With Micah Hyde faring pretty well as a returner and probably one or two speedy guys coming in during and after the draft, it doesn’t seem like there’s a future for Bell in Green Bay.
James Jones — Jones is a tough one. He’s planning on testing the free agent market and someone just might offer him some decent money. The last time Jones tested the market, he didn’t find any takers and came back to Green Bay for a fairly modest deal. After leading the league in touchdowns in 2012 and posting over 800 yards receiving, despite missing two games, in 2013, Jones is going to find a market this time. It’s not as if the Packers couldn’t use Jones or don’t want him, but they may not be able to afford him. And they may not want to either. With Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin, the argument could be made that the Packers are fine with or without Jones.
Jermichael Finley — The Packers missed Finley after he injured his neck. That isn’t to suggest they’ll be interested in re-signing Finley. Finley suffered an injury similar to the one that ended Nick Collins’ career. The Packers wouldn’t clear Collins to return to action and that might ultimately be the case with Finley. His future will largely depend on that — medical clearance. If the Packers think Finley can come back and he’s cleared to play, there’s no reason they shouldn’t want to sign him. He’ll probably even come fairly cheap because of that uncertainty. If the Packers don’t clear him, Finley’s career is probably over, which leaves the team with a big hole at tight end.
Andrew Quarless — God’s Gifts started after Finley went down. He showed some flashes, with good games against Dallas and Atlanta down the stretch, but wasn’t Finley. Quarless finished the season with 32 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers like to load up on tight ends, but if both Quarless and Finley are gone, then they’re down to Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner. We can see the Packers bringing back Quarless at a bargain-basement rate, but they’re more than likely going to have to draft a tight end.
Evan Dietrich-Smith — The Packers’ center hasn’t always been the most dominant guy, but he came into his own this season. Gone were the gaffes in the passing game that led to Aaron Rodgers running for his life. Additionally, the Packers had one of the best running attacks in the league. There’s also something to be said for continuity on the offensive line. If Dietrich-Smith leaves, the Packers could turn to 2013 fourth-round pick J.C. Tretter, but our feeling is this guy is probably the Packers No. 2 free agent priority right now.
Marshall Newhouse — Oh boy. Newhouse was consistently a disaster at tackle when forced into action. Couple that with the fact that Bryan Bulaga will be back and former first-round pick Derek Sherrod has to play at some point and there’s really no reason for the Packers to sign Newhouse. When Bulaga returns, the Packers actually have a good problem. Are they going to sit David Bakhtiari at left tackle in favor of Bulaga? They shouldn’t. Are they going to sit Don Barclay at right tackle in favor of Bulaga? There’s probably a good chance. That leaves a former starter in Barclay and a former first-round pick as your backup tackles. Good riddance, Marshall Newhouse.
Ryan Pickett — Pickett will be 35 during the 2014 season. He didn’t play at a particularly high level in 2013 either. A year after having 51 tackles in 2012, Pickett only tallied 19 in 2013. The Packers defensive line was a weak spot for most of the season. That isn’t all Pickett’s fault, but he didn’t really help the problem either. We know Ted Thompson doesn’t think much of old guys, so we have a hard time seeing Pickett playing for the Packers next season.
B.J. Raji — The Packers offered Raji $8 million per season to re-sign during the season. He didn’t take it and that looks like a pretty stupid move now. Raji was literally invisible for most of the second half of the season. He finished with just 17 tackles and no sacks. This guy has regressed since 2010, when he had a career year with 39 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Raji was part of the problem this year. However, Ted Thompson loves his draft picks (see: Hawk, A.J.) and we’re betting the Packers will still try to re-sign Raji, nonetheless. It will depend on the market, but does Raji deserve a big deal? No, not in any realm. It’s time for the Packers to retool up front in our estimation.
Johnny Jolly — Jolly missed the last three games of the regular season because of injury, but before that he was the emotional leader of the Packers defense. Simply, the Packers don’t have enough guys like Johnny Jolly. He finished with 21 tackles and a sack after spending three years away from the game because of drug issues. In three fewer games, those are better stats than both Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji put up. Jolly may not be the player he used to be, but he was the team’s best defensive lineman this year. He also provided that spark that no one else on the defense does. We can’t see Jolly getting a lot of money and the Packers would be wise to re-sign him.
C.J. Wilson — Wilson has been a spot starter for the Packers and has been fairly solid against the run during his career. That being said, he was the forgotten man on the defensive line this year, playing in just eight games and registering just eight tackles. That tells us the Packers don’t think Wilson can ball, especially considering how bad the defensive line was this season. No one is going to break the bank for this guy, so there’s a decent chance he’ll return on a minimum deal, but he’ll face a real battle to make the roster in 2014.
Mike Neal — The Packers finally got something out of the former second-round pick, Neal, in 2013. After battling injuries for his first two seasons, Neal finished strong in 2012 with 4.5 sacks. He converted to outside linebacker during training camp in 2013 and turned in his best campaign as a pro — 47 tackles, 5 sacks, a forced fumble and a pick. All of those were career highs. Neal wasn’t a game changer, but he was also adjusting to a new position and should only get better at that position. The Packers have invested a lot in him and we expect him to be back, providing some idiot team doesn’t throw a bunch of money at him like the Colts did with Erik Walden last offseason.
Robert Francois — Francois’ season was over after just four games. He plays a position that, in our estimation, needs a complete overhaul — inside linebacker. Francois can be a capable backup when he’s healthy. That bodes well for his chances to return. No one is going to want to pay a guy coming off a season-ending injury who backed up two of the worst inside backers in the NFL. Francois is one of those guys who’s a candidate for a minimum deal late in free agency that lands him back in Green Bay.
Jamari Lattimore — Lattimore showed some flashes as a spot starter when Brad Jones was out. That is, he showed he could make plays. On the other hand, he also showed he could get beat for big plays. With a little more seasoning, Lattimore is a solid backup at worst and possibly a serviceable starter at best. In other words, he’s not Patrick Willis, but neither are Brad Jones or A.J. Hawk. Lattimore is one of the valuable backup guys that the Packers always seem to re-sign… unless there’s someone out there who sees him as a potential starter.
Sam Shields — The Packers No. 1 cornerback is and should be the team’s No. 1 free agent priority. Shields was one of the few standout defenders this season for the Packers. He was a borderline shutdown corner. The Packers haven’t really had a guy like that since Al Harris. Yes, Charles Woodson, but he was more of a playmaker than a shutdown guy. The main issue here is Shields is likely looking for around $7 million per season. The Packers owe Tramon Williams $7.5 million next season and they should want to keep him around the way he closed 2013. It’s going to be tough for the Packers to pay two corners $7 million a season. This could be a standoff that lasts for a while, but it would behoove the team to figure out a way to make it work.
M.D. Jennings — Let’s cut to the chase here. M.D. Jennings shouldn’t be starting at safety in the NFL. This should be the Packers’ No. 1 priority for an upgrade in the offseason. Next to Morgan Burnett, the Packers have chosen to go with a bunch of undrafted guys. Joining Jennings in that group are Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo. We literally see zero difference in ability to make plays between the three of them. The Packers’ safeties had zero interceptions this season. That needs to change and our bet is it’s probably going to change personnel-wise with a high draft pick. That means the Packers have no more use for Jennings.
-Shields unless the money is obscene.
-Lattimore maybe as a backup to someone other than Brad Jones or Hawk
– Raji Don’t think this will happen. My fear is he goes to a 4-3 team and becomes a stud.
Drama creates interest and entertainment! Well, this is an outstanding offseason of drama coming up.
Would sure rather watch 3 more weeks of Packer Games,,,but this free agency period will be dramatic in the meantime!
And a free agent playmaker on the D line.
After that, anything else is just gravy.
Bring on the Drama!
Flynn – I don’t know what his total haul was, but I’m guessing that between the Shithags, Raiders and Bills he’s made bank and should accept his fate to be Frank Reich, Jr. for the rest of his career.
Wallace – Buh-bye
Starks – He’ll take the money and run and it’ll be the best deal for both sides. Would love to keep him, but someone’s going to throw silly money at him.
Kuhn – Likes to play in GB, this is a deal that both sides gets done.
Bell – Buh-bye
Jones – He’ll sign with Kansas City.
FinMe – Buh-bye
Quarless – Pack will sign him due to FinMe situation, but will make will make the deal conditional on him showing he can actually block a 100 lb. 7th grader.
EDS – See Scott Wells.
Newhouse – BUH-FUCKING-BYE
Pickett – One year deal, but only if he takes reserve money.
Jolly – This deal will show if he, his agent and TT can see the forest for the trees. I’d like to see a 3-4 year deal with decent base money, laden with incentives. The guy has proven his value. His year 2 after his hiatus is going to be off the hook.
Raji – Retires, signs on with Jenny Craig as spokeswoman.
Wilson – Buh-bye
Neal – Exactly.
Francois – Exactly.
Lattimore – See Desmond Bishop. Pack needs to figure out a way to lock this guy up.
Shields – Drew Rosenhaus will make sure that he winds up with another team, new contract will have a Tatt removal clause. Color him gone.
MD Jennings – Does he have a dog?
Tubby Twinkel Toes season is over. Terrific Ted Thompson is
waiting in the wings.
I’ve been reading Shields (or more his agent) wants 9-10 million per year or more. I just can’t see how the packers keep him without Williams lowering his cap number.
I could see Pickett coming back but a rate he might not find acceptable.
Raji… I don’t understand. I expect we are going to here more when he is on another team. But they keep talking him up, they offered the boatload of money, he keeps not talking about it. It seems like all they wanted him to do was stand there and not get pushed around. What am I missing?
I REALLY like the fact that Tramon is speaking up about all the damn rookies every year. It seems like every year, the Packers are the youngest or second youngest team in the league. Letting Woodson go was a clear mistake. This team needs some more veteran leadership.. needs some damn experience in addition to a talent upgrade.
Pack will have about $50M in cap space. Re-sign SS (for around $10M/yr), EDS ($3-5M), Kuhn (no more than $3.5M or so), Quarless (1-2M or so), Flynn ($2-4M), Jolly ($1-2.5M), Starks ($1-2M), Neal ($1-3M), Lattimore (who still hasn’t learned the playbook; $1-1.5M), and Francois, Wilson, and maybe, maybe (but probably not) Dr. Nick for the vet min.; let JJ walk.
As long as the Pack have about $15M left before the draft, they should be set going forward capwise.
gotta think about extending jordy and cobb
3.5 million for a fullback that maybe plays 15 plays a game or so? You are nuts. The guy shouldnt get more than 1.5 million. Not to mention he is over 30. Kuhn wouldnt have much leverage seeing as how fullbacks in general dont get much money around the league.
Shields is the only real imperative. EDS should be resigned but they’ll let him walk. He’s not a TT golden boy like Hawk. Would like to see Kuhn back, too.
With all the holes Green Bay will be facing with free agency and deficiencies in 2014 there is NO WAY Ted Thompson can afford to not go into free agency in some estimation. There are WAY too many holes on this team not to.
BJ Raji is gonna be a Chicago Bear. And that fucking hurts
This list includes the entire draft of 2010, who all played out their rookie contracts. That is simply amazing. Maybe it wouldn’t mean much if the Packers weren’t very good during that stretch or if they weren’t starters. The opposite is the case- 4 winning seasons, 4 playoff appearance, 1 Super Bowl, 1 year without losing a game, and all 7 have started for the Packers. These guys don’t even know what it is like to lose.
Flynn- Matt Flynn is a Packer as long as he doesn’t want much more than veteran’s minimum. I don’t see another team having interest in him. So, I don’t see how he has a choice. Keep him and Tolzien as long as Tolzien has a decent preseason. Tolzien could be worth something down the line and better to play it safe at the QB position for once.
Wallace – Who? William Wallace, hell yeah. Seneca Wallace, no way.
James Starks – Helped us win a title. Love the man. But I am going to say the same thing I said in the preseason (when I was dead wrong), let the man go. Harris and Franklin are a better change of pace. Good luck elsewhere.
John Kuhn – Shouldn’t cost much. Sign the man.
Some guy named Bell- The emergency we signed you for never happened. There is always barber college.
James Jones – Love the man. Has done nothing but make plays since we drafted him. Another team should pay him $5-7 mil a season and we should not. Go get paid, JJ. You’ll always be a Packer to me.
J-Fin – Collect your insurance and retire. Peace and out.
Andrew Quarless – Our new starting TE. Congrats. Pay the man.
EDS – Arguably our #1 priority. He is better than Scott Wells and will be cheaper. Pay the man as long as his agent doesn’t get nuts.
Marshall Newhouse – Hahahaha!!!! NFL stands for Not For Long.
Ryan Pickett – One or two year deal if it doesn’t break the bank. He showed he has something left against San Fran.
BJ Raji – The market will decide. You sign him if you can get him for $3 – $5 million a season and no more. Big men with good feet are tough to find, but the production hasn’t been there.
Jolly – Sign him. Shouldn’t break the bank.
CJ Wilson – Along with Jarius Wynn and Mike Neal, he was the reason we let Cullen Jenkins go. He never materialized into a starter. You’ll always have 2010.
Mike Neal – Probably more valuable to us than anyone else. You can let him go if he gets a big offer elsewhere. Otherwise, for Brad Jones type money, you sign him.
Francois and Lattimore – At or near veteran’s minimum, sure.
Sam Shields – Tramon and Casey Hayward are under contract. He likely wants $8 – $10 mil. Let him go. Like WR, corner is an overrated position. One good one doesn’t get you anywhere. It is all about having a good group. I would love to keep Sam around, but no way do you spend over $15 mil between your corners.
MD Jennings – Big mistake, Ted. HAVE to address this position for this team to go forward. Zero INTs by a safety this season. That is a first in the modern era for this franchise.
I would have to disagree with you here. In todays passing league, you can never have too many good corners. I really wish House materialized into a consistent solid corner, because his size would be ideal going up against the larger receivers in the division like jeffrey, marshall, megatron. Too bad TT didnt have a crystal ball and couldnt see what richard sherman materialized into.
Awesom post, Iltarion. Agree on everything except Shields and Starks. In football eras past CBs weren’t all that important, as long as you could knock your guy on his ass, you could start at CB; however, in this era, CB is the 3rd or 4th most valuable position. If you have one of Shields talent and age (and considering Tramon’s age), you try just about anything to lock him up and keep him from going all Anakin Skywalkery. That said, TT seems to be pretty damn good at finding talented CBs (as well as WRs) and usually for damn cheap.
As for Starks, I’ve liked him since the SB run, thought he could be the running game’s Messiah for just as long; however, I too wanted him gone this preseason, in favor of Alex Green (yikes). He seems perfectly fit for his current role. Yes the backfield, incredibly enough, is now a major strength. However, both Harris and Franklin are small backs, and Harris is not only coming off a major injury, he is also quite willing to challenge defenders-not the best recipe for staying healthy. I would love to keep this backfield together, Bell excluded (sorry bud). I say Starks falls under the same category as Neal.
Francois and/or Lattimore I think we have to keep-ILB isn’t exactly loaded with hardy, talented players. So much for best LB corps GB’s had during TT’s tenure, eh Greene?
I would take William Wallace in a heart beat, the opposing team can’t beat us if they’re all dead or trying to avoid staring at grown men’s bare asses.
let MD Jennings go so he can join his brother Craig Flemmings in purple pussy land.
My dude Calvin Pryor leaving the ville for the NFL Draft as a Junior. This is the talent I’d be targeting. Check out the highlight!
Cane you bring up a good point. From an NFC North perspective, RG3 would send cllihs down the spine of every D coordinator in the division, let alone any other division for that matter. But it’s sort of a case of be careful of what you ask for, because you might get it. AS impressive as the beatdown the Vikes administered to the 49ers a few weeks back, look what the Giants did to them this weekend. If Coughlin’s boys can keep this up, they will be scary good come playoff time .REALLY scary. It’s a long season, and anything can happen, but after this weekend’s thrashing by the Giants, I’m more than a little concerned about the Pack’s visit to NJ later on. But first things first the most important game for the Pack right now is the Rams, and not just because it’s the next one on the schedule. The Texans game was one thing, but the Rams game is the real statement game. Fischer is well on his way to turning this club around, and with all those draft choices they got from the Redskins (another RG3 tie-in), they will be a force in years to come. The Rams will put up a good struggle, but the Pack should prevail. If they have a letdown, and we all know that’s a possibility, all bets are off.