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Green Bay Packers’ 2016 Free Agents: Who Stays?

B.J. Raji

For a change, the Green Bay Packers have a fairly underwhelming list of free agents going into the offseason. They signed their biggest priority, defensive end Mike Daniels, during the season.

So who’s left?

As we noted during the season, the biggest priority after Daniels has to be kicker Mason Crosby.

Here’s the rundown.

Tackle Don Barclay — We once thought pretty highly of Barclay. Even suspected he might be better than the ho-hum Bryan Bulaga. Then he tore his ACL during the 2014 season. Then he was right next to awful for most of 2015. Barclay just can’t pass block and he hasn’t shown any improvement in that area, which makes him a liability. We could certainly see the Packers re-signing Barclay for some minimum wage deal, but what for?

Kicker Mason Crosby — A reliable kicker is hard to find. Crosby has been that for the past three seasons, since imploding back in 2012, when he hit just 63.6 percent of his field goals. He’s been above 80 percent since and hit 24 of 28 in 2015. Crosby wants to return and there’s no reason that shouldn’t happen.

Long snapper Brett Goode — The Packers gave Goode a three-year contract extension worth $2.715 million back in 2012. So they were paying a long snapper almost a million a year. That’s not a lot in NFL dollars, but Goode got hurt this season and was replaced by some sandwich maker named Rick Lovato. Did you notice a difference? We didn’t.

Defensive tackle Letroy Guion — Guion was fairly disappointing in 2015 with 21 tackles and no sacks after turning in a career year (32 tackles, 3.5 sacks) in 2014. Of course, he was suspended for three games and playing in a rotation with B.J. Raji, among others. Guion probably has some decent football left in him, but the Packers need to put him in a position to succeed. It didn’t seem like they knew how to do that in 2015. Making an either/or decision between Guion and Raji seems logical.

Cornerback Casey Hayward — If there’s a major player who is almost certain to not be brought back, it’s Hayward. It’s not that he’s bad, but he doesn’t make big plays anymore and the Packers are set at cornerback with Sam Shields, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter.

Receiver James JonesLove us some Jim Jones! We doubt the Packers will, though. Despite Jones leading the team in receiving yards (890) and touchdowns (8), he has a couple things working against him. He’ll be 32 in a couple months and with Jordy Nelson returning next season, we have a hard time seeing a role for Jones. Frankly, the Packers should release Davante Adams, but that will never happen. Davante is Ted’s boy!

Fullback John Kuhn — John Kuhn is still solid. He’s a veteran leader and still gets things done on special teams. And yeah, on the few plays he gets each week on offense. There’s never been a case where we’ve said, “John Kuhn is a liability.” The problem is the Packers drafted fullback Aaron Ripkowski last year. How many fullbacks do you need in the NFL? For most teams, one is too many.

Outside linebacker Mike Neal — There’s nothing special about Mike Neal. He had 36 tackles and four sacks in 2015 and he did that while getting more snaps than anyone (845) among the Packers outside linebackers. Pro Football Focus gave Neal an overall grade of 49.6, which is awful. The Packers could do better by signing some clown off the street. Instead, they’ll probably just move Clay Matthews back outside.

Outside linebacker Nick Perry — On the flip side of the Mike Neal coin is Perry, who had 31 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He did that in 411 plays. So Perry had pretty much the same stat line as Neal in half as many plays. Perry will never live up to his status as a first-round pick, but he’s a serviceable player. When you look at it, you have to wonder why Perry never replaced Neal in the starting lineup this season. He won’t break the bank, but Perry should return.

Tight end Andrew Quarless — It will be a happy day for us when the God’s Gifts’ era is over in Green Bay. Forget all the nonsense last offseason. The Packers already have one mediocre tight end in Richard Rodgers. They don’t need this one.

Defensive tackle B.J. Raji — B.J. Raji had a nice start to the season. Unfortunately, that’s the best you can say about him. After looking like a disruptor in the middle during the first weeks of the year, Raji went back to being his usual invisible self. He finished with 22 tackles and half a sack. Mike Pennel is a better and younger player. He’s also probably better suited for the middle of the defense, not defensive end. We’re not saying the Packers won’t re-sign Raji, but they have a better option on the team already. Raji’s overall grade from PFF was 64.1, which isn’t good, but his grade against the run was an abysmal 48.9.

Safety Sean Richardson — Unfortunately, Richardson is most likely going to have to retire because of a neck injury. We suspect the Packers wouldn’t take a risk in re-signing him even if he wanted to come back.

Running back James Starks — Starks churned out a career-high 601 rushing yards and 392 receiving yards in 2015. He’s not a starter, but definitely a quality backup. That should get him another contract with the Packers.

Quarterback Scott Tolzien — Scooter! This is a tough call. Scoots did plenty to win the backup job for the Packers in 2015, but didn’t get a chance to do anything in the regular season. Normally, you’d re-sign this guy without thinking twice, but the Packers drafted Brett Hundley last year. Hundley looked good in preseason. We wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s hard to see the Packers going with three quarterbacks again when they have Hundley waiting in the wings.

Restricted free agents — Guard Lane Taylor and outside linebacker Andy Mulumba.

Exclusive rights free agents — Tight end Justin Perillo and safety Chris Banjo.

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Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

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12 Comments

  1. Deepsky January 21, 2016

    Perry will sign with a 4-3 team and will have more sacks than Matthews next year. And every single fan who called him a bust will then blame Thompson for letting him go.

    1. Ted Hawthorne January 21, 2016

      Exactly right. Perry is a natural DE in a 4-3, and will
      probably do quite well there. That TT moved him
      to OLB was preposterous.

      1. PF4L January 22, 2016

        Don’t question big Ted, Ted.

    2. GreenNGold January 23, 2016

      Perry will be back in Green Bay. He’s still just 25 years old, no way Thompson lets him go and potentially give his best years to somebody else. He’ll be re-signed like Neal was re-signed 2 years ago.

  2. jtmax January 21, 2016

    Both Perry and Neal are similar: big linebackers with plenty of power , length, and quickness but made of glass. I see TT keeping whoever is cheaper. Guion and Raji same. Whoever is cheaper is coming back. Their both average although Raji is less likely to get suspended for extracurricular activities. Tolzien is just a body. Hundley has more potential so must let Tolzien go. We have to decide who to groom to replace Rodgers once father time catches up to him. I still want to upgrade on RB. I wonder if TT can get Lynch this time around. Rodgers is his buddy so that might be a nice perk to offer him to come here.

  3. David January 21, 2016

    John Kuhn will be around because his is a fan favorite and Aaron likes him. James Starks will stick unless the Packers draft a rb in the top 3 rounds. Scott Tolzien will stay because MM likes 4 qb’s in training camp. Chris Banjo is a good back-up. Justin Perillo is ok and good on special teams. Lane Taylor provides depth and Andy Mulumba will be cheap. As for Mike Neal or Nick Perry flip a coin, I’d let them both go and draft one or two more outside linebackers as well as some line help, I think B. J. Raji is gone.

  4. billabong January 21, 2016

    haha, Beast Mode coming to Green Bay?? A Wisconsin snowballs chance in hell…he’s rich he aint playing in no Green Bay…too far away from best bud SnoopDog…..plus he only plays when he feels like it…

  5. Mel gm in the wings January 21, 2016

    All so true but as D, amato calls for the head of M C. It’s time for TT to get bold his draft @ develope ain’t working time to get some balls and get some free agents to fill them. If a play off 1 and out by by teddy

  6. Mel gm in the wings January 21, 2016

    Just one more could we have added one more trophy if TT had add Myshawn lynch 5 yrs ago no worst than Guion & balls Quartless

  7. icebowl January 21, 2016

    Thought GB had a lot of FA until I saw the breakdown : In total ca. 540 FAs – works out to an average of nearly 17 per team

    GB with 16 sits right about average, Whiners have the least with 9, Seattle most with a whopping 24 (quite a few of them are hi-profile)…

    Interesting that GB, MINN and DET are all within 1-2 of each other. Da Bearz on the other hand are near the top with 22 guys they are going to need to decide on (including Forte and Jeffery, the latter would look good in Green & Gold).

    Here’s the full breakdown :

    SF 9
    CLE 10
    PHI 11
    MIA 12
    TEN 12
    JAX 13
    TB 14
    ATL 15
    BAL 15
    BUF 15
    CAR 15
    CIN 15
    KC 15
    MIN 15
    GB 16
    DET 17
    HOU 17
    IND 17
    NE 17
    WAS 18
    DAL 19
    LA 19
    OAK 19
    ARI 20
    DEN 20
    NO 20
    SD 20
    NYG 21
    CHI 22
    NYJ 23
    PIT 23
    SEA 24

  8. Kato January 22, 2016

    Tough list to figure out. The market will dictate a lot of this. They need to bring back either Neal or perry. If they don’t bring back either, a once deep position will suddenly be dangerously thin, especially if peppers calls it quits. Crosby needs to be brought back as well, good kicking can’t be taken for granted. I am thinking they roll with Crockett and lacy and let Starks walk, and draft another back. Which sucks because I am a Starks fan.

    There is no way the bears let Jeffrey go, they have a lot of cap space, teams don’t let #1 receivers walk. Especially since they don’t have a lot of talent behind him and white is still an unknown commodity.

  9. Packers fan January 23, 2016

    We really should resign Mason Crosby, John Kuhn, and B.J Raji. About James Jones, I don’t really mind if he stays. He is a good wide out but he can’t really get open though and I don’t really care if he stays or not but I hate to say this but he may need to leave though. The players who better not be back next year are Don Barclay, Andrew Quarless, Letroy Guion (because he was troubled), Scott Tolzien, and Casey Hayward. Casey Hayward is just horrible and we already have a secondary for the future. Also Ted Thompson, for Pete’s sake, can you PLEASE sign free agents from other teams as well. Maybe 2. Ladarius Green would be a good example for a TE if we replace Andrew Quarless. Derrick Johnson and/or Jerrell Freeman would be a good example for ILB to help out Jake Ryan.The rest of the Packers needs can be addressed at the draft. If Ted Thompson DOES NOT sign any free agents from other teams this offseason, someone should start a petition to get him fired at http://www.ipetitions.com/ because Aaron Rodgers needs another ring and we should not keep wasting his time. Thanks!