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The Green Bay Packers have 10 players who are scheduled to be free agents following the 2016 season. They reduced that number from 12 when they released guard Josh Sitton and cut it from 11 to 10 when they extended left tackle David Bakhtiari this week.

Who’s left? A number of key players. These would be our priorities from most important to least.

1. J.C. Tretter

We don’t really care that Tretter is a first-year starter. Nor do we care that the Packers have a ready-made replacement in Corey Linsley. Tretter is the Packers’ most athletic offensive lineman. He’s just 25 and he’s versatile. He proved that when he held down left tackle — the toughest position on the line — in 2015 when Bakhtiari was injured (and after two other guys failed). Plus, you’re not going to have to break the bank for a center. This is no-brainer.

2. Micah Hyde

Like Tretter, Hyde is playing out the last year of his rookie deal. Like Tretter, he’s a bit of a Swiss Army knife. Hyde can play safety or cornerback and he’s a decent punt returner. Yes, the Packers are loaded in the secondary, but to most of us, Hyde is the second-best safety on the team. He’s behind only Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. We’re all just waiting around for Morgan Burnett to finally die so the coaching staff is forced to give Hyde his rightful place in the starting lineup.

3. Eddie Lacy

We’d probably have Lacy higher and possibly at the top of this list if we knew he could stay in shape and out of the doghouse. Lacy has potential to be a 1,200-yard per season back, but we’d really like to see that happen on the field before doling out a big contract. We’re sure the Packers would too. One thing that is working in Lacy’s favor is the fact that James Starks is now 30 and will clearly never be No. 1 back material. If the Packers let Lacy walk, they’d have to draft his replacement.

4. Nick Perry

We don’t want to curse the guy, but barring another injury this year looks like it’s finally going to be Nick Perry’s coming-out party. The former first-round pick is still just 26 years old. He plays the run from the outside linebacker position better than Clay Matthews ever has and probably ever will. Perry has clearly taken over for Julius Peppers in the starting lineup. The Packers aren’t even trying to hide that fact anymore. Perry needs to stay healthy and earn it, but we have a feeling he will.

5. T.J. Lang

The Packers told Lang — at the same time they told Sitton — he’s not a priority for an extension. Lang turns 29 next week. Still, you have to think he’s got plenty of good football left in him. Lang was clearly the Packers’ best lineman in 2015. We haven’t seen any signs of falloff in 2016. The problem for Lang is guard is one of the least-important positions on the team. On the flip side of that coin is this question. Can the offensive line hold up with Taylor and Don Barclay in place of Sitton and Lang? One of those guys, probably, but both of them? That might be the scenario.

6. Jared Cook

We’ll of course have to see if Mike McCarthy actually plans to utilize Cook this season. Or if Aaron Rodgers will throw him the ball. If those things happen, Cook should provide the Packers what Richard Rodgers doesn’t at the tight end position. Speed, athleticism and the ability to stretch the field. The Packers again clearly have a dearth of pass catchers who can stretch the field. Cook will be 30 next year, but he’s demonstrated in what little we’ve seen he can blow by most linebackers.

7. Datone Jones

Jones has found a home at outside linebacker after moving from defensive end. He’s decent against the run and can get after the passer. We obviously want to see more, but Jones looks like he’s going to be a very solid rotational player. He’s not the star we had all hoped as a former first-round pick, but it now appears Jones can and will contribute on a regular basis.

8. Don Barclay

If the Packers are going to think about letting Lang go, then they almost have to re-sign Barclay as an insurance policy. Barclay has looked solid since moving inside to guard, but look. We’re talking about a backup offensive lineman here.

9. Brett Goode

We have no love for long snappers around here, but the Packers obviously love Goode. He wasn’t in camp while he continued to recover from a torn ACL. The Packers didn’t care. They cut the guy who was in camp and brought back Goode after final cuts anyway.

10. Julius Peppers

Stick a fork in Julie! Thanks for a couple good years, Julius, but this is clearly the end of the road. Peppers will be 37 in January. Unfortunately, he is not the second coming of Reggie White. Peppers played just 29 snaps in week 1. He’s going to be a part-time player throughout the season. He can no longer (or no longer bothers) to play the run. Wiping Peppers’ $10.5 million 2016 cap hit off the books will help the Packers sign one of these other guys after the season ends.

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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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4 Comments

  1. Chad Lundberg September 14, 2016

    Dont see the need to hate Burnett. When hes out of the line up the safety play usually falls apart. I wont get any love for this but he was ranked by PFF to be the 4th best safety last year. Micahs a good CB player, but he a backup only to safety. TJ Lang deserves a new fat contract, but far too little money to resign him. Will most likely play for Vikes next year, keep the tradition going.

  2. TyKo Steamboat September 14, 2016

    Nick perry needed more than a 1-year deal. Every game I watch he’s setting a strong edge & he adds muscle to the front.
    Hopefully we tab him next especially considering 3 of our 4 OLB’s have expiring contracts.
    3 more seasons has a nice ring to it…

    1. Chad Lundberg September 15, 2016

      That’s a total hindsight ordeal, at the time he had not played a full year healthy, and still only showed back-up quality play. There’s still at least 15 more games to play, he needs to prove he can play healthy the whole year first. Otherwise, this guy looks like he’s finally become the edge setter opposite to Matthews that he was drafted to be. Seriously, all the tape I’ve seen he looks like the best damn D player on the field.

      1. TyKo Steamboat September 16, 2016

        Fully agree with you. I just hate this term “stay healthy”

        It’s often just plain bad luck when someone gets a leg rolled-up on or catches a helmet to a knee.