With the truly awful offseason officially upon us, it’s time to start thinking about the Green Bay Packers free agents.
The Packers have a number of key guys who will hit the open market if they are not re-signed before March. Two of them are going to command a lot of money. Some of them are going to command little or no money.
Here’s a quick look at who’s about to be a free agent and what we expect the Packers to do about that.
Cobb came up huge in his contract season, posting career highs in catches (91), yards (1,287) and touchdowns (12). He also made his first Pro Bowl, although as an alternate. Nonetheless, this guy is going to get paid. The Packers supposedly wanted to extend his contract last summer, but they obviously never got that deal done. The price tag is much higher now than it was then, which complicates the situation tremendously. The Packers have already invested $9 million a season in Jordy Nelson. Cobb should command at least $5 million per season. We expect the Packers to try to get a deal done before free agency begins, but how much salary cap space can you realistically tie up in receivers?
Bulaga, a former first-round pick, is likely also going to command a substantial contract. However, he doesn’t exactly have the leverage that Cobb does. There’s no doubt he was solid in 2014, but we’re talking about a guy with an extensive injury history. He missed four games in 2011, most of 2012, all of 2013 and one game in 2014. So he hasn’t played a full season since 2010, when he was a rookie. In addition, he was moved from left tackle to right, which proves he’s not an elite-level offensive lineman. Finally, the Packers have plenty of guys who could take Bulaga’s spot at right tackle. It starts with Don Barclay, who started at the position in 2013 and is a superior run blocker. They also have utility man J.C. Tretter, who was penciled in as the team’s starting center before he got injured in the preseason. We fully expect the Packers to try to re-sign Bulaga. After all, Ted LOVES his draft picks and he hasn’t hit on many first rounders. We wouldn’t really call Bulaga a hit, but he’s not a miss either. That being said, there are zero reasons the Packers couldn’t live without this guy.
This is a tough one. Most teams don’t even employ a fullback anymore. The Packers have reduced Kuhn’s role considerably in recent seasons. However, this guy does still provide some value, most notably as a leader, on special teams and in throwing the occasional lead block. Mike McCarthy really needs to stop handing him the ball at the goal line though. But that’s another story. Kuhn was a free agent last year. The Packers eventually brought him back on a one-year deal for around $1 million. We expect a similar result this offseason.
Thankfully, Flynn’s snaps were largely of the mop-up variety in 2014. Still, even then he pretty much looked like crap. Flynn was only on the roster because he won some games in 2013 when Aaron Rodgers was injured. In fact, he was outplayed by Scott Tolzien during the preseason and then still somehow got the No. 2 job. What we’re getting at here is that Matt Flynn isn’t a good quarterback and it’s time for the Packers give the No. 2 job to someone else.
That’s what you call a segue! Look, we went over this same shit last offseason. Tolzien is younger and has more physical gifts than Flynn. He’s now been in the system for two seasons. He was solid last preseason. Give this guy the goddam No. 2 job already and draft a developmental quarterback.
Tough decision here, although we think we know which way it’s going to go. While Sam Shields (undeservedly) made the Pro Bowl, you could argue that Tramon was still the team’s best cornerback in 2014. He led the team in passes broken up and tied for the team lead in picks, with three. The problem is, Williams will be 32 in March. If history tells us anything, it’s that if you’re over 30, you’re dead as far as Big Ted is concerned. The Packers could pair Casey Hayward with Shields going forward, if they want. We think that would be a mistake, since Hayward can’t tackle for shit, but that may be reality. Tramon sucked up close to $10 million of the Packers’ salary cap in 2014. Really, the only way we can see him returning is on a bargain-like ($1-2 million per), short-term deal.
Yes, this complicates the cornerback situation a little bit more. We would suggest the Packers have to re-sign either Williams or House and feel like they’re going to go for House. He’s younger (25) and provides something no other corner on the roster does — height. House was the best cornerback the Packers had against bigger receivers in 2014. The problem with this guy is two-fold. He’s never been a full-time starter and he can’t stay healthy. He missed three games in 2014 and seven in 2012. Still, he has plenty of upside, outplayed Hayward in 2014 and the Packers can likely keep him for a fairly modest deal, perhaps in the $3 million per year range.
Boy, did this guy start slow. Guion was awful for the first quarter of the season after missing all of training camp with a hamstring injury. Then he came on big time and easily established himself as the Packers best defensive lineman not named Mike Daniels. Guion, who was signed on the cheap after being released by the Vikings last offseason, recorded career highs in tackles (32) and sacks (3.5). The Packers have already started talking to Guion’s agent about a new deal and we fully expect him to be back.
We pretty much wonder if Jarrett Bush is going to be on the roster every year. And then there he is, on the Packers roster. Bush has never been anything more than a spot starter at cornerback, but through hard work and perseverance, he’s become one of the best special teams players in the league. The Packers could certainly use more guys like this. The question is, can they still use this specific guy? Bush isn’t getting any younger. He’s still very good on special teams, but the Packers obviously think they can just plug any jackass into a role on special teams and they’ll be just fine. That’s not the case, but that doesn’t stop them from thinking that way. If we had to guess, we’d say Bush will be back on the cheap. It just seems like he’s put too much in for the Packers not to re-sign him.
Used parts! Cheap! That’s pretty much what it’s come to for B.J. Raji, a former first-round pick and Pro Bowler. He played like complete garbage in 2013, became a free agent, found out no one wanted his fat ass and re-signed with the Packers for one year at $4 million. Then he tore a biceps tendon in the preseason and missed all of 2014. The thing is, Raji probably can still play in the league. Look at that fat fuck Kevin Williams. His fat ass is, like, 67 or something. Of course, no one was banging down Raji’s door last offseason and so we doubt anyone is going to be banging on it this offseason. Raji is probably going to end up having to sign another one-year deal for even less money than the last one and that may very well be with the Packers.
We really thought Lattimore had potential. We thought he could/should replace either Brad Jones or A.J. Hawk as a starter at inside linebacker and it actually looked like he would for a time during the 2014 season. Then, Clay Matthews and Sam Barrington came along and took those inside linebacker jobs. Lattimore appeared to fall completely out of favor with the coaching staff. Barrington took away his playing time and Lattimore ended the year on injured reserve with an ankle injury. That’s what happens to guys when teams don’t want them around anymore — they get put on injured reserve with an “ankle injury.” We don’t see any way Lattimore comes back.
Restricted free agents — Don Barclay, Jarrett Boykin, Sean Richardson
Both Barclay and Richardson should get tenders from the Packers. Barclay is a valuable backup offensive lineman at worst and could be a starter. Richardson is valuable on special teams and became a fixture on defense late in the season when the Packers played their Big Okie package. Boykin, on the other hand, is probably done. We’re still not sure how a guy who should be in his prime can go from 49 catches and 681 yards one season to three and 23 the next without being injured for the majority of the year.