Once the Green Bay Packers signed three players taking part in tryouts earlier this this week, they filled their entire 90-man offseason roster.
That doesn't mean they're bound to those 90 players from now until training camp, but for anyone the Packers want to sign from here on out, they'll have to release at least one corresponding player.
Three players on the outside of the Packers roster looking in are tight end Jermichael Finley and defensive linemen Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett, all of whom have been bound to the Packers organization to one extent or another for at least the last six seasons.
Neither general manager Ted Thompson nor head coach Mike McCarthy has ruled out any of those players returning to Green Bay in 2014, but there are obvious reservations about each of them.
The following is a look at each individual player and what stands in the way of them returning to Green Bay:
Tight End Jermichael Finley
Whereas the Packers have given away the lockers formerly belonging to both Jolly and Pickett, Finley's is reportedly still there, open and empty, perhaps leaving open the opportunity to return.
McCarthy has been very outspoken on Finley, going as far as to say "In my mind, he is a Green Bay Packer" as recently as last week.
Clearly the Packers, nor any other NFL team, are not yet comfortable in clearing Finley from the very serious neck injury and subsequent spinal-fusion surgery that took place last November.
Certainly, it would benefit Finley to take part in the team's offseason program as opposed to not taking part, but it's more important that he's fully healthy first.
As someone that would be entering his seventh season in the NFL, there's little the Packers don't already know about Finley's as a football player, and there would be little noticeable difference in him potentially signing at the beginning of training camp compared to right now in May.
Finley has never been the type of player that has been prone to getting out of shape, so the Packers have little to worry about from that perspective.
According to comments from Finley and his agent, the tight end wants to return to football. But by taking out a $10 million disability insurance policy, Finley has to seriously consider the alternative.
There's little chance that any team will be willing to pay Finley guaranteed multi-millions of dollars immediately coming off such a serious injury, and he very likely faces a prove-it type of season should he return, whereby he'll get a short-term, low-dollar contract before anybody will be wiling to committ to more years and more money.
The Packers also will likely will want to wait until nearly training camp or later before seriously assessing Finley's health in order to give him as much time possible to recover. If and when he's cleared, the Packers will probably give serious consideration to re-signing him, but that is no guarantee.
Defensive Lineman Johnny Jolly
Jolly is in much the same boat as Finley, coming off a neck injury and surgery that must be treated delicately.
Fortunately for Jolly, his injury occurred lower on the spine than Finley, which typically makes it safer to return to a high-impact sport like football.
Still, like Finley, the Packers want to give Jolly more time to recover before making any decision.
It doesn't bode well that the Packers gave Jolly's No. 97 jersey to new signee Luther Robinson, but that in itself wouldn't necessarily prevent the team from re-signing Jolly.
Given Jolly's legal troubles in the past and the fact that no longer on the sunny side of 30, it could be a case where he returns to the Packers organization or not at all, seeing as another team may not be as comfortable in signing him.
And again, like Finley, the Packers probably won't be willing to sign Jolly until training camp at the earliest.
Assuming they sign Jolly, there's one avenue open to the Packers that would allow them to both bring him back slowly from injury and also provide depth on the defensive line, and that's placing him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
As long Jolly doesn't take part in practice and strictly does rehab and strength and conditioning work, he could conceivably come off the PUP list anywhere between Week 6 and Week 15 of the regular season.
Defensive Lineman Ryan Pickett
It's been quite the fall from grace for Ryan Pickett since the last time he was a free agent in 2010 and had the franchise tag placed on him.
Four years later, at 34 years old and 340 lbs., no team has yet been willing to sign him as a free agent. And unlike Finley and Jolly, Pickett is actually healthy.
One thing limiting Pickett's value is that he's not a pass rusher—never has been and never will be. But he's not without his worth.
Pickett is a reliable run stuffer, a big body that knows his role, always gives an honest effort and can be a mentor to younger players on the team.
After Pickett's No. 79 jersey was also given away, one could assume the Packers might be wanting to move on, and the more time that passes, the more that seems to be the case.
There's the possibility that Pickett could be one of those mid-season injury replacement, emergency type of signings, but at some point, Pickett will have to seriously consider retirement as opposed to staying in shape just in case of a call that may or may not ever come.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
- Like Like
- 7 points