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Getting Involved in Free Agency Depends on What Packers Do with Their Own Free Agents

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Getting Involved in Free Agency Depends on What Packers Do with Their Own Free Agents

Packers Nation is abuzz after a report on Wednesday evening from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network that the Packers could become heavily involved in free agency, signing up to five players from outside the organization as well as parting ways with defensive lineman B.J. Raji.

First of all, the only way the Packers will be able to become heavily involved in free agency is if they don't sign several of their own high-profile free agents.

Sure, the Packers might currently have some of the most salary-cap space in the entire NFL, reported to be nearly $28 million of room, but that chunk of money will be swallowed up quickly once they tender their exclusive and restricted free agents, sign their 2014 draft class, sign several of their own unrestricted free agents that number 17 players and perhaps extend wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

If the Packers re-sign players like Raji, cornerback Sam Shields, center Evan Dietrich-Smith, wide receiver James Jones, linebacker Mike Neal and fullback John Kuhn, there's not going to be much money left over to spend on players from other teams.

Now, if the Packers watch Raji, Shields, Jones and Neal walk away, then yes, they will have some flexibility to go out and sign a player or a couple from teams other than Green Bay.

As far as "getting more athletic and versatile along the defensive line" as suggested by Rapoport, the Packers could very well see Raji go elsewhere once he hits the open market.

Returning players like Mike Daniels and last year's first-round draft choice Datone Jones figure to play much bigger roles in 2014, but the Packers still need at least one big body and probably two to play nose tackle and in their short-yardage and goal-line packages.

Josh Boyd may also be in line for more playing time in 2014, but depending on him to play 60 percent of all snaps would be a major risk. It's highly unlikely that the Packers allow both Raji and Ryan Pickett to leave, although it's not going to take nearly as much money to re-sign.

Pickett may very well come back to Green Bay on a one- or two-year contract to help the team bridge the gap until they find the long-term successor in Green Bay.

It's simply necessary for almost every team in the NFL, and especially those that run a base 3-4 defense to have at least two big nose tackle types that weigh 325 lbs. or more on their roster, in case of injury if nothing else.

If, by chance, both Raji and Pickett were to leave in free agency, the Packers would necessarily have to go out and acquire another nose tackle type of player, whether it's through the draft or a player looking for a new team.

A popular refrain on social media is that the Packers must re-sign Shields or, at least, be the team's priority in free agency. And that may very well be the case, but people have to remember that it's not simply the Packers' choice and their choice alone whether or not to re-sign the free agent defensive back.

Shields and agent Drew Rosenhaus seem dead set to test the open waters. The Florida native is going to be very tempted to return a warm-weather climate, but more than that, he's going influenced even more by the highest bidder for his services.

All these things will play into how much the Packers become players in free agency among players from outside the organization.

In the end, it doesn't really matter what you or I or anyone thinks should happen. It only matters what general manager Ted Thompson and the rest of the Packers front office thinks and eventually does.

Should the Packers re-sign Shields and Raji and extend Nelson, then don't expect there to be much cap space left over than the Packers to sign anything more than some mid- to low-tier free agents. If not, then bring on Jairus Byrd.

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 carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (87) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Pacfan459's picture

I'm not buying into we have to have some big body NT. The 49ers (wait while I rinse out my mouth) run a 3-4 as well and they do it with smaller guys. Their defensive tackles are mostly under 300 lbs. Their biggest big man is a rookie at 318 and the next biggest is listed at 301. All of the starting 3 linemen are under 300 lbs. I'd settle quicker, faster and more athletic.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Their ends are also Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. Sure, if the Packers can find ends that can stand their ground like Smith, then they don't need huge bodies. Until then, they need one huge-bodied starter and one rotational backup.

Pacfan459's picture

Brian, I think those guys are already in place with Daniels, Jones and Worthy.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I hope you're right, but I have major reservations about those guys being able to hold up on a consistent basis. Worthy definitely isn't that type of player and never will be. I have more confidence in guys like Daniels and Jones if he adds some weight and strength, but they both have a lot to prove, especially if they're going to make a big jump in playing time, being on the field 60 percent of the time or more.

cLowNEY42's picture

Yes, the D line will surely crumble without the likes BJ Raji and Ryan Pickett.

Difference.
Makers.

Lou's picture

Agreed, Worthy was washed out consistently in the run game his rookie year and after returning last year the same thing happened which led to Boyd's extended time on the field who did show some promise. Jones had similar issues his rookie year like Worthy but has the body type where he can add weight to help anchor because of his length. Daniels may be the next Cullen Jenkin's (fingers crossed). Very little else on the D-Line is predictable until free agency is completed.

Ted Thompson's picture

Daniels played the second most snaps of an dlinemen and got good amounts of pressure.

sum din wong's picture

Technically our ends are Mathews and Perry. Enough said about stopping the run and pass rushing both.
Of course I hate the 3-4. Yes its a cheaper to operate defense not needing so called defensive ends, but baby if you ain't got the horses in the 4 are agiile can cover, run and tackle your in trouble. This team is lacking in the 4.
Let be honest here, were rushing 5 most of the time so we really don't have a 3-4.

jc's picture

Right most good 3-4 defenses have smaller NT except Ravens but Ngata is athletic as a smaller player.

Stroh's picture

Ngata plays more DE that NT. Teams that play a 2 gap 34 need really big guys to control 2 gaps and take double teams. The guys you listed play in a one gap 34 D where the NT only controls one gap and is only asked to take on one blocker. ALOT easier to put up fancy stats when your single blocked not taking on 2 blockers every down. Helps when you know the difference and don't use just stats to say who's better!

PackerBacker's picture

Is it possible they want to go to a 1 gap 3-4 system? I think that would mean they need new ILB's, but frankly I wouldn't be broken up to see those guys replaced anyways.

Evan's picture

The 1-gap is the more attacking, Wade Phillips style, right?

I'd love a move to that.

RC Packer Fan's picture

My opinion is that the Packers have to resign Shields first, followed by EDS and Quarless.

That will take up some of that cap space. Also I could see them trying to resign Cobb or Nelson which would take up more cap space.

If they do truly go after free agents, I wouldn't expect them to go after the top ones like Byrd. I could see them going after Chris Clemons or Malcolm Jenkins or players like that.

For the DL, I could see them going after Arthur Jones and/or Lamarr Houston.

Andrew's picture

Houston is a top tier free agent. I wouldn't lump him in with the other guys you mentioned because he's going cost a hefty amount. I doubt the Raiders let him go.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah, your probably right.

I honestly didn't think he was going to command that high of a salary, but after looking at the top free agents lists, your right.

Either way though, I don't see Thompson going after high priced free agents.

I just saw yesterday that Detroit released Delmas. I don't think the Packers would go after him due to his injury history. But it was interesting that they released him.

BradHTX's picture

Interesting article from NFL Network, but I was tempted to stop reading after "This could be bad news for B.J. Raji, the STANDOUT defensive tackle who..." (emphasis added)

Did they watch any film this season? *rolls eyes*

WisconsinRob's picture

"Sure, the Packers might currently have some of the most salary-cap space in the entire NFL, reported to be nearly $28 of room"

Probably a typo, but otherwise $28 of cap space doesn't seem like enough for 5 free agents :)

murphy's picture

Never underestimate Ted Thompson.

cLowNEY42's picture

This is stupid.
They're not going to sign anyone of consequence.

As I've been told hundreds of times (mostly by Stroh - sweet "pink jersey" comment by the way, bro. real classy)... signing difference - making FA's automatically destroys any hope for an NFL team to be a championship contender. The ONLY possible result is 100 years of futility.

Stroh-Hater's picture

I hate Stroh.

jc's picture

The best 3/4 defenses statically have the following starting nose tackles. The 49ers starting NT is 6-1 297, the Texans 6-3 300, Saints 6'2 306, Arizona 6-3 314. Only the Jets and Ravens have real big guys. So they don't need big guys unless they are athletic like Ngata.

Stroh's picture

Casey Hampton and Vince Wilfork beg to differ. Hampton was 325 and Wilfork is bigger or same size as Pickett. There are 2 forms of the 34D. One is the 2 gap that forces the NT to take on 2 blockers and control 2 gaps. The other 34D is a one gap where the NT only has to control one gap and usually single blocked. Packers are a 2 gap team. Stats don't mean squat for 2 gap NT. That's the danger of just using stats to say who's better!

Stroh-Hater's picture

Shut the fuck up Stroh.

Stroh's picture

What up Hater... Thanks for stopping by and making my day. Gotta be a pretty special commenter to have his very own Troll! I appreciate your showing up to pay homage!

packsmack25's picture

I'm sorry, but Rap and Silver are notoriously wrong about all things Packers. Pretty sure whomever their source is in the organization feeds them bad info.

WKUPackFan's picture

Yes, I'd find something else to get abuzz about other than a Rapoport report, unless you want to abuzz that it's incorrect.

Hank Scorpio's picture

Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. I think they should seek out some vet help with some of that 30 mil in cap space. But I just don't see TT going out and signing a bunch of FAs.

Rappaport emphasized "remaking" the DL as a more athletic bunch. Don't Mike Daniels, Datone Jones and Jerel Worthy fit that bill? I get that 2 of those 3 have plenty of skeptics among Packer fans. But it is not the TT way to give up on guys so quickly.

Clay's picture

Thank you JC...so tired of this 330 lb talk. I look at Raji as the same as the guys you mention, but with a blubbery 35 lb weight that hangs off of his mid-section that serves no purpose except to slow him down. He has played two positions and underwhelmed at both. I am done with him. Everyone said our line needed to be bigger before last year. It was bigger!!! Pickett BJ and Jolly have be to almost combined heaviest three man front in the league. What good did it do?

I have seen Clay Matthews stuff more runs than those guys in short yardage. Oh well, I guess they were "holding their blocks", which freed him up.

No offense to Pick and Jolly. They were good soldiers. I feel bad to lump them in with Raji...

Anyway rant ending now. I am just a simple caveman lawyer...but give me athletes!

Evan's picture

"He has played two positions and underwhelmed at both"

He actually excelled at one.

Clay's picture

I hear you Evan...sort of. I know the numbers were there in 2010, but everything was working on D that year needless to say. He may have benefited from those around him. Also I know the year after he was moved to end. End should make more plays than a nose as far as y understanding goes. He was moved to exploit his pass rushing ability. Now everyone says he'd rush better at nose? None of it makes sense to me and I don't pretend to know. No offense to the writers and bloggers, but I don't think they know either. Wherever he is put he seems "out of position". There is an entire setion of Kirwan's book "Take your eyes off the ball" devoted to how Raji was drafted to play a position NOT suited to him; that being nose.
Even is you are right that he would be better back there...which I think he was back at nose anyway (although I could be wrong..l always lined up in the middle in base D), he just doesn't seem to FIT in Green Bay. He thinks he is worth more than 8 mil!!!

Good bye Raji and thanks eternally for your TD in the Championship game. It was worth it. Now let's move on.

Clay's picture

Sorry for the typos!

Stroh's picture

None of us knows... IMO Raji had a stellar year in '10 playing NT. He is a natural NT. So is Pickett however. The 34 DE need to be more mobile and able to slide and control blockers/gaps and extend the edge. Pickett play DE in '10 and did alright, but I think they decided that the more athletic Raji was better equipped to succeed at DE than the older less mobile Pickett, so they switched them. Since '10 Raji has been forced to play DE on run downs so the Packers could keep both of the 2 best run stuffers on the field on run downs.

Honestly this is the only reason that makes sense in my rational. IMO it has backfired and their going to now probably going to lose Raji due to it. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if Raji plays NT for another team and has a very good year. It has nothing to do w/ GB or the Packers, but being forced to play out of position for the past 3 years. He's been a good and loyal teammate and never complained about playing out of position, but he's probably going to move on to make sure it doesn't continue.

Albert Lingerfeld's picture

29 million in cap space is a lot when you can use it to acquire a couple of free agents and pay the newbies.
Its peanuts when you have a raft of free agents, a lot of needs in the first two rounds who won't be cheap and maybe a free agent or two.
Financially this team is a mess. Its run completely different money wise than the other 31 teams. Ted must play cheap ball, he has no choice if he isn't back loading contracts and he won't do that.

zeke's picture

"Financially this team is a mess."

That may be the stupidest thing written on this board today. Congratulations, moron.

Stroh's picture

Today? Why stop there... This month, this year, EVER!!!

murphy's picture

I for one think that the Packers should be following the Dallas method of salary cap management.

The TKstinator's picture

Financially, this team is NOT a mess.

Sheesh.

What color is the sky in your world?

jeremy's picture

Ian Rapoport says the Packers will sign up to five free agents.
Dan Hanus says B.J. Raji is a standout defensive tackle.
Megyn Kelly says Santa and Jesus are white.

They said it on the internet so it has to be true.

Evan's picture

You missed the biggest one - John Clayton said MD Jennings was one of the top restricted free agents.

WKUPackFan's picture

Please tell me that's a joke, Clayton didn't really say that did he?

Megyn Kelly gets a pass to say anything she wants to.

Evan's picture

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/10440252/clayton-mailbag-restricted-fr...

To be fair, it was in context of the RFA market drying up and this year's crop being perhaps the worst ever. But STILL.

MarkinMadison's picture

That is no excuse.

KennyPayne's picture

You mean TT is not going to bend over backward to (over)pay his own guys this offseason like he has with the likes of Hawk, Kuhn, B. Jones, and Burnett in recent off seasons?

Wow, maybe he is waking up to the notion that the talent on the squad is deficient.

Greenville's picture

I dont deehow the dline will crumble without raji and Pickett, that sounds really dumb idc that they wernt that bad in the first couple games of this year. but they have been horrible over the past couple years and basically this whole season or run d was just bad.

With Daniels and Boyd emerging along with the ability of Jones. the packers can easily draft guys like tuitt,beauallen, hageman,Ellis

Greenville's picture

But I definitely hope this is true, that the packers are looking for other players, then resigning alot of the bad players they had that are free agents. Only guys id bring back for reasonable deals are shields,Eds,khun,JJ.

Arlo's picture

Everything TT does or does not do this off-season will determine if he is still GM of GB at this time next year.

My guess: He'll (have to?) retire after the 2014 season. ---- Out with the old, in with the new.

More & more people are finally starting to realize that GB winning the SB a few years back was the result of a hot QB & a bit of luck. --- TT was just along for the ride.

Stroh's picture

Oh not to worry, Thompson will be the GM a lot longer than just this year, regardless what he does in FA or the team in '14! But you keep spewing your hatred if you like... Nobody takes you seriously anyway!!

Arlo's picture

Has nothing to do with hatred. I have always actually liked TT. --- I just think his day has come & gone. This year is his 10th as GM. One SB appearance in 10 years is very average & becoming unacceptable to most.

Funny you should use the term "hatred". Your post ref Sam is what you're all about.

"Only question is does he get a pink jersey to play in on game day? LMFAO."

You need to 'go away'. Hopefully, somehow, this place will banish you forever. You're a waste of oxygen.

Stroh's picture

You don't get jokes? I've had a couple gays as clients as a personal trainer. The ones that are comfortable w/ their sexuality make jokes about little things like that all the time. Its only the ones who aren't comfortable that have a problem w/ it. Guess that makes you uncomfortable w/ your sexuality!

All you do is come on here and spew crap that has no basis in reality! Thompson is going nowhere except when HE decides to retire! Get it? Got It? Good... Now go away troll!

Stroh-Hater's picture

You are not the only one who wants the Strawman gone. Coincidence? Or is Strohman Stroh inherently obnoxious? Hm.

zeke's picture

"One SB appearance in 10 years is very average & becoming unacceptable to most."

I'm not sure what that measures, but just for fun here are the teams that have made Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 years:

New England (3)
Pittsburgh (3)
Seattle (2)
Indy (2)
NYG (2)
GB
New Orleans
Baltimore
Chicago
Arizona
San Francisco
Philly
Denver

Out of 32 teams, 12 have made Super Bowl appearances in the last 10 years, and 5 have made more than one. I suck at math, but appearing in one SB over the past 10 years is "above average". The NFL is designed for parity, and in its perfect scenario there would have been 20 different teams playing in the last 10 SBs and 20 different teams playing in the next 10.

Ted Thompson's picture

Yeah whoever said that is a fucking idiot and should never post again, wow there are some dumb bastards on here.

zeke's picture

Yeah, dickhead. Because pointing out that the significant majority of NFL teams have not played in the last 10 SBs means that he shouldn't post again. You must have majored in reading comprehension.

gmanB's picture

He'll be the GM for at least a couple more years but he better start developing some good scouting guys like John Dorsey and John Schneider. The packers organization has been picked apart and needs to start rebuilding within.

gary's picture

Raji is very over rated. He had almost no impact during the entire season. Let him go please TT. Clay was right when he said the extra 30 lbs. he carries on he's fat stomach does nothing but slow him down. Tuff athletes are needed on our D. Without a tuff identity and a few more playmakers, our defense will stay at the bottom of the league.

jmac34's picture

I think that every FA outside of maybe EDS and Shields, and some if not most of the RFAs may be gone. If Shields hits FA, he is more than likely gone too which means GB will have more than enough money to spend in FA.

Evan's picture

@packers #Packers sign TE Raymond Webber, a second-year player out of Arkansas Pine-Bluff: http://pckrs.com/5bdn

1 down, 4 more to go.

MarkinMadison's picture

Definitely does not count in my book. Let's please only count guys who are actually with the team in late August. I guy who couldn't get a down in the CFL - if that is the standard for counting to 5 then the statement was not worth making.

Evan's picture

I was just kidding...

Clay's picture

Noooo! let that not be the first Evan! haha

6 foot 230

Evan's picture

Actually, NFL.com lists him as a WR. At 6'2", 220 with a 4.5 40...he's basically Jordy Nelson in size/speed.

That's certainly better than a 220lb tight end.

Clay's picture

My bad...you're right. Nice comparison to Jordy. So hes a big receiver/small tight end fair to say?

Evan's picture

I guess so.

Check out the new article. Brian says he used to be a WR but is trying to convert to TE.

Nononsense's picture

Its gonna happen people, TT will sign at least 1 decent to good FA from another team. With 53 possible FA WRs in this years crop, certainly at least one is a better option than James Jones for the price we would pay to keep him.

Same goes for the Dline, certainly we can find a better player than Raji for the 8 mil he turned down this year.

cLowNEY42's picture

Signing free agents.

Sure.

Whatever.

Any "new" starter who wasn't on the roster this past season will be a draft pick. Take that to the bank.

If this whole "we're gonna go crazy in free agency" story actually did come from inside the Packers - it was/is simply a negotiating ploy being used in hopes of bringing down the costs of all their own FA's.

As pedestrian as Pickett, Raji, Neal, Quarless, EDS, J. Jones, and Kuhn are... they'll all be Packers again next year.

What in God's name is making anyone even consider the idea that TT will do ANYTHING other than overpay his own guys, draft guys out of position early (Perry, Raji, Neal, D. Jones) and "retrain" them to "fit their scheme", and fill roster holes with late round guys?

This.
Is.
Their.
M.
O.

It ain't changin'.

And if you (as a fan) are hoping that their current M.O. does change... then you're actually agreeing with everything I've been spouting for the last 3 years.

P.S. Sam Shield will NEVER play up to the amount of $ he's going to get. Just a prediction... he'll get "paid" and then we'll all be asking "what the hell happened to Shields?". Better guarantee a TON of his contract or he's just the type of guy to "play it safe" knowing that getting injured will cost him a bunch of cash.
See: T Williams, M Burnett.

Clay's picture

Awesome Cow! Thanks for going on the record again with a prediction. I wonder if this time you will be accountable when your prediction is wrong....AGAIN.

Probably not I would imagine. Realistically you will rationalize it as always or change the subject because that is YOUR M.O. But still one can always hope.

6-10 was your last foray into the crystal ball.

Can't wait for this off season to go down because almost always what happens is the opposite of what you say will happen.

If what you wrote above actually happens I will be the first to worship at the altar of your Golden Cow.

cLowNEY42's picture

I was 2 games off on that record prediction.
Well - 2.5 I guess.

Not my fault that the Packers treated the backup QB position the way they did.

The fact that they completely and totally f'd up the QB position should not be used as an EXCUSE for only getting 8 wins.

If they would have had a better plan they could have had 10 wins... even with the games 12 missed.

Instead - they figured Harrell and Coleman were A-OK... until it was too late.

That, in and of itself, is a major indictment on the team's ability to judge talent.

Stroh's picture

Yeah that was w/o Rodgers for 1/2 the season. Not like you predicted that little fact either. If Rodgers were healthy a full year you would have been off by 6 games! Hard to be more wrong than you were.

Ted Thompson's picture

So you were a dumbass and was wrong. Don't back track just keeping making more stupid predictions.

cLowNEY42's picture

"So you were a dumbass and was wrong."

Sweet sentence structure.

Morgan Mundane's picture

Could not agree more. Maybe a couple of our guys get let go but the majority will be resigned. I think the hesitantcy is if we let these guys go, we made a mistake picking them.
Maybe Jones is gone and possibly Raji? Who knows.
Ya lets toss a ton at Sam Shields. It ain't like teams will be beating a path to his door either. He would be considered a bench backup player on most teams.

Ted Thompson's picture

Shields would be a bench player for most teams? Good god Packer fans really are inbred hillbillies saying retarded shit like that. You don't understand football at all go watch soccer you backwater moron.

Stroh's picture

You.
Are.
A.
Coplete.
J-ASS!

Clay's picture

Good.
One.
Stroh!

Stroh-Hater's picture

Kick.
The.
Strawman.
Out!

Stroh's picture

Every time you comment you pay homage to me! Thanks!!

cLowNEY42's picture

"Coplete"?

Is that a police officer who plays sports?

Evan's picture

Dude, calling out spelling and grammar mistakes? You're better than that, aren't you? That's the last refuge of the Internet scorned.

cLowNEY42's picture

"Internet" shouldn't be capitalized there.

Evan's picture

I follow AP style.

sum ding wong's picture

I'm so excited about this time of year with the combine and draft I could crap my pants. Opps sorry got to go!

Uncle Louie's picture

Sounds like something's wrong!

Eraserhead's picture

You racist fuck.

Bearmeat's picture

No - that was hilarious.

ray nichkee's picture

Q: What do you get when you put arlo and clown head in the same room?

A: two effin idiots that need to shut their salty piss flaps?

Stroh hater is probably one of these douche bags. Maybe they are all the same?

Maybe we should have a separate comment section for these ballsacks.

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