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Green Bay Packers Free Agent Predictions

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Green Bay Packers Free Agent Predictions

Due to the uncertain nature of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and labor negotiations, know one knows quite when free agency will occur. But when it does, the Green Bay Packers have some tough decisions to make regarding several of their own pending free agents.

The Packers have 15 pending free agents, and it's almost certain they won't be able to keep all of them. However, that isn't necessarily a bad thing for the defending Super Bowl champs. Thanks to compensatory draft choices, it's a good bet that the Packers will receive some compensation in the 2012 draft for more free agents lost than signed.

Also, I'm working under the assumption that unrestricted free agency will return to players under contract for four seasons, as opposed to the six it was during the so-called "Final League Year."

Here's a look at the Packers' free agents, and my best guess what will happen with them.

Cullen Jenkins

Jenkins is the one player who stands to make the most money and is perhaps the most likely to leave Green Bay as well. He got his Super Bowl ring, now it's time to receive his pay day. He's a very valuable commodity. As a player that can play both inside and outside in both a 3-4 and a 4-3, there should be plenty of teams knocking on his door. And it's a good bet that at least one team will offer to make him a very rich man. And that's all it takes, one team.

The Packers could take a pre-emptive measure and place either the franchise tag or the transition tag on him, but those are very expensive. The 2011 franchise tag is expected to be over $13 million, a price the Packers are probably unwilling to pay. They would also receive two first-round draft choices in return should he sign with another team, but that's another unlikely scenario.

Best guess: The Packers would gladly welcome him back at a team-friendly rate, but they're not going to. Jenkins signs a lucrative contract somewhere other than Green Bay.

James Jones

After setting career highs in receptions (50), yards (679) and touchdowns (tied, 5) during the regular season, Jones figures to be another player that will receive attention on the open market. The Packers would probably love to have Jones back, but the question is, will they be able to meet the demands of the highest bidder. Once again, all it takes is one team to fall in love with Jones, offer him a large contract and the promise of being a no. 1 wide receiver. Jones knows he won't get that opportunity in Green Bay with Greg Jennings ahead of him.

Best guess: Jones will sign elsewhere.

Mason Crosby

Crosby is an average to below average kicker, but by losing him, the Packers are also taking the chance that they could be replacing him with something worse. At least the Packers know what they're going to get in Crosby. Don't forget that he has a lot of respect among his teammates as he was voted one of the Packers' postseason captains.

The fourth-year kicker is actually a decent candidate for either the franchise or a transition tag. Because there's not much of a difference between the franchise and transition tag numbers, they could just decide to opt for the higher of the two. But because Crosby probably won't receive a large amount of attention on the open market, they could just decide to place the transition tag on him as well.

Best guess: The Packers place the franchise tag on Crosby and he plays for a one-year contract.

Daryn Colledge

Colledge is an interesting case. A lot like Crosby, on one hand, they know what they've got in Colledge. If he walks away, they risk something worse. They were able to win a Super Bowl with him, so there's no reason to think they couldn't do it again. And if a player like T.J. Lang wasn't able to unseat Colledge in 201o, who's to say he could next season?

It's hard to say how much attention the fourth-year offensive lineman will get in free agency. He was starter on a Super Bowl winning team, and there's bound to be a team or two out there that will value that. How much money that will command is another matter. He's an average player, and most teams know that.

Best guess: He returns for a modest raise and highly-incentivized contract.

Brandon Jackson

Jackson has incentive to leave. He was given a chance to earn the primary ball carrier job in Green Bay in 2010 but was unable to do much with that opportunity. He may look for a team that will give him a chance, but he's just not featured ball carrier material.

On the flip side, he's a very good third down back for the Packers. There are few backs better in the NFL in pass protection, and he's a pretty reliable pass catcher out of the backfield. There's value to that in an offense like the Packers.

Best guess: The Packers are willing to meet or exceed the offer of any other team, and Jackson will return.

John Kuhn

Coming off his best season as a pro, Kuhn's stock will never be higher. But he's more valuable to the Packers than probably any other team in the NFL. And Green Bay probably has some negotiating leverage. If Kuhn actually wants to touch the ball, the Packers might be the only place willing to do that.

Best guess: Kuhn receives a nice raise from the Packers that won't break the bank.

Charlie Peprah

After a solid season with the Packers, Peprah will probably get some attention in free agency. But because he's not the type of player that doesn't get a lot of interceptions and makes impact plays, his value will likely be limited.

The Packers have Morgan Burnett waiting in the wings, but they'd be foolish not to at least let Peprah compete for a starting job next season. And Peprah will probably view Green Bay as one of the few places that will give him a legitimate shot to win a starting job.

Best guess: Peprah comes back for another season to compete with Burnett.

Atari Bigby

With Peprah, Burnett, Nick Collins and Derrick Martin all under contract for 2011, the Packers would be probably be happy to see Bigby test the waters of free agency. He can be one of those players that brings in a compensatory draft choice in free agency if he signs somewhere else. A change of scenery might be what's in Bigby's best interest too.

Best guess: Bigby signs elsewhere.

Jason Spitz

I see the Packers dealing with Spitz in the same way they do with Bigby. A guy with an injury history that they probably wouldn't mind see signing elsewhere if only for the fact that they could get compensation in return. Prior to this most recent season, Spitz has basically been a starter his entire career including his rookie year. Some team may be willing to hope he returns to form under a modest contract. And he does have the versatility to play both center and guard. The Packers have pretty good depth along the offensive line if Spitz doesn't return, and that's before any depth they may add through the draft.

Best guess: Spitz signs elsewhere.

Korey Hall

If Hall can find a team willing to sign a fullback in free agency and let him compete for a job, more power to him. At least he knows his services are wanted in Green Bay, but the Packers hold most of the bargaining chips. They appear to like him for his contributions to both offense and special teams, but it's not as if he's irreplaceable.

Best guess: Hall re-signs with the Packers for little more than the league minimum.

Brett Swain

As an exclusive rights free agent, Swain will most likely be back. He'll cost very little, and there no reason not to allow him to compete for a job once again. He's improved every year in the league, although his ceiling appears to only go so high.

Best guess: Swain signs an exclusive-rights contract.

Anthony Smith

The Packers seem to value what Smith offers, but because they have sufficient depth at safety, they're probably not willing to pay very much for him. They might be happy to pay a league minimum to allow Smith to compete for a job, but Smith might look for a better opportunity.

Best guess: Smith seeks greener pastures.

Spencer Havner

Like Swain, Havner is also an exclusive-rights free agent. But do the Packers want him back? There's a chance Donald Lee won't be back next year, which would leave some space open to Havner. But remember the Packers gave up on him on the final roster cutdowns coming out of training camp this season.

Best guess: Havner is not re-signed.

Matt Wilhelm

The Packers were the only team in the NFL to show any interest in signing Wilhelm in 2010, and that didn't happen until midseas0n. I can't imagine much changes this season. Wilhelm got his ring, and the Packers wish him luck. If they happen to be stuck in the same predicament next season with an injury bug at the inside linebacker position, they'd probably welcome him back. But that might be the only circumstance.

Best guess: Wilhelm searches for another job if he can find one.

Josh Bell

It's hard to believe the Packers kept Bell on injured reserve all season long without coming to some sort of injury settlement. I have a hard time seeing them signing him again as an exclusive-rights free agent.

Best guess: He's allowed to shop himself elsewhere.

The unknown Johnny Jolly

Jolly's representatives say he's a free agent, although most other observers say his contract, in effect, has been frozen this year under suspension. Until this issue is cleared up and Jolly is officially re-instated by the NFL, it's impossible to make any guesses what will happen.

The A.J. Hawk situation is not lost on me. Something looks to happen with him soon, but seeing as he's not technically scheduled to become a free agent, that's another post for another time.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (40) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Satori's picture

I don't know who stays and who goes

But I do know this:

For the ones who leave, they will not find a better team, a better QB, a better DC or better fan base wherever they end up

The grass is always greenest in Green Bay

jack in jersey city's picture

correct sir!

Josh's picture

2013 will be a good season.

Packerhq's picture

Brian as I understand it no one will be using the tags as the NFLPA is going to protest it.
Since CBA expires in 2 weeks I don't see that as an option.
I agree with most of those but I see 1 of the fullbacks signing elsewhere and would not be shocked to see Colledge go elsewhere like Seattle.

Well done !

Brian Carriveau's picture

The Patriots have already used a franchise tag on Logan Mankins.

jeremy's picture

I think TT will consider tagging and trading Jenkins as a possibility. Why let him just walk when you can pick up a third round pick for him?

asshalo's picture

This is awesome, Brian. Good points on Crosby and Colledge in one of those "devil you know vs devil you don't know" ways.

They could really reload this year in the draft should they get 1-2 compensatory picks and maybe 1 more if they trade Barnett. I don't have any strong feelings for or against they guy, which leads me to believe he's paid too much with Hawk, Bishop and Chillar all on the roster.

At 32 I wonder if they trade back-- one more reason to believe they'de have fire power. My guess is Thompson sees someone and they keep 32.

cow42's picture

sucks that 2 (jenkins, jones) of the best three (jackson, jones, jenkins) players on that list won't be around next season.

both of them will be missed.

Kris Burke's picture

Good bit all around. The franchise tag on Crosby might sound strange, but with potentially no free agency and a lockout that may keep a rookie from working with the team, it just may be the way to go.

DaveK's picture

As of right now most of these guys do not have six seasons accrued and will most likely be tendered offers in the next few weeks. It doesn't actually mean anything as that probably goes away under a new CBA but it has to have a impact psychologically on the hundreds of players who will be caught in limbo until the new CBO gets done. They won't even know if they are RFA or UFA for months. They expected to get their big 2nd contract before the draft but now it probably doesn't happen until after the draft and that will effect who is interested in their services. It's just a different set of rules this year and players, agents, GMs, and fans will probably have a whole bunch of angst about how it all plays out.

Anyway, I no longer try to play GM. TT has proven me wrong way too much. I thought he was crazy for cutting Harris....In Ted I trust from here on out.

BLACK HAWK's picture

IN TED WE TRUST!!!

jaydubya's picture

Thanks so much for this Brian. Kind of hard stuff to wrap my head around, but you just made that chore easier.

One thing I have observed, and can see team doing in future, is to continue building back-ups at every position.

Oh boy was the injury riddled, yet wildly successful, last season a great example of thwe wisdom in that plan.

pbmax's picture

great work Brian! I understand why you'd want to tab Crosby to make sure you have a kicker whenever the season starts, but would that also discourage TT from bringing in another kicker to compete?

Brian Carriveau's picture

He hasn't brought in another kicker the past couple seasons. It's possible they sign an undrafted free agents, but I doubt TT changes course.

pbmax's picture

sorry, meant 'tag', not 'tab'

ZeroTolerance's picture

Jenkins is older, and not worth the money he seeks, although someone will pay. Goodbye - and thanks. Jones is no number one - but thinks he is. Goodbye, with SOME thanks. Tag Crosby, and use a pick for competition. If he looses, cut him and the tag is gone. Agreed on Colledge, Jackson and the rest. Looks like quite a few compensatory picks in 2012. Is this how the Pats have been doing it?

Brian Carriveau's picture

By tagging Crosby, you're acknowledging he's going to be the kicker next season. They wouldn't also spend a draft choice on a kicker.

davyjones's picture

Were the guys brought in in mid season under contract for more than this years--namely, Walden? Or can he look elsewhere?

Brian Carriveau's picture

Walden is under contract for next season.

Jmac34's picture

The only one I disagree with is Jackson. I think he leaves because there is a good chance with Grant coming back that Jackson's role will decrease significantly and Jackson will try to find a better situation

madden07's picture

If an agreement on the CBA can't be reached, they say there will still be a draft, does that mean free agency period occurs after the draft? That could make these decisions really interesting.

Nerdmann's picture

I think Bjack is underrated as a runner. He's not a zBS guy though.
As for Jenkins, anyone see him signing with the Bears? Or maybe the Vikes?

jack in jersey city's picture

i would like to see them try to keep grant, starks, and bjax as their 3 running backs (bjax is terrific at picking up the blitz and keeping rodgers upright and is also great out of the backfield). i think this would mean that they would have to cut one of their fullbacks (probably hall).

andrew's picture

i would rather drop colledge hall jackson and everyone else.. and keep james jones and promise him a #2 WR position in another year and a solid chance at a another ring.. and swain.. i want swain too.. and kuhn.. everyone else can leave... oh.. peprah deserves a contract.. but i dont really care either way stay or go

redlights's picture

While I agree with many of your posts; seriously, do you read them before you post them? This one is your worst (even with punctuation). think about what you want to say, then write it; then edit it if need be.

Great article, we Pack fans need this with the upcoming drought!

TedTheSledge's picture

Good stuff Brian.

I'm a bit confused on the Jolly situation as I have read his reps quoted as saying both that he will be a FA after reinstatement and as recently as last Friday Overstreet saying he was still bound to the Pack for 2011 (GBPG). Is this a unique situation that will require the league to rule on or perhaps a grievance being filed with the NFLPA to sort out his exact status? Would be nice to for sure as they work through what to do with Jenkins.

BLACK HAWK's picture

I see the Vikings signing one of our Free Agents. Maybe they'll throw a ton of money at Jenkins and move him inside for half of the aging / suspended Williams wall?

BubbaOne's picture

There's a possibility FA's on playoff caliber teams return rather than go to new teams. If the often mentioned scenario plays out where the CBA gets resolved in mid summer the FA's have a difficult decision. Try to learn a new system/scheme in a condensed training camp, esp those teams w/ new coaching staffs or sign a 1 or 2 year contract w/ their own team and make another SB run.
At 30, TT may not be willing to sign Jenkins to a long term contract but would sign him to a 1 or 2 year deal. Same w/ James Jones, not b/c of age but to give him one last chance to overcome his inconsistency.
And maybe Jenkins, Jones et al say I'll do a one year deal, make a SB run, and go get the money next year when things are back to normal.

Tony's picture

I'm very excited to see the competition between Peprah and Burnett. Peprah completely exceeded expectations, and Burnett showed some great flashes. I'll have my eyes on them in TC

Ian's picture

I can't disagree with any of this, particularly at the top end of the talent pool. I'm interested to see what's done with Colledge/Spitz, knowing TT's and MM's predilection with versatile linemen/OL depth (why else would a team hang onto a project like Nick McDonald all year or Evan Dietrich-Smith...other than to provide CHTV with a special guest, of course). If Colledge/Spitz both walk, it would seem an interior lineman would be targeted in rounds 1-2 of the draft, no?

WoodyG's picture

Actually agree on nearly all possible scenarios ..... Only Colledge as someone who may exit ......

In my mind, suddenly the WR position could go from one of the NFL's best to somewhat questionable ...... Jones leaving, DD only getting older ...... GB is a passing team ..... I don't like the sound of only GJ, JN & Swain as the top 3 wide-outs ..... I smell a WR drafted high in April ..... Oh, nicely done, BC....

Nerdmann's picture

Keep in mind we're getting Finley back and Quarless will have an offseason under his belt.

Point Packer's picture

Of all the free agents, I hope we keep Jones and Jackson.

Jones because he has great potential and could be a long-term lock at the #2 WR spot. He catches HALF those td's he dropped this year and he's for surely gone. I hope TT works to keep him on board. Not sure what folks see in Swain, but he was nothing short of utterly un-impressive this year from my vantage point and most of the time he was not the center of Packer WR attention. AR and this offensive need experience WR's. Jones is that guy and an impressive one -most of the time.

Jackson for one reason - third down blocking. A RB with smarts, hands and an ability to stop the blitz on on 3rd down is a luxury in this NFL. TT is smart enough to know this. My guess is that BJ shops, doesn't get a big offer and comes back to GB. And for that, we should all be grateful. He was nothing short of magnificent as a blocking back this year. In GB's current schmeme, Jackson is a great fit. I hope we keep him.

Jenkins is aging. Spending as much money as he'll get elsewhere is not worth it.

I'd be surprised if Colledge was offerred more money that he'll get from GB.

Crosby is Ryan Longwell minus the accuracy. Not sure why we would keep him. He kicks off to the 10 yard line and puts a nasty right to left on every FG try. He drove me nuts this year and I hope we dump him.

thepretzelhead in Japan's picture

Crosby-doink
and a 2008 miss against the Vikes and more..
If he stays, fine. But finding a kicker isn't the challenge it may have been 10 years ago.

Irish Cheesehaed's picture

I agree, except that I think they resign Spitz, and Jones leaves and is replaced by the WR we pick up in round 2 of the draft. Crosby will be back, but may not be our kicker come opening day. I see Uncle Ted finally bringing in come camp competition this year.

Blake's picture

Aren't Howard Green and Erik Walden free agents as well? I'd like our depth at the OLB opposite Clay with Walden, Zombo and Brad Jones. Green is also valuable for spelling Raji. Are both of these guys under contract again for next season?

Brian Carriveau's picture

Green and Walden are under contract for 2011.

DONC's picture

will kuhn be back next year

JerseyCheese's picture

What scares me the most is the free agents for next offseason. You have one of the best TEs and Guards in the NFL in Finely and Sitton who's contract expires. Hawk, Scott Wells and Ryan Grant. Were talking about Jenkins being a loss, next year 5 starters are all in contract years!!! MUST get Finley and Sitton signed long term.

PackRat's picture

Nick McDonald, Marshall Newhouse and Chris Campbell. At least one of the three should break through next year....Colledge or Wells?

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