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Handicapping Packer Veteran Purge Possibilities

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Handicapping Packer Veteran Purge Possibilities

“So, how’s that ‘purgey-changey’ thing working out for you?”

The release of newly-minted Packer legend Charles Woodson was especially difficult this past week for fans of the team. In many ways, the impact Woodson had on the team was similar to that of Reggie White: a veteran free agent who brought not only gold-standard impact, but incomparable and needed leadership to cross the chasm between contender and Super Bowl Champion.

But, as Tom Oates wrote yesterday, the decision to let Woodson–along with other beloved veterans Donald Driver and Greg Jennings–fall off the 2013 roster was a wise one. With the Super Bowl salary cap hangover now hitting full force, the Packers can no longer afford to keep big contracts that, simply put, aren’t worth the money.

The departure of Woodson’s $9.4M salary cap hit for 2013 now puts the Packers about $16M under the cap, and will gain another $3.8M when Jeff Saturday formally retires and leaves the team. While that may sound like the Packers are in great shape, they now must try and extend the contracts of three players, with Aaron Rodgers’ likely league-leading quarterback deal starting us out. With speculation putting Rodgers in the $20M-a-year category, its pretty clear that the Packers may need to clear even more cap room before being able to sign the Big Trio of AR, Clay Matthews III, and BJ Raji.

Which means the veteran purge may not be over yet, and more of our favorite players may soon be suiting up in other team colors in 2013. Who are the more likely (and less likely) cuts that may still be made by General Manager Ted Thompson before training camp opens? Let’s take a look.

DISCLAIMER: The contract/cap information is as good as I have. If you have better information, please let me know and I will adjust the article accordingly. I also don’t claim to have any insider information or evaluation acumen. I know that I am not Ted Thompson. Thanks for reading.

Note: all contract information derived from RotoWorld.com.

AJ Hawk (ILB) #50
Contract: In the second year of a five-year, $33.75 million contract. The deal included an $8 million signing bonus and a $1.8 million roster bonus in the first season.

2013: $4.9 million (+ $300,000 roster bonus),
2014: $4.9 million (+ $800,000 roster bonus)
2015: $5.4 million (+ $800,000 roster bonus),
2016: Free Agent

Salary Cap Hit for 2013: $7.05M
Money saved with a trade/release: $2.5M

Assessment: There’s few players as close to my heart as AJ Hawk. No one petitioned harder for Ted Thompson to draft him in 2006 than me, mostly because I believed he had the highest floor of any of the top picks that year. Unfortunately, he’s also had a relatively low ceiling. Some of this isn't all his fault: the switch to the 3-4 effectively minimizes his role as an inside linebacker, calling for him to spend more time invisibly occupying blockers so that Matthews can make his plays. Despite that, he matched his highest tackle total of his career last season (120). But every dollar is precious, and Hawk has suffered over the years from the expectations of fans who believe he should be playing like a fifth-overall pick. Thompson doesn't care about that, but he does care about production-per-dollar, and that will be the measuring stick.

Ability to replace: The Packers have two players coming off injury that are both more athletic than Hawk, Desmond Bishop and DJ Smith. The question might be if they are both as assignment-sure as Hawk, but the Packers still have depth to develop behind those two and can always keep adding talent in the draft.

What Ted might do: I think Ted’s going to look long and hard at Hawk. I know he loves his draft picks and has stuck with him for a long time, but at age 29 and a need to put salary cap dollars elsewhere, Hawk may have played his last down as a Packer.

What I would do: I’d see what’s out there in trade, maybe bundle him up on draft day to move up, but otherwise, I’d release him before his roster bonus is due and let him latch on with another team.

Roster chances for 2013: 20%

Jermichael Finley, TE (#88)
Contract: In the final year of a  two-year, $14 million contract. The deal included a $1 million signing bonus. Another $1 million is available through incentives. Finley is eligible for $300,000 offseason workout bonuses in each season.
2013: $4.45 million (+ $3.5 million roster bonus due in March)
2014: Free Agent
Salary Cap Hit for 2013: $8.75M
Money saved with a trade/release: $8.25M

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Assessment: Oh, Jermichael. If there’s a player you could describe as being The Tempest, it would be the free-talking, ball-dropping tight end with a seemingly unlimited potential to draw from. A few months ago, it appeared that Finley’s book was closed in Green Bay when Bob McGinn reported sources inside the organization were through with him. Finley, true to his nature, then decided to turn his season around and prove everyone wrong, setting a Packer record for most catches by a tight end in a season. His future, to be decided rather quickly with a hefty roster bonus due in a few weeks, will likely come down to two issues: 1) Is Finley’s inconsistency/reward ratio worth $8.75M this season, and 2) do the Packers really have any plans to bring him back after this season?

Ability to replace: The Packers really, really wish Andrew Quarless, the Penn State tight end drafted as Finley’s likely heir apparent, was healthy. How the Packers feel about his recovery after tearing everything in his knee that ended in the letters “-CL” will likely weigh heavily on the decision they make with Finley. RFA Tom Crabtree will likely be tendered, and Ryan Taylor and DJ Williams give Thompson some confidence that, while Finley’s talent might not be replaced, his production can be.

What Ted might do:  Interesting enough, Rodgers has been more vocal in what he’d like to see coaches and GMs do lately, and it's doubtful he’s going to make a case for Finley behind closed doors, given the somewhat tumultuous relationship they've had. What it really comes down to is if the Packers are done with Finley after this contract expires, and if so, look for Thompson to take advantage of Finley’s strong finish to the 2012 season to get something for him in return in trade. Interestingly enough, Quarless received a “healthy” bump-up in salary from $500K to $1.3M for being on the roster at the end of the season. That’s $700K more than Thompson has to account for under the cap this year.

What I would do: Is Jermichael Finley “Packer People”? That is one of my questions. Simply put, I have a hard time stomaching Finley’s tirades. The fact that he’s announcing to the media that he has a 50/50 shot of being back with the Packers next year is yet another sign of a lack of professionalism. He should know by now that you have your sister tweet it for you. I would trade him or cut him.

Roster chances for 2013: 40%

John Kuhn, FB (#30)
Contract:  In the final year of a three-year,  $7.5 million contract. The deal included a $750,000 signing bonus and a first-year roster bonus of $1.45 million.
2013: $1.8 million (+ $450,000 roster bonus)
2014: Free Agent
Salary Cap Hit for 2013: $2.5M
Money saved with a trade/release: $2M (estimated)

Assessment: Personally, I love John Kuhn. But anyone who thinks he’s playing at his 2010 levels is fooling themselves. While still valuable in the backfield blocking game, his production as a rusher has really fallen, with those infamous third- and fourth-down-and-short dives coming up too short repeatedly this past season. After rushing for 26 first downs in 2010, he has moved the chains only 13 times since. He is still valuable as a receiver out of the backfield, with career highs in receptions, yards, and receiving first downs, but this isn't the John Kuhn we remember from the Super Bowl.

Ability to replace: This, of course, depends on how the Packers would approach life without John Kuhn. Would they bring in another true fullback or start adjusting their deep tight end depth into H-backs? Would they bring in Alex Green as a third-down receiving/blocking specialist? It’s a lot of questions that would significantly alter the offense.

What Ted might do:  Ted isn’t likely to make a move on Kuhn this year, but that doesn’t mean he’s on the list of contract extensions. Kuhn is in his final year of his contract and has motivation at age 30 to play his heart out for a new contract here or somewhere else. He still contributes as a blocker and a receiver, but I would imagine Mike McCarthy is erasing the fullback dive from his play chart.

What I would do: $2M doesn’t seem like a lot of money to be saved, and he’s still a bargain for what he’s contributing. While I think the Packers have the bodies to replace him, it would change how the offense functions, and I’m not sure that’s something that McCarthy wants to tinker with right now. I’d keep him and let him impress me for a contract extension.

Roster chances for 2013: 90%

Ryan Pickett, DL (#79)
Contract:  In the final year of a four-year, $24.925 million contract. The deal contains $10 million guaranteed, including a $2 million signing bonus and a first-year roster bonus of $6.4 million.
2013: $5.4 million (+ $500,000 roster bonus due in March),
2014: Free Agent
Salary Cap Hit for 2013: $6.7M
Money saved with a trade/release: $6M (estimated)


Assessment: At age 33, Pickett is certainly on the downswing on his career. The Packers are unlikely to get anything in trade for an aging, expensive veteran, so it would come down to whether the Packers believe they can live without him. It’s hard to evaluate Pickett statistically as, like Hawk, his primary role is swallowing up blockers in both the run and passing game and allowing playmakers like Matthews to do his job. However, no one will deny that Pickett is value-neutral in the pass defense game, with no sacks and precious few quarterback hurries the past few seasons. Pickett hangs his hat on his run-stuffing ability, but it is hard to reward that when Adrian Peterson rushed for 200 yards (twice) and Colin Kaepernick rushed for 180 over the Packers’ last three games of 2012. With Raji about to get the lion’s share of cap space along the defensive line, can the Packers afford Pickett’s salary matched with his production on the field?

Ability to replace: The Packers are already precariously thin at defensive line. They still don’t even have a solid third starter, much less someone to step in immediately for Pickett. Jerel Worthy may miss the start of the season, and the rest of the gang (Mike Neal, CJ Wilson, and Mike Daniels) have all shown flashes of ability, but nothing like what the Packers need to turn around the defensive pass rushing and run stopping woes they've suffered through the past two seasons.

What Ted might do:  There’s an unwritten rule in football, and that is you give defensive linemen more time and patience than you might at other positions. Frankly, the position is so hit-and-miss, you usually draft someone every year whether you think you need one or not. There’s a reason the Packers waited so long for guys like Jamal Reynolds, Justin Harrell,  and Mike Neal to develop, and why characters like Cletidus Hunt, Johnny Jolly, and Corey Williams get more chances than they should. Thompson might approach Pickett for a contract extension that keeps him around a few more years at a discount, but chances are Pickett will collect his paycheck in 2013 as is.

What I would do: Well, there’s a reason I’m not an NFL GM. I would be tempted to look at that $6M and draft two early-round defensive linemen, or even pursue a younger lineman in free agency. There’s plenty of big names out there. But even I know you don’t willingly send away a productive defensive end. You’re probably going to swallow that $6M, hope Pickett has another year in the tank, and look at drafting his successor in April.

Roster chances for 2013: 80%

Mason Crosby, K (#2)
Contract:  In the third year of a five-year, $14.75 million contract. The deal included a $3 million signing bonus.
2013: $2.4 million
2014: $2.65 million
2015: $2.8 million
2016: Free Agent
Salary Cap Hit for 2013: $3.1M
Money saved with a trade/release: $600K (estimated)

Assessment: If there is any player on the team whose salary is totally out of whack with what he's getting paid, its Mason Crosby. Trouble is, with the acceleration of the signing bonus he received in 2011, he’s almost a wash to cut this season. While we can question that contract extension, the fact remains that Crosby has become so unreliable at kicking field goals, we are on pins and needles when he attempts a 30-yarder. Any kicker worth an NFL contract should make a minimum of 75% of his field goals and should be above 80%. Crosby kicked only 63.6% of his kicks this past season, and only broke the 80% benchmark once in his career, last season. That stated, replacing a kicker is a precarious undertaking, as many teams found out when they had open tryouts mid-season. The mishandling of Crosby over the years by special teams coach Shawn Slocum has been well documented (mainly by me), but the question comes down to this: why does McCarthy remain so steadfastly that not only is Crosby the kicker, they won’t even bring in competition for him?

Ability to replace: That’s the key, but there are many (not on the Packers’ coaching staff) that would argue improving on a 63% field goal average shouldn't be that hard. While there are plenty of veteran legs out there on the market, any number of UDFA’s will be available after the draft. However, I’d be giving Florida’s Caleb Surgis a good look if he’s still available in the late rounds.

What Ted might do:  It all depends on what he’s hearing from McCarthy and Slocum.  After McCarthy again publicly defended Crosby, Thompson has to tread carefully as not to undermine either Crosby or his coaches. But I don’t think anyone is going to be upset if Thompson brings in a camp leg, as long as he doesn't draft one high enough to be a threat and a PR nightmare for McCarthy. If McCarthy lets Thompson know he doesn't have faith in Crosby and is willing to “go a different direction”, I don’t think Thompson hesitates to follow through.

What I would do: You’re only here as long as it takes us to find someone better to replace you. So saith Ron Wolf, and so saith me. The $600K saved in letting Crosby go this year is probably exactly what you’d pay to draft a late-rounder to kick for you this year. Simply put, I can’t imagine many of Crosby’s teammates have much faith in him anymore, and you have to get better. Tolerating mediocrity (or failure) is contagious and can bring down the whole team.

Roster chances for 2013: 50%

Tramon Williams, CB (#38)
Contract: In the fourth year of a five-year, $38.148 million contract. The deal contains $11.074 million guaranteed, including a $6 million signing bonus.
2013: $5.9 million (+ $300,000 roster bonus)
2014: $6.9 million (+ $300,000 roster bonus)
2015: Free Agent
Salary Cap Hit for 2013: $8.5M
Money saved with a trade/release: $6.1M (estimated)

Assessment: The elephant in the room, Tramon Williams is beloved by many Packer fans, but simply hasn't played anywhere near his 2010 form. Pro Football Focus ranked 113 defensive backs and put Williams at #60, behind Casey Hayward, Sam Shields, and Davon House. No, he’s not terrible, but he’s not playing up to a $8.5M salary cap hit, either. Williams’ play down the stretch hurt the team repeatedly, and the nerve damage taken from a collision with Nick Collins at the beginning of the 2011 season can’t be totally written off yet. Joe Whitt, the defensive backs coach, asserted publicly that Williams wasn't guaranteed a starting spot in 2013, a huge statement to make. Maybe it was done to light a fire under Tramon, but the message has been sent: Tramon is no longer the best cornerback the Packers have.

Ability to replace: The Packers actually aren't in terrible shape at cornerback, especially if they address the free safety position in the draft or free agency. The Packers felt confident enough to send Woodson packing, and might have enough to do the same with Tramon. Shields and Hayward both outplayed Williams this year, with Hayward looking like a rising superstar. Davon House, Jarrod McMillian, and MD Jennings certainly can round out a dime package, and there’s no reason Thompson can’t add to the mix in the draft.

What Ted might do:  Williams is a tricky one. A superstar two seasons ago, he’s exceedingly popular and at age 29, in his prime and under contract for two more seasons. The question comes down to what the Packers know that we do not: why is Tramon’s play slipping? If it is because of coaching and lack of adjustments and putting Williams in too tough of a position without safety support, its hard to blame Williams for his downturn in production. However, the Packers feel he’s not going to get any better, whether due to injury or physical decline, its hard to pay someone that kind of coin to be only as good (or worse) as the cheaper, younger guys playing ahead of you. Thompson might make the bold move if he’s looking to clear cap room and if he really has confidence in his young players.

What I would do: I would definitely see what’s out there in trade, particularly on draft day. I think you can bundle Williams with a second rounder and move into the first round, based on his past history alone. Again, the Packers have to avoid the post-Super Bowl trap of rewarding mediocrity among veterans based on what they contributed years ago. You have the talent at the position. I would look to get what I can for him in trade.

Roster chances for 2013: 70%

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C.D. Angeli is a longtime Packer fan and feature writer for CheeseheadTV. He is also the co-host of Cheesehead Radio and good cop over at PackersTalk.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TundraVision.  DM him for a Cliff's Notes version of this article.

Comments (72)

Stroh's picture

The money saved on Hawk would only be approximately 2.5M on the cap, due to the acceleration of his signing bonus. Read it in multiple places.

tundravision's picture

Yep, my bad. See the problem: I only calculated two remaining years on his contract, not three. Thanks, and fixing.

tundravision's picture

By the way, my post-script:

I think Thompson will part with Hawk for certain. I also think he's going to part with Finley and roll the dice at TE. That will free up about another $10M.

I would go further, also trading/releasing Tramon and Mason, freeing up about $16M and putting the Packers almost $30M under the cap. Don't forget they have to sign their draft picks and offer tenders to their RFAs, as well as sign UDFAs and possibly dabble in the FA market.

With just a stab in the dark
Rodgers will end up counting $20 against the cap this year.
Raji and Matthews might not get extended to mid-season and push some of that into 2014, but I'm guessing Matthews will be around $6-7M and Raji around $5-6M. That's an average, and depends on whether the Packers front- or back-load the contracts. But you have to figure that they will need quite a bit of space for these guys, whether it be this year or next.

packeraaron's picture

"I have a hard time stomaching Finley’s tirades"

Which tirades? The ones where reporters ask him questions and he tells the truth?

tundravision's picture

Yep, those.

Stroh's picture

So you have a problem w/ players telling the truth? You must have hated LeRoy Butler to then. He always said what he thought. Finley is much the same as LeRoy was. He speaks w/o a filter and w/o regard to repercussions.

packeraaron's picture

That's a great point Stroh. If Butler had played in the era of social media, he may have been viewed quite differently...

tundravision's picture

There comes a point where "speaking the truth" isn't something that the company smiles upon. It's true in any business, and the Packers are probably further away from the exception than the norm.

PackerNation's picture

Thompson is not stupid enough to cut the only inside linebacker we have that we have a reasonable expectation that he'll be healthy enough to play most of the games. Especially when it'll only save him $2.5 million. Smith and Bishop are huge question marks right now.

He will not release Finley, either, but will keep him one more year and take the comp pick if he leaves in free agency after the 2013 season.

He will not release Tramon Williams. This is a passing league with an abundance of multiple receiver sets and you simply can never have enough good cover guys.

So you're 0 for 3 there.

I would also challenge your assumption that Raji will be resigned. If you watch the two playoff games, Raji got pushed around in a shameful manner all day long both times. Here's a clue: If you're giving up 200+ yards on the ground, your nose tackle is getting handled. I remember Gilbert Brown and I never saw him get abused like Raji was.

Lars's picture

I see the hawk posse is out in full force today, defending their mediocrity to the death. I agree with Angeli, Hawk is going to have to take his soft, non-impactful play to another NFL city. He's worthless in a trade with that contract (TT's worst to date.)

Here's an interesting tidbit for Hawk fans---when TT cuts him after JUNE FIRST---the cap savings in 2013 will exceed $5 (FIVE) million. Manning, Francois, Lattimore and a draftee/FA, resign Jones are more than enough healthy bodies to make up for Hawk, who was less effective than Paris Lenon in 2012, at thrice the cost.

Same for Mason Crosby. $3 million for a 60% kicker who can't make the long ones and is shaky in the clutch? Are you kidding me? He's gone after June 1, too and you have another $2 million in cap space for CM 3, Shields, EDS, James jones (early) and the rookies.

I think Finley sticks another year and then is gone to make way for AR's re-sign in 2014. Draft Zack Ertz for the future.

Stroh's picture

Agree on everything but Raji. The DL could have played better, but mostly the DL held the inside gaps and forced Peterson outside where Walden, Matthews, Williams, Shields and the secondary didn't do a good enough job tackling. Hell 1/2 the time it looked like the secondary tried to avoid tackling Peterson. It was far too easy for Peterson to bounce everything outside to the LB and secondary who were cowardly.

Forcing Peterson outside is usually a good idea, since he has to run laterally, but w/ no contain and no secondary willing to take him on it was easy pickins for AP. Not too mention that SF and Minn have 2 very good OL's!

cpheph1's picture

First off, I appreciate your blog post very much...you put a lot of effort into it! FWIW, here's a few additional contract/cap sources:

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/packers-face-turnover-thanks-to-s...

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/green-bay-packers/cap-hit/

http://www.overthecap.com/teamcap.php?Team=Packers&Year=2013

http://www.overthecap.com/nfl-cap-space.php?Year=2013

My current WAG on Packers' available cap space is ~$17,415,983 based on the above sources...and that's counting Jeff Saturday "dead cap number" of $825k.

Btw, WRT releasing TW & Crosby, they'd save $6.1m + $1.35m respectively.

The biggest remaining cap savings is obviously with Finley...and I'm 50/50 on him. If I want/need the space, it's a no-brainer from the $$$ perspective because he's at best the 3rd option. Ideally, I'd renegotiate & extend him to lower his cap # over the next 2-3 years.

Hawk's cap # is obviously way too high; it'll be interesting to see what Ted does but I wouldn't rule out renegotiation either.

$20m cap hit is 15.61% of Packers adjusted cap ($128,110,832). Currently, ARod is ~8% and CM3 is ~3.8% ($4.91m).

Obviously need to extend CM3 first because 2013 is his last season under contract.

Irish_Cheesehead's picture

Trading or releasing Tramon would be idiotic. The rest can go - especially Mason. I'm tired of watching that guy make millions to miss FGs.

PadLevel's picture

Will be interesting to see if anyone picks up AJ Hawk if he is cut by the Packers. I would be shocked if anyone agrees to a trade and gives us anything worthwhile in return.

Mike's picture

The Football Gods should smile on the Packers for what they've done to us in terms of injuries (especially Nick) the last 3 seasons!

Fudding's picture

I think Finley is 95%. They have no one of his talent level to replace him, and he was great the 2nd half of the season compared to an average NFL TE. People are getting carried away with this cutting thing for this offseason. AR, CMII, and BJR are all under contract for 2013. 2014 is where you really need the money. The only reason you cut people is if they are underperforming their contract and you have capible replacements, as was the situation with Woodson. The Pack could franchise Jennings and have him off the books for 2014 if they wanted.

Matt Bove's picture

Geez you want to get rid of Pickett, Tramon and Finley? That's pretty much throwing away next season and sorry I can't do that when the team is not that far off.

tundravision's picture

Well, that goes back to another argument I've made, too...balancing hanging on to veterans in the hopes of extending the arc or going through a mini-rebuild to make sure the team is back on an upswing.

Where's that line after Jennings, Driver, and Woodson? Is that enough to manage the cap and keep the team moving forward? Your guess is as good as mine. I guess I'm of the opinion that, after two particularly embarrassing playoff losses, this team can't afford to stand pat if it wants to go deeper in the playoffs.

Mojo's picture

I'm looking at any and everything to improve this roster. If it means moving some of my favorites like Pickett and Tramon then go ahead. I'll close my eyes and cover my ears and you can tell me when it's over.

Plus someone needs to tell ARod he doesn't need to break the bank. The NFL cap is punitive to those who don't manage it properly. For every Mario Williams a club inks, you can scratch-off a number of other quality player you could sign or resign. If a player is truly concerned about Lombardi's he would needs to understand how their cap hit affects the success of the team as a whole. Easy for me to say, but I would be happy with $17 to $18mil a year instead of $20+, if it means it could my team over the top.

tundravision's picture

I think that's the fantasy we fans have that we hate to ever have to face or admit is nothing more than a fantasy.

Perhaps during the Glory Years, players truly cared about winning a Super Bowl. Nowadays, its all about the coin, and a Super Bowl is just an avenue to getting more.

Look, we built up an image in our minds of what kind of person we WANTED Brett Favre to be, and were incredibly disappointed when he wasn't. It's just as foolish to assume Rodgers or any Packer is more concerned about us, the organization, or winning Super Bowls than what's really in it for themselves.

PackerNation's picture

Yes, there were those people who built Favre up to something he was not. But to say it's "all about the coin" is overly cynical.

Yes, money counts for a lot. But Pride still matters to some people, and football players are people.

Jake's picture

I'd trade Finley and Williams in a heartbeat, but I can't imagine any other GM taking on those contracts.

tundravision's picture

Williams would be tough, but Finley is an easy trade-and-renegotiate. One year, spread it out. Someone would bite on Finley.

Williams...well, the Packers would eat the signing bonus and the team getting him in trade would only be on the hook for $5.9M this year. Carlos Rogers was signed as a free agent corner last year, 4 years, $29M with a $5M signing bonus. Compared to signing a top-flight FA CB, that's a deal. Trouble is they have to give something up for it.

cpheph1's picture

cd angeli says:"Jermichael Finley, TE (#88)
Salary Cap Hit for 2013: $8.75M
Money saved with a trade/release: $8.25M" "Finley is an easy trade-and-renegotiate. One year, spread it out. Someone would bite on Finley."

IMO, flip-side is why can't the Pack negotiate an extension with Finley? WRT to other teams biting on a trade...certainly a possibility and definitely better than just cutting him. Of the three scenarios, I'd choose extending him IOT reduce his 2013 cap #.

I have no idea what player/draft pick compensation Finley would bring.

tundravision's picture

cpheph1???

Where have you been?? I'm having to trust Rotoworld for my cap information?!?! :)

cpheph1's picture

I read CHTV pretty much daily...just don't post very much.

Bill's picture

I agree with the comment about people getting carried away with "this cutting thing for the offseason". It would be nice to be 30 M under the cap, but what would be left if Ted did all the purging being discussed? I wouldn't be surprised if some of the cuts that are made are so that Finley can be kept for '13. There better be a good reason to cut weapons in today's NFL, and I'm not sure that Finley's transgressions are such that he merits being cut. He might talk more than some would like but he is clearly better than anyone else on the roster at his position. And Ryan Pickett - is his replacement currently on this roster? I doubt it. Draft his successor? Sure, but there are no guarantees in this or any draft along the d-line. Tramon - I would like to see how he plays when there is competition for his position as Joe Whitt has stated. Unless the coaching staff clearly sees that Tramon no longer can play a team just can't give up on a good cornerback in today's NFL.
This will be one of the more interesting Packer offseasons in a while. Ted has his hands full.

KennyPayne's picture

CD who would possibly trade for Hawk given his big Contract?

I'd like to see Hawk and Crosby let go as they do not deserve the money they make.

tundravision's picture

Not a soul, as far as I think. But you'd still toss him out there and see if there's a nibble.

I do maintain that he's not as bad as a lot of people make him out to be. He's a serviceable starter and, if I'm correct, he made a lot of the adjustments on the field. Don't underestimate what a 3-4 middle linebacker might be able to do back in a 4-3, where he's freer to roam and make plays.

tundravision's picture

I thought this was a nice writeup of what Hawk does in a 3-4 over at http://www.buffalorumblings.com/2010/5/6/1460598/examining-lb-job-respon....

"Jack Inside Linebacker: His entire job is to keep the Mike ILB clean; by keeping the Mike clean, the Jack's sole responsibility is to take on the offensive guards and keep them away from his running mate. He needs to be very strong at the point of attack - a downhill thumper if you will. It's a dirty and underrated ability, but keep in mind that there's a reason Rex Ryan made Bart Scott his first big free agent signing. Scott excelled at this job in Baltimore, and he's now a big part of the Jets' defensive success, despite the modest statistics."

If Desmond Bishop is your playmaking Mike linebacker, Hawk is your Jack.

Stroh's picture

Damn right! I've tried to tell people that on numberous occasions but they don't listen! Hawks job as the strong ILB is to take on blockers and allow the weak ILB to run to the ball. Could Hawk disengage a little better to make more plays? Maybe, but it he does it then the OL is hunting for another body (the Weak ILB) to give the RB more room. I just don't think people realize that Hawk has to play his role in the D for it to be successful. Clearly he is the Bart Scott (or Levon Kirkland of Pitts awile back) of the Packers D.

tundravision's picture

I was trying to find the article, but I think it was Ray Lewis who complained loudly when the Ravens switched to a 3-4 (can't find it, don't quote me). But he bemoaned being taken out of a playmaking role and put into this more subdued, workmanlike role. It really brought that transition for Hawk into focus for me.

Mind you, I've never seen Hawk as a Lewis-esque playmaker. But I do think he's a solid linebacker whose gone through some ups and downs.

Said it in the article...don't know who's been in his corner more than me. Just a matter of the money.

Stroh's picture

I remember that about Lewis too. So I get where your coming from. Clearly Hawk isn't the playmaker that Lewis was, but he is a solid starting ILB. Overpaid, no doubt... He was the #5 overall pick and didn't live up to that draft spot, but when we were negotiating w/ him, he had proved his worth coming off his best season and the Packers had no other alternative, so Hawk had alot of leverage and the Packers had to pay more than they knew he was worth.

GmanB1984's picture

I have a feeling that if Finley gets released, we will look back at the end of next season and think it was a mistake. My gut says Finley will play lights-out somewhere else.

jack in jersey city's picture

i think finley will be around for at least one more season

tundravision's picture

You could be totally right. We may be saying the same thing about Woodson and Jennings, too. Both appear motivated and ready to put a chip on their shoulder. Finley performs best when he has that chip, as he showed after McGinn's article.

Chris's picture

What's the status on Raji's contract (how many years let, cap hit)? As much as I loved him 2 years ago he declined the last two years.
Is this because he is playing too many snaps again this year? Is his body too punished to take on those big OL guys at the end of the season? (See: last three games of the season).

cpheph1's picture

WRT Raji's contract status, 2014 is a voidable year. His dead space for 2014 is $1.4m based on internet data I've seen. IMO, they'll get Raji extended. IIRC, the agent is "the agent" for all three (ARod, CM3 & Raji).

Anthony's picture

Woodson was the same age as Williams when he came to the Packers. I don't think we should give up on him yet. But if he continues to make boneheaded plays, then yes, we should...

MarkinMadison's picture

1. The assumption is that DJ Williams and Bishop are both better than Hawk, so the Packers can afford to let Hawk go. There is a good chance that either of them will not be at full strength this year. And either way, there are two ILB positions. Three starting quality guys is not too many to keep. Cutting Hawk would be a mistake for the modest dollar savings.

2. Finley - If he is not part of your long-term plans, then let him go. Plain and simple. Clear the cap space - which is more than three times what you will save by losing Hawk. There are two guys already on the roster who could replace his production. For one position, that is one too many to keep.

3. Cutting Kuhn saves you almost as many dollars as cutting Hawk. And he's much less productive. FB is also not overly difficult to replace. I'd let him go.

4. Cutting Pickett would be like giving up on the season. "The good Lord only made so many of them." Thus sayeth TT. You do not drop a quality big man.

5. Cutting Williams would really be rolling the dice. Shields has had good years and a really bad year sandwiched in between. Hayward was lights out his rookie year, but so was Shields his rookie year when he played the slot. Next year it might make more sense to let him go. This year, you keep him. Especially with Woodson's leadership just being booted out the door.

Evan's picture

"There are two guys already on the roster who could replace [Finley's] production."

Who?

MarkinMadison's picture

Brandon Bostick shows a lot of potential. He has comparable size, speed and good hands. If Quarless comes back healthy he could be a factor. I don't think anyone has given up on DJ Williams yet either. With all of the cover-2 the Packers were seeing this year, the shocking thing is not that Finley broke the single-season record for catches with 61, the shocking thing is that he has not been more consistently productive.

The Packers have three large deals to take care of, and that doesn't even consider that Sam Shields will be due some coin pretty soon. If the Packers don't believe in Finley enough to give him a long-term deal after this year, then I'm not sure I see the benefit of pushing large coin at him for one year. Bite the bullet and see if the other guys can rise to the occasion.

Stroh's picture

So you want to count on an undrafted rookie to take on a significant playmaking role? No thanks... And the lasting memory of Quarless before he blew out his knee was him falling all over himself when he was WIDE open on a fake kick and a perfect pass from Flynn waiting for him to catch. No thanks again... Bostick is a project that, like Driver might take 3 years to develop and Quarless is not a good player in space. He's an inline TE w/ limited recieving ability IMO.

packeraaron's picture

<em>...the lasting memory of Quarless before he blew out his knee was him falling all over himself when he was WIDE open on a fake kick and a perfect pass from Flynn waiting for him to catch.</em>

Um, how about a play from the year he actually blew out his knee? Like the fantastic play in MIN where he blew up the defensive end and stayed alive while Rodgers scrambled and came down with a big gain for a first down?

I'll remember that one while you hate. Cheers.

Stroh's picture

Aaron... Like I said Quarless is a good inline TE. Good blocking and catching a pass if he gets off the block. But he's not a good TE in space and the NFL is all about getting guys in space to make plays. Quarless and Finley are more different than they are alike, and nono of the TE on the Packers roster has Finley's ability in space. Why do you think Finley is on the field far more than Quarless and all the other TE's combined? No matter how you cut it not one of them can replace Finley as a reciever.

packeraaron's picture

Totally agree with that last sentence.

Evan's picture

Those are 3 big IFs. I wouldn't feel comfortable at all relying on those 3 guys next year.

That's why I think it makes sense to keep Finley for one more year. That gives the Packers time to evaluate Quarless, Bostick and Williams without being forced to rely on them 100%.

If they show up in 2013, great. Then they can let Finley walk next year and be in good shape. If they don't, however, then at least they have Finley for 2013 and then they can either re-sign him or go TE in the draft.

Getting rid of him now is simply too big of a risk.

cow42's picture

markinmadison...

1. i agree
2. i disagree. i do not think there are 2 guys on the roster who could match finley's production.
3. i agree
4. i agree
5. do not cut williams. even if he's your 4th best corner... he's a pretty darn good 4th corner. don't just look at his singular salary... look at the salary load of the entire CB unit - shields will be underpaid for a #1, hayward will be underpaid for a #2, house will be underpaid for a #3 - so even if your #4 is grossly OVERpaid you're still OK in terms of the amount of total $ earmarked for the position.

if you let williams go and even 1 corner gets hurt then your looking at bush or mcmillian in on all nickel formations (which the defense is in the majority of the time).

i actually think mcmillian is going to become a good S but i'm not real thrilled about him being on the outside during nickel (assuming hayward would stay in the slot). and Lord knows we don't want to see bush in any more than we have to.

Andrew's picture

Williams getting overpaid and grossly under-performing is not an ingredient for a championship locker room.

I was Tramon's biggest fan for a long time, but it's unacceptable for a player making so much more money at the position than his teammates, to run away from AP and avoid contact. How are those underpaid over-performing guys going to feel about the grossly overpaid Williams tanking plays like Roger Dorn?

You can't have that in the locker room. It can't be tolerated. How many years will it be before Tramon's shoulder is 100%? Will it ever be? Will he ever have the confidence he had to be physical every game?

KennyPayne's picture

The savings on Hawk are not limited to 2013. His big contract increases in 2014 and 2015. With that additional $10M off the books the cash could be devoted to Clay and Aaron.

The same holds true for Crosby.

Looking at the 1 year totals does not give the full picture except for Finley and Kuhn who only have a year left on their deals.

cow42's picture

so cut hawk after next season.
use this year to see if bishop and smith are healthy and if manning and jones can progress.

what's the hurry?

i can't stand hawk's game. so boring.
but right now i look at him as an insurance policy.

redlights's picture

Yeah, I think Hawk sticks. What I'd like to see is a DD contract: a big guarantee for this year (not more money, just guarantee it, so he knows he won't be cut during camp), then bring his contract down in the following years. If he performs this year, we'll have him at a reasonable cost; if he doesn't, his contract can be posted in the "insurance" catagory. Cow is right, ILB is two question marks.

ArodMoney's picture

Everyone besides Williams and Pickett seem replaceable. And even then I could see Williams being traded and/or Pickett being let go.

I just hope the Packers can resign Rodgers and Matthews without murdering their cap ala Detroit with Stafford and Johnson.

ArodMoney's picture

Here is the thing about Jermichael Finley. Tight Ends that are poor blockers aren't that valuable. They are receivers. Finley has not been a great receiver and has shown nothing that would make me think he will be a top 5 receiving tight end. He lacks top end speed, has inconsistent hands, and hasn't been able to consistent make plays when guarded.

Think about this, Finley has accounted for 15% of the Packers total receiving yards and 11% of their total receiving touchdowns the previous two seasons.
James Jones on the other hand has also accounted for 15% of the Packers total receiving yards(albeit slightly lower w/o rounding) and 24% of their total receiving touchdowns.
The thought of paying Jones $8 million seems ludicrous. Even paying Greg Jennings that much would be silly.

I know Finley looked like a big play tight end early in his career but he just hasn't been the last two seasons. I think he is a fine tight end and would love for him to be on the team. The most I'd pay though is $3.5 million. Anything else and its just too expensive.

Stroh's picture

TE's are all about recieving in the NFL today. Thats what they get paid for... Recieving NOT blocking! Finley got paid cuz he is a very good reciever that causes DC's problems. None of the other TE's on the roster would be worth even signing to a contract extension for TE play. They get signed to be role players. Blocking and ST roles. Any of Quarless, Crabtree, Taylor, Williams could easily be replaced. Finley's ability as a reciever cannot be replaced by any other TE on the roster.

The NFL has changed and TE don't get paid to be good blockers anymore, they get paid as recievers.

ArodMoney's picture

See point about Finley being no better receiver than James Jones.

Try again

CSS's picture

James Jones gets single coverage, often a nickle that probably couldn't be on most NFL rosters, with no safety help because Finley is dragging either a Safety/Corner or Safety/LB over the middle on most plays. Finley has forced more favorable mismatches on the field for his teammates, game-over-game, than any other receiving option on the roster.

ArodMoney's picture

I didn't realize you watched all that tape. I'll defer to you I guess.

CSS's picture

I've made no such statement. Instead of snark why don't you go back and watch the games yourself. Come to a different conclusion you can feel free to reference it. Game pass access to 'all-22' film is pretty cheap.

ArodMoney's picture

You kinda did

Lars's picture

On Pickett---no way they drop him in 2013. MM as much as said so in his post-loss SF presser. They need the big guy, especially with the ACL to Worthy and Neal busting except for a little pass rush help. "Draft two guys"...and yet "it takes years to develop" them makes no sense. And, while GB is yet again overdrafting on defense the offense continues to get thinner.

Meanwhile the hand-wringing over a $7 million cap hit like Hawk for failing to play up to his CONTRACT, (not his draft slot) continues. Hawk is a two-down player now as these stats signify---zero FF's, zero PD's, and zero int's. And, he was outplayed by Brad Jones inside, a player who had never played the position before.

Like Pickett, Tramon Williams isn't going anywhere just yet, either.

I would cut one more overpaid player---Jarrett Bush. $1.75 million to only play ST's, where he had one of his worst seasons with 7 penalties and what, 15 tackles? Manning can take over as that unit's leader.

tundravision's picture

Funny thing is, building through the draft is how this team came to be.

Maybe that's what I'm sensing is that sea change.

The question I would ask is, if a new GM walked through the door and evaluated the roster, what players would he keep? There's a natural predisposition to keeping your guys, and while I'm not accusing Thompson of doing that, the whole Mason Crosby thing just puts that thought in your mind that we're going to keep "our guy", even if he's not performing.

All these guys are Super Bowl Heroes. Almost all will end up in the Packer Hall of Fame (if Don Majkowski can make in based on one good non-playoff year, I don't know how these guys miss out).

Frankly, I think the Packers hit the jackpot in the secondary the past few years. House, Hayward, Jennings, McMillian, Richardson, Burnett...even if only 2-3 of these guys develop like they should, that's a home run.

Stroh's picture

House, Hayward and Burnett are starter quality players for sure. McMillan has the physical tools, but I'm not convinced he'll get there as a starter. He struggles in coverage and I don't know that he has the ball skills you would prefer at Safety. Hope I'm wrong about him, but Jennings to me is nothing but a backup and ST guy. He should not be starting. I think a playmaking, physical Safety has to among the Packers highest priorities.

tundravision's picture

A-freaking-men. Was just crafting my next article on that very topic of safeties. Glad I'll write one you agree with! :)

Andrew's picture

If we lose Tramon maybe we could go after Dashon Goldson. He's exactly the type of player we need back there. The guy who suddenly comes from out of frame on the TV set and like a flash blasts the guy with the ball. He laid a pretty good cheap shot on Dujuan in the playoffs, but I love his physicality. With the loss of Tramon and Woodson and addition of Goldson, we would have effectively changed the entire complexion. I dream. I dream.

Evan's picture

Is Goldson the punk who likes to lower his shoulder into a pile of players after the ball carrier is down?

Stroh's picture

Goldson is exactly the type of Safety I'm talking about. But I don't see Thompson signing a FA w/ the contracts of Rodgers, Matthews and Raji still up in the air. Better off drafting one. I would consider Vacarro and Reid at 26 and I like Thomas in the 2nd. Any of those 3 would be great next to Burnett.

redlights's picture

I see Crosby getting competition from a camp leg, but still being the kicker next year. He seemd like he was doing better at the end of the year.

Check Stroh, MD Jennings is the latest Charlie Peprah; he can start if needed, but should not be our first option.

If anyone is handy at stats, check the success of short yardage for Kuhn with Saturday versus EDS. If no different, I think he'll be re-structured or cut.

Stroh's picture

Or if Finley plays well, the Packers re-sign him! Then don't have to go looking for another reciever. He's already close to the top of the market for TE's, so its not like he would be getting a big raise and he is only 25, so he has another 5 or 6 good years left.

Matt's picture

I think they will keep finley because its only 1 year and he's likley on his best behavior during a contract year. He will help absorb the loss of jennings while they go in another direction and if he plays well it means he gets a big contract elsewhere and the pack get a better compensitory pick which ted loves.

Stroh's picture

Replay to wrong person. Or if Finley plays well, the Packers re-sign him! Then don’t have to go looking for another reciever. He’s already close to the top of the market for TE’s, so its not like he would be getting a big raise and he is only 25, so he has another 5 or 6 good years left.

Denver's picture

IMO the first 2 picks in the draft by the Pack will determine the immediate future of 1 or 2 of these guys. I'm really hoping for an ILB; seems to be a few good one's out there (but damn you Ogletree!).
I think they keep #88 this year, but then let him move on.
Kuhn's legs seem shot to me. I will be shocked if he makes the final 53 this year.

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