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Not So Bold Prediction: Expect Ryan Grant Back in 2012

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Not So Bold Prediction: Expect Ryan Grant Back in 2012

Despite reported interest from both the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions over the last month, free agent running back Ryan Grant is more likely to end up back in St. Norbert this summer than any other NFL training camp.

The market that Grant thought would emerge simply hasn't, and all things equal money-wise, the 29-year-old back would assumedly pick the Packers over starting new someplace else next season.

All the proof you need regarding Grant's market has been told over the last 20 or so days.

While the Packers have been mostly quiet in their effort to bring Grant back, both the Patriots and Lions expressed legitimate interest.

New England hosted Grant as part of a trio of backs to visit the Patriots' facility in late April. He joined Tim Hightower and Joseph Addai, but the Patriots never went any further in their interest and eventually signed Addai last week.

The Lions interest was even more concerning for Grant, who at one time was reported to have an offer on the table and an invitation to visit earlier this week. Grant never made the trip to Detroit, however, and his representation said that "economic" reasons kept Grant home. Reading between the lines, you could assume that the contract offer Grant received from Detroit was low enough that a trip East wasn't necessary.

At this point, no other NFL team outside New England and Detroit has shown an interest in Grant.

It's difficult looking across the NFL—especially after the draft—and finding many more logical fits. Maybe Miami or Oakland, who have front office histories with Grant, would give him a chance, but each team has a decent looking depth chart at running back currently.

Clearly, as the days continue to pass, the likelihood Grant is back in Green Bay increases. And as those same days pass, the chances of Grant getting anything more than a veteran's minimum deal decreases.

In a sense, the Packers have played the situation perfectly.

GM Ted Thompson was always going to let the market play out for Grant, even if that meant losing him to a team willing to dole out the money. But now that Grant has a good taste of what his value on the open market really is, it should be that much easier for Thompson to convince Grant to come back to Green Bay on a zero risk deal.

Until Grant's return is in stone, however, Thompson continues to play a game of chicken with his running back position.

Without Grant on the roster, the Packers' running back have far more question marks than answers.

Third-year pro James Starks has shown flashes, but the time he's spent on the sidelines nursing various injuries nearly equals the amount of games the Packers have played with him the last two seasons. 2011 third-round pick Alex Green has a skill set that screams perfection for the Packers' pass-heavy offense, but a torn ACL in Week 7 last season casts a shadow of doubt whether he'll have any kind of measurable impact in year two. And leaning on undrafted free agent Brandon Saine for any long stretch would be a calculated risk, even if the early returns to finish 2011 were positive.

Bringing back Grant, who actually showed late last season that there's plenty left in the tank, would—at the very least—bring a sense of stability back to the position. Remember, Grant ran for 283 yards with a 5.8-yard average over the last four regular season games. This wasn't a guy that was spinning his wheels like many backs nearing at the age of 30 often do as they start breaking down. Grant got better as the year wore on.

Why NFL teams have been so hesitant to look into Grant is a little puzzling, but there's so many options in today's NFL at the position that 29-year-olds can get lost in the shuffle.

There's obviously still time for Grant—it's only the middle of May—but the clock is ticking. The closer Grant gets to training camp, the more likely it is that he will be attending his fifth straight straight camp with the Packers (he wasn't acquired from the Giants until September of 2007).

Considering how the free-agent market has treated Grant so far, it's hard to say that scenario isn't the most plausible.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (36) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

NameChangingArse's picture

Let's try him at Center !

QOTSA1's picture

The Packers only kept 3 running backs and Kuhn on the roster last year, which means they would have to keep 4 running backs or get rid of someone, most likely Saine, to make room for Grant. So is it worth keeping that many players at a position that is not that heavily utilized in the Packers offense, or possibly losing a young player like Saine, who has shown some promise?

I have always thought Grant was somewhat under appreciated by Packer fans, and he probably has a couple good years left, but it just doesn't seem like the Packers want him back.

MarkinMadison's picture

If they could find a way to shelf Green on IR for another year, I'd consider it. The first year back after an ACL has traditionally been pretty rough on players.

Cole's picture

You can't shelf Green, he's going to be our most explosive back. That's what Grant isn't..explosive. He's just a solid back, but isn't a great pass catcher and isn't dynamic in the open field. Rather have him over Saine though, but then you risk missing out on Saine's potential. Four RB's and a FB is too many roster spots though.

lars's picture

This is totally misunderstanding Ryan Grant. The fact is Grant IS explosive and very fast in the open field. He has no trouble catching passes, either.

Grant's weakness has always been hitting the right hole more consistently and breaking tackles. Once he gets free (see screen pass in the Detroit game for a TD) he can be electrifying.

mark's picture

I definitely like Ryan Grant, but I'm not sure I would ever describe his play as "electrifying"

Oppy's picture

The idea that because the Packers kept "x" number of running backs last year would mean that they will keep "x" number of RBs this year is silly.

If you've paid attention to the Packers at all since TT and MM have arrived in GB, one thing is certain: The available talent dictates the roster, not vice versa.

We've kept 5 TEs, we've kept 3 TEs. We've rolled into seasons with 2 QB's, and 3. We've kept 2 HBs and 3 FBs, and we've kept 3 HBs and 1 FB. 5 DL, and 8 DL.

THere's no reason to believe if the Packers decided to re-sign Grant that it would dictate any sort of roster change based on a head count at RB. If the Packers feel they have 5 RB's that are better than the 3rd TE, they'll keep the extra back. If they feel that only 2 of the HB's are better than the surplus of some other position, they'd probably only roll with 2 HB's on the roster.

In short, the final roster is all about the amount of talent they have assembled in camp. That works itself out.

AJKUHN's picture

I liked what I saw at the end of the season last year. Grant put on some jets I don't remember seeing for quite awhile. I think it would be fine to bring him to camp and let him win a roster spot. If he does, we have a reliable veteran, if not, we should have an upgraded young player, either way is a win. Besides, for some reason, he is a Bear killer, and I am always ok with that.

bigcheese's picture

I know it won't happen but I'd love to see Ted take a chance on LT. He'd give the young guys someone to look up to, plus he's a leader and even in his old age he still has a nose for the end zone.

cow42's picture

you obviously think much more highly of grant than i do.
he's just a guy.

they're not gonna keep 4 rb's + kuhn.

saine, green, and starks (even in their current conditions) are all better options than grant.

lars's picture

Not with Green coming off the ACL (that will take a complete season to get Alex back) and Starks being injury prone.

BoldtAction's picture

I don't think Green or Saine are a better option than Grant. Not based on the numbers. Based on stats Starks is not objectively better than Grant. They are close but Grant was seemingly more explosive, longer long run at 47 yds, and an 80 yd screen for TD. Perhaps the others have more potential but the facts are Grant was the most productive back. Of course, he's 29 so there could be an assumption he will decline but I wouldn't assume too much. Some backs (thomas jones) can be productive as they get older. Grant is just a guy, but he's a better guy than all the other guys they had last year. If they get Grant cheap that is great security.

I am not sold on Green, he hasn't shown anything yet. He could be a total bust. Hard to say.

Funny thing is, I really liked Saine... he just looks like he knows what he is doing out there (purely subjective).

I think the RB position is evolving into another kind of receiver position... kind of like TE did. I'd love to see them get a guy who can really catch well out of the backfield.

Just thoughts...

jim's picture

acl injuries take a long long time to heal. my bet would be that green is on injured reserve again this year, opening a spot for grant.

mark's picture

acl injuries don't always take long to heal. it depends on the person.

Evan's picture

All reports are that he's ahead of schedule and will be full-go in training camp. Barring a setback, there is no reason to expect IR.

Hands's picture

It's possible that the Packers bring back Grant for a look but don't forget he's fumbled in two different play-off games, Seattle and Giants. Normally, he's very sure handed but of all games you don't want to fumble during the play-offs. May be a reason he's not drawing a lot of activity. (Not a cold weather runner)

Smeest's picture

Finally someone mentioned the elephant in the room! Nice job Hands.

Oppy's picture

Yeah, he fumbled in that SEA snow globe game, that's true. Directly responsible for the Seahawks' early lead.

Don't bother mentioning that Ryan Grant almost single-handedly turned that game around and won it for us, too?

200+ yards rushing, a couple TD's. It was a performance so strong that the Packers painted a mural of Grant in the halls of Lambeau Field depicting his performance that day, right next to other amazing post season performances by guys like Desmond Howard and Reggie WHite..

I don't see how a guy who normally is so sure-handed with the ball- unreal numbers, really- gets a "knock" on him because his ball security became human in two distinct play off games.

He's had about 5 fumbles in the last few years.

redlights's picture

Green won't make IR because he is able to practice; PUP would be more likely, but again, if he can practice, he won't qualify. I agree that we shouldn't rely on Green this year, but the ACL is fixed. The problem is that he won't be able to cut and to "not think about it" when he's running.

My only concern with 3+Kuhn is its not going to cut it if we need to put Harrell under center. Then a good running attack would be sweet.

Cole's picture

If we have to put Harrell under center, we're done anyway.

redlights's picture

I'd like to think that our hopefully improved defense, and the play-makers like Jennings and Finley; we'd stand a chance. At least for a few games.

jrunde10's picture

"Clearly, as the days continue to pass, the likelihood Grant is back in Green Bay increases."

I agree 100% with this statement but I don't think he's coming back. I just think he's going to take what he can get elsewhere. His agent has a history of calling Green Bay's offers insulting and I think that will add up. That and the packers seem decently prepared to not resign him.

That said, the market definitely favors the packers. Based on what Grant showed last year, I would love to have him back. Definitely not ruling it out.

Tarynfor12's picture

Grant is like having a re-capped spare tire.However,if you must have a tire re-capped,do one that you have/had as you already know whats under the capping.

packsmack25's picture

Disagree about him likely coming back. This seems just like the Cullen Jenkins situation, where the guy really wants the Packers to make an offer, but they just won't. Grant will probably be a free agent until a team sees that they don't like their backup RB as much as they thought and/or there is an injury.

AKBart's picture

I think the coaches are a lot higher on Brandon Saine than most people think. He came in late last year, learned fast and got on the field almost right away. I think he is the #2 back, I don't see them taking Grant back unless there is an injury.

Brooklyn81's picture

Please lets not bring grant back. I like the guy buy I am tired of us having a bunch of backs on our team with no explosion. We need youth at the position and maybe one of the UDFA makes a big splash and makes the team.

TXCheese's picture

I think another year out from his ankle injury, Grant would be a welcome addition. His style is perfect for the zone blocking scheme. Think about how many long runs he had the year prior to his injury, compared to Jackson and Kuhn. He can be a home run hitter in this offense, and he's pretty good in pass protection.

nerd's phone's picture

Grant has to make the team. Could be between him and Tyler. Remember Grant's agent used the Favre circus as leverage, and that might work against him now.

lars's picture

It certainly isn't helping him. Grant forced Thompson to pay more than he wanted to in 2008 because GB was very thin at RB. Now, the shoe's on the other foot.

Only one Packer gets paid more than he's worth and that's AJ Hawk. Grant will likely have to settle for minimum wage/no guarantee and have to earn his way onto the roster. That's how it goes. He also took a pay-cut last year.

Too bad McCarthy wasted Green and compromised his career on KO's returns. Otherwise, Grant would have no chance at returning. He did look pretty good at the end of last season, though.

Ruppert's picture

"Too bad McCarthy wasted Green and compromised his career on KO returns."

Did I must miss when Alex Green turned into Barry Sanders? Give me a break. He averaged under 2 yards/carry in the preseason last year, where rookies are supposed to step up and prove they belong on an NFL roster. I don't recall seeing much of anything that would make me even think he will make the team this year.

Letting a 3rd round pick who did practically nothing in preseason run back kicks is doing him a favor.

Oppy's picture

Ruppert,

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me personally, seeing his highlight film from Hawaii got me interested to begin with.

Sure, people will talk about playing out of the spread, etc...I'm not looking at the huge yardage he chewed up. I was always keying on the things Green did to make those extra yards when other backs might not.

He is shifty, his feet are prime for a zone back. He feigns direction shift extremely well, just enough to get a defender to lean one direction and give himself the advantage. He makes the first defender miss with regularity. He is slinky enough that it is rare that first contact brings hims down, and he usually gets a good amount of yardage after contact through determination. His vision is very good, he sees the hole, makes his decision, and GOES.

But what brought me from interested to excited was actually watching him practice during training camp last year. The explosion this young back has is impressive. He is a playmaker waiting to happen, IMO.

Have you had the chance to watch him in person? This kid looks pretty good. I thought he looked like he had enough things going for him that he'd make Packers fans forget about Starks in time. Coming off an ACL, now I'm not sure, but I'm still hopeful.

Ruppert's picture

I have not seen him in person.

I know he looked good in college. A lot of guys do. However, RB is a position where, a lot of times, rookies can come right in and have some success. Green had an opportunity to impress last year before his injury. IMO, he really didn't impress. I'm not holding out much hope that anybody who earned all of 3 carries in his rookie year is going to go on to great things.

I hope he does. I hope SOME RB steps up and turns into a star, believe me.

I'm just skeptical, that's all.

Oppy's picture

AJ Hawk, Mason Crosby, John Kuhn

There's more who are over paid, for sure.

John Kuhn's contract is a huge head-scratcher for me. Highest paid FB in the game? Really?

DGB454's picture

It's easy to be highest paid FB in the game when there are so few.

Oppy's picture

lol, good point.

But how does Kuhn deserve more than Vonta Leach?
Not even in the same class.

dgtalmn's picture

In the time running back are second class, they'll just keep cheap rookies

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