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Safeties, Defensive Linemen Go Fast as Free Agency Opens and Packers Stand Pat

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Safeties, Defensive Linemen Go Fast as Free Agency Opens and Packers Stand Pat

Safeties and defensive linemen, arguably two of the positions of greatest need on the Green Bay Packers, went fast as free agency opened at 3:00 p.m. CT on Tuesday.

Several players previously linked to the Packers signed lucrative deals in the first few hours

Among them, former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Lamarr Houston signed with the NFC North division rival Chicago Bears. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Monday that the Packers were "interested" in Houston.

Instead of playing for the Packers, Houston will play Green Bay Packers twice a year as the Bears look to replace the declining production from Julius Peppers. Houston reportedly signed a five-year deal worth $35 million with $15 million guaranteed.

Another defensive lineman the Packers were reportedly interested in was Arthur Jones but bowed out when the bidding got too rich. The former Baltimore Raven signed a five-year contract worth more than $30 million with the Indianpolis Colts, according to the NFL Network's Albert Breer.

While not necessarily connected to the Packers, Linval Joseph joined the NFC North with border rival Minnesota Vikings, reportedly agreeing on a five-year deal worth $31.5 million.

The Packers conceivably need help along the defensive line with players like B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly and C.J. Wilson all free agents themselves, but the door hasn't closed on any of them returning.

Until it's learned otherwise, the one-year offer Raji worth $4 million is apparently still on the table. Raji is weighing his options and may or may not return to Green Bay.

Players currently under contract like Datone Jones, Mike Daniels and Josh Boyd all figure to play much bigger roles in 2014. Any other help the Packers acquire at the positon will have to come from the NFL Draft or the second wave of free agency.

The Packers also were bystanders as several of the top safeties on the market found new homes, including T.J. Ward, who jumped ship with the Cleveland Browns to join the Denver Broncos on a deal averaging $5.5 million per season, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Other safeties that signed in the first few hours of free agency were Malcolm Jenkins with the Philadelphia Eagles, Donte Whitner with the Browns, Mike Mitchell with the Pittsbugh Steelers and Stevie Brown re-signing with the New York Giants.

Perhaps surprisingly, top-rated safety Jairus Byrd is still on the market and is going to visit the New Orleans Saints, who are looking to replace Jenkins, according to the Times-Picayune. The Saints have among the least salary-cap space in the NFL.

Whether the Packers could be in contention for Byrd's services remains to be seen, but the need at the position is acute. Green Bay needs to find a better running mate than M.D. Jennings for fellow safety Morgan Burnett, but they may look to the Draft to fill that void.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (78) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

I have no idea how the Saints would ever be able to afford Byrd. They have like $2 million in cap space and have to sign Graham.

At least Byrd and Clemons - my top 2 guys - are still available and many of their potential landing spots (Eagles, Bears, Steelers, Browns, Giants) have been filled up.

Apparently TT offered Ward 3 years but he wanted 4. $5.5 mil is a reasonable price for him, but he's more of an in-the-box safety who isn't great in coverage.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah I don't get how the Saints will afford Byrd.

It does kind of suck to see some good players get signed by other teams but signing big dollar players doesn't equal wins.
There are a lot of really good players that haven't signed yet. Hopefully TT will sign a few of those.

Where did u see that the Packers offered Ward?

Evan's picture

Jayme retweeted a guy from the Chicago Sun Times saying so.

I can't seem to find it now, so maybe it was inaccurate.

hump's picture

why would we pay tj ward insane money like 5mil yr when we can keep md jennings on the cheap!!! and we got burnett for 6mil yr,and even though tj ward is a pro bowl player, ted must know something we dont.obviously burnett is the better player cuz we drafted and developed him!!!

TommyG's picture

Typical. Players are using Packers "interest" to leverage bigger contracts elsewhere. While i'm a bit flattered that other teams still "fear" the Pack, I'm frustrated that more good players get away for slightly bigger money elsewhere. Sure, money is what matters, but how is playing alongside the best QB in the league not getting our team some interest?

gary's picture

Hump that was great. TT is an asshole. With all our cap space we just watch like idiots . But to expect anything different from TT would make you restarted. Ask Vic who is TT step son will write tomorrow how next week all the value players will be available. Horse shit .All that means is the best players are gone as usual. We need safety help like a fish needs water. Maybe another year of development will help M.D. Jennings go from the worst safety in the league to just really bad. TT you suck.

4thand1's picture

If you're gonna call people retarded, spell it right.

ballark's picture

Yeah, don't be a shithed.

Idiot Fan's picture

It does make you wonder why Reggie out in Oakland, who has about a billion dollars of cap space, didn't see fit to re-sign Houston. I wonder if Ted gave him a call to get his thoughts.

Evan's picture

He didn't re-sign Veldheer either - I have no idea what Reggie is doing.

That said, the Raiders are definitely one of the remaining teams who could go after Byrd.

Idiot Fan's picture

I don't know, maybe he just thought he wasn't worth the money he would command and stuck to his guns.

Also, totally random, but I was just reading the JS Online scouts'-take article on the GB FA's, and when discussing Mike Neal, one scout said that he didn't set the edge as well as Walden. In my mind, Walden was one of the worst at setting the edge, and I thought Neal was a huge improvement there. It just goes to show that there's a big difference between what I see and what the professionals see.

Evan's picture

That Walden comment stuck out to me too...

COW's picture

That whole article was disturbing.
Basically shined a bright light on how mediocre the talent level is on the Packers.
Just a bunch of scouts/personnel guys trying to come up with creative ways of saying "he's just a guy".

Idiot Fan's picture

Or that, for the most part, the good ones get kept and the lesser ones are allowed to leave.

Jordan's picture

I never thought walden had any real problem setting the edge. I'm sure he messed up a few times like they all do, but I don't really remember teams attacking him like he was some sort of weakness setting the edge. Might have happened. I just don't remember it.

Beep's picture

I don't know these guys at all but Reggie could be cleaning out some bad apples in the locker room. Anyone that Al Davis brought in is probably expendable if they've got an expiring contract.

Mags's picture

Evan where did you hear TT offered Ward?

Daniel Ireland's picture

TT will clean up in a couple of weeks. Lots of training camp bodies to "compete" and push the guys we have. Same ol' TT. When does that draft guide come out?

Brian Carriveau's picture

Announcement may come as soon as today.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Mannnn,are a lot of good/specialized players getting cut! Why? Because those franchise front offices aren't handling business right during times like this. I'm thankful we have TT. Now,with that being said -- how realistic is it that we are in the running for Byrd?

4thand1's picture

I think very little. From what I've been reading and hearing is, Mica Hyde is going to be the new safety. Lets hope Hayward is healthy and plays like his rookie season. Also there are a few safeties in this draft that can play pretty quick. The real interesting player is Demarcus Ware. Bidding for him will go fairly high.

DrealynWilliams's picture

You think so? He's old and beaten up. He might still have something left though. I'm not sold on Hyde at safety just yet. I think the move there only sures up the lack of coverage a bit,but the lack of pop/intimidation from the secondary still exists.

4thand1's picture

What's the difference? Goodell is taking the big hitting out of the NFL. Gimmie a guy that can make a tackle.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I get what you're saying,but did you NOT watch the SB!? The Broncos' WR corps is talented,but they sure didn't look it. If all you want is a sure tackler,let's get 10 more AJ Hawks to play defense.

PackerBacker's picture

Playing devils advocate, the plays that Sherman is best known for aren't where he's coming up and blowing up a guy. It's where he gets a hand up and deflects a pass or picks it off. Need good coverage skills on the back end.

DrealynWilliams's picture

We're not talking about CB play though. And even he's physical/disturbing. Do we have that?

Tarynfor12's picture

"Safeties, Defensive Linemen Go Fast as Free Agency Opens and Packers Stand Pat"

FA is like playing Texas Hold'em...a game where you win and lose by going 'all-in'.

Thompson doesn't play Texas Hold'em... he won't even sit at the table and make believe.....everyone should know that by now. He prefers 5 Card Stud..A.K.A. the Draft..where 4 of the 5 cards are showing.

Jordan's picture

True, but for some GM's it's riskier to try to get your guys (holes filled) in the draft. TT has confidence in his scouting/drafting ability (even though he's had some setbacks). Some GMs probably think TT's a high roller for putting too many of his chips in the draft.

I'll still put TTs skill in the draft up against anybody. My money's still on TT. I'm ready to double down on TT right now. ;)

I think TT views signing another teams big money free agent as a failure in your own ability to draft.

COW's picture

"even though he's had some setbacks"

that's putting it mildly.

HankScorpio's picture

When you go "all in" on Free Agency, you're almost certain to lose. Not many big-time, expensive FAs play out their contracts. In fact, in the run-up to this year's opening of FA, many guys that were signed 1-3 years ago are getting cut for cap reasons. The winning play with FA is to look for guys that can help at a number that won't make them a likely cap casualty.

Take Jarius Byrd and Aqib Talib, for example. Everyone and their brother is saying both are high up on the list of available players. Neither will play out the deal they signed yesterday. No chance, no how, no way. The only question is whether the eventual cut creates a dead money situation that costs their team another player, in addition to their departure.

Super Bowls are rarely won on the opening day of FA. A lot of people are fond of praising Seattle's approach last year helping them win the SB. Well, they waited it out and swooped in on guys that didn't get much of a sniff in the initial feeding frenzy. That's the smart FA play.

4thand1's picture

So why did Cleveland let Ward walk? They have the $$$. What good is a safety who isn't a very good in cover . At least the man can tackle.

Evan's picture

Not only that, but why let Ward walk only to pay Whitner, an older yet very, very similar player, nearly $2 million more a year.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Because they are the Browns and the last time they had logic on their side they changed their name and moved to Baltimore.

Jordan's picture

He probably didn't want to play in Cleveland. He hated Cleveland and losing more than he loves money.

tundravision's picture

Do we know any of the terms of the safeties signings?

Evan's picture

WTF! Saints sign Byrd to 6-year deal??

How are they paying him?

DrealynWilliams's picture

WHAT THE Faaaaaaahk!? Something fishy is going on. **Snaps back to reality** Well,it's not the Pack going all in for 1 player. Looking through the NFL's Top 100 FAs left -- I'm confident TT will find a few good/decent players.

COW's picture

"I'm confident TT will find a few good/decent players."

Why would you think this?
When was the last time something like this happened... 2006?

DrealynWilliams's picture

I'm not going down this road with you,Cow.

Idiot Fan's picture

We all, always, have to go down this road with Cow on

Every.
Goddamn.
Article.

Stroh's picture

Monopoly money. They are clearly going all in, salary cap be damned.

hump's picture

Verner just signed 4yr 26mil and he was rated as #1 FA corner. Shields got 4 yr 39 mil,and was rated as 6th best corner. boy ted, you sure save lots of money with draft and develop!!!!!!!!

Evan's picture

Verner got more guaranteed money. But don't let that get in the way of your hissy fit.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Get 'em...

Stroh's picture

Everyone seems to think Verner is a fool and he left MILLIONS on the table. That's got to be the worst FA contract for a very good player I've ever seen. Makes no sense at all... NONE!

COW's picture

Sure... the Saints might have just signed Byrd... BUT WE GOT MICAH HYDE, BABY!

Hyde's gotta be an awesome safety. The only criteria is to be a corner who can only run a 4.6.

Everyone knows a slow corner = difference making safety.

Sweet... the middle of our pathetic defense is "fixed".

-offer Raji 4 mil
-tender Lattimore
-move Hyde to safety

No one... I mean NO ONE is gonna mess with the middle of this defense!

4thand1's picture

There you go again, ripping on a promising young player. The future is bright now for Hyde. You're always wrong . Lyingcow

COW's picture

I just don't see Hyde as the savior most others expect him to become.
He's a slow corner.
He's a steady player.
He's not ever going to be a difference maker.
He's AJ Hawk.
He's Jon Kuhn.
He's Jerrett Bush

The Packers need more difference makers.

I'm always wrong, huh?
Like when I predicted TT would NOT be getting any impact/starter type players in FA? That call looks pretty damn good right now.

Still waiting for you to say the words...

"Damn, Cow... you were right."

It's ok to admit when you're wrong.
Go ahead.

PackerBacker's picture

IT'S THE FIRST ... DAMN ... DAY!!!

Can you chill the frick out? Can we all agree that Ted's (and arguably anyones) best FA signing was Charles Woodson? Quickly, can you tell me how many days into FA he was signed?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Evan's picture

Byrd gets 6 years, $54 million with $28 guaranteed. That sounds about right (tops Eric Berry's $25.6 guarantee).

With $2 million in cap room, I'm very curious how the hell they pulled that off.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Wow, there is only one GM in the NFL that wouldn't trade Sam Shields for Jairus Byrd and .75 million a year in cap space.

COW's picture

Lucky us.

4thand1's picture

You have Peppers...............oh wait.

THEMichaelRose's picture

While Ted might like Shields more than lots of other folks, I don't think he's the only GM who'd take that "trade."
Cap space isn't the whole point. Byrd got $28M guaranteed. That's a ton of money.

4thand1's picture

Graham sats WTF! ?

4thand1's picture

*says*

Idiot Fan's picture

They also had to do some cutting to make it happen. I for one won't miss seeing Sproles running all over the place in that offense.

Evan's picture

On the bright side, with so many teams gobbling up free agent safeties, the Packers should have their pick of the draft litter....

4thand1's picture

Is Clemons getting any interests? Haven't heard anything.

THEMichaelRose's picture

I saw that the Steelers were interested. But then they signed Mike Mitchell. Not sure if that means they're done looking at him.

THEMichaelRose's picture

This is a good point. The Eagles are sitting right behind us and may have been a candidate to leapfrog us to get their guy, but they picked up Malcolm Jenkins (sidenote: I'd take about 4 different rookies over Jenkins, regardless of money).

But at the same time, teams who lost guys (Bills, Colts, Lions) will now be looking a little harder at the position.

xuyee's picture

A little part of me hopes that DeMarcus Ware has enough of Jerry's money. That he wants a ring to go with his HoF bust.

C'mon Ted, waived players don't count against your precious compensatory picks. Can you imagine? It'd be like Reggie and Sean Jones.

COW's picture

" That he wants a ring"
So why consider the Packers?

PackerBacker's picture

I know others have asked, but why are you here?

What makes you want to be such a douchey troll? What went wrong in your life that you have to go on fan websites and act like a world class jackass?

I know that this type of post only fuels your twisted mind, but I'm seriously asking the question.

COW's picture

Good question.

I'm not exactly sure why I'm so pissed off at this team.
Looking back - I think it all started with the loss to the Giants after the 15-1 season.

It scared me. I realized that no matter how young/good the team is... nothing's guaranteed... the window closes quickly.

They have Aaron Rodgers... but they won't forever.

I understand that teams have to be smart with their cap. I get that throwing stupid $ at players can have ramifications for years to come. But come on. Are we all REALLY supposed to believe that there aren't ever FA's available who are more talented than the players currently on the roster? I'm not just talking about this year... I'm talking about EVERY year.

Why are they so terrified of free agents?

They have $27mil!

It's ok to overpay a FA every once in a while... hell they overpay their own players ALL THE TIME.

I just wish they would simply use all methods of player acquisition available.

Draft and Develop is without a doubt the BEST method for running a team. But when mistakes are made in the draft, and players fail to develop adjustments in strategy may need to be made.

The draft hasn't been kind to this team as of late (for various reasons).
Players are never brought in from outside.
The team's overall talent level has consistently regressed since 2010.

And, in my opinion, not enough is being done about it.

As to why I come across as a dick - I guess it's me regressing into "defense mode". Any time I post anything suggesting that I don't agree with what the Packers are doing I get attacked. That's when I feel the need to counter-attack.

I'm passionate about the Packers.
Sometimes that passion gets misdirected.
But if you can get past any negative feelings you have towards me you're probably gonna find that my posts do have some truth to them.

L's picture

Huh... Interesting.

HankScorpio's picture

"Are we all REALLY supposed to believe that there aren't ever FA's available who are more talented than the players currently on the roster?"

Any such belief is silly. And such a slanted question is a classic straw man. It sounds sorta kinda like the issue but it's not really the issue. The issue at hand is whether there is a FA talent upgrade willing to sign in GB at a price the team sets for that player's value. And whether that player provides enough of an upgrade to justify any additional cost over replacement. Maybe that second part is more a part of assessing value in the first place.

I would argue deviating from a disciplined approach to value will close a window faster than sitting out FA altogether. And FA, especially day 1, is usually mostly about undisciplined assessment of value for the shiny talent upgrades of the "grass must be greener over there" crowd.

Remember the Iggles winning the Offseason Championship after the lockout? Everyone was ready to skip the formality of playing the games to hand them the Lombardi. In reality, that is what sealed Andy Reid's fate in Philly and led to an overhaul. Instead of opening the window, it shut the window.

COW's picture

"The issue at hand is whether there is a FA talent upgrade willing to sign in GB at a price the team sets for that player's value. And whether that player provides enough of an upgrade to justify any additional cost over replacement. "

Fine - we'll go with this.

So you mean to tell me that we're all supposed to believe that this scenario NEVER occurs? EVER?

Maybe it's not that the scenario doesn't occur.

Maybe it's that the team (Packers) puts an incorrect market value on the outside player.

Or maybe they overestimate the ability level of their own player which hinders their ability to accurately assess whether an outside player would be an upgrade.

Stroh's picture

I think Thompson made the right call on the DL. Jones and Houston were good, certainly not great. And getting 6 or 7M per year is way more than they're worth. I could see maybe 5M for either, but anything north of that is too rich.

I don't mind losing on Ward. He's a SS and not very good in coverage. We need better coverage more than anything else. Would be a good idea IMO to make a play for Clemons soon tho.

We'll see what happens in the next couple days. Thompson wasn't likely to get involved in the 1st day anyway. He'll wait for the market to cool for another day or 2.

COW's picture

But all you guys were saying "this is the year!".

Ha ha.

Told ya.

The TKster's picture

You mean, Clinton-Dix?

HankScorpio's picture

The start of TC is about 4.5 months away. It's not over yet.

Risking breaking your arm patting yourself on the back is poor form. Doing so prematurely is foolish.

The TKster's picture

I have to keep reminding myself what a strong connection there is between the UFA spending champions and the SB champions year after year.

Or not.

HankScorpio's picture

To the point that FA is a useful tool in building a SB winner, it happens after the opening day of free agency.,

gary's picture

Without Rodgers we are a 500 team at best. This bullshit of TT waiting and draft and develop is horse shit. The Super Bowl champs are active as I write this. Free agency has to be part of our off season game plan. And not just the bottom of the barrel like usual. Having left over cap room to start the season must give TT a hard on.

PackerBacker's picture

First, they're probably more in the 9-7, 10-6 range. Second, can you name a few teams that would be much better without their world-class QB?

Broncos?
Patriots?
Saints?
49ers?
Even the Seahawks wouldn't have made it all the way without Wilson.

It's a ridiculous argument to say that a team wouldn't be as good if it didn't have it's best players. Well no kidding, that's the point.

Imma Fubared's picture

My opinion from last year still stands in my mind, Ted T is a tight a___. To be fair, he has no money. Forget cap space. That cap space is being held for next year. He has to resign some high priced talent.

I expected two things this year: he would do very very little if anything in free agency and he would hope some of this own people would have to crawl back, not wanted and he could get them cheap.

If someone said he was going to trade his three and four picks for a ton of sixth rounders to save a buck I would be the least surprised person on earth.

Hey, Greenbay Packers are playing money ball aka Oakland raiders.

Imma Fubared's picture

My opinion from last year still stands in my mind, Ted T is a tight a___. To be fair, he has no money. Forget cap space. That cap space is being held for next year. He has to resign some high priced talent.

I expected two things this year: he would do very very little if anything in free agency and he would hope some of this own people would have to crawl back, not wanted and he could get them cheap.

If someone said he was going to trade his three and four picks for a ton of sixth rounders to save a buck I would be the least surprised person on earth.

Hey, Greenbay Packers are playing money ball aka Oakland raiders.

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