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Free Agents the Packers Should Let Walk

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Free Agents the Packers Should Let Walk

Salary cap football forces teams to make tough choices on which players to keep, and which ones to let walk.

A team so committed to the long-term development of players such as the Packers are likely experience a little added pain watching a former player don the stripes of a foe.

By including players on this list, I am not saying they have nothing to offer. It doesn't even mean I wouldn’t want them back in a perfect world. All it means is that choices have to be made. 

You are now forewarned that a Frozen reference is headed your way.

Sometimes, just like Elsa, teams have to "Let It Go." Or, if you prefer Dumb and Dumber, you may hate goodbyes and want to give each of these players a long, awkward hug at the airport. 

JC Tretter

Teams cannot afford to have starter-caliber backups. Corey Linsley is under contract for another season and is on par with Tretter in terms of being an effective center. Tretter has good quickness for reach blocks, but Linsley has more power and can pass block just as well. I think the Packers should be content to have just one top-ten caliber center.

Christine Michael

Ryan Wood of Packers News put it best when he said that Christine Michael, “Plays like a balloon with the air being let out.”

Michael is unquestionably explosive. Michael’s best game of 2016 came against the San Francisco 49ers. He had 106 yards rushing which included a 41-yard touchdown run.

Did the Seahawks not know he was explosive? Of course they knew. They also recognized he can be erratic and nothing kills a drive like a missed assignment leading to a busted play.

Mix in one or two kickoffs being caught above the head, and I’ll take a pass on Michael. I can sacrifice a few explosive plays in exchange for not hearing the sound of dice rolling in my head each snap he takes. 

Julius Peppers

I am much more conflicted on this one.

If Peppers would play at a significantly reduced salary it might make sense for the Packers to bring him back. The fact that Peppers cannot play an entire season should disqualify him from making what full-time players make. Injuries pushed Peppers into a larger role than the Packers would have liked in 2016 as it messed up the plan to preserve him for the late season push.

Barring another string of injuries at the outside linebacker position, which of course is a possibility at any position, Peppers is a very expensive role player for late in the season. It seems hard to justify investing heavily in such a commodity.

Don’t mistake me for thinking Peppers has nothing to offer. Peppers may be one of the best pure athletes in the history of the NFL and so if anyone can contribute at 37 years old it would be him. It simply seems that a better option is to spend the money on players who can truly contribute for an entire season.

Don Barclay

Don Barclay has been serviceable at times. That is the highest complement I can give him. 

I understand teams cannot afford to have top-notch talent in back up spots, but at this point watching Barclay go on the field triggers PTSD and vivid memories of, say, the Arizona Cardinals burying Aaron Rodgers in 2015. I sit and wince when Barclay plays.

Barclay can quickly be replaced with Kyle Murphy, another late-round draft pick or an undrafted free agent. 

What do you think? Who would you add or remove from this list? How intensely do you disagree with me over Christine Michael? 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

Pass on all of them, and IMO it's not a wrench at all.

P.S. I can't believe you used a Frozen reference in a football blog. I have a 2 year old little girl at home - I get enough of that crap already, thank you very much. ;)

Razor's picture

Agree with you. But if they keep Peppers, have a clause that he owes the team $100k every time he fails to set the edge. (same for CM)

MarkinMadison's picture

I would let all of them walk, and I wouldn't even think twice about seeing Michael go. I am so not impressed. Yeah he runs hard, but I think that is all he can do. The best backs have patience and vision. If he was a rookie I would be really excited. For as long as he has been in the league he just is what he is.

marpag1's picture

Nothing too controversial here.

Not only is Tretter an expensive backup, he seems to have some clear durability issues. If the market for him is surprisingly weak, I'd be happy to take him back for a bargain price, but someone is going to show him the money.

Same with Peppers. If he REALLY wants that ring and he's willing to play for peanuts with GB, I'm happy to take him back. I'd say there is at least a small chance that it could happen.

Barclay and Michael are nobodies.

dobber's picture

I'm actually COUNTING on someone ponying up cash and a starting job for Tretter to help bolster the Packers comp picks next spring. A good guy (who can't stay on the field) at a position where the Packers have a quality player. Don't need him back...get us some picks!

slit's picture

This article is worthless. Christine Michael & Don Barclay.... really? We don't need you to give your opinion on those guys; anyone with half a brain knows they're garbage, and not worth the time it takes to write, or read, your words about them. If Tretter came back, it means that Lang is gone, which consequently means that Tretter was brought back to start at G. The fact he can backup C, or even T in a pinch, is a GOOD thing, but shouldn't be the main point of argument.

Ferrari Driver's picture

Kevin, the only thing I would change in your article is this sentence when hardly applies:

"Salary cap football forces teams to make tough choices on which players to keep, and which ones to let walk."

There is nothing tough about any of those calls.

Mojo's picture

I agree with your overall point on the FA's, but losing Cook and Perry would be tough because of GB's lack of depth at those positions. Lang would be tough because of his history with this team. Otherwise, if we lose any of them I wouldn't lose much sleep.

Mojo's picture

Below are the Packers major FA's, their age and 2016 salaries from Spotrac. Shields and Starks are FA's but aren't coming back. I'll give my comments on each.

Julius Peppers 37 $8,666,667 UFA
I didn't see the production in 2016 that justified the salary. If he wants to chase a ring at $2 to 3 mil max then I'd think of bringing back, Else, let walk.

T.J. Lang 29 $5,200,000 UFA
A top notch guard in the past. One of the leaders in the locker room (the Pack love the the locker room environment). Wants to stay. But if we're paying for potential future performance I wouldn't want to pay anymore than his 2016 salary. Seems to be breaking down physically. Since he's projected to go much higher I'd let him walk. Tough call, but if the Pack want a ring, then these are the decisions they'll have to make.

Nick Perry 26 $5,050,000 UFA
I guess he's our best OLB right now. I always liked his potential, size speed and all, but hasn't played a lot. Will get over payed probably by GB. I'm guessing in the $10 to $12 mil/yr range with a huge guaranteed portion. I wouldn't go near that. $8 mil a year would be my max. I'm downgrading players on our D as a whole, because frankly when push-came to shove last year they got shoved. GB needs to remember why they signed him to a one year prove it deal last year, He's the same guy.

Jared Cook 29 $2,750,000 UFA
Should have some tread on the tires and loves playing in GB. I don't see him tanking it with us. Changes the whole dynamic of the offense. As close to a must sign as any of the FA's, hopefully below $5 mil per.

Datone Jones 26 $1,929,147 UFA
Slightly above JAG. Maybe like Perry will turn into something, but I wouldn't count on it. Good size and decent athlete. I'd go $3 to $4 max, else let him walk,

Brett Goode 32 $885,000 UFA
Did anyone else notice some of his off target snaps late last season? Provides nothing in kick coverage. Vet min at most, else find someone else.

Eddie Lacy 26 $848,103 UFA
Thought Lacy was having a good year prior to the injury. It was downright irresponsible of the coaches not to pull him and let it get much worse. If he's alright physically bring him back at $3mil per. A Lacy/Monty backfield would be impressive IMO. Otherwise there seems to be a lot of talent in the draft.

C. Michael 26 $725,000 UFA
Probably the most talented back, but easily the most enigmatic. Bring him back to see if he can play in the scheme at whatever the min is with no guarantees. If he wacks-out move on.

Don Barclay 27 $700,000 UFA
It's good to be versatile, but being bad at a lot of positions is not a positive. Replace with Patrick or Murphy or tackling dummy. Pack like him though and he has a good chance of coming back. Better not be more than the vets min.

J.C. Tretter 26 $643,977 UFA
Under my scenario we lose Lang. So here's his replacement. Easily the best on the team getting to second level. Younger than Lang, Hopefully the knee is clean going forward, His first injury was a freak thing, his last someone fell into his planted leg. That can happen to anyone. He did have another less serious injury in between. Needs to bulk up a bit to stay at guard, but his versatility is equal to Hydes in the secondary. He kicked ass as a tackle against Wash. after giving up early pressure. I'd max at around $6 to $7mil, but I think he'll get more and the ability to start. So he's probably gone. Too bad we'll never see his best years.

Micah Hyde 26 $584,527 UFA
I'd go to around $4 mil here max. Does so many things for this team. Plays everywhere in the secondary. But if he was so effective, why did our secondary pound sand last year? He loses value to me as does every FA on D, because when they have to, they rarely stop anyone.

So there it is. This is the time of the year GB gets to pay more for players on defense who couldn't get the job done last year. With that in mind I'd let any of them walk if that's what they want to do. Cook is the closest to a must have. Perry because of the position and lack of depth might be second. Else, if we lose the rest of them, I feel there's are suitable replacements out there.

The key to me is that Ted not overspend on our own guys, especially on D. They've already proven, year-after-year they'll disappoint when it matters most - in the playoffs. Why pay more for that? Save money for other teams mid-level FA's. Time for new blood on the D (should probably replace the DC, but that's another discussion).

slit's picture

I hate to look so far ahead, but we may be looking at 2 additional 3rd round picks next year, if Perry & Lang leave. IF TT leaves, that would be an interesting first year draft for the new GM.

BELIEVER's picture

I agree with you completly. Not one player on defense gets a raise. They should give money back. That was pathetic, hard to watch. Something is wrong, is it coaching, talent? Whatever, bring back the same players and get the same results. Since Capers ain't going no where, get some players that want to play for him. Football is not that hard to figure out but the players have to want to. And by the way Peppers is DONE!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

@Slit: Last year's figures on comp picks (w some estimating):
3rd: FAs who got $9M or more generated 3rd round picks.
4th: FAs who got $6.5M to $8M generated 4ths.
5th: FAs who got $5M or more generated 5ths
6th: FAs who got somewhere btw $2.7M and $3.5M got 6ths.
7th: FAs who got less than $2.6M

Strangely, there were no FAs who made between $8.1 and $8.9M, so the exact point where it changed from a 3rd to a 4th can't be pinpointed. The cap went up 8%, so expect these numbers to increase. It looks like Lang will be on the cusp between generating a 3rd and a 4th: $10M AAV should be a 3rd, but $8.5M AAV could be a 4th. Tretter looks to me like he might generate a 4th; I don't think Tretter is worth more than $5M to $6M, but someone will pay him and I'd be surprised if Tretter gets so little that he only would generate a 5th round compensatory pick.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Nice comment, and well thought out. I do think you're pretty stingy.

Looking at your max numbers, you'd re-sign Barclay, Michael, and Goode (all 1 year deals, so cap hit of about $2.4M), maybe Lacy, Cook, Hyde, Jones and Tretter (adding up your AAV max on all of them is $23M). Since I would want to give Lacy just 2 years, Cook 3 at most, Jones probably wants 1, maybe 2 years, the AAV is going to look fairly close to the first year cap hit. Call the first year cap hit $18M, + the $2.4M = $20.4. You'd probably have $19M to rollover. You might have even more, as those numbers might not be enough for Tretter and Jones. You're also likely to have a craptacular defense, and unless lots of things go well in the draft and internal improvement, a poor record that yields a draft pick in the teens. Kind of Bearmeat's suggestion.

OTOH, you'd likely earn 2 third round comp picks (Perry and probably Lang), a 4th for Tretter, and a 5th/6th for Peppers, Lacy, or Hyde. [A single team can receive a max of 4 comp picks.] You'd have $24M rollover if Tretter walked too, a good draft pick and a slew of comp picks. 2018 would be looking sweet, with just Adams, Linsley getting big raises, Burnett getting a decent raise, maybe, and Cobb and CM3 being wild cards.

Legal tampering starts today, so TT and the FAs will get a notion of their actual value. We could easily see a few signings in the next 48 hours of our own guys, and then watch guys walk in 60 hours.

hodge555's picture

I think this is a pretty fair review tbh, although I think the real $$'s will be a bit higher.
I think we might re-sign Peppers for a 1yr $5m deal.
We won't be able to keep both Lang and Tretter, so my choice is to keep Tretter as he's shown he can play everywhere on the line, is younger and should be cheaper.
I think Barclay goes and Spriggs will be the go to fill in man.
Yes it's a shame we didn't sign Perry to a more favourable long term deal last year but then up to that point he was a 1st round bust so why would you? The same reason we haven't done with Jones. This year Perry was good though, better than Matthews, esp against the run, so deserves to get paid, I think we'll re-sign him, I just hope this year wasn't a one off.
The good news is that draft class has great depth in the positions the Packers need, which is an advantage as it can take some pressure off spending big in FA, IF (note the big IF) we have enough picks and they work out for us.

Mitchell Roberge's picture

I'm fine with most of these guys gone. Tretter, for the right price? I would take him, he can play any position on the line if need which is huge. He also can play most of them as a starter, but he does get injured often. So, for the right price i would resign him

Mitchell Roberge's picture

I'm fine with most of these guys gone. Tretter, for the right price? I would take him, he can play any position on the line if need which is huge. He also can play most of them as a starter, but he does get injured often. So, for the right price i would resign him

egbertsouse's picture

Add Datone Jones to the list. And Lacy, his ankle is a mess. And Hyde, he's a JAG. And Perry, if he costs more than $7 mil per year, he's a 10 -12 game a season player who's not worth $10 mil.

sonomaca's picture

Wrong on so many levels. Luckily, you're not the GM.

al bundy's picture

Ya drain that swamp. I do like Hyde though and lacy will come cheap. Mike actually raised lacys worth 's stating he wanted him back. Not to smart Mike. He will ask for more now maybe multi year deal. Not smart mike

al bundy's picture

Ya drain that swamp. I do like Hyde though and lacy will come cheap. Mike actually raised lacys worth 's stating he wanted him back. Not to smart Mike. He will ask for more now maybe multi year deal. Not smart mike

al bundy's picture

Cutting to the chase none of the guys mentioned can play. These are not people you want on your team. There unreliability causes a liability. Seattle cut Michal because he is too dumb to learn the plays. He doesn't follow blockers and is not very good. The draft is deep in backs this year. Pepper's is spent. Part time only now

Since '61's picture

Keep Cook, Lang, Tretter and Hyde. Cook adds a dynamic that the offense has not had in years. Lang and Tretter keep the OL intact and protect AR which is job #1. Hyde adds versatility and experience to the defense. The rest are either overpriced and/or done and won't be any loss. Guiding principle should be keep the offense intact and build the defense with FAs, draft picks and UDFAs. Thanks, Since '61

porupack's picture

What is your solution for OLB then with Perry, Peppers and Jones gone? Are you fine with the modest odds of rookies succeeding and making impact, and from the early season onward?

I like your priority 4, but considering the lack of depth at OLB, I say Perry has to be signed at the expense of one Trettor or Lang. TT screwed up last year with only a 1 year contract for Perry....and should have seen this coming. He's backed himself in a corner.

Since '61's picture

Porupack - we need to sign a FA pass rusher. Someone who can help immediately and who we can sign for less than Perry. Beyond that, I am fine with taking chances on Fackrell, Elliot and some draft picks. We can't be much worse off. I'm not expecting TT to resign Perry because the price will be too high, Peppers is done and Jones has not delivered, especially for a #1 pick. Since TT is unlikely to pay the price for Perry I don't see any benefit to bringing back Peppers or Jones. Thanks, Since '61

Razor's picture

Can someone please help me understand how Ted and Mike can continue doing the same things and expect different results.

If they want to be consistent, be consistently more aggressive in getting talent on the team - key word is aggressive. Past history seems more like being creative.

Be more aggressive getting rid of average players. Players that make the fans cringe when they get on the field. And don't wait three years to do it.

I am getting more and more frustrated. It's like the last three season with Favre - you know he is no longer able to take them all the way. At the end, I told my wife I would rather see them go 6-10 than watch Favre one more frustrating season.

Censored's picture

If you add Lang this list would be perfect

al bundy's picture

I'd let Perry walk too only because I think once he gets da moooney he goes in bum mode. Let another team get bum mode.

StvHld's picture

If Lang goes then Tretter should be resigned. Otherwise I agree.

sheppercheeser's picture

I'm for signing Tretter in the hopes he can step in for TJ, who I would let go. Lang is just a little too old, a little too injury-prone with not much futuristic upside. I know Tretter also has been injured, but he has youth and a cheap price tag working for him.

Dzehren's picture

Kevin Totally realistic evauliarion.
They all can go but C-Mike on the cheap
Great read.

Thanks

Dzehren's picture

evaluation

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