Packers Free Agency Windfall Continues

It was announced yesterday afternoon that the Green Bay Packers signed veteran defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois.  Another free agent?  Four so far this offseason, you say?  Yes.  

Jean-Francois makes a total of three players signed who haven't spent time with the Packers before.  Cornerback Davon House is on his second tour with the team after spending the last two seasons in Jacksonville.  Jean-Francois and House both signed one-year deals so they're on prove it deals or the Packers have other plans for their spots beyond 2017.

Four new faces ties 2006 for the most that general manager Ted Thompson has added from outside of the organization.  By his typical standards, this is surely a windfall although several other teams have been more active so far.  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers called for the team to "reload a bit" after last season and so from his lips to Thompson's ears.  

Or is it Thompson?  There has been speculation as to when Ted will step down from his current role and who might replace him.  Could it be that whoever is next in line is already pulling the trigger on some of these moves?

Many have speculated that either Eliot Wolf or Russ Ball are the most likely to replace Thompson when the time comes.  In the past, Thompson has been persuaded to make some personnel moves at the urging of his personnel team, namely John Schneider and John Dorsey.  Is he once again listening to his trusted advisors?  Whatever the reasoning or method, it's hard to argue that the Packers aren't trying something new in 2017.

With a decent amount of cap space, the Packers certainly aren't sitting on their hands this year.  Even with some key contracts coming due soon (Clay Matthews, Davante Adams, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to name a few), the Packers seem to want to keep winning while they look to the future.  With the loss of eight key players from last season, Green Bay has some holes to fill.  In the past, Thompson has seemed content to rely on his new draftees while holding onto his precious cap space and roll it over so that he can sign his own players to new deals. 

Over the years, we've seen the Packers continue winning regular season games with their youth but often seeing those seasons end with a thud in the playoffs.  Frustrations continue to mount among the players, coaches and fans alike over the inability to get over the hump and return to another Super Bowl.  Whether that has finally boiled over and persuaded the team to bring more experience to the locker room or if it's another reason, at least this is a new formula.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Another year of letting veterans leave for pricey deals elsewhere, collecting compensatory picks and relying on first year players to replace those lost wasn't going to get it done.  The last two seasons have exposed the Packers' inability to win the big game.  One of the reasons for that was an inability of younger players to keep up when the level of competition is at its peak in January.  Another was asking players with clearly limited abilities to compete with those who have all the ability in the world (cough, cough, Julio Jones).

It's worth wondering how different the approach to this season would be had the Packers finished the deal in Seattle following 2014.  Super Bowl appearances (especially the wins) are the biggest vindication of a team's methods.  It's reasonable to think if the Packers get to Super Bowl XLIX, Thompson likely stays his typical course.  Foregoing expensive veterans and counting on his ability to find more diamonds in the draft and undrafted free agency.  Or maybe he then retires and we would know by now what life would be like if he weren't calling the shots.

Either way, the Packers don't appear willing to concede 2017 while they look to re-stock with young talent.  Is it crazy to ask if they might not be done adding more experience to the roster?  

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (52)

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Lphill's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:06 am

I would just like a veteran linebacker to add to the mix , then take care of the rest with the draft. I like this signing and I think he will be motivated coming to a contender .

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pooch's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:18 am

I second that

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slit's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:13 am

I like all 4 additions. That said, they still have a lot of holes to fill. The fact is that Ted needed to bring in outside help, due to the number of guys that left.
No doubt that a large amount of the remaining cap space is probably being saved for future contracts - Dix, Adams, Linsley, Burnett, ARod extension. The only thing we have to be concerned about, regarding CM3, is whether he takes a pay cut after next year or is outright cut.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:17 am

'The only thing we have to be concerned about, regarding CM3, is whether he takes a pay cut after next year or is outright cut.'

Why do we have to be concerned with Mathews taking a paycut? If the Packers feel comfortable with his contract then why is any concern of ours?

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fthisJack's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:43 am

because we're paying the guy 15 mil for sub standard production.....a portion of that money could be spent elsewhere to fill some holes.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:06 am

We are paying it?

So what is his production based on? The number of sacks he has? Are we basing it purely on his sacks? How about the attention he draws from opposing offenses?

I get that people want to get on him for what he makes. But lets not forget that when the team needed help at ILB he moved there knowing it would hurt his 'numbers'. Those are the very numbers that most fans are complaining about now.

Mathews is a player that needs to be used right. His body simply won't hold up over an entire season playing purely OLB, and playing purely an ILB role takes away what he is best at. He is a player that needs to be moved around and play more of a Hybrid role. Just like when he first moved to ILB 2 years ago. He wasn't a pure ILB wasn't an OLB it was a hybrid position.
To me if we want to point fingers at Mathews production, point them at Capers, for not using him the best ways he can be used!

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croatpackfan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:36 am

Go check your account RC. You'll find minus of at least 5 mil, that much CMIII costs you! ~~~

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:08 am

Damn, I was wondering where that went. :)

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slit's picture

March 24, 2017 at 06:30 pm

I would say production is based on tackles, sacks, QB pressures, ff, & int. Look at his stats the last 2 years, especially last year = 22 tacles, 5 sacks, 0 int, 0 ff. He was the WORST rated LB on the Packers team, per PFF. Oh yeah, he was also double-teamed on a career low 22% of DEF snaps played last year. Anything else you need?

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egbertsouse's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:48 am

Uh, because we're fans. None of this is really our concern, we are not agents or employees of the Packers. This is what fans do.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:07 am

right...

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slit's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:55 am

You realize the NFL has a salary cap. If a mediocre playing is eating up a large chunk of that cap, it limits what you can do. If the Packers feel comfortable with his contract, then I promise you they don't share sentiment with the large majority of GB fans, who see an aging overpaid LB.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:10 am

Yes I do. And the Packers are still $20+ million under it. They can virtually make whatever moves they want. They are one of the best teams at managing the cap.
If they were hurting for the money and were tight up against the cap, I would understand it more. But since they are not, why worry about it?

If Mathews was making $2 million a year and they were $40 million under the cap would it change Thompsons approach? No...

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Spock's picture

March 24, 2017 at 11:15 am

Okay, this is weird. I liked RCPFan's comment (and others) above and it gave the like but also added an automatic dislike as well! Happened on 4 or 5 comments above. Anyone else having this happen???

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:11 am

Thete is ZERO CHANCE Clay will be kept next year without a big pay cut.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:58 am

A lot can and will happen before next year of course, but it sure looks to me that they're setting the stage for Matthews taking a cut to free up money for signing next year's free agents. For the good of the TEAM, Matthews will have to take a cut to keep another player on the roster. Cobb as well.

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Nick Perry's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:34 am

I think the pay cut for Matthews happens next season when there's no dead cap hit. Cobb has about $3.25 in dead money in 2018 but I have a feeling Cobb has a 2014 type season this year making a cut in 2018 less likely. If Matthews was cut for example the Packers would about $40 million in cap space. That's some serious money to get extensions done on Adams, HHCD, and others.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:13 am

I too expect a bounce-back yeat from Cobb. I expect Clay to be released outright after this season.

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dobber's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:28 am

I agree: there's enough return to renegotiate or cut Matthews prior to next season to expect that it would happen. Same for Cobb. IMO they're both on what amounts to one-year contracts right now. Still, that's not the Packers MO when it comes to contracts. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 24, 2017 at 11:19 am

"Why do we have to be concerned with Mathews taking a paycut? If the Packers feel comfortable with his contract then why is any concern of ours?"

RC, love ya and your unfailing support for the FO, but that just boggles my mind. Same reason I went on a rant when TT signed Starks to 2 yrs./$6M, or when he signed Hawk and B. Jones to their last contracts. In the end, overpaying guys hurts the product on the field.

If you find that $5M, you really ought to toss a wind ding.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:13 am

I really like the signing of Ricky.

Whether they keep Guion or don't, having another veteran presence on the DL will definitely help. At the very least he provides depth and is a very good run defender. I saw on twitter yesterday that last year he ranked number 32 in run defense for interior DL and he had 6 QB pressures compared to Guion's 1. It seems that he is an upgrade over Guion. But keeping Guion provides really good depth.

Another reason why I like this move is it allows Clark and Lowry more time to develop. They don't have to be forced to play if they aren't ready to take on a full time role next year.

Definitely a good signing. Its the type of signing that most of us fans have been asking for, for a long time!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 24, 2017 at 11:30 am

Agree on all counts, RC. It also helps absorb the loss of the DL snaps that had been provided by the departed Peppers and Jones (something on the order of 180 to 220 snaps per year).

We can see what Price or Ringo can do while Guion is suspended as well, and then decide whether to cut him. That is why they moved the first of his two 300K roster bonuses to not be due until 10-2-17 with the second on 11-30-17. Trust me, Guion did not want to but had to do that. Guion's cap savings is about $3M. That ain't hay. Many claim that cutting Sitton freed up cap that allowed us to sign Bakh and sign some of these FAs. Cutting Guion might be the difference next year in re-signing one of our guys.

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Savage57's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:14 am

Interesting signing. It adds a guy to the roster.

Pinch me.

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Nick Perry's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:25 am

"Could it be that whoever is next in line is already pulling the trigger on some of these moves"?

That's a interesting thought Jason, and it's one that I believe might not be that far from the truth. Last season Thompson and Wolf were said to have "Words" about Ted's lack of activity in Free Agency. I also had read somewhere where Wolf might be given more input in 2017 when it came adding Free Agents. It also gives Thompson more time to concentrate on what he does best, the draft.

Personally I'm excited about the new additions. I believe they've improved the DL with RJF. No matter what happens with Guion they've added depth, solid depth. as much as I liked Hyde and what he did down the stretch, House gives the Packers a better CB in man to man coverage.
I'm most excited about Bennett and Kendricks. Bennett is better than Cook, especially when it comes to blocking and I think Kendricks is one of those "Under the Radar" signings that will pay huge dividends. The Packers Offense has become much more versatile in the last 2 weeks. Bottom line is the Packers have definitely improved on offense, made some solid moves on defense, and still have over $20 million in cap space.

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GB Jacker's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:39 am

Agree. Wolf has been speaking with other teams and perhaps he's sticking around with a succession plan in place which involves Wolf taking on more responsibility now.

Wouldn't mind 2 more defensive veterans on the cheap if not just to push the youngsters along a bit before final cuts.

Positive offseason so far for my money :)

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:49 am

"Could it be that whoever is next in line is already pulling the trigger on some of these moves"?

This is also something I had been wondering. We may never find out the truth but, I do wonder it.

I completely agree about the new additions. The Bennett/Kendricks signings are probably my favorite as well. I would have liked to have had Cook return, but the combination of Bennett/Kendricks is way better then Cook/Rodgers.
Kendricks situation is very similar to Cook's. He has never had a good QB to throw to him. He is finally getting put in an offense with actual talent around him and a great QB. While he may not put up huge numbers due to the talent around him, his abilities will definitely used.

Also what I like about it, is it brings a lot more versatility to the offense. They already have really good WR's, but now they have really good TE's to go with it.

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Nick Perry's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:11 am

Even though Richard Rodgers runs like he's running in sand on the beach, he has amazing hands, probably the top 3 on the team. The Packers could actually put 3 TE's on the field, all with good to great hands at the same time. Could be interesting in the Red Zone. That's a lot of big bodies out there for any defense to handle.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:45 am

Rodgers does have great hands, but last year he dropped a few passes that hurt.
The problem with Rodgers is he isn't a good blocker and isn't fast enough. That severely limits what he can do on offense.
His best role honestly is probably playing a 3rd TE role on offense. He is a guy that could be a really good redzone TE.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:22 am

I wouldn't keep Rodgers.

Great hands mean far, far less for a #3 TE than special teams ability, and Rodgers is worthless on special teams.

People need to face it: Rodgers was a blown draft pick who severely hampered our offense with terrible athleticism and substandard blocking. Just a bad, bad pick by Ted.

Great hands mean very little when a guy will get so few opportunities, and a #3 TE will rarely see the field. Our #3 TE must be athletic and valuable on special teams.

Rodgers must go.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:35 am

Why put 3 TE's on the field when Nelson, Cobb, and Adams are so good at working the red zone?

Ridiculous.

Cut Rodgers. Our #3 TE needs to be an athletic special teamer, not an unathletic guy with great hands that are rarely used because he barely sees the field.

Face it. Rodgers was a blown draft pick from the start. Great hands, but substandard blocking and terrible athletisim. The moment Cook returned, the offense could breathe again.

There is no logical place for Richard Rodgers on this roster. None. Period.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 24, 2017 at 11:36 am

Not sure if I would cut RR, but his $1.7M savings makes it tempting. If TT can't help himself and drafts a bucky hodges because he is still on the board on round 3, or if some other TE looks great, RR should be aware that he is probably in some danger. Most know that I am not exactly RR's biggest supporter. Again, $1.7M ain't hay.

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porupack's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:50 am

I think you nailed it Jason on the transition at GM level.

Yeah, I think he might be done in FA at least before the draft. Maybe a vet OG after the draft if some team pares a reliable journeyman.

Pretty interesting to see this shocking shift of activity, but its what was needed if TT (or Elliot) would stay true to a BPA principle in the draft. Now they don't have to fill most urgent needs by a rookie.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 25, 2017 at 01:12 am

Still need another corner back, hopefully one of the first two picks. And t's finally now time to get rid of Goodson.

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Nick Perry's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:37 am

OMG!!!! 10 thumbs up for that one!! I wish him well in his recovery from injury but seeing #39 out on the field gives me the same type of feeling I used to get when #24 was on the field and the name "Bush" was on the back of the jersey.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

March 24, 2017 at 06:45 pm

Same way I felt when #28-Ahmad Carroll was playing.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 25, 2017 at 01:13 am

And Brad Jones.

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Seth Borden's picture

March 24, 2017 at 07:50 am

I doubt they are done in FA.

I would not be surprised at all to see another 2-3 "bargain bin" or depth/competition veteran pick-ups between the end of the draft and camp.

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Since'61's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:14 am

Good addition to the DL rotation. A vet pass rusher and a vet OG/OL would just about complete this season's wish list. Thanks, Since '61

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dobber's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:13 am

Curious as to why Jared Odrick is still hanging out there. Maybe he doesn't want to play anymore. Maybe he's just waiting for the right suitor. To my knowledge, he's only made one visit (surprise: NE). Some imply he's an odd duck and question his motivation, but aside from last year when he popped his elbow, he's been a healthy, solid, and productive guy suited to play 5-tech. He gets to the QB from the DE position. Maybe the Packers don't play the kind of 3-4 that suits him best, but I'd be kicking the tires on him a this point.

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Handsback's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:17 am

OK as a team, the Packers know what it takes to win the SB. As fans we want them to win every year and almost expect it (come on we can admit it to ourselves). Reality sets in when the Packers lose in the Divional, or Conference rounds. So I look back at that Packer team that won their last SB and compare them to the current team.
When I do that and look at the weakness of the current team in comparison....I see TT trying to shore up those spots of weakness. This last signing is to make the Dline very hard to run against. I think they see Clark as making a pretty big jump and with RJF, and Daniels they have the making of a pretty good front that TT doesn't have to worry about in the draft until maybe the later rounds.

The last big areas of concern are the OLB/pass-rushers, and the CBs. I don't see TT making any moves in either of those areas. One guy I would like to see them sign, but won't would be another ILB. I'm guessing that they (coaches and GMs) think their guys will be better with another year of experience.

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croatpackfan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 08:48 am

I'm sure Eliot Wolf blackmailed TT... Oooooo I'm laughing loudly....
There is no question that Eliot Wolf called TT for his unadequate performance in his job ("Last season Thompson and Wolf were said to have "Words" about Ted's lack of activity in Free Agency.") I believe he worn him that he might fire him if he continue to be so lazy...
C'mon people, are you sure you know what you are suggesting?
Ask yourself, would you allow your subordinate to call your name for how you doing the job?
It is nothing but hilarious...

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Nick Perry's picture

March 24, 2017 at 10:42 am

First of all I DIDN'T say a Wolf called out TT for his "Unadequate (Not a word by the way) Performance" or even mention the word lazy. All I said is they were SAID to have words about TT lack of involvement in FA.

Are you really that naive to believe Wolf wouldn't speak up and voice his opinion about what may help the Packers get over the proverbial hump of making a SB?
Just so I understand exactly what you're saying, you believe because TT is Wolf's "Boss" then Wolf shouldn't be allowed to speak his mind or actually do it even if the conversation became heated? Are you F'ing serious???? Sorry but I don't see Wolf playing an ass kissing role in that front office. If that's really the case then I'm more concerned about the Packers future than before. Wolf is near the Top of the food chain and if everybody always agrees with everyone else there's a problem with that.

If you think 2 executives in business don't ever have words that's not hilarious, it's pathetic!!

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croatpackfan's picture

March 24, 2017 at 04:24 pm

I apologize for not knowing English perfect. And I mean that just like that. I will thank for every input that will help me improve my English. And I want to close this subject with this claim.

I agree with you that you did not use words I used, but your sentence is constructed in that way. I just said what I read between lines of your sentence. One thing is to say your opinion about subject, another is exchange words with your subordinate about YOUR "LACK OF ACTIVITY IN FREE AGENCY"! So, your suggestion is that Wolf called TT for lack of activity in FA.

May I ask you Nick, what do you think, why top managers get paid that huge amounts of money? Just because they are beautiful? When GMs are fired? When their politic do not produce success! So, if your subordinate is not agreed with your politic, he can go. If your subordinate would like to talk with you about your LACK OF ACTIVITY, than either you or him do not know what is your company politics.

But that is basic. And, also, I would say that you may placing pole to high for Eliot Wolf. Maybe he will not be able to live with yours expectation of him. His name is not Ron, but Eliot and I read only good about him. But if you expect moves like his father did, you may be disappointed!

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MITM's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:06 am

Gerald Hayes next, please.

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MITM's picture

March 24, 2017 at 10:15 am

I mean Hodges, Gerald Hodges

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NMPF's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:14 am

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Pancake and a smoke, Bong and a blintz? There is just no pleasing you.

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pooch's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:16 am

Zach Brown;Zach Brown???? You in the building yet????

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cheesehead1's picture

March 24, 2017 at 09:25 am

Aaron is right on. We still need some more pieces on defense, that's pretty obvious. It gets tiring seeing are D give up big play after big play. Hopefully TT has heard his comments. Question is, will TT finally fix this defense? Also we need Matthews to stay healthy for once, but his track record says otherwise.

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lou's picture

March 24, 2017 at 11:01 am

Ricky Jean Francois's addition was a good move, no effect on future compensation in the draft, reasonable one year deal, he has been a solid starter and relatively injury free and by all accounts a good locker room presence, hard to beat that situation. More of these type moves should have been made previously and my guess is the word DEPTH has made Ted move in this direction, last year alone both the CB and RB areas had bare cupboards, that just can't happen going forward and even a "hands off" President like Murphy may have nudged Ted in this direction for the better going forward.

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stockholder's picture

March 24, 2017 at 11:58 am

Time to trade Mathews? (Everyone wants him to take a pay Cut.) Time to trade Janis? For upgrades at WR. And Adams is only going to want money like Cook. With 2 new TEs. Time to trade R. Rodgers? Burnett is playing LB better than SS. Joe Thomas is not the answer. Maybe someone is talking to other sources for trades.

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OrganLeroy's picture

March 24, 2017 at 01:02 pm

You're assuming anyone would want to trade for Janis or Rodgers and I'm here to ask you...why? Neither has any trade value, neither has done anything on a consistent basis in their careers to suggest that they would be an upgrade or wanted by anyone.

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Lphill's picture

March 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Let's not forget Clark was used more last year than anticipated , he held his own ,I expect a big step up this year from him having a full season under his belt ,

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