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Packers' Top Free Agents Already Getting Pricey

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Packers' Top Free Agents Already Getting Pricey

With the NFL Combine beginning this week in Indianapolis, coaches and executives from around the league will get their annual opportunity to emerge from their respective offices and film rooms, if only for a short time. While much of the focus will be on the incoming draft prospects, the combine also serves as a meeting place for unrestricted free agents and their (for the moment) former teams.

Though the official opening of free agency is a week and change away, the market for a couple of the Packers’ top free agents is already fluctuating due to Wednesday’s franchise tag deadline. Back in February, I wrote that I thought Green Bay’s level-one priorities for re-signing were Jared Cook, Micah Hyde, Nick Perry and T.J. Lang. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s take a look at how those players will likely be valued come decision time.

Jared Cook’s one-year deal with the Packers for 2016 totaled $2.75 million. Before he came to Green Bay, Cook was signed to a five-year, $35.1 million deal by the Rams in 2013. The easy part here is seeing that the Packers in all likelihood will not have to come close to offering $7 million per year to get Cook back. The more difficult part is figuring out how big a raise Green Bay is willing to pony up. Most projections put Cook in the $3.5-4 million per year range, and I would tend to agree. Cook’s impact on defensive game plans coupled with his production make that a fine price to pay, plus when it comes to pass catchers in Green Bay, chemistry with Aaron Rodgers counts. I’d expect a deal to get done before free agency officially opens.

Micah Hyde, by most accounts, has a market value that is yet undetermined. Because of his versatility, Hyde can be valuable in numerous facets of the defense. However, his value won’t be as high as it would were he able to play the perimeter with shut down consistency and he’s also not the ballhawk you’d love to have at safety. Hyde certainly boosted his reputation during the latter portion of 2016 and the playoffs, but he’s not a guy teams will be willing to severely overpay. A $3-3.5 million per year deal would essentially double his 2016 salary – which was already bumped up by about $1 million due to the proven performance escalator – and I think the Packers can get him back for something in that area. As with Jared Cook, I think the two sides strike a deal before Hyde hits the open market.

Let’s not mess around here – someone is going to pay Nick Perry, and they are going to pay him handsomely. Spotrac.com, which tracks contracts, salaries, and measures player value, estimates the market for Perry will fall around $8.5 million. At this point, that would seem to be a steal if the Packers were able to get a deal done in that price range. However, because players like Jason Pierre-Paul, Melvin Ingram and Chandler Jones have all been franchise tagged, Perry’s value likely has only gone up. With the aforementioned players gone, the market for a top-level edge player consists mostly of Perry, and you’d better believe he will use that to leverage a sweet new deal. Year in and year out, NFL free agency proves there is always someone willing to overpay. This year, with a lot of teams having a lot of cap space to fill, that will be especially true. Unless the Packers can come up with a $10 million per year deal – and that could be on the low end – they may have to watch him walk.

T.J. Lang is another player who will likely reap the benefits of an early market shift. On Tuesday, the Chiefs announced a five-year, $41.25 million extension for guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. That deal probably indicates that a player of Lang’s pedigree will be set up to make even more. Luckily for the Packers, Lang said on Tuesday he and his representatives would take any offer they receive back to the Green Bay for an opportunity to match or counter with something better. Lang’s injury history and the fact he is coming off hip surgery could give teams pause, but given his quality of play throughout the years, Lang could well be worth something in the range of $10-11 million.

Green Bay shouldn’t have too difficult a time bringing back Cook and Hyde, but it will be very interesting to see how they approach negotiations when it comes to Perry and Lang. If their respective markets do in fact demand $10-plus million apiece, it’s hard to envision them both donning Packer uniforms next season, especially if Green Bay plans to test the free agent market themselves this offseason.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

egbertsouse's picture

$8.5 mil for Perry? Bye-bye. You can't pay that kind of money for a 10-12 games a season player. Well, maybe, if you get out from under CM's $15 mil. No edge guy not named Vonn Miller is worth that.

I hope they don't break the bank for Hyde either but Ted has been known to overpay for marginal guys.

I think that Ted sees Lang as a clone of Sitton, edgy and not afraid to criticize, and I wonder how hard he's really trying to re-sign him.

marpag1's picture

Anybody else remember when TT was getting crucified for not signing safety Jairus Byrd?

After signing Byrd three years ago to a six-year, $56 million contract that contained $26 million in guarantees, the Saints have decided to cut him. I guess pedestrian tackling, 3 INTs and 1 sack over the past three years didn't really cut it.

But yeehah for all the bargains available in free agency. Sure hope Ted goes "all in..."

4thand1's picture

bingo

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

There is a risk in buying FAs. If you're wrong, there is a cap hit. Your comment is evidence of that risk, but it seems a bit like cherry-picking to me. Many FAs work out fine. If I squint real hard, I can see this defense improving internally (I am assuming the return of Perry and Jones). I can see Clark improving, and one of Randall/Rollins rebounding. We probably need TT to nail this draft.

marpag1's picture

Sure, it's cherry picking, if you want to call it that. Will you say the same thing about any comment that points to one very good free agent signing? As I would see it, they are both "cherry picking" alike.

The questions are difficult to answer in any empirical sort of way. But are free agent signings any more of a sure thing than draft picks are? My gut feeling is, "No, they are not significantly safer... but for sure they are much more expensive." The first part of this statement is debatable. The second part really isn't.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I do agree: the second part is not really debatable. Still, looking back, (anecdotally too, admittedly!), I see that our rosters for our super bowl years were bolstered by free agents, trades (Favre); and then again by FAs (Pickett, and the very risky Woodson signing), and our best team since then (2014) was bolstered by signing Peppers. The empirical studies I have read were always very flawed in my opinion. If a team has 51 bad players, buying 2 high priced free agents probably won't translate into more wins. Bad teams tend to have loads of cap space (yes, some GMs manage to have poor talent and no cap space). So, I have to ask the following:

1) Just how well does a GM have to draft to rely on it exclusively?
2) Is there an example of such a GM?

My answer to 1 is insanely well. My answer to #2 is No, there isn't one that has reached or won the SB. I am too lazy to check, but I'd guess that there hasn't been a team that won or even reached the SB that did not have at least one, and probably 2 fairly pricey players they acquired via FA in the last 15 or 20 years.

There are lots of bad GMs. There are also good and great GMs. We've got a good one.

mnklitzke's picture

You think one year wonder Perry should be worth 10mil in GB? I would rather them spend 10mil on Lang then Perry. Lang is a hell of a player and played three games on a broken ankle. If we let Lang walk we will be hurting on the line...

marpag1's picture

That would make Lang the second highest paid guard in the league (tied for 2nd with two others). No thanks.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

A very sensible comment. It amazes me that I'm the 2nd person to give it a like, with no less than 5 disliking it. TT is going to have to pay Perry pretty much whatever the market dictates - either that or bring in a Barwin/other veteran help or simply re-tool for 2018.

My own guess is that both Lang and Tretter walk if the market is what is being predicted for them, but both have injury histories. We will find out in the next week or so.

Mojo's picture

I like Lang, but paying him $10 mil/year would be insane. In fact I wouldn't pay much over $5mil, harsh as that may seem. He's on his last contract, is beaten-up and I don't know how much longer he will go. Appreciate his loyalty, but we've already paid him well.

Hate to say it, but the Pack might need to be callous in deciding which players to keep going forward if they expect to get over the play-off hump. Keep Lang, but only at a team friendly price - and I mean real friendly.

As for Perry $10/mil or more per year is also ridiculous. He may be the best we've got but we had him for nearly all last season, and our defense still sucked. I say draft 7 OLB's if you have to, it's time now for new blood. You can overspend on your own FA's just as much as those coming from other teams.

cuervo's picture

Agree....Anyone that pays Perry 8 mio/year+ is taking a risk that's probably going to blow up in their face. You don't pay someone that's had 1 OK year out of 5.

Perry will be gone, Lang probably will be gone, Hyde I really don't care...he's an insurance policy, not a differnce maker.

Bert's picture

Hmmmmm. Not sure how much Perry is worth but if you send him out the door who replaces him and his production? Peppers is done, D. Jones just a guy, Clay in decline and the backups haven't shown much. Given we are already weak at OLB and CB losing Perry (and Hyde BTW) just makes a bad situation worse.

porupack's picture

Agree w DPF:

You can't keep getting rid of players and hoping the draft will fill the gap. Its a 'crap shoot'. Drafts are for "draft and develop" not filling critical gaps.

Keep releasing players such as Perry, Jones, Hyde just because they aren't pro-bowlers, is going to just keep the team with too many holes.

Yeah, get a FA CB, to take some pressure off Rollins and Randall. Then draft one in mid round.

Go for broke in the draft for OLB and ILB. two of each please.

cuervo's picture

The problem with paying someone like Perry big bucks, is that when he doesn't produce you are stuck with a contract that eliminates you from being to able to sign real difference makers.

Look, maybe Perry turns into a playmaker all of a sudden....but if I'm a betting man, I'm not throwing my chips on a player who's had the limited production he's had in 5 years worth of play.

stockholder's picture

The only guy I hope they sign is Cook. Most of these guys do deserve a contract. I just don't see any all-pros in the making. Sorry, but I wouldn't do more than the cost of living increase for all. Ticket prices will go up. The NFL keeps changing. How much do you need for your family now. The greed won't make them happier. Let some other team show them the money. The memories are in Green Bay! This year's free agents are trying to pocket their dreams. LET them go.

al bundy's picture

My two cents, I hope Perry gets and offer Ted T cant and wont match. My gut says once he gets the money he becomes the reincarnated bum of the previous three years. He is all about da moooooney.

Lacy on the cheap and Lang is too old, let him go to. To many leg and ankle issues.

Cook my be the sleeper and sneaks out of town on a deal Ted cant match

EdsLaces's picture

At this point Perry is pretty much all we got....pay day man.

Ryan Graham's picture

Lang will cost too much, he's going out west to the LA Rams or Seattle. Fine by me, Tretter will cost less and is more versatile, i like Spriggs to bulk up in this offseason and theyll draft another versatile interior lineman.

Perry might be worth 8 million because of his ability to stop the run as well as get to the qb, but he's gonna get paid higher by someone. Indianapolis, KC both would be good fits for him to get 10 million.

As much as I like Hyde he's expendable and easily replaced in the depth chart in this draft, but Cook cannot slip from Ted. My guess is they already have a deal privately arranged. I've followed Cook since he was at Tennessee some years ago he's always been a physical freak of nature but never found a home. I firmly believe this is it for him.

So looking at the cap space of over 55M for the pack (12M jump today) if you remove say 5 for rookies, 4 for Cook, maybe 6 for Tretter, a generous 3 for Hyde and, hell, an even more generous 3 for Lacy. You're left with 34M in cap space. Is Ted gonna sit on even that much?

Yes. Probably yes.

porupack's picture

sure, these guys are expendable. Everyone is to some degree. But how can you keep getting rid of your core good players, and creating yet more critical holes to fill in the draft? TT created a hole 2 years ago by letting Hayward go....then had to spend high picks to fill that void. You only have so many picks...er...about 7, so the need you just created...and filled, is one need elsewhere that you can't address.

What if Hayward was retained, and TT used Rd 1 for an OLB or ILB? Might have been a badass Defense. But no, we still have the same gaps as 2 years ago.

dobber's picture

"TT created a hole 2 years ago by letting Hayward go....then had to spend high picks to fill that void."

I agree in principle: you only have so many draft picks to fill holes in the wall. At some point either the wall collapses or you find another source of fill. I suspect we're going to see some significant patchwork this off-season.

As for the comment above: No. Hayward actually played a full season with Rollins and Randall in 2015 before he was allowed to hit the market last off-season. The Packers drafted no CB last spring. I think the players you wanted to cite were Davon House and Tramon Williams...neither of whom were missed in 2015.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

There are some things wrong with your post, Ryan.

1st fact: We don't have $55M in cap space. Yes, a semi-official cap # came out and it is a $12M increase over last year - but all of the estimates we've been using have assumed a $13M increase. Our cap space is somewhere between $42.5M (Sportrac) and $40M (overthecap) even after adding in this increase.

2nd fact: The annual rookie pool thing; it will cost $2.5M to $3M to sign the rookies, not $5M. We go through this every season.

Opinion: You're not signing Perry, Lang, Jones, or Goode?
AAV/1st yr cap #

Tretter: $7M AAV/$4M first year cap hit
Cook: $4.0M AAV/$2.5M
Lacy: $3.5M AAV/$3.0M - pay as you go for him
Goode: $950K/$950K
Hyde: $3.8M/$2.7M
Rookes: ------/$2.6M
Subtotal: $19.25M/$15.75M ($16.25M/$18.75M left w $8M rollover) - that is a lot of money to sit on, as you say.

Jones: $4.5M/$3.2M
Perry: $11M/$7.2M
Subtotal: 34.75M/$26.15M
rollover -------/$8M
Total: $34.75M/$34.15 - Leaves $5.75M to $8.25M in spendable cap space (if you don't sign Lang and Peppers) while rolling over $8M into 2018. That's enough to bring in one FA; two if TT dipped into his rollover money. Maybe some deductions if you want Christine Michael and Elliott. We have some ERFAs as well, but they won't count under the rule of 51 hardly at all.

TL/DR: We have enough cap space to sign all of our FAs minus Peppers and have some cap rollover. If you want a FA, you have to eat into the $8M rollover I've figured on. If you let some folks walk, well it depends on whom you let walk.

akeemthedream's picture

They should cut Matthews or resign Perry. Can't pay them both what they're going to get. TT doesn't have the balls to cut Matthews so Perry walks. No big deal. Matthews/R1 pick won't be a dropoff from Matthews/Perry.

Let Lang go. $10mil/year for a guard is dumb. Go with Murphy or Patrick or Bulaga (and actually get the guy you traded up in the 2nd round for - Spriggs on the field).

Let Tretter go. He's too narrow to play guard. We have a starting center. Overpaying for a second center would be dumb. There's no starting spot available for the guy.

Probably sign Hyde because he's safe. You know exactly what you're going to get. There's a better chance that he'll outplay his contract # than there is that his contract # will exceed his play.

Resign Lacy. He will definitely outplay his contract #.

Resign Cook, I guess. I just don't trust the guy. But Rodgers wants him back and the last thing we need is for mopey-AR cerca 2015 to return.

D. Jones. Don't care one way or the other. He's basically invisible on the field. Depth, I guess. Lowry can do what Jones does on passing downs. They need to draft an elephant (this is what I want in R1) - Charlton, Barnett, McKinley, Harris, Lawson, or maybe even Walker.

Use this year's coin to extend Adams, Taylor, Linsley, and possibly Burnett who are all up in 2018, are younger, and have up-pointing arrows (unlike Lang, Perry, Jones, Peppers). They're also going to need $ for Lacy if he signs another 1 year deal and then produces and to cover Clinton-Dix's year 5 option.

Signing Perry or Lang might jeopardize the Packers' ability to keep all of those 5/6 players (Adams, Linsley, Taylor, Lacy/Burnett, Clinton-Dix) and would be a mistake.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

I'm glad we have TT and not you for GM. Also, how can you say Nick Perry's arrow isn't pointing up? Better go Ask Vic what he thinks of this statement of yours.

akeemthedream's picture

"how can you say Nick Perry's arrow isn't pointing up?"

I understand your question.
I guess I just don't trust him.
I have a strong feeling that whoever gives him big money will regret it.
I normally don't buy into the whole "injury prone" thing, but Perry's made of glass.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Vic is a moron.

porupack's picture

sure, these guys are expendable. Everyone is to some degree. But how can you keep getting rid of your core good players, and creating yet more critical holes to fill in the draft? TT created a hole 2 years ago by letting Hayward go....then had to spend high picks to fill that void. You only have so many picks...er...about 7, so the need you just created...and filled, is one need elsewhere that you can't address.
What if Hayward was retained, and TT used Rd 1 for an OLB or ILB? Might have been a badass Defense. But no, we still have the same gaps as 2 years ago.

akeemthedream's picture

"getting rid of your core"

No one I mentioned is a core player.

fthisJack's picture

if you don't re-sign Lang then keep Tretter. the guy can play any position and when he played he was damn good. i liked Patrick from what i saw last year in preseason. and Murphy is in the wings so you have some good depth. maybe even draft a guard on day 3.

i hope TT does something about Mathews cap number. either a pay cut or hit the road. thats 11 mil they could save on a player that is not producing and had a significant shoulder injury. use that money to sign Barwin.

Lacey is always banged up. i would let him walk. there are quality RB in this draft.

i would re-sign Hyde to a cap friendly contract. he's versatile and smart. not that bad in coverage.

Free agent's picture

On offense:
Sign Cook for sure, Lang 8or 9 mil/yr, Yes. Like to see Lacy & Tretter return. Let the Vikings have Barclay. On defense: Don't overpay for any of the average at best Packer Free agents. If needed, Drain the swamp! I'm ready to watch some new players on defense that enjoy inflicting pain on ball carriers with punishing tackles. No more arm tacklers on the ground as the ball carrier runs by them.

4thand1's picture

Interesting, people are all over the place here. We don't really know what to expect. The one thing I've seen over the years TT doesn't make rash decisions. There have been a few guys, much to everyone's surprise, he's over paid. It's all about what the team knows that we don't, medical history being one. Look at Sitton, was he worth the money the FA maniac Bears spent? IMO Cook should be priority one, then Perry. After that I really don't care. There are CB's and RB's up the waazoo in this draft, we need pass rushers. TT and the Packers spent 2 high picks on Randal and Collins so expect them to play this year.

slit's picture

Perry had his career year. I'd rather let him go, and sign Barwin for a cheaper deal. Barwin's production dipped last year, because he was out of position. Two years ago, when the Eagles were still playing the 3-4 DEF, Barwin had 14.5! sacks. Barwin is also much more durable than Perry. Packers also need to decide between Lang or Tretter. I don't prefer one much over the other, but can't afford to let em both go. Last thing we need is an injury or two, and the next thing ya know, Barclay is out there & AR is getting mauled.

croatpackfan's picture

Well, signing Cook and Hyde is almost certain. Perry? Well for 6-7 mil you should be able to find player with similar productivity as Perry. He had 11,5 sacks last season, but he was helped by Clay and Julius. Oppomnents were more concentrated to those 2 players and that is the reason why Perry was productive. There is statistic where Perry's production falls of the cliff when thre is no Clay or Julius in line up. !0 mil is to much. Let him go for that kind of money. I approve 8-9 mil if it comes with less guaranteed money and more for production.
T. J. Lang - I love that guy, he is true sportsman, but, hey, I love Packers more. There is no chance to pay guard 10 mil per season. So, I do not expect to see T. J. Lang back. Also, I think J. C. Tretter is done for Packers,,,

porupack's picture

I fault TT for not locking up Cook last year, either with a 2 year contract, or get him extended before end of year.

Why didn't he also get Perry extended earlier?

Why does he have so many players extended on short one year deals?

TT keeps backing himself in the corner, getting rid of Hayward....then having to dedicate so much draft capital to Hayward replacement. Leaves other voids unaddressed too long....then tries to extend contracts when a player has hit top dollar value, only to then let the player walk because he is too expensive.

TT is stuck a snowbank up there in Wisconsin.

dobber's picture

It takes two to tango: by all accounts, Cook didn't want multiple years. He wanted one year and then to have the opportunity to get back on the market. Perry is pretty well documented, too.

If you look at other teams, you'll find that the Packers aren'd doing anything out of the ordinary.

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