The Packers went on a 8 game winning streak; 6 to end the season - winning the NFC North crown in the process, and 2 in the playoffs. The end came in the NFC Championship game vs. the Falcons. The Packers have 10 unrestricted free agents this year. And GM Ted Thompson is unlikely to use the franchise tag – he hasn’t yet as GM of the Packers. What follows is a review of the remaining free agents.
Special Team free agent LS Brett Goode probably is re-signed. He has healed well and is very dependable. The Packers have covered themselves by signing LS Taybor Pepper of Michigan State in case Goode doesn’t sign with them. Either way it won’t cost a lot. On Defense, there are four undrafted free agents. At outside line backer, OLB Nick Perry had a good season and will probably get a good contract somewhere if not with Green Bay. OLB Datone Jones had a better season – but some think not good enough to get re-signed. S Micah Hyde probably needs to be re-signed. The Packers likely made a mistake by not re-singing CB Casey Hayward last year. Hayward was good with the Chargers at outside CB – a position where the Packers struggled. Hyde is versatile and assignment sure – he needs to be re-signed and not compound the problem. A fourth unrestricted free agent DE Julius Pepper, has declined in his ability to play and probably won’t be re-signed – and some think could retire. CB Sam Shields has been released along with his concussions. One other thing – the defense suffered this year at corner back. There may not be any free agents here, but after cutting Shields the backups looked bad. If the Packers do sign a real free agent, corner back might be the position and this might be the year. On Offense, RB James Starks has been released as well. I am not sure if unrestricted free agent OL Don Barclay returns - I was wrong about him last year. Also last year I indicated the Packers had 4 unrestricted free agents on the offensive line in 2017. OG Josh Sitton was cut last year and played for the Bears. OT David Bakhtiari was re-signed last year. OG TJ Lang and OC JC Tretter are both still unrestricted free agents. Lang played well and at times while injured – he probably gets re-signed. Tretter plays well at center and anywhere they put him – when he is not injured. It is possible some other team noticed and will give him the big bucks that the Packer GM may not. Green Bay did take two drafts picks last year, and may take another this year depending on what happens. TE Jared Cook should get re-signed. The offense moved when he recovered from injury. The Packers also have TE Richard Rodgers, as well as TE Beau Sandland and TE Devon Cajuste – neither of whom has played in regular season NFL game. There could be a draft pick here. RB Eddie Lacy is up for a contract. However, for the second straight season he failed to stay healthy. His weight and ankle injuries have been big issues. The Packers may not re-sign him – the same goes for other teams. RB Christian Michael who was signed in mid-season is also an unrestricted free agent. I am not sure how Green Bay feels about him. The Packers also have converted wide receiver RB Ty Montgomery who did well, RB John Crockett got injured and was out, and RB Don Jackson who played ineffectively and also got injured and was out. Good chance Green Bay makes a draft pick here. To summarize, I think Perry, Hyde, Lang, and Cook are priority re-signs. The next tier might be Goode, Tretter, and Jones. We will find out what Ted Thompson thinks. He is armed with about $44 million as we speak. But it should be emphasized that he only signs free agents who have been cut by other teams. Woodson, Guion, Peppers, and Cook were all this kind of player. This way it doesn’t cost him a possible compensation pick.
Unlike last offseason there are no coaching changes so far in this off season. But there are some who would want DC Dom Capers replaced.
Next month we will be looking at how the free agency period is progressing and what it means to the roster. We will also see if Thompson signs a free agent from another team. Whatever you do, don’t bet on it.