Green Bay Packers March Scouting Report
This is the free agency review. Free agency starts on Wednesday, March 13th. And as we thought the Packers did not use the transition or franchise tags.
Let’s start with the Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFA). These are those that if the Packers tender before the start of free agency, they will play football only for the Packers or go sell insurance – they can’t play for another team. If the Packers do not tender them they become free agents and can sign with another team. The Packers have tendered the following that I know of; TE Robert Tonyan, OG Lucas Patrick, and DL Fadol Brown. Not tendered (as of yet) includes; OG Justin McCray, OT Adam Pankey, and OLB Reggie Gilbert.
Restricted Free Agents (RFA) are tendered at various levels by teams and can sign the tender or see if other teams will sign them. If another team provides an offer sheet to a RFA then the Packers have the right to match it and retain the player. I they decline to match the player become the property of the other team. So the Packers have three of them; FB Danny Vitale, WR Geronimo Allison, and S Kentrell Brice. Allison is tendered with the right of first refusal level. So the Packers will get a chance to match any offer sheet he gets. If he ever figures out how to stay well he will be a great receiver. Allison would be a buffer against any regression on the part of the younger receivers on the roster.
Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) can sign with their current team anytime. But after free agency begins they can sign with anyone. The first few days of this period is when the big money is thrown around. UFAs I think the Packers will let walk; WR Randall Cobb – can’t stay healthy anymore, CB Devon House – Packers indicated they have moved on, and ILB Jake Ryan - also can’t stay healthy. UFAs I think the Packers might have some interest in re-signing include; DL Muhammad Wilkerson – wants to return and the defensive coordinator likes him, S Ibraham Campbell – safety depth, LB Clay Matthews – only for a move to inside linebacker and less money, OL Byron Bell – offensive line depth, and CB Bashaud Breeland – played well with two pick sixes and also provides meaningful depth and can start if needed. UFAs I am not sure about: TE Lance Kendricks – he played some but had only a catch or two per game. Not explosive enough? Not productive enough? These are questions the Packers will have to answer. TE Mercedes Lewis – was on the field some to block, but he also has pass catching ability that was virtually ignored by the Packers. Will the new head coach want him? Maybe go in a different direction? If neither of these two is signed, the Packers will be remaking their tight end position this off season. S Eddie Pleasant – I am not sure he was what the Packers needed him to be. If that is correct, then maybe he isn’t re-signed.
Players the Packers may release: The Packers have cut LB Antonio Morrison and OLB Nick Perry. I think in both cases the production has not measured up to salary. This leaves ILB Oren Burks, ILB James Crawford, and ILB Blake Martinez at the position. They may be counting on a big step for Burks this year. One other player the Packers need to consider is CB Tramon Williams. He is good at mentoring players, but if they need him to play as much as he did last year, he has demonstrated he isn’t physically up for that anymore.
Players the Packers may go after in free agency: The Packers have contract agreements with Washington LB Preston Smith, Ravens LB Za'Darius Smith, Broncos OL Billy Turner, and Bears S Adrian Amos. If the Packers are going to try fixing the tight end group via free agency, they might consider the Raiders TE Jared Cook. He was in Green Bay three years ago and had an almost instant rapport with QB Aaron Rodgers. Why TE Marcellus Bennett was signed instead of Cook the following season (besides the two million dollar difference) I will never know. But that turned out to be a bad decision and the Packers have been paying for it ever since. But again, I am not the GM. This frees the Packers to go any one of several directions in the draft.. But then all this draft talk is for the next report after we know more what the reality of free agency is. And the guy who is the GM probably has a plan that can be derailed by any uncooperative free agents and/or a draft that doesn’t go the way they think it will. So maybe we should count our blessings that our draft preparations are much simpler compared to the real GM. After purchasing a draft guide and some snacks, we are done. And I think I am done with this month’s report. See you next month when we access our draft needs.
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