Green Bay Packers February Scouting Report
Last season after QB Aaron Rodgers got hurt the offense, with a couple of exceptions, came to a halt. The defense started out strong but after about 6 games slid off the table. All this brought many changes to the Packers front office and coaching staff. This report will describe those changes, what they could mean to the team, and ultimately your fantasy team. The new league year starts on March 14th and along with it free agency. So I will include some pre-free agency information as well. Green Bay has 10 unrestricted free agents (UFA), 2 restricted free agents (RFA), and 11 exclusive rights free agents (ERFA). The more notable ones will be mentioned. To date there is no mention of using either the transition or franchise tags.
First, let us look at the front office. Ted Thompson is now the former General Manager in Green Bay. He was replaced by GM Brian Gutekunst; don’t ask me how to pronounce that. He was a part of the Packer front office for years. But that along with the Elliott Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith leaving the Packer organization could mark a shift from the purely draft and develop strategy Thompson employed. So maybe now there will be more veteran free agents in reserve roles. That could help out some more injury prone positions on the team. The main coaching changes start at offensive and defensive coordinator positions. OC Joe Philbin is back. Rodgers had his best year in 2011 when Joe was last the offensive coordinator. For the defense, the new guy is DC Mike Pettine. His defenses did very well in other stops. So maybe the same magic can happen in Green Bay. Also, corner backs coach Joe Whitt now has charge of the entire defensive backfield. This has the potential to make the Packer defense relevant again in fantasy circles.
On Offense, the Packers are set at running back after drafting the position well last year. Now maybe they could do the dame for the tight end position. TE Lance Kendricks, TE Richard Rodgers (UFA), TE Emanuel Byrd, and TE Robert Tonyan are currently on the roster. While none of them are free agents, they don’t scare anyone either. Maybe get some help in the draft here. The Packers ERFA include; OG Justin McCray, OG Lucas Patrick, and OT Adam Pankey. That means none of them are going anywhere unless the Packers want them to. The only UFAs are OG Jahri Evans and OT Ulrick John. Evans performed very well and brought some stability to the injury ravaged line last year. Both could be re-signed. The one area of uncertainty is the WR position. The Packers re-signed one of two potential UFAs – WR Davante Adams. The other is WR Jeff Janis who is likely gone. Two other ERFAs will likely stay. They are WR Michael Clark and WR Geronimo Allison. WR Jordy Nelson and WR Randall Cobb were much less effective last year. And that was noticeable when Rodgers was the quarterback. So maybe they are not worth what they are getting paid. But if they let them go there is a lot of unproven talent behind them. So who steps up? Good question right now.
On Defense, there are five UFAs. It remains to be seen how the new defense will look. At the risk of being wrong I will address positions as I would last year. At line backer, OLB Ahmad Brooks (UFA) and ILB Joe Thomas (RFA) are free agents. OLB Nick Perry and OLB Clay Matthews will return, as will OLB Vince Biegel, OLB Chris Odom, and OLB Kyler Fackell. The only problem is this group did not play well. Between injuries and having little impact it is in need of either new motivation or new blood. ILB Blake Martinez played very well last year and is the star of the group. ILB Jake Ryan has shown to be vulnerable in coverage – and opponents took advantage. LB Reggie Gilbert showed promise when he got a chance – but production has shown to be elusive once a player started – so no promise there either. The free agents at corner back include CB Devon House (UFA), CB Demetri Goodson (UFA), CB Donatello Brown (ERFA), and CB Herb Waters (ERFA). If it were up to me I would let Goodson go. If he isn’t injured. He doesn’t play well. I would resign House. ERFAs aren’t going anywhere and Brown who showed promise, and Waters who get this training camp to show he can play will stay put. Also returning are CB Kevin King, CB Demarious Randall, CB Lenzy Pipkins, CB Josh Hawkins, and CB Quinton Rollins. If King can stay healthy and man one CB position, and then get another shut down corner in the draft or in free agency, the rest of what the Packers have will be fighting for reserve roles. At Safety the free agents are S Morgan Burnette (UFA) and S Jermaine Whitehead (ERFA). In my mind Burnette is a must re-sign. Scheduled to return are also S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S Josh Jones, S Marwin Evans, and S Kentrell Brice. Dix needs to shut up and play as if he wants to stay. Last season his play said "trade me". We will see if the Packer GM obliges or not. This group has got to get much better if the Packers have any playoff hopes at all. The good news is that the new DC is the opposite of the guy who left.
How many NFL teams can say they have two punters and three long snappers on their Special Team roster? Probably not many – if any. There are three free agents; LS Brett Goode (UFA), P Jacob Schum (RFA), and LS Taybor Pepper (ERFA). PK Mason Crosby is the place kicker. I believe P Justin Vogel will stick. If Goode is finally healed and willing to sign for a modest amount he will be the long snapper. All this special team stuff has to get sorted out in the next month or so. The Packers still have 16 roster spots open as of now. To summarize, with all the changes occurring in the front office and the coaching staff it is just a matter of time before it impacts the players and hence your Packer fantasy prospects. It will take some time before we see which way the needle is pointing. I will keep you posted as we go. Next month we might have some free agency answers. We will take a closer look at that and try to surmise how it affects the draft. See you then.
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