The Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson is famed for his aversion to free agents. A strict devotee of the team’s draft-and-develop philosophy, he rarely pursues free agents to fill gaps in the roster. The only major free agent the Packers signed under his reign was cornerback Charles Woodson, whom they recently released for salary cap purposes.
Presumably Thompson and the Packers feel it’s generally cheaper to develop a player rather than get sucked into the generally way over-inflated salaries of the big-name free agents. I don’t think Thompson is so rigid as to not consider available free agents. He just is wary of the contracts that go with them. That doesn’t mean that it’s not fun to speculate wildly on what the Packers could do in the offseason.
The two free agents that pique my interest the most as a Packer fan are the New York Giants’ Chris Canty and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Cullen Jenkins. Both were released from their teams for salary reasons. The Packers certainly have struggled on the defensive line, and with Jerel Worthy’s ACL tear, it’s questionable if he’ll be ready to start the season. Here’s how Canty and Jenkins stack up:
Chris Canty: Canty played his first four seasons for the Dallas Cowboys and the last four for the Giants. In the last two years, he had 73 tackles, seven sacks and eight stuffs though he missed seven games in 2012. The Packers are reportedly very interested in Canty and it isn’t the first time–they pursued him four years ago before he signed with New York. He was reportedly choosing between the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs, but now has expanded his options with upcoming visits to Green Bay and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Canty’s a big boy at 6’7”, 317 pounds and could give the Packers a little more heft on their line. The biggest non-financial drawback is his history of knee injuries. As a senior in college, he tore his ACL, MCL and PCL. Last offseason, he underwent knee surgery and missed the first six games of the season. His season ended early when he suffered a sprained MCL in the same knee. He also missed times in 2009 with hamstring and calf injuries.
Cullen Jenkins: The Packers have been unable to find an adequate replacement for Jenkins since letting him walk after the 2010 season. In the last two seasons, he has recorded 66 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 10 stuffs. I don’t know if the entire Packers team has had 10 stuffs in the last two seasons. Jenkins played his first seven seasons in Green Bay, so he would fit in rather seamlessly and the Green Bay defensive coaches have always been big fans of his. Though he was a bit miffed at Green Bay’s failure to even offer him a contract after 2010, Jenkins is reportedly open to the possibility of returning to the Packers and the team also reportedly has interest.
The biggest knock against Jenkins is that he’s two years older than Canty and five inches shorter.
Either of these guys would be a great pickup for the Packers, especially in their sad little run defense. I think Canty’s a better player, but he’d be more expensive and his injury history makes me nervous (especially considering the Packers’ defense’s luck with injuries). At 32, Jenkins has a fair amount of wear and tear on him, but he’d be an affordable option who already knows the scheme and has been solid against the run for years. Also, as a former Packer, Jenkins already has a soft spot in my heart.
I’d be happy if Green Bay ends up with either Canty or Jenkins. I just hope that the Packers break their own mold a little bit and decide to make a strong offer to one of these players.