Predicting the Green Bay Packers’ 5 Biggest Free Agency Moves
Predicting 5 Biggest Free Agency Moves
It has been revealed that Green Bay Packers general manger Ted Thompson will put the team’s $30 million salary cap space to good use this offseason. The man who has stayed as far away as free agency as possible in recent years because of some fear of an allergic reaction has decided that Green Bay’s defense needs an immediate improvement.
The change will come courtesy of free agency, which has Packers fans enthusiastic about the possibilities. Inside sources have confirmed that Thompson will look for outside free agents in order to overhaul a few positions on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, it doesn’t mean that players such as Sam Shields and Johnny Jolly are out. However, it does mean that Green Bay is looking to add a few fresh faces. All in all, it has been discovered that Thompson could use the money on up to as many as five free agents, with a majority of them being defensive players.
The reality is there isn’t much the Packers need to do to improve on offense. Aaron Rodgers has his weapons and the offensive line should stay mostly intact as long as Green Bay can re-sign center Evan Dietrich-Smith. More importantly, the recently unearthed running game, thanks in large part to Offensive Rookie of the Year Eddie Lacy, is no longer a concern.
For that reason, defense will be the top priority this offseason, whether it is enhanced through free agency or the draft. Check out my predictions for Green Bay’s five biggest free agency moves.
5. Ryan Clark S
M.D. Jennings and Morgan Burnett graded out as the worst safeties in the league last season. Obviously, something has to change, and you can bet Thompson is already coming up with ways on how to do that. The reality is Burnett isn’t going anywhere because of the five-year, $26.073 million contract he signed last July. That means Jennings is the one who could very well be gone.
The Packers should focus on a safety who can play but also will be a veteran presence to help the other defensive backs along. More specifically, someone who can show Burnett how to be a top-notch safety in the league, which is what Nick Collins was trying to accomplish prior to his neck injury. Even though Ryan Clark is 34-years-old, he has still shown the ability to play at a high-level. The fact is his experience will become more valuable than anything else.
It appears the Pittsburgh Steelers have no intentions of retaining the safety, which means he will up for grabs. Remember, he’s by no means a long-term solution at safety, but someone the Packers could definitely use in 2014.
4. Arthur Jones DL
Green Bay needs to add another body to the defensive line, especially since the Packers don’t appear eager to re-sign B.J. Raji. For that reason, they must sign a quality defensive lineman for the right price. One player in particular that could fulfill the role is Arthur Jones. It doesn’t appear the Baltimore Ravens will be able to afford the 27-year-old, which means he’s almost certain to enter free agency without an offer from the organization.
Jones is someone who can play inside or outside on the defensive line. More importantly, he gets after the quarterback, which is something the Packers desperately need. His versatility, consistent style of play and great success in a 3-4 defense makes him a must-have for the Packers.
3. Evan Dietrich-Smith C
Rodgers wants Dietrich-Smith back as does the rest of the team. The fact that Green Bay recently released center Greg Van Roten bodes well for their chances to retain Dietrich-Smith. Even though the center has every intention of testing the market, the fact that there is a level of comfort with the Packers could be a deciding factor.
One could make the case that there isn’t a more important offensive free agent for Green Bay than Dietrich-Smith. He graded out as the eight-ranked center in the league in 2013 and he has instilled confidence in his teammates. The Packers ran the ball with far more success than they are used to and a big part of it was because of Dietrich-Smith’s presence.
2. Sam Shields CB
Another big free agency move for Green Bay will be to retain Shields, who was easily the best asset among the defensive backs last season. The 26-year-old may cost a pretty penny but he will absolutely be worth it.
The undrafted cornerback has been nothing but consistent since his arrival in 2010. He has averaged 3.25 interceptions and 11.25 passes defended in 13.25 games per season. The atrocity of Green Bay’s defense is all the evidence one needs to know that losing Shields would be hard to overcome.
In my opinion, there’s no way Thompson allows Shields to walk. The brilliant general manager will make it his top priority to make sure Shields is with the Packers for a very long time.
1. Brian Orakpo OLB
What’s the point of having $30 million in cap space if a big acquisition isn’t made? Call me crazy and say it will never happen, but don’t completely rule out the possibility of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo wearing green and gold next season.
Orakpo recorded a career-high 60 total tackles, 10 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one interception and defended five passes in 15 games. He’s arguably the top pass rusher in free agency, which means he will get plenty of offers tossed his way. On top of that, the Washington Redskins have made it clear they have every intention of retaining him. However, that doesn’t mean anything until it happens.
If the Packers can show him the right price, there’s a very good chance he inks a deal with Green Bay. Orakpo wants to be on a successful team that has Super Bowl aspirations, instead of suiting up for a sinking ship. He also wants to play with talented athletes who will force him to improve his skills. To have Clay Matthews on one side and Orakpo on the other would make Green Bay’s a defense a wrecking ball that no offensive line would be able to hold. Thompson knows that, which means he will at least toss out a line in hope for a bite.