Green Bay Packers’ 5 Most Important Free Agent Signings 2014
Packers: 5 Most Important Free Agent Signings
Free Agency in the NFL officially starts in 15 days, which means teams across the league are working around the clock to determine the necessary players to improve their roster. The Green Bay Packers are no different, with the exception that they have approximately $31 million in available cap space. Obviously, some of that will be used to re-sign some of their unrestricted free agents, while the other cash will be used to bring in some new faces.
The 2014 offseason will consist of one of the more important drafts and free agency signings in recent memory for Green Bay. Packers general manager Ted Thompson hasn’t exactly hit on his last two draft classes. Not to mention, he’s never really been known as an active member in free agency. Nonetheless, that will all have to change this offseason, as Green Bay must succeed in both areas.
The Packers have an incredibly talented team that is loaded with potential at numerous spots throughout the roster. They are only a few pieces away from being legitimate Super Bowl contenders once again. Unfortunately, the organization can’t afford to miss out on a prime opportunity to improve certain areas. Not taking chances in free agency and missing out on key players in the draft could be detrimental to Green Bay’s success for the foreseeable future. The time to strike is now. Rodgers is clicking on all cylinders with his weapons and the defense has shown signs of improvement.
At this point, it’s imperative the Packers sign these five important free agents.
5. Evan Dietrich-Smith
There is plenty of speculation that center Evan Dietrich-Smith is getting ready to leave for greener pastures. The hope is that he doesn’t, especially since the offensive line and the run game showed improvement with him in command. Not to mention, Aaron Rodgers has stated he enjoys the chemistry he’s built with Dietrich-Smith. The fact is the 27-year-old has an opportunity to build a great relationship with Rodgers and the other members of the offense for several years to come. Of course, money is money and football is a job. Regardless, the Packers must do what they can to retain Dietrich-Smith.
4. Tight End
Green Bay is confident Jermichael Finley will play football in 2014. More importantly, the organization hasn’t ruled out him returning to the Packers. Personally, I believe Green Bay would be better off letting him go because it simply will cost too much to keep him. With that being said, Finley is a talented playmaker who makes the receivers around him better. To deprive Rodgers of another weapon would be a shame, which is why re-signing Finley might be the right decision after all.
If Finley ends up being too expensive, the Packers still must sign a tight end in free agency. Dennis Pitta would be a great option, while Andrew Quarless is certainly a safe bet.
3. Defensive Lineman
Whether it’s retaining Johnny Jolly, signing Arthur Jones or accomplishing both, the Packers must make a move on the defensive line. All signs point to B.J. Raji signing a more lucrative deal with a 4-3 defense, which means there will be room for expansion. Even though several defensive linemen on the roster have shown the ability to play at a high level, the Packers would be wise to add to the talent pool.
Acquiring Jones would be a dream come true. He’s 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 proven success in a 3-4 defense makes him a capable asset.
2. Veteran Safety
There’s no question the Packers must do something at the safety position after the awful showing in 2013. Signing a talented safety in free agency who has plenty left in the tank will be costly. In fact, it will be too pricey for the Packers. For that reason, Green Bay will most likely select a safety in the first or second round of the draft. Even though that’s definitely the way to go, it wouldn’t hurt to acquire a veteran safety on a one-year deal.
Jim Leonhard has already shown the desire to finish his career with the Packers. The 31-year-old could teach the younger safeties how to play the position the right way, while also provide competition for a starting job. Ryan Clark is another veteran safety who I believe could do wonders for Green Bay. Like Leonhard, Clark could get the younger defensive backs on the right path to success, while also providing quality production on game day.
1. Sam Shields
By far and away, the most important free agent signing for the Packers this offseason is cornerback Sam Shields. The Packers have failed to hit on any defensive backs in the draft over the past three years, with the exception of Casey Hayward. Shields, who went undrafted in 2010, is a rare talent who must remain with Green Bay as long as possible. The Packers would be incredibly foolish to allow him to walk, especially since they would have to sign someone of his capability anyways. If the only player Green Bay signs in free agency this offseason is Shields, then it would still be a massive success.