5 Green Bay Packers Storylines to Follow Leading Up to Free Agency
Packers: 5 Storylines to Follow Leading up to Free Agency
There is approximately one week left until the 2014 NFL free agency begins. It is the first sign that the NFL season is one step closer as starved football fans around the world can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With so many high-profile free agents ready to test the market, this year’s signings should prove to be exciting.
The Green Bay Packers are one team in particular that is primed and ready to dive into the free-agent market head on. Yes Packers fans, I said that correctly. Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson has every intention to make a splash in free agency, which definitely does have a weird read to it. Thompson wants to retain as many players from last season’s roster as possible while also acquiring some new faces to fill immediate needs on the team. Whether he will be able to accomplish the tall task is a completely different story. However, it is encouraging to know that wants make improvements that will have a positive effect on the Packers next season.
I have already gone over the five most important players the Packers would be wise to sign once the free agent market begins. At this point, fans need to focus on the five biggest storylines leading up to free agency. Obviously, predicting which players Green Bay should be interested in is important, but fans must know the storylines that surround the team prior to one of the biggest moments of the offseason.
5. $35 Million in Cap Space
The NFL made a statement to announce that the salary cap will jump up to $133 million for the 2014 season. That means the Packers will have approximately $35 million in cap space to work with. This is a major storyline because Green Bay will have enough available cash to make a few significant signings.
4. Jermichael Finley, Johnny Jolly Expected to be Medically Cleared
Tight end Jermichael Finley and defensive end Johnny Jolly are expected to be medically cleared for the 2014 season after suffering horrific neck injuries. The Packers have shown interest in retaining both players, which makes the possibility of their medical clearance an even more intriguing storyline. Jolly is someone Green Bay can’t allow to walk while Finley is an offensive threat who quarterback Aaron Rodgers would love to see line up on his side this year.
3. Are Veteran Safeties in Free Agency the Way to Go?
Whether it’s accomplished through free agency or the draft, Green Bay’s biggest need in the offseason is to repair the safety position. The draft is probably the more efficient route to take because free-agent safeties are proving to be very costly this offseason. With that being said, the veteran experience in the last line of defense is invaluable. Regardless of what happens, how the Packers address the safety position is the top storyline of the entire offseason.
2. Debate on Whether B.J. Raji is Worth the Money
Some people want nose tackle B.J. Raji to return while others believe he is too expensive to re-sign. I’m all for Raji suiting up for the Packers as long as it’s for the right price. The reality is his production has declined greatly. There’s just no way Green Bay retains him if he attempts to get a quality contract after his less than stellar performance in 2013. At this point, the money that would go to Raji can be spent more efficiently elsewhere. With that being said, if Raji is willing to sign for a reasonable price then the Packers should open the doors for him.
1. Sam Shields Will Test Free Agent Market
By far, the biggest storyline for Green Bay leading up to free agency is the fact that cornerback Sam Shields will test the open market. I have stressed over and over again that Shields must be the Packers’ No. 1 priority this offseason. Unfortunately, Green Bay was not able to come to an agreement with Drew Rosenhaus, Shields’ agent, at the NFL Combine.
The surprise isn’t that Shields will test free agency so much as it is Green Bay’s willingness to watch him potentially walk. Shields is coming off a career year and, in my opinion, is one of the best cornerbacks in the game. The reported $6 million annually that was offered is somewhat of a disgrace, especially when that number doesn’t crack the top 10 list of highest paid cornerbacks. The fact that the Packers will sit by and possibly watch Shields sign with another team is disturbing because they have to find a way to acquire someone of his talent in the secondary anyways.