By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on March 18, 2014
The 2014 NFL free agency is far from over and the hope is that the Green Bay Packers will still make a couple more signings that are valuable. However, I decided it would be a good idea to rank the eight free agents the Packers have already signed up to this point in order of importance. The reality is all eight players could play a vital role to the team’s success in 2014. It’s just a matter of how critical that role will be.
If Chris Banjo makes the 53-man roster, it will most likely to be an asset on special teams. The safety recorded 19 total tackles, two sacks and two defended passes in his first season in the NFL in 2013. The one-year, 5,000 contract is a reasonable deal that could have plenty of upside.
Green Bay recently signed defensive tackle Letroy Guion. The move isn’t all that surprising as the Packers are determined to improve the defensive line. Guion should have more freedom in the sub-packages, which should allow him to have the best season of his career. With the pressure off to perform on every down, Guion could thrive in a specific role. The 26-year-old had 21 tackles, one sack, one forced and one recovered fumble last season.
B.J. Raji re-signing with the Packers isn’t shocking at all. His down production led to minimal offers from other teams. Raji must now use his one-year prove-it contract to garner attention for free agency next season. It might just be the best thing that could happen to the Packers since he will be forced to put forth the best effort of his career if he wants to collect a big payday.
I predicted the Packers would re-sign James Starks, much to the disapproval of many readers. Starks is simply too good with too much upside to let walk, especially with the production he provides off the bench. The two-year deal will carry plenty of value for someone who will be a great change-of-pace back for Eddie Lacy.
Andrew Quarless showed enough in the absence of Jermichael Finley last season for the Packers to believe he can be a difference maker. The truth is Quarless has unlimited potential, especially with Aaron Rodgers under center. The fact that he will be the clear-cut No. 1 tight end means he will get more time with the first team, which will only benefit his development.
Mike Neal is an outstanding playmaker and too much of a defensive threat for the Packers to let him leave. His ability to rush on the outside as a linebacker or down lineman is something Green Bay can’t go without in 2014. Not to mention, he’s also capable of applying interior pressure, which is an area on the team that must be improved immediately. Expect Neal to win the starting job against Nick Perry and continue his upward path to success.
The Julius Peppers signing will either be brilliant or turn into a huge bust. Personally, I was ecstatic about the Packers taking a chance on an incredibly talented pass rusher. Dom Capers is going to have all sorts of fun figuring out ways to put Peppers in the best position to succeed. More importantly, a major threat opposite Clay Matthews will be detrimental to opposing offenses.
Sam Shields was the No. 1 player Green Bay had to sign this offseason. The top 10 cornerback, who has the potential to be in the top five if he continues to improve his game, has an unlimited amount of potential. What he’s shown in just four years is very encouraging, especially for a player that went undrafted. Personally, I can’t wait to watch him blossom into one of the best corners in the league over the next few years.
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