Veteran free agents can sign with other teams beginning on Friday. The Packers have $36 million of cap room to work with, so they could pursue one of the top free agents available. But with 14 potential free agents receiving the franchise tag over the last week, there aren't many names remaining from the top of the free agent list.
I've looked around the web and come up with zero rumors involving the Packers. If they are considering a fast strike at a big name free agent, they've been keeping it pretty quiet. This might be a good thing since the list of remaining free agents isn't very exciting. The list is from ESPN Insider so you can't read the Scouts Inc. grades, but scrolling through the alphabetical list looking for an unsigned or unfranchised player who might fill a need on the roster, and is actually worth big money, is a hard task. I'll point out four names on the list:
- DT Albert Haynesworth. Any publication you take a look at probably has him at the top of the free agent wish list. No doubt he's a great player, and he's going to want a $100 million contract. I can't imagine GM Ted Thompson getting involved in that bidding war. DT Ryan Pickett and DT Johnny Jolly will return next season to split time at nose tackle.
- DE/OLB Terrell Suggs. He's the guy I wanted the Packers to pursue, but Baltimore placed the franchise tag on him for the 2nd year in a row. It's expected that DE Aaron Kampman will move to left OLB, while Suggs has primarily played on the right side and could have been a good fit. LB Brady Poppinga, with his 3 career sacks in 4 seasons, is penciled in at right OLB, but I hope they find a better player who can provide more outside pass rush than that. Unfortunately, no player of Suggs caliber as a pass rusher is available in free agency. The Packers might have to use their 9th overall selection in the April draft to fill this position.
- DE Igor Olshansky. I'm not excited about a free agent who was benched late last season on a bad San Diego defense. But he's 309 lbs. and played in a 3-4 defense his entire NFL career. He could slide right in as the starting left defensive end, while a (hopefully) healthy DE Cullen Jenkins returns to his customary right side. But maybe the left defensive end spot is where Thompson hopes former 1st round pick DT Justin Harrell can play. I don't expect them to sign a free agent defensive end. I think they'll go with the players they've already got and add another end or two in the April draft.
- P Sam Koch. In this free agent market the best thing the Packers might do is try and sign a quality free agent punter. I'm totally serious. Anyone who watched the P Derrick Frost disaster last season should know what I'm talking about. They ended last season with P Jeremy Kapinos, who's still on the roster, but wasn't much better than Frost. This position was a black hole of suck last season. They could pick up 40 yards/game in field position by just upgrading to an above average punter. Koch is a restricted free agent, but Baltimore has a number of high profile unrestricted free agents to resign and they might let him get away. Scouts Inc. has him rated as the top unsigned free agent punter and one of the top 40 free agents overall.