It's no easy task picking apart the Green Bay Packers after they just won the Super Bowl. But through the TV appearances and lasting championship hangovers that are being felt from last week, a few questions still remain unanswered.
General manager Ted Thompson saw his contract extended throughout the week, while the team now prepares for April and the annual festivities of the NFL Draft. Issues still loom, and by no means is the offseason going to be a snooze. Here's 10 questions the Packers need to answer.
Will Donald Driver Retire?
Reason For: With a ring now to his name, Donald Driver has nothing left to prove in the NFL after 12 solid seasons. Better yet, a high ankle sprain in the Super Bowl highlighted just how fragile his 36 year old body has become.
Reason Against: Green Bay aren't short of receivers, but Driver provides a serious presence up the middle for Aaron Rodgers. With the future of James Jones uncertain, the Packers may be wise to try and milk one more season out of No.80 if he recovers successfully.
What Is the Most Pressing Need in the Draft?
Option One - Cornerback: People are debating whether or not the offensive line is still top priority. Personally, though, the cornerback situation has become much more serious, especially since Charles Woodson and Sam Shields were both injured in the Super Bowl. It was slim pickings for McCarthy when it mattered the most, and for a team trying to repeat, the Packers need some depth.
Option Two - Offensive Tackle: The offensive line stood up to the test this year, but some work still remains. Left tackle Chad Clifton is no spring chicken anymore, so the Packers may be wise to answer this need while they can. Someone like Marcus Gilbert fresh out of Florida could be an absolute steal in the later rounds.
Option Three - Wide Receiver: In the worst case scenario, Donald Driver and James Jones both walk. Therefore, Green Bay are left with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Brett Swain. This isn't a pressing draft need by any means, but a third to fourth round pickup could be useful to stay on the safe side.
Should the Packers Trade Matt Flynn?
Reason For: Aside from the fact that Aaron Rodgers is never going to make way anytime soon, some serious money could be made from a Matt Flynn deal. Several teams such as Tennessee and Arizona are looking for quarterbacks, so why not place Flynn on the market? Nothing will be lost, only money will be made. Flynn is under contract for one more season, so any bidders must propose a worthwhile offer.
Reason Against: There is no guarantee in the NFL, and with Rodgers sustaining two concussions in 2010, the Packers quarterback may be slightly injury prone. Flynn played remarkably well against New England in Week 15 passing for 251 yards and three touchdowns, but losing him could be calling for trouble. If Rodgers was to go down and Flynn was no longer present, the Packers season could be over.
Ryan Grant or James Starks?
Ryan Grant - Yes: Ryan Grant has missed an entire year of Packer football due to an injury sustained in Week 1, which unfortunately labeled him out of the Super Bowl as a result. We all know what Grant is capable of, and prior to Week 1, the Packers run game was firmly on track. It would be foolish not to give him the starting role to begin the season.
James Starks - No: I'm not saying James Starks shouldn't be a part of the Packers roster, but the backup role seems more fitting right now. Starks broke out in the postseason, yet he failed to show any glimpses of talent prior. Super Bowl champion, yes. But a backup role in front of Brandon Jackson for the time being. Some development over the offseason is crucial, as Starks has the skills to be an elite back someday.
Is There Room for Donald Lee?
Why There Is Room: Donald Lee has quietly become one of many veterans on the Packers roster, after joining the team in 2005. His 73 yards and three touchdowns this season were certainly impressive as a backup tight end, while at the same time Lee does possess the ability to provide an explosive play when the chips are down. Aaron Rodgers loves the tight end option, and Lee has always been a favorite.
Why There Isn't Room: With the entire team moving forward, roster room for Lee is quickly disappearing. Starting tight end Jermichael Finley will be back in 2011, while rookie Andrew Quarless played a role in the playoffs. Everybody loves Lee, but some trade value does arise with the position already proving to be competitive.
Will Safeties Coach Darren Perry Stay?
Reason He Will: Darren Perry has seen some serious interest since the Packers playoff run, particularly from the likes of the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders. Still, the question of why Perry would want to leave a winning team is up for discussion. Green Bay's safeties had a huge say in the Super Bowl win, especially on the Nick Collins front. Charlie Peprah continues to grow, and with Atari Bigby expected to be 100% should he resign the Packers can expect another solid defensive year.
Reason He Won't: Simply put, money. Cash is going to play a large part in Perry's decision one way or another, and with teams showing interest, a bigger pacy check could convince him.
Will Nick Barnett Return?
Reason He Will: Should the Packers choose to remain faithful to Nick Barnett, there is a mild chance that he will return in 2011. Barnett missed all of last season due to a wrist injury, but is apparently fully healed and ready to practice. It's a matter of picking and choosing between many talented players, along with discussing contracts.
Reason He Won't: A lot of this issue depends on the Packers themselves. Fans aren't totally in love with Barnett since the team photo incident, and his high salary indicates that either he or fellow linebacker A.J Hawk will have to move over. Green Bay already have four inside linebackers making big money, and after such a great season, no love may be lost if Barnett strays.
Should the Packers Release James Jones?
Reason For: Dropped balls killed the Packers last season, and after James Jones allowed a sure touchdown to sail through his hands in the Super Bowl, the Packers aren't indicating which way they are leaning toward this situation. Other teams may be interested in Jones' services sometime this offseason, but his inconsistency is a growing frustration for the Packers.
Reason Against: Let's not forget the good moments that Jones has had. Against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Round Jones' hands weren't a problem as he caught for 75 yards and one touchdown, so perhaps discipline and attention to detail is the only problem. All of this can be worked on in the coming months.
Does Nick Barnett Make Way for A.J. Hawk?
Why He Does: Ring number four is in hand now, and none of that could have happened if it wasn't thanks to A.J. Hawk. With zero sacks to his name prior to the Super Bowl, Hawk recorded two tackles against the Pittsburgh Steelers and also grounded Ben Roethlisberger once. He's been the lifeblood of Dom Capers 3-4 scheme, and also a true mentor to Clay Matthews, Erik Walden and Frank Zombo.
Why He Doesn't: Hawk has been part of the Packers for five years, compared to Nick Barnett's eight year tenure. So why should Barnett move over just for Hawk? Again, it comes down to money as Hawks contract is worth $10 million right now, and unless he is willing to go lower the Packers may just part ways.
Will Cullen Jenkins Return Among Others?
Cullen Jenkins: In 2007 star defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins signed a four year, $15.8 million contract extension through 2011, which is now coming to a close. Teams are likely to take a serious swipe at Jenkins following the Draft, especially after recording seven sacks this past season.
The thinking is that a big time player like the Washington Redskins or Philadelphia Eagles will come calling, teams that need a defensive presence. If Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers wish to maintain a solid pass rush attack, Jenkins must be kept within the confines of Lambeau Field.
Other Players In Need of Resigning:
-(Fullback) John Kuhn
-(Running back) Brandon Jackson
-(Offensive Guard) Darryn Colledge
-(Offensive Line) Jason Spitz
-(Safety) Atari Bigby
-(Safety) Charlie Peprah
-(Kicker) Mason Crosby
Aside from Cullen Jenkins and James Jones, all of these seven players are expected to stay or leave sometime in the next six months. The Packer check book will be used frequently this offseason, but some talent may be lost in doing so.