FanPost

Packer's Impending Free Agents

As I write this, the Packers are down 12 in the 4th quarter to the Cowboys and sit at 6-6-1. I'm not sure what's going to happen the rest of this game, let alone the next two weeks, but I've seen enough to know that the 2013 Packers are not a playoff team. Not even if somehow a tremendous confluence of luck and NFC North suckitude let's them hang around the division race for another week or two. In short, my brain has already shifted to the offseason. Changes are coming, and soon. I personally think it's time for a new defensive staff, but I'll admit that may not happen and move on to the players. Here are the guys who are due to be free agents this offseason: Ryan Pickett DT/DE BJ Raji DT/DE Jermichael Finley TE James Jones WR Sam Shields CB John Kuhn FB Evan Dietrich-Smith C Marshall Newhouse T Andrew Quarles TE Seneca Wallace QB Johnny Jolly DE Rob Francois LB Mike Neal LB James Starks RB CJ Wilson DE MD Jennings S (Restricted) Jamari Lattimore LB (Restricted) Chris Banjo S (Exclusive) A couple of months ago I was pretty worried about that list of guys. Particlarly because the cap is officially an issue now that Matthews and Rodgers have gotten paid. Overthecap.com has the Packers with $105 million committed to players in 2014, and none of the guys on the list above figure in that number. The salary cap in 2013 is $123 million, and while it figures to go up, it likely won't go up by more than 1-3 million. Which leaves the Packers 21 million (at most) under the cap with a draft class to sign that will probably include 1-3 players that fall within the so called "rule of 51" and thus count against the cap too. There are probably a couple of guys who could be cut to clear space (both of our ILB's should be candidates in my opinion, but what do I know?). But the reality is that there isn't going to be room for most of these guys. Assuming no changes in scheme or coaching staff, here's what I think they should probably do with each player: Pickett: Might well retire. If he wants to play another year, I'd offer him close to the minimum with some incentives based on snaps. Raji: Let him go. It's too bad, but the big guy just hasn't been productive for the past 2 years. He's made it clear that he thinks his role is limiting his impact, but the reality is that he's done a lousy job filling that role too. He reportedly turned down an offer for 8 million a year. Frankly, I think the Packers would regret even that contract, let alone what it might take to actually sign him. I think he'll draw a big offer from a team that will turn him loose to shoot gaps, and I'm not entirely sure he's all that interested in coming back regardless of the money. Finley: Let him go. The attitude problems have been pretty minor, but the $ is going to be huge for him, and there's just no room under the cap for that contract for a TE who can't stay on the field. James Jones: I'd make him a priority. We got lucky a few years ago when he hit the market after a year filled with drops and he never really got a decent offer elsewhere. That's unlikely to repeat itself. Even with Boykin developing rapidly and Cobb coming back, I'd be talking to Jones right now about an extension to see if I can fit him in. if he wants market value, he's gone, because the WR contracts the last few years have been insane. Shields: I'd talk to him, and I'm sure they have been. He's been wildly inconsistent this year (he just picked off Romo late in the 4th as I write this), but honestly I still think Shields hasn't hit his ceiling. Scheme matters with Shields, and from the outside looking in, I'm not sure the coaching staff has done him any favors. If I couldn't sign Jones, Shields would be the next guy I talked to. Hyde and House have had their moments, but not enough of them to make me think not taking a shot at Shields is a good idea. And keeping Shields around lets you leave Heyward in the slot when he returns next year. Kuhn: Time to go unless he plays for the minimum. He made 1.8 million in 2013, and much as I like him, a team with 30 million committed to 2 positions can't pay their fullback 2 million. Look for the Packers to take a FB in the draft. EDS: I think he's gone. He's been ok, and I liked how he could function in space with the Packers resurgent power runs this year, but the Packers seem to like Tretter at C from what I've read, and it seems clear to me they're planning on letting EDS go. Marshall Newhouse: Ugh. Don't let the door hit you... Quarles: They'll have to bring him back even though his blocking has been disappointing at times. He's flashed the last two weeks in the passing game. With Finely going and Bostick not ready for prime time, Quarles is probably a must. Hopefully they structure the deal so that his cap number isn't much higher than it was this year. Seneca Wallace: Bye. Jolly: I'd talk to him to see how grateful he really is, but I wouldn't give him much. If he's cheap I'd keep him around for depth with the hope another full offseason would result in some improvement, but honestly he seems to have a hard time disengaging from blockers if he's not shooting the gap, and he's not going to be asked to shoot the gap in Capers scheme. Francois: Decent ST player at times, according to some who know more about that sort of thing than I do, but if he wants more than the minimum, no thanks. Mike Neal: Nope. Not as an LB anyway. Pretty sure the Packers disagree, so he might be back. Starks: I'd like to have him back, but with Franklin around I'm not sure it'll happen. I wouldn't make him a priority, and they probably can't afford him. Too bad, because I think he had a great year in a limited role, and he really appears to have finally figured out how to be patient without being indecisive. CJ Wilson: At league minimum, maybe, but otherwise I'd let him go. Jennings: I'd like to see him gone, but they won't do that. He's restricted. If I was determined to bring him back I'd tender him as low as I could to get a draft pick back and see what happened. Lattimore: I like this kid and I wish he'd have gotten some of Jones snaps down the stretch. I'd tender him at the 7th round and try to bring him back. Banjo: Haven't seen much that's all that impressive, but it doesn't take much with this safety corps either. They kept him and ditched McMillan, so they'll probably bring him back for camp at the minimum. That's a lot of guys walking out the door, and there's little cap room to be had so the replacements will have to come almost entirely through the draft. Like Ted would do anything else. Put your thoughts/guesses at what they'll do below... ... and they just came back to beat the Cowboys. Unbelievable. Still think they'll miss the playoffs, but I never thought they'd win 2 in a row with Flynn playing QB and their defense struggling as badly as it has either.

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