USA TODAY Sports
Ted Thompson is not typically a big player in free agency, but he has signed these players when need and value meet. One player who may fit that need and come at a good value is defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois.
While the Packers are not typically big players in the free agent market, Ted Thompson is not afraid to ink a free agent when need and value are present. The Packers are probably not going to make a big splash at this time of year, unless it’s resigning one of their own to a good sized contract. So to avoid frustration, disappointment, or boredom this time of year is to set realistic expectations for free agency and who the Packers will target. These players don’t need to be big names, but represent solid value at positions of need. One player that seems ripe for that sort of target is the 49ers' Ricky Jean-Francois.
Jean-Francois is a 4th year player defensive tackle out of Louisiana State. He was referred to by the 49ers coaches as the fourth starter in the defensive line rotation due to his ability to play all three positions on the line. This flexibility is impressive considering that is he slightly under sized for a 3-4 defensive lineman (6’ 3" 295 lbs). Best of all, Jean-Francois has scored high marks against the run from PFF and could be the long term run stuffing DE/NT that the Packers sorely need right now. He should instantly be an upgrade from the starting C.J. Wilson and be a solid answer for NT after Ryan Pickett leaves his spot on the line.
The main reason why Jean-Francois may be a good target for the Packers is because he is a bit under the radar right now. Jean-Francois was not able to crack the starting line of the 49ers and is currently overshadowed by bigger names such as Cris Canty and Richard Seymour. He is also not a pass rushing threat like Henry Melton or Desmond Bryant. Big names and more interior pass rushers aren’t what the Packers need. They need toughness along the line. They need run stoppers. They need a guy who can take on two blockers anywhere along the line and free up the linebackers to make plays. Jean-Francois can do this, and shouldn’t come at a ridiculously high price.