2013 NFL Free Agency: Should Packers Sign Bradshaw, Canty?

Nick Laham

Two recently-released free agents look like they might be a good fit for the Packers, but how seriously should Ted Thompson consider signing them? Tex takes a look at the risks associated with each player.

Yesterday, the New York Giants released two veteran players from their roster: running back Ahmad Bradshaw and defensive lineman Chris Canty. Considering those two positions are areas that most Green Bay Packers fans would agree need improvement, the instant reaction was anywhere from "let's take a look at them" to "SIGN THEM BOTH NOW!" As usual, I'm somewhere on the more conservative side of this argument, so please allow me to explain.

Ahmad Bradshaw will enter his seventh NFL season in 2013, and he put up some pretty solid seasons over the past few years. In 2010, Bradshaw took the lead in the time-share with Brandon Jacobs, carrying the ball 276 times for 1,235 yards (4.5 per) and eight scores. This was Bradshaw's best season, as he played in all 16 games (for the only season in his career) and started 11 of those. His production dropped off in 2011 along with the rest of the Giants' rushing game, but he bounced back this past season to put up 1,015 yards (4.6 per carry) in 14 games. Clearly there's some talent here running the ball, and he's no slouch in the passing game either - his worst year receiving since he became a key part of the offense in 2009 was that season, when he caught 21 passes for 207 yards.

Bradshaw comes with some serious perceived negatives, however. One of these is his injury history, as he has only played all 16 games in a season once. It seems like Bradshaw is consistently a game-time decision, and he appeared on the Giants' injury report 13 times this season (out twice, questionable four times, probable seven times). What is important to note is that despite these various injuries, Bradshaw played 14 games and has never played fewer than 12 in a season (2011 and 2007). He might be a bit of an injury risk, but while he seems prone to minor injuries, he also appears able to play through them.

The final piece to the puzzle is whether Bradshaw would be affordable for the Packers. With his old contract paying him $3.75 million in 2013, it's likely that he will demand a price tag that is too high for the Packers to afford, especially if Ted Thompson decides to try to push for contract extensions with Aaron Rodgers or Clay Matthews. My opinion is that if Bradshaw would be willing to listen to a two-year contract offer, worth perhaps $2.5 million each year, then Ted Thompson should take a long, hard look. If Bradshaw wants a long-term deal with a salary close to what he was earning in New York, he's not worth it.

This brings us over to Chris Canty, the defensive lineman. Canty played end in the Dallas Cowboys' 3-4 defense before switching to tackle in the Giants' 4-3. Canty has a proven ability to compress the pocket from the end position and occupy blockers; in a way, he reminds me of Mike Neal except for the fact that Canty has produced over several years. That is an addition that would be very helpful for the Packers' defense; it wouldn't do much to help solidify the nose tackle position, but it would help provide more depth and veteran leadership at defensive end while the Packers sort out that position.

Canty's drawbacks are injuries and price tag as well. He missed seven games in 2012, mainly at the start of the season after opining on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to knee surgery that he went through after last year's Super Bowl. He did finish out the year healthy though, ending with three sacks. Canty's contract, however, was set to pay him $6.5 million in 2013; there is no way that the Packers would be willing to take on a cap number like that for a defensive end who would potentially split time with Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson. I think he could be a good fit positionally, but he would have to be willing to take a pay cut and probably only sign a one- or two-year contract.

So in summary, I would argue that both players would be worthy of investigation, but only worth signing if they're willing to take a short-term contract for significantly less money than they would have earned this year with the Giants. What are your thoughts?

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