With so much attention being paid to Sam Shields and B.J. Raji, it's easy to forget the Packers also have a big decision to make regarding Mike Neal's future. The defensive lineman turned linebacker is coming off his best year in the pros, and many teams may wish to acquire the talented but underproductive free agent.
And according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Packers hope to keep Neal in Green Bay.
Source updated on OLB Mike Neal talks said Packers made meaningful offer but not enough to keep Neal from testing market.— Pete Dougherty (@PeteDougherty) March 7, 2014
"Meaningful" is a somewhat ambiguous term. The only thing to glean from Dougherty's description is that Neal probably received a multi-year offer from the Packers. More generally, it does appear that Green Bay believes Neal can be a major contributor in Dom Capers' defense. In his first year at linebacker, Neal demonstrated some ability to rush the passer from an upright stance and play in space. However, to say he's completely transitioned from defensive end is a stretch. Neal doesn't move as fluidly as most linebackers, and the Packers don't appear likely to move him back to the defensive line.
With only two days remaining before free agency beings, Neal's decision to sit on the offer isn't surprising. He and his agent will want to know the going rate for his services, and the Packers aren't likely to pull the offer before Neal can review his options. However, given his familiarity with Capers' defense and his successful first year at linebacker, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Neal back in Green Bay in 2014.