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Free Agent Targets #5 & #7 - MLB Ray Lewis and MLB Bart Scott

Back to this list, which was borrowed from I skipped the #4 free agent because Dallas WR Roy Willams (aka RW2) was actually given a fat new contract back in October. Not that I would have expected the Packers to have pursued him.

Moving ahead to target #5, Baltimore MLB Ray Lewis, it seemed like a good idea to combine him with Baltimore's other MLB Bart Scott, who is ranked as the 7th best free agent in 2009. It's likely that LB Nick Barnett and LB A.J. Hawk will move into the two middle linebacker spots in the new 3-4 defense in 2009, so that's who they are going to be compared to.

Lewis is among the greatest middle linebackers to ever play in the NFL. He'd be higher on this free agent list but he'll be 34 next season and he's played in 178 games. That's a lot of mileage. But he hasn't been sidelined with injuries often during his career either. He's not crazy good like he was back in 1999-2001, but his last three seasons have been pretty consistent with approximately 80 tackles, 10 pass defenses, 2 INTs and 3 sacks. Those numbers are about the best we could expect from either LB Nick Barnett or LB A.J. Hawk. In 2009, he should still be better than either of them.

Scott had a monster 2006 season, but that was the exception. A normal season for him is 60 tackles, 5 pass defenses, 0 INT, 1 sack. He's a good player, but he's no better than Hawk and not as good as a healthy Barnett. Plus, a few Ravens fans are content to let Scott walk if it means they can resign Lewis and/or LB Terrell Suggs.

If the Packers went after either Lewis or Scott, it would probably be the end for either Barnett or Hawk. I don't think Barnett or Hawk would work well as an outside LB in a 3-4, it's better to have hybrid DE/LB types on the outside, and GM Ted Thompson is probably not ready to give up on either Barnett or Hawk. Even signing Lewis and then trading Hawk for draft picks would strain the salary cap and not provide a huge upgrade.

I don't expect the Packers to pursue either player, and I don't think it would be a good idea to pursue either of them anyway.