The window for the franchise tag is now closed and we stand on the doorstep of free agency. It’s the time of year where most fan bases dream of their organization signing whoever is the biggest name out there and how that player will fix their team, molding them into a Super Bowl contender. It’s a time of big ideals and bigger checks.
It’s also a time when the Packers have tended to be dormant. The Packers have long been a draft and develop franchise, preferring to overpay guys who have come up with the team rather than guys from outside the organization. Generally this has worked well. The Packers continue to be one of the younger teams in the league and have a core group of players ready to challenge for a Super Bowl once again. It also helps that the Packers have an elite level quarterback in his prime and routinely find one to two potential superstars in every draft (hello Bryan Bulaga, Randall Cobb, and Casey Hayward). But as we stand on the verge of free agency this year it may be time to ask ourselves if the Packer front office needs to compromise a bit from that stance this year. It is time to dip into the free agent waters and try to address at least one of the needs of the team going forward.
Now I’m not saying the Packers need to go crazy like the Redskins of old. You will never hear me bang the table for a free agent who has a big name and therefore will be overpaid or break the bank. So I will not mention names such as Jake Long, Mike Wallace, or Andre Smith. What the Packers could use is an older veteran looking to contribute to a contender or a younger player who has been stuck as a backup and is now looking for his chance to play a meaningful amount of snaps. These players won’t come at the bottom basement deals we are used to seeing out of the Packers, but the team should get decent value for a quality player who can fill in one of the need areas we have been talking about for months.
The most obvious choice here is Chris Canty. Canty would bring an element of length to the defensive line. He would be great to the rotation and an upgrade over C.J. Wilson. Just imagine a three down lineman of Mike Neal, B.J. Raji, and Canty in passing situations. Not bad right? This already formidable line up gets better when you add in Clay Matthews and Nick Perry along the outside; meaning the Packers could get a very good pass rush and still be in a formation that provides protection against the run…..or a running quarterback.
The Packers will be contenders in 2013 for the NFL’s ultimate prize, but like every other team the Packers need to address some minor concerns this offseason. Unlike many of the past offseasons, those needs are a bit more pronounced and varied. The draft alone may not be enough, and there are not enough young players waiting in the wings who are ready to step up for the Packers. The best way of addressing this is to get a player in free agency, this way the draft can come to you and the team can get value and impact. Getting a player like Canty for the defensive line would go a long way for the Packers’ offseason and makes too much sense to let slip by again.