The Green Bay Packers currently carry 89 players on their roster. One player who remains available on the free agent market is one who played a big role (both literally and figuratively) for the Packers in 2013: defensive lineman Johnny Jolly. Jolly has, unfortunately, been facing recovery from a neck injury, and has not been cleared to return to football.
According to Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Jolly's agent told the newspaper on Friday that Jolly's personal doctors have cleared him to return to football, including full contact practices.
Of course, it is no guarantee that the Packers' medical staff would concur with Jolly's doctors determination, but it seems that it would be well worth a look. Jolly was a consistent contributor in the Packers' base 3-4 defense, playing in 13 games and starting eight, and was at least part of the reason for the team's success in defending the run early on in the season.
Before this news came out, CheesheadTV's Brian Carriveau speculated that bringing Jolly back to fill the 90th spot on the roster would be a good idea:
Not only did Jolly prove too good to cut during training camp last season, he went on to start eight games and led all Packers defensive linemen in tackles per snap (one every 7.55, according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
Jolly may not be a Pro Bowl caliber player, but he proved his worth last season and best of all, he made a comeback from a troubled past and stayed out of trouble.
With an emerging star in Mike Daniels looking to take over the starting left end position and another talented youngster in Datone Jones hoping to break out on the right side, Jolly would not likely be asked to contribute heavily, especially not on passing downs. At his age (31) and size (6'3", 320), Jolly would probably be used much like he was last season - playing 15 to 25 snaps per game on running downs in the base formations. That type of workload seems to suit him well, and would help give the Packers a veteran presence on the line after the departure of Ryan Pickett.
At this point, it seems like a no-brainer for the Packers to bring Jolly in for a complete medical evaluation promptly, and for them to sign him on the spot if he passes all the team's tests.
In his 13 games last season, Jolly recorded one sack, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup, and 21 total tackles (11 solo).