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Cheese Curds, 3/11: Good luck predicting what Packers will do in free agency

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With so many players and positions being mentioned in connection with the team, it feels impossible to know what will happen this week.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally here. Free agency begins in earnest today around the NFL — the league opens up its negotiating period at 12 noon Eastern, allowing agents for unrestricted free agents to begin talking to other NFL teams about their clients. While no deals can be signed and no visits taken until after 4:00 PM on Wednesday, expect to hear plenty of reports of handshake agreements taking place in the intervening time.

For the Green Bay Packers, reports and rumors are swirling. General manager Brian Gutekunst will have plenty of options on this year’s market for positions of need, and he currently has about $35 million in salary cap space to work with. That could increase if the team cuts or renegotiates contracts with Jimmy Graham and/or Nick Perry, however, and the latter still appears to be a serious candidate to get the axe if he is not willing to take a pay cut.

Of course, pass-rushers and safeties are two of the biggest positions to focus on. They’re both spots where there are some intriguing free-agent options, but on the edge the prices appear to be much higher for the mid-level players than at safety. While Earl Thomas is an exciting name, the Packers might need to settle for a lower-tier safety if they sign any of the mid- or high-level EDGEs, particularly after one re-signed a new deal on Sunday evening.

With negotiations beginning in just a few hours, here’s your primer on where things stand.

FMIA: Looking Back at Antonio Brown Trade, Looking Ahead to Free Agency – ProFootballTalk
Peter King has a few nuggets about the Packers on the day that negotiations begin: one, they very well may be in the market to trade for Dee Ford (who could be acquired for the cost of a third-round pick) and two, they tried to trade for Baltimore's Za'Darius Smith in the past. With Smith now a free agent and Milt Hendrickson (former Baltimore scout) in the front office, that's a name to watch in free agency.

Los Angeles Rams retain EDGE Dante Fowler Jr. on one year prove-it deal - Turf Show Times
That's one more edge rusher off the board, as Fowler stays in LA on a one-year, $14 million deal. That will help set the market for some of the other pass-rushers out there this year, though the one-year term will balance that out a bit.

Deep safety class in free agency bodes well for safety-needy Packers | Packers Wire
Of course, many eyes will also be on the safety position instead of pass-rushers. While Earl Thomas is clearly the cream of the crop, there are plenty of other players on the market this year, which could lead to prices being depressed for a second straight year. Note that Eric Weddle — recently released by the Ravens — has already signed with the Rams.

Report: Packers have interest in RB Mark Ingram | 247sports
No thanks. If the Packers want to invest in a free agent running back, I'd much rather see them go after Tevin Coleman. Matt LaFleur already knows him and how to use him, and he'd be a much better fit for the Packers' offense than Ingram would be.

Packers should keep Nick Perry over Jimmy Graham | Packersnews.com
This is an interesting take, and one I'm not sure how to feel about. The argument is that pass-rushers are tough to find -- and much more impactful than tight ends.

Max Scharping’s passion for football starts at home | Packers.com
This Green Bay native played both tackle and guard at Northern Illinois, and could be a late-round target for the Packers.

Packers should keep Nick Perry over Jimmy Graham | Packersnews.com
This is an interesting take, and one I'm not sure how to feel about. The argument is that pass-rushers are tough to find -- and much more impactful than tight ends.

Max Scharping’s passion for football starts at home | Packers.com
This Green Bay native played both tackle and guard at Northern Illinois, and could be a late-round target for the Packers.