Packers XLV

Free Agents To Be Have A Lot To Prove

Posted August 17th, 2011 @ 08:08pm

For a defending Super Bowl champ, the Packers have a lot of players with chips on their shoulders this season that should prevent any kind of Super Bowl hangover. There are the injured guys, who were stripped down to cheerleader status during the epic post-season run and now want to prove that they are key members of a championship team.

Then there is the team's 2012 free agent class. Ten guys who will either be playing for a new contract or to prove to someone else that they deserve new deals. Two players: Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant fall into both categories.

Following is the order I think the Packers will re-sign their free agents, a process that will probably start in the back half of the regular season as the team spends whatever cap money they have to lessen the hit on future years.

The Packers have 10 unrestricted free agents, and barring significant injuries I think the team makes an effort to sign five and lets the other five test the waters.

1. Josh Sitton: The Pack's right guard is on the cusp of being a Pro Bowler and is clearly an ascending and right now the most dependable member of the offensive line. The guess here is the Pack locks him up sometime after the trade deadline passes and Sitton locks up one of the richest contracts for a guard in the NFL. Think Logan Mankins money: 6 years, $52 million, $20 million guaranteed. With two young tackles, the Pack can afford to overspend a bit at this spot.

2. Jermichael Finley: The fact that Finley has yet to finish a season is the main reason he hasn't already gotten a long term contract. The Packers are in no hurry to get this one done and Finley has no leverage to gripe, but if he does finally stay healthy he has a chance to put up Antonio Gates/Jason Witten numbers and to be paid accordingly. At 24 he is just scratching the surface and has a chance to be a Pro Bowl regular.

3. Scott Wells: For a guy who was buried on the depth chart for a while, Wells has turned into a dependable, if unspectacular center who has a complete understanding of this offense and his QB. At 30, Wells won't command huge dollars, but without a real replacement on the roster (Nick McDonald maybe?), the Pack and Wells should come to a reasonable deal.

4. Jordy Nelson: Nelson will be under a lot of pressure to perform on a team with too many weapons to keep everyone happy, provided they stay healthy. The Super Bowl hero also had a number of drops in that game, something he continues to do in training camp. With Driver slowing down, there is a chance to step into a larger role with the Pack. But the signing of James Jones and the potential emergence of Randall Cobb will put the onus on Nelson to show he deserves to be considered a key component of the WR corps for years to come.

5. Erik Walden: He's in a dogfight with Frank Zombo for the starting OLB spot opposite Clay Matthews. If he shows that the guy who destroyed the Bears in week 17 is for real, the Pack will look to re-sign him. If Zombo wins the job, or the team feels they can finally address that spot in next year's draft, Walden could be sent packin'.

6. Howard Green: A revelation picked up off the Jets' scrap heap, Green proved invaluable on running plays and will be counted on heavily in 2011. At 32, he's on the backside of his career, but could be re-signed at a bargain price to be a situational player on this defense for a couple more seasons.

7. Jarrett Bush: His big time Super Bowl performance, notwithstanding, Bush has more lives than a cat. His value on special teams, not his ability as a CB, has kept him on the roster. I can't imagine a lot of teams will clamor for his services, but if he's forced into action due to injuries, he could get an offer and the Pack is likely to let him walk.

8. Ryan Grant: The running back is 28, but has a lot more tread on the tires left than a typical back his age. He played very little with the Giants and injuries have shortened a couple of his seasons as a Packer. That said, barring a huge season, I can't see Grant back in 2012. James Starks and Alex Green will be looked upon to carry the load in 2012.

9. Pat Lee: Only Lee's status as a former second round pick has kept him on the roster. I'm not convinced he's a shoo-in to make the team this season. He's benefitting early from injuries to a couple of rookies, but didn't exactly take advantage on the field against the Browns. Zero chance he's back in 2012.

10. Matt Flynn: In a perfect world, the Pack trades Matt Flynn to a team like the Seahawks, Dolphins or 49ers before the trade deadline and collects an extra high pick in the draft. Meanwhile the Pack rides the arm of Aaron Rodgers to another Super Bowl championship. But there is no way that will happen. When Rodgers went down last season, Flynn showed he is ready to step in and lead this offense. The #3 QB, Graham Harrell is not close. The Pack can't afford to lose Flynn this season. Rodgers plays very aggressively and runs more than most QBs. If he goes down again in 2012, the Pack should be able to make do for a while. As the defending champs and a favorite to compete for another title, the Pack needs a strong backup and they have one in Flynn. At least for this season. Flynn will depart for a big money contract either as a starter or to compete for a job somewhere else in 2012.

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Comments (11):

Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was searching for!

on April 14th, 2012 at 05:36pm

How do you know where Harrell stands? I doubt Flynn would have looked any better if he had to play with 3rd string players .

on August 17th, 2011 at 03:43pm

Dave, Afraid I have to agree with you about Harrell. He was awful. No pocket presence and puts the ball on the ground every time he's hit. He can't be the #2 quarterback on this team.

on August 17th, 2011 at 04:57pm

Hopefully House is good enough to where our top 4 corners are chuck, tramon, sam, and him...then I can sleep without worrying that Pat Lee will see the field this season. He is terrible.. On another note I really hope Jermichael can play a full season; and if he does, that we don't lose him because he wants so much $$$.

on August 17th, 2011 at 05:08pm

Good breakdown Davey, Lee and Grant will be gone next year for sure. I think Lee will get cut this year. How many more chances can that guy get. Looked awful in Cleveland. The other guy that needs to watch out for next year, as I mentioned in a previous comment, is Nelson. With Jennings/Jones and Cobb (if he performs) and a few UFA's, Nelson will be expendable. He certainly has the dropsies in training camp so far. If that continues, he will not get resigned. GoPack!

on August 18th, 2011 at 07:05am

There's nothing to do there so there is a much sellamr risk of him getting into trouble .Perhaps I'm reading between the lines a little too much but,to even infer getting into trouble sounds premeditated with an unknown time and date of implosion.Pay me to stay in this do nothing town or It might be wrong to look that way but,that avenue is there. Just saying.

on August 1st, 2012 at 03:25am

If he can stay healthy, they have to regisn him. That simple. He's going to demand the richest contract in TE history, but they still need to regisn him. Now the real question is: How's this going to affect the salary cap in the future?

on August 3rd, 2012 at 03:50am

Finley is a toss-up.I get a partial sick felenig when I hear the term, Packer People . The term is somewhat negative in a fact that we are looking for people who are only good enough for us because we assign a label to them.Cullen Jenkins I guess was not Packer People because he went for more money.Brett Favre was not Packer People because he was not willing to give up his spot.Many other cuts, were not Packer People for various reasons.The whole notion of that concept is overrated in my opinion. Now, what is not, is team chemistry and willing to play as a unit. While Finley has been out there at times by saying something, or venting frustration, I think he fully understands what he has on his plate. Its one thing to go from being a standout in college and transition to the NFL to rebuild your reputation. He has put in his hours at training camp and really has never thrown anyone under the bus or blamed anyone for his lack of catches at times.I think the key issue is that Finley is worth the money but just un-trust worthy with his value because of his previous injury reports. Not to mention his value of a TE is all about his athleticism. At some point those legs will fail because of wear and tear, and will make Finley become more of a balanced TE like Tony Gonzalez. Finley will have to prove to Ted Thompson and McCarthy that he is worth the contract because the NFL stands for Not For Long .

on May 18th, 2012 at 01:49pm

I guess this conversation is part of a 7-0 start to the seosan. I am most concerned about the remaining 9 games. MM's philosophy is strictly TEAM and that's what will be in place for the remainder of the seosan. As AR has demonstrated so well all the components of the O are used in every game. To be a GB Packer you must play team ball, individual acclaim is a result of how well a player fits into the MM team.I suspect that the apparent lack of negotiation with Finley/Agent is more due to a desire for Finley to see what the market will bear than any deliberate plan on the part of the Packers. And that's fine. Sometime during the off-seosan this issue will be resolved. In the meantime, if he continues his efforts to be as good as he can be without injury, I wish him well no mater what.

on May 18th, 2012 at 06:17pm

I told my brother last year that the Pack won't regisn him. I have my doubts that he is Packer' people. If he could close his pie-hole for the rest of the season and do the little things well, like chip-block, and consistently catch the rock then you sign him. I mean we have 5 tight-ends what does that say. I thought Crabtree was gone this year but he made it and what few throws he gets hedoes not drop, I still remember the catch in the superbowl for about two yards when the Pack had to settle for that fieldgoal, but his difficult catch kept the clock going.

on May 20th, 2012 at 04:07am

does he want to stay and be a cog in a potent Super Bowl ceiablr team or does he want to be “the man” and get paid more money on another team? The often overlooked genius of Coach Billy B. and the Patriots entire organizational structure is that they have created a culture where the players 100% buy into the TEAM FIRST CONCEPT, period.They realize very quickly that nearly every player is expendable, and that if they hit free agency, they will be allowed to go elsewhere for more money because they believe in the younger player stepping up and filling the void.They accept it, and put aside the ego and personal success to embrace the whatever the team needs to win mentality.Even more amazing, often those players who do leave to go elsewhere for more money end up confiding that the move to another team for the paycheck and increased playing time/spotlight was not worth it..This is what the Packers need to accomplish as a organization. They are not there quite yet.

on May 20th, 2012 at 04:46am

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