Among the list of potential free agent wide receivers heading into next season, Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe was the only player to receive the good stuff ahead of Monday’s tag deadline, thanks to the Chiefs last minute penmanship on a new five-year contract.
Jennings however, not so lucky.
Some speculated that the Packers may tag Jennings, fool the rest of the league into thinking they were sold on keeping him (and that general manager Ted Thompson had changed his mind on the whole thing), only to then trade him a few weeks later.
But it looks like the Packers aren’t playing that kind of hardball either.
What this does look like though, is the Packers are serious about clearing house. Aaron Rodgers deserves more moolah, and so does Clay Matthews – and if there’s time left over, B.J. Raji is in the same boat.
With the draft approaching, if nothing else, leaving Jennings tagless and homeless could also be a subtle jab to tight end Jermichael Finley – who says he “couldn’t take a pay cut” to stay in Green Bay.
Who knows, that’s just a guess. What isn’t a guess, is what the Packers will do with their remaining free agents.
- (LB) Brad Jones, (CB) Sam Shields
Out of the Packers ten total free agents, the only two that look certain to stay with the team are Jones and Shields at this point. With the linebacker spot marking one of the Packers’ biggest needs in the draft, Jones struggled for game time during various stages of last season, but showed some promise at the inside linebacker spot after transitioning over from the outside. He recorded two sacks for the Packers last season, and is likely to earn a deal sometime soon thanks to his work ethic alone.
Alongside Jones, Shields is the other must-sign player. He remains one of the teams few restricted free agents, but has the potential to become the cornerstone of the secondary due in part to Tramon Williams’ sloppy end to last season and the release of Charles Woodson.
The Packers have been touted for their unphysical play. At least Shields will never shy away from a tackle, and is slowly turning into a lockdown corner.
- (LB), Robert Francois, (LB) Erik Walden, (LB) Frank Zombo, (TE) Tom Crabtree, (OL) Evan Dietrich-Smith
Looking at this list straight up, there’s a lot of linebackers that the Packers could be losing. A lot of this depends on the A.J. Hawk saga, but neither Francois, Walden or Zombo are a huge loss to the middle of the defense, considering the return of Nick Perry and the development of D.J. Smith.
Francois has turned into an average inside man, playing his entire 2012 season on special teams filling roles here and there. Walden hasn’t made much of an impact at all since the Packers Super Bowl season, and will probably come second fiddle in training camp to Perry (depending on his injury). Speaking of injuries, Zombo’s hamstring tear last season cost him vital playing time – leaving him low on the Packers list.
Pack Your Bags
- (RB) Cedric Benson, (RB) Ryan Grant
The stress for the Packers management is finding a linebacker, offensive lineman and running back in this years draft (not necessarily in that order). We spoke before of the Packers lack of physicality, so there is probably zero chance of Benson and Grant returning to the green and gold run game in 2013.
Even though Benson signed a one-year contract last August, there’s a whole lot of baggage that Thompson likely isn’t interested in. At 30-years old, the Packers simply can’t rely on an older running back. Not to mention one with off field issues, a foot injury, and just 248-yards next to his name.
Grant was brought in again late last season to fill a spot on the roster right before the playoffs. He was nothing more than that, just a replacement guy. And unfortunately for him, will likely be looking for work elsewhere once again this offseason.
The Packers are a big chance to draft a solid power runner in the second or third rounds of this years draft. They desperately need someone who isn’t in and out of the roster. Guys like Eddie Lacy and Gio Bernard could be favorites.
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