Green Bay Packers 2011 free agency tracker:
The Packers re-signed fullback John Kuhn on a three-year contract worth $7.5 million. The deal puts Kuhn amongst the highest paid NFL fullbacks.
While you may raise your eyebrows a bit at that, I think it actually makes sense. Kuhn contributed in multiple ways beyond blocking last season, including shouldering some of the running back responsibilities, catching passes, short yardage back and special teams contributor. Kuhn is also a popular player among fans and in the locker room.
Kuhn wanted back in Green Bay all along, but he played it smart and let the market set the price for him. With Houston making a strong push for Kuhn to replace the departed Vonta Leach, the Packers most likely paid Kuhn more than they would have liked. That’s not to say he’s not worth it. Kuhn is a valuable asset for the Packers to have in their hip pocket, but this does affect one of the tight ends being looked at as a possible H back.
He won’t be running the ball as much as last season, but I’d expect Kuhn to help cover for the loss of Brandon Jackson on third downs.
The Packers agreed to terms with Jones on a three-year deal worth $9.6 million.
It sounds as if Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver went to bat for Jones, and when teams in receiver market went elsewhere, Jones decided to come back with the Packers.
We heard Rodgers say that Jones should be the Packers No. 1 priority, but I still have doubts that he swayed Thompson in any way. The more likely reason for Jones’ return to Green Bay was the fact that receiver-needy teams such as Minnesota and New York signed other players, with the Vikings acquiring Michael Jenkins and the Jets Plaxico Burress.
Now, the Packers return all their pass-catchers from 2010. With this many toys at their disposal, expectations will be sky-high for this offense.
The Philadelphia Eagles have signed Cullen Jenkins to a five-year, $25 million deal.
While I figured that a team outside of the three I mentioned initially would land Jenkins, Philadelphia has to be considered a surprise after all the spending they’ve done already in free agency. Jenkins will join a free agent class that includes Nnamdi Asomugha (five years, $60 million), Jason Babin (five years, $28 million), Vince Young (one year, $5.5 million) and Johnnie Lee Higgins (one year, unknown money). Domnique Rodgers-Cromartie was also acquired through their trade of Kevin Kolb.
It sounds like Jenkins will move inside in Philadelphia’s 4-3 defense, and he could get favorable matchups with Babin (12.5 sacks in 2010) and Trent Cole (10) manning the ends. And while it’s always risky to build a football team this way, it’s safe to say that the Eagles are all-in for 2011. They’ll be a big-time contender to dethrone the Packers from the NFC perch.
The Arizona Cardinals agreed to terms with Colledge on a five-year, $27.5 million deal.
It’s hard to fault Colledge for taking nearly $28 million, as he was frustrated with the Packers lack of initiative to re-sign him before this point. And to be fair, the Packers never seemed to be interested in retaining Colledge.
They’ll move forward at the left guard position with either T.J. Lang or Nick McDonald, for better or worse.
The Cleveland Browns agreed to terms with Jackson on a two-year, $4.5 million deal.
The price tag seemed manageable for the Packers to match, but Jackson appears to be headed to a nice situation in Cleveland. While he won’t be the lead back with Peyton Hillis in town, Jackson can take full control of the third down role he mastered in Green Bay.
I’d expect either Alex Green or John Kuhn to assume more responsibilities on third down next season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to terms with Spitz on a three-year deal.
The Packers never seemed intent on keeping Spitz around after he lost his starting job. It makes sense from the Packers viewpoint, as Spitz struggled to stay healthy. He can now return to his hometown of Jacksonville, where he should have a much better chance at cracking the starting lineup.
The Packers agreed to terms with Crosby on a three-year, $14.5 million deal.
The price was steep to keep Crosby around, but the Packers feel comfortable with Crosby’s big leg and ability to kick in all conditions. The latter point is obviously important as the Packers play plenty of games outside in cold weather. And while he’s been inconsistent, Crosby missed just three kicks during the final 12 weeks (including playoffs).
The New Orleans Saints agreed to terms with Hall on a two-year deal worth $2.11 million.
The Packers were unlikely to bring back both Hall and John Kuhn, and Kuhn was the odds-on favorite to be retained.
Hall will go to a revamped backfield in New Orleans, which now features Heisman trophy winner and first round pick Mark Ingram and also Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory. That’s three really good backs that Hall could potentially be blocking for next season.
UPDATE: On August 9th, the Tennessee Titans agreed to terms of a deal with Smith. Terms of the contract were not immediately known.
The Packers do not currently have much depth at safety, but no reports of Smith returning or talking to the Packers have surfaced. Smith was confident before the lockout ended that the Packers would bring him back, however.
The Packers have already given Bigby’s No. 20 jersey to rookie Alex Green. Even so, he was unlikely to be brought back even before this news surfaced.
Wilhem’s agent has told Kareem Copeland that the Packers will not be re-signing the 30-year-old linebacker. As a street free agent pickup last season, this isn’t a surprise.——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2