Packers Preparing to Let Free Agent C Scott Wells Walk?

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Packers free agent C Scott Wells might get the chance to test the open market.

Quarterback Matt Flynn and tight end Jermichael Finley have commanded most of the free agent spotlight this offseason in Green Bay, with it being widely assumed that the Packers would eventually come to a deal with highly valuable free agent center Scott Wells sometime in the process.

Not so fast, says Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

While mostly speculating on the issue, McGinn said his best guess would be that “the Packers will play with a new center next season.”

His reasoning?

A bull-headed approach from the Packers on the value of Wells, who has started 100 regular season games for Green Bay since being drafted in seventh-round of the 2004 draft, combined with an equally hot-headed response from the veteran center, who obviously thinks he deserves top-5 money at the position after a Pro Bowl season in 2011-12.

Simply put, the Packers do not think Wells is worth as much as the he and his representation do. Undersized and 31 years old, the Packers have some leverage in the talks.

But Wells has just as much leverage, as he has put together back-to-back seasons of Pro Bowl-caliber play and then watched several other centers, who are older and less talented, get big deals on the open market.

McGinn recalls that David Bass, 29 at the time of the contract, signed a five-year, $27.5 million deal with the New York Giants last offseason. At a $5.5 million salary, Baas ranks fifth in the NFL among centers. Ranking ahead of Baas and Wells are Carolina’s Ryan Kalil, who makes $8.2 million, New York’s Nick Mangold at $7.7 million, St. Louis’ Jason Brown at $7.5 million and Tampa Bay’s Jeff Faine at $6.3 million.

Wells is certainly looking to chisel his name somewhere in that list of top-paid centers. He likely earned it, too, as Pro Football Focus had Wells as the fourth highest rated center in the NFL last season.

The writing has been on the wall for Wells to get to free agency, and I have been under the opinion for a while now that the Packers wouldn’t get a deal done with Wells until after free agency had started.

General manager Ted Thompson has to get a better feel for what the market is on Wells, and to be fairly honest, Wells might get a little wakeup call when he finally gets a chance to hear offers from around the league.

There are an abundance of free agent centers available this offseason and Wells likely won’t be the top target. Houston’s Chris Meyers, who broke out in a big way last season, is likely to be the most pursued center if he hits the open market.

Much like the Packers did with Chad Clifton a couple of years ago, they can let the market help dictate a price then start working on a compromise to bring Wells back to Green Bay. In 2010, the Packers re-signed Clifton a few days into free agency to a three-year, $19.6 million deal. Clifton took a visit to Washington to talk with the Redskins but ultimately decided to stay with the Packers.

In the end, no matter how bull-headed both sides may be, it’s in everyone’s best interest for Wells to be a part of the Green Bay Packers in 2012. Wells is firmly entrenched as the leader of an offensive line that helps guide one of the NFL’s bet offenses. And the Packers don’t have a future plan at the position of any kind.

While Wells could still very easily walk away from the Packers, don’t discount his return just yet. His departure is far from set in stone.

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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.

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  • ZeroTolerance

    TT likes ‘his’ guys. Only Driver and Clifton (Wolff) and Wells (Sherman) remain of players aquired prior to the arrival of TT. I would not be surprised to see all three gone before TC.

    • TedTheSledge

      Huh?? Driver, Clifton and Wells all got contracts from TT already … they are all his guys the entire roster!

      • ZeroTolerance

        Wells is unsigned, not on the 2012 roster. Clifton and Driver have contracts, but can be cut anytime.

        As I said, Driver, Clifton, and Wells are the only players from the 2011 roster which were pPackers prior to TT’s arrival.

        Geeze.

        • TedTheSledge

          Wells’s second contract was given to him by TT, so if TT only likes “his” guys that he brought onto the team why has he already given new contracts to all three?

          Simple … he doesn’t care how or when players joined the packers. To say he shows favoritism to “his” guys is silly and that’s what you led your post with.

          • Oppy

            Agree, Ted:

            LOTS of people like to say, “You know TT.. He likes his guys.”

            Well, OF COURSE he likes “HIS” guys. They are “HIS” guys because he either drafted them, or acquired them as UFAs, or FA’s.

            GM’s don’t go around offering contracts to guys they don’t want on the roster.

            As far as guys like Clifton, DRiver, Wells, and you can throw in Al Harris into that mix, you’re absolutely right- TT gave the go-ahead to extend contracts for each of them.

            This “TT only likes his guys” thing is tired and silly. TT likes good players, and players they (TT and his staff) believe will become good players.

            Geesh, it’s ridiculous, people.

  • Chad Toporski

    Though not overly concerned, I am a slightly worried by this news. You are absolutely correct in stating, “…it’s in everyone’s best interest for Wells to be a part of the Green Bay Packers in 2012.”

    Offensive lineman can last longer age-wise than other positions. Just look at how long Cliffy and Tausch lasted. I don’t think Wells’ age is necessarily what concerns Thompson. It’s the price.

  • Ron LC

    Hang on to your jocks guys, this is a McGinn story. It oviously sources one of his famous anonymous sources, better known as pixie fairy, invisible play mates he talks to when he is alone. His predictions should always be taken with a grain of salt, make that a ton.

    Wells is good for at least 3 years. Unless GB has a draft plan for a guy who can step in as a rookie and take on Wells role as leader of the line, pay the $5 to $6 million to keep him. EDS is not a substitute for Wells, ever. I’m sure TT remembers how letting Wahle, and in my opinion Riviera, go cost them dearly for years.

    My prediction, Wells stays unless his agent is trying to become Scott Boreass (sp deliberate). Then they will be forced to use the #1 to ensure they get Peter Konz of UW and Neenah (6-5 315). They can’t risk waitiing until the 2nd and hope he drops (this would be my approach if anyone cares and they don’t – sign Wells and go for a C in the 2nd).

    And please stop it with Flynn getting a franchise offer.

    • Pete Kliman

      Wahle and Rivera received big contracts and then both got injured and played terribly.

  • TedTheSledge

    I think Wells is gone if he hiots free agency and that will be the case. He should get a decent enough offer, and I hope he breaks the bank if he leaves. Add the 2013 comp pick he will bring along with Flynn and others. Also his loss could make it easier for GB to enter the FA market this year as they will likely have 2 high 2013 comps and offsetting one of them by bringing in a comparable FA from another team won’t be as painful, they would still have one.

    • http://None NC Cheese Machine

      Agree, Sledge. Five teams have over 40 plus million in cap space. He’s probably a goner.

  • Tarynfor 12

    Whatever or whoever the source,the guaranteed money will make or break it with Wells.This is his last contract and at 31 will want early guaranteed money and that numb$r can send Wells packing.

    @Ronlc,I know EDS isn’t enough to let Wells walk but going after Konz in 1st will cost us more than the 2nd rd pick to get him…it assures us a more project defense next year and watching the SB without the Packers.
    I’ll endure EDS and Rodgers ability to aid him and strengthen the defense in lieu of a center for a 1st and 2nd at least.

    • Pete Kliman

      One sure way to get Rogers killed is to be weak up the middle especially since we’re suspect on the left. However, throwing big bonus money at Wells will work.I believe that we’re 14 under the cap before letting go of Cliff & Driver. This dilemma makes that a much easier decision. I think three yrs. at six with twelve in bonus should get it done.

  • Mark

    Meh, I’d like to see Wells back but if TT can’ afford him, he can’t afford him. I think TT has a good chance at Konz in the 1st, Ben Jones in the 2nd and maybe Brewster in the 3rd round (Brewster would probably require a trade up in that round).

    Of course, that leaves TT with less ammo to use, and it’s sorely needed, on the defensive front 7, but that’s the nature of today’s game. You can’t have players that grade out in the top 5 at their position filling your roster. It’s simply too expensive once they’re up for new contracts.

    I’d still love to see them be able to get compensation this year for Flynn–and an early 2nd rounder would be plenty IMO. That gives TT enough ammo to get 3 quality players–a C, and 2 guys for the Defensive front 7. Oh yeah, Collins had better be able to play in 2012 at a high level . . .

  • Lou

    Time to let him test the market and hopefully they can settle at a mid point like baseball arbitration cases if both sides really want it done. No more A.J. Hawk IMMEDIATE deals, he stole more money than Cletidus Hunt and Joe Johnson combined did from Mike (never should have been a GM) Sherman. We need that cash for Rogers, Mathews, Jennings etc.

  • Oppy

    complete side note here,

    I love that in McGinn’s article he states that Wells remembers the indignity of only getting a base salary of 2-point-something million in 2010, and then 2-point-something-a-little-more-million in 2011… Then goes on to tell us that at 31, this is Wells’ (and his wife’s) last chance at setting up financial security.

    Last I checked, that 4-5-something-million Wells made in two years should make any reasonable couple PLENTY secure financially for the rest of their lives.

    Yeah, I’m picking nits, here. I understand we’re talking football salaries.. But come on. Don’t give me this “Last chance for financial security” line. Last chance for a blockbuster deal? Sure.. But any NFL player who has been in the league for 8 years SHOULD have their finances in fine order. Sadly, they are often morons, and do not.

  • Zack

    You mentioned an abundance FA centers this year. If Wells won’t play unless he gets that much money then play the supply and demand game with the best value center in FA. We can still draft a high quality pass rusher in the first, see if Konz goes to the second and have the FA value center if Konz isn’t available in the second or possibly trade up to get Konz. One thing is for sure, we really need a quality 1st round pass rusher in my eyes which should take priority with or without Wells.