We started the conversation about the Packers biggest draft needs by position group on Monday. Now let’s take a look at possible free-agent targets for Ted Thompson.
It’s probably best to get this discussion out of our system right away. As usual, I doubt Thompson will do much in free agency. He signed Jeff Saturday last offseason, and Saturday ended up on the bench. That’s not going to entice Thompson to run back to the free-agent pool for immediate help.
If Thompson does bring in some free agents, they will probably be system-types — role players that most of us have never heard of that may or may not even make the team. But, hey, posting a blank page probably wouldn’t generate much discussion, so let’s pretend Thompson might want to bring in a guy or two from the outside.
Who might be a good fit? Again, don’t get your hopes up, but it’s at least worth discussing.
Jason Jones, DL
The Seahawks signed Jones to a one-year deal last offseason and he finished with just three sacks in 12 games before getting hurt. Since pass rush from the defensive line is a big need, Jones could fit well with the Packers as a situational pass rusher that can play all three defensive line spots. Jones likely won’t attract a lot of attention, but is still viewed as a guy with some upside, so who knows? The Seahawks signed Jones to a one-year “prove yourself” sort of deal. If he can’t get a multi-year offer anywhere, perhaps the Packers would offer him something similar to what he got with Seattle.
Dan Koppen, C
If one guy who used to snap it to Peyton Manning doesn’t work, why not try another one? Koppen is like a younger version of Saturday, with a little bit left in his run-blocking tank. As Manning’s center in Denver this year, Koppen also is likely used to the no-huddle and setting protection while the quarterback changes things at the line of scrimage. I’m sure Koppen isn’t a realistic option for the Packers, but you never know. Falcons center Todd McClure also will be on the market, but he’s probably not a good fit, either.
Danelle Ellerby, ILB
If Thompson wants to bring a little toughness to the run defense, Ellerby could be an option. The Ravens linebacker received a 5.8 grade from Pro Football Focus for his run defense this season. He wasn’t as good in pass coverage, but looked fine dropping back against Denver and New England in the postseason. I’m guessing Thompson is going to focus on re-signing Brad Jones (I believe he likes Jones’ versatility) and thinks he’ll be fine at ILB with the return of Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith. But if Ted, for whatever reason, feels the need to bring in some new blood, Ellerby could be a good one.
LaRon Landry, S
You want a tougher Packers’ defense? Landry should do the trick. Unfortunately, the time to sign Landry was probably last offseason when he inked a one-year deal with the Jets to try and revive his career. And revive his career he did. Landry returned to form as a punishing tackler and big-hit machine. Yes, he would bring some attitude to the Packers light-hitting secondary, but his price will likely be too high for Thompson to risk it.
Lawrence Tynes, K
Sick of Mason Crosby? Sick of Giants K Lawrence Tynes kicking field goals to beat the Packers in the postseason? Then maybe the Packers should get Tynes in a green and gold uniform. Tynes hit 33 of 39 field goals this season, with a long of 50 yards. Tynes is probably another longshot to join the Packers since McCarthy seems wedded to Crosby despite his struggles.
I think five free agents that the Packers could sign, but probably won’t, is enough to highlight for the moment. Did I miss anybody? Anyone out there, either under or above the radar, that could be on Thompson’s list this offseason?
Remember that the Packers will likely need a couple Brinks trucks worth of cash to try and extend Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji this offseason. If you’re going to bring up possible signings, try to be realistic. Don’t proclaim that the Packers should sign Jake Long, Dwayne Bowe and Landry if they want to contend, because that’s just not going to happen.