With 17 free agents and just under $10 million in salary cap space carrying over into 2014, changes are coming to the Green Bay Packers roster.
We’ve already taken a look at upcoming Packers free agents on defense. Now let’s examine the decisions Packers general manager Ted Thompson has to make about free agents on offense.
WR James Jones
When Jones hit the open market in 2011, there were few buyers and he ended up back in Green Bay. After three good seasons, will Jones find more suitors this time around? He’s been a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver his whole career, but Jones has had stretches where he kinda sorta looks like a No. 1. At 29 years old, though, I doubt anyone will pay Jones as a No. 1 receiver and it could lead to him once again landing back in Green Bay at another Packers-friendly contract. With the emergence of Jarrett Boykin down the stretch, Thompson has plenty of leverage when negotiating with Jones and might even feel comfortable enough to move on entirely from the man who wears a sleeveless turtleneck. It’ll be interesting to see if Aaron Rodgers lobbies for Jones to be re-signed like he did back in 2011.
TE Jermichael Finley
This one will be up to the doctors. If Finley is cleared to play football again, how big of a contract is a team willing to give him? Does Finley sign a cheaper one-year deal and try to prove himself all over again to land a fat deal in 2015? Even if he is cleared to play, are the Packers interested in re-signing him?
TE Andrew Quarless
Quarless didn’t come close to filling the playmaking void left by Finley, but he did have a few moments. Quarless’s future will be determined by what happens with Finley and whether the Packers address the tight end position in the draft.
C Evan Dietrich-Smith
The Packers put the lowest restricted free-agent tender on Dietrich-Smith last offseason and were able to retain him. When Dietrich-Smith hits the market this offseason, he should have more interest. The Packers were effective on the ground in 2013 and Dietrich-Smith’s physical play was a contributing factor. But with J.C. Tretter waiting in the wings and capable centers available in the mid-rounds of the draft, Thompson could choose to save some money for other areas of the team and let Dietrch-Smith find work elsewhere.
QB Matt Flynn
I doubt another team is going to throw a big contract at Flynn like the Seahawks did after the 2010 season, so look for Flynn to be back as the backup quarterback. It’ll be nice to go through a preseason without gnashing our teeth about the inexperience and incompetence at the backup quarterback position. Flynn did exactly what a backup quarterback is supposed to do: Make a few plays here and there and keep the team above water until the starter returns.
RB James Starks
I wonder if someone will throw a fat contract at Starks. Yes, the injury questions will always loom over him, but he looked faster than he ever has this season. At times Starks appeared to be controlled by 15-year-old kid holding down the turbo button while playing Madden Football on the PS4. I’d love to have Starks back as a speedy, yet powerful, complement to Eddie Lacy, but don’t be surprised if the Packers can’t match offers from other teams and Jonathan Franklin and DuJuan Harris have to step up as backups.
FB John Kuhn
Kuhn’s block on Julius Peppers in the season finale might have been worth $10 million by itself. Is anyone else going to throw a decent contract at pass-blocking fullback who occasionally crashes forward for 1 yard or catches a dump-off pass? I don’t think so. Look for Kuhn to return at a team-friendly price.
RB Kahlil Bell
T Marshall Newhouse
Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod should be back next season, meaning Newhouse’s days in Green Bay are probably over.
QB Seneca Wallace
Wallace couldn’t beat the Bears and exited after one series against Philadelphia. His day with the Packers are over.