Packers Free Agents: Top 10 to Re-Sign

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Sam Shields is only the second most important UFA the Packers need to re-sign. Who's number one?
Sam Shields is only the second most important UFA the Packers need to re-sign. Who’s number one?

A couple weeks ago, our own Adam Czech took a look at the Green Bay Packers players hitting free agency this offseason.  Of the 19 offensive and defensive players, 16 are unrestricted and 3 are restricted. What I’ve done below is made a list of the top ten unrestricted players Ted Thompson should consider re-signing. They are listed in descending order of importance.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the ranking? Is there someone you would add or replace? Comment below!

 

10. Ryan Pickett

This could be the first year where Pickett’s age has been noticeable. The “Big Grease” has never been a flashy player, and he’s a true two-gap guy, but even in that role he saw some decline. Pickett could still be useful as a veteran leader and run-stuffer; there’s just not much more than that. If he returns, it shouldn’t be at a price anywhere near his last contract.

9. Matt Flynn

It seems like Matt Flynn is destined to be the back-up to Aaron Rodgers for the majority of his career. He got his payday in Seattle, never really saw the field as a starter, and eventually ended up back in Green Bay. The Packers have Scott Tolzien as a project this offseason, but wouldn’t they want to avoid the mess of a situation they had this year and sign Flynn as insurance?

8. B.J. Raji

This guy is going to be the biggest free agent storyline for the Packers. His performance doesn’t command a big contract, but his draft position does. It will all depend on the market, and I have a feeling Ted Thompson will let him test it. Still, if the price is right, it would be foolish for the Packers not to bring him back on board.

7. James Jones

Yes, James Jones can be considered “replaceable.” But this is the same guy who caught 14 touchdown passes for the Packers in 2012. In 2013, he was second in most statistical categories only to Jordy Nelson, and the only player who had fewer drops than him was Randall Cobb. (And Cobb was out most of the season.) James Jones didn’t get much from the market the last time he was a free agent, and he probably see less interest now that he’s hitting 30.

6. Mike Neal

During the offseason OTAs, reports were leaking out that Mike Neal was taking practice time at OLB. It caused a decent amount of controversy; yet, when he saw real game action in that role, fans were pleasantly surprised. He’s done much better in his new place, and the corps of outside linebackers are a bit thin as it is. Thompson still needs to weigh the injury risk, though.

5. Johnny Jolly

This guy was a leader on defense this year. Not only could you see it in his on-the-field play, but you could hear it when other guys talked about him. Jolly brought an energy to the Packers that has been lacking, and he still has gas left in the tank. Provided he clears his neck injury without problems, Jolly should be even better next year with more football conditioning.

4. John Kuhn

Some people call John Kuhn “just a guy,” and I it’s because the bulk of his work rarely gets noticed. Sure, he’ll pick up some yards on fullback dives and draw plays from the shotgun, but he really makes his money as an extra protector. In 77 snaps as a pass blocker, Kuhn allowed zero sacks, zero hits, and just three hurries. He also has very sure hands, making the most out of his dump-off receptions.

3. Andrew Quarless

Beyond Quarless, the Packers are dealing with some very young and unproven players at tight end. He’s not the star we wanted him to be, especially after the gruesome knee injury, but he’s a solid player that has experience in the system. Thompson will likely be looking to pick up a tight end in the draft, though he’ll still have to keep his best options on the team, and right now that’s Andrew Quarless.

2. Sam Shields

This is beyond obvious. Sam Shields has become the team’s best cornerback, surpassing Tramon Williams. Even though there is a plethora of other cornerbacks in the wings, none of them have risen to the same level yet. For a defense that lacks playmakers, it can’t afford to lose one in Shields.

1. Evan Dietrich-Smith

The only reason Shields isn’t number one on this list is because of EDS. If there’s one position you can’t afford to toy with, it’s the center. Beyond just snapping the ball, this guy needs to set the protections and be on the same page with the quarterback. The injured J.C. Tretter will apparently be groomed to take over, but is that a risk anyone wants to take right now? As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    Nice list Chad, except I think a 4-3 defensive team offers Raji more money and he’s gone. By his performance last year, we can be pretty sure a 3-4 defensive team won’t throw money at him. The Giants are said to want both Quarless and Starks. Hopefully too much money isn’t shown to Quarless and TT overpays to keep him, but he’s almost a must sign because of the lack of depth behind him. Other than Quarless I’d hope Flynn, Jolly, EDS, and Shields are kept for sure. Pickett, James Jones, and Kuhn too, but only for very affordable deals. Someone will overpay for Neal. Waldon was given $16 million for gods sake and he was pathetic!

    There’s a interesting article in the Journal that it’s business as usual for Ted T and the Packers this offseason, his approach won’t change. That’s sad news to me considering the middle of the Packers defense. I shudder to think what the middle of this defense could look like from NT to ILB, to the Safety position.

    • Dobber

      When has TT ever said anything to the media that means anything?

      • Razer

        Ha, ha – so true. He has taught MM the same skill.

        • marpag

          The question is: WHY would TT ever say anything to the media that means anything?

          I have no problem whatsoever if TT answers with clichés, platitudes and GM-speak. In fact, I commend him. Why would any organization make their specific intentions public?

          • Archie

            Ron Wolf had moments of candor. Obviously you can’t be spilling your guys all the time but let’s face it, TT/MM just are not good communicators.

            • http://MSN Mark

              TT is an “ass-clown” remember Arch

    • Chad Lundberg

      EDS is a must resign, and I’m glad Chad pointed that out!

      Not only should we not mess around with the Center, but if we don’t resign him, as far as I understand, the Giants want him! We can’t allow that!

  • Hank Scorpio

    The Packers have a much better idea about whether JC Tretter can replace EDS. What they think there will be tipped off by how they pursue EDS. If they low-ball him or don’t even bother, it will be a sure sign they think there won’t be a drop off with Tretter…or Barclay sliding inside. If they pay up, it will be a clear signal Tretter is not ready in their eyes. I really don’t know what they’ll do. Or even what I think they should do.

    I’d like to see Pickett or Jolly re-signed. Both would be better but one will do. It would allow them to work in Boyd more slowly while platooning with a solid veteran.

    There is nobody I trust more than Kuhn when it comes to protecting Rodgers out of the backfield. Lacy is a far better all around back but when they are in pass mode, Kuhn is a better one-back player. He blocks and catches better. And sets a good example for Lacy, who has the size and willingness to be outstanding in pass protection as well. He just needs to work on it. Nobody better than Kuhn to demonstrate how its done.

    The Packers need a TE but I just can’t get myself worked up about Quarless being a “must re-sign”. With the Lions in cap hell, Brandon Pettigrew is an option that may not re-up with his current team.

    Jones & Flynn are luxuries I’d love to have back but only at the right price.

    • Rossoneri83

      I like your suggestion of Brandon Pettigrew. He’s been utilized less and less and also Tony Scheffler cut into his production recently. However, Pettigrew had 71 catches in 2010 and 83 in 2011. His catches have dropped from 59 in 2012 to 41 in 2013, but I think they could get him for a bargain.

      • Dobber

        He was hurt by drops, poor route-running and nagging soft-tissue injuries. He has great potential, though. Sound familiar?

        Still, I see him as one of the poster children for what was wrong under Jim Schwartz in Det. The Lions will be doing the NFC Central a favor if they let Pettigrew go…and with their cap situation, I think they will.

        • Rossoneri83

          True. My assessment was probably overly positive of him as his performance hasn’t been stellar. Despite that, any TE who catches over 80 balls in a season and is only 28 years old has 3-4 (if not more) quality years left.

          • Dobber

            I think he has great potential, as you say. But he’s a bit of a head case, and the previous coaching staff couldn’t keep him on track. That doesn’t mean he won’t re-blossom somewhere else and another team could really hit the jackpot, and you have to love his measureables. Again, sounds familiar, no?

            Rumor is that the Lions might franchise him…which, from my perspective, is a mistake.

            • Hank Scorpio

              If this is accurate:

              http://overthecap.com/calculator/?Team=Lions

              The Lions would be making a huge mistake to franchise Pettigrew @ around $8 mil. Taking away Nate Burleson gets them out of the red. But they need $4-$5 mil for rooks. They’d have to go with one or more June 1 cuts or convert salary to signing bonus to keep Pettigrew at that number. Either way they are pushing money forward. With the numbers in the “Projected Dead Money” column, that’s not a good idea.

        • Barutan Seijin

          Pettigrew drops a lot of balls. But is he better than Quarless? I’d say yes.

          It depends on the price and who the Packers can draft.

    • Dobber

      Flynn will likely come fairly cheaply given his recent experiences. I don’t know if any other team will throw any meaningful money at him.

      As I said before, I suspect EDS is gone. If the Packers really felt that they needed him back (relative to replacements) there would have been more on this front. TT will let him test the market and try to bring him back cheaply if there are no takers.

      As far as the TE position goes, this is a potential quagmire for the Pack. Wolf always said that one of his failures as GM was not providing Favre with enough high-quality toys. Can’t have a hole at the TE position when Rodgers is at his best. STill, as pointed out here, there are several good pass-catchers on the market (as are Quarless and Finley) this year. One of them needs to land in GB.

      Didn’t Pickett play a large portion of the season with a bum knee?

    • Razer

      EDS can test the FA market and will be back as a Packer. Who is going to pay a very average center big money in free agency? TT knows that he will get his center at his price.

      The only guy that TT didn’t want out there attracting FA money is Sam Shields. But Shield’s agent is Drew Rosenhaus so his resigning is not likely.

      As for Pettigrew, we don’t need another guy who forgets to get into the game. There are plenty of big TE’s entering the draft who could fit the Packer scheme (which really doesn’t use TEs). I also really don’t want a Lion’s reject.

      • Dobber

        They don’t have to pay EDS BIG money, just bigger money than TT wants to pay him. Honestly, I don’t think that’s hard to do. When you look at salaries at the OC position, EDS was paid below the average (this site isn’t perfect, but it gives us a picture of salary at the position)…
        http://www.spotrac.com/rankings/nfl/average/center/
        How much would it take to lure him away without even placing him near the top of his position?

        “I also really don’t want a Lion’s reject”

        UGH…the thought of being sandwiched in a pecking order between the Lions and Vikings is pretty repellent…

        • Razer

          That is a good site – good information. Thanks.

      • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

        The Colts paid Walden $16 million. You never know what some of these clubs might do anymore.

    • Bedroske

      Lacy graded out very close to Kuhn in pass protection. I’m not sure what value Kuhn offers if Lacy is a 3 down back. He’s a better run-blocker than Lacy. ;) He may know the offense better. To me, that’s veteran’s minimum.

      • Hank Scorpio

        I think Kuhn can be had for the vet minimum or only a little bit more. That is sort of the assumption I’m working under anyways.

        But if recent history has taught us anything, it is that the bottom of the roster is important, too.

      • http://MSN Mark

        Kuuuuuuuhn will retire a Packer, and well paid for a FB. He takes care of “the franchise.”

        As far as grades, there is no grade for the amount of steam his devastating blocks take out of the pass rushers. Jared Allen seems to be Kuhn’s favorite victim. Watch, you can see Aldon Smith take plays off when ha sees #30 after getting de-cleated by him in the second quarter last game.

    • Stroh

      In regards to EDS. I would really like him back but I’m fairly comfortable going w Tretter at C. He’s an Ivy league grad so you know he’s very intelligent and he would have 2 VERY strong OG next him that know the calls inside and out to help him. IMO its mostly about continuity than the OL calls. So I certainly wouldn’t get into bidding for him. Give a fair offer. If he accepts great if not move on w Tretter!

      Shields is highest priority. Followed by Quarless Jolly Neal Raji Kuhn and Flynn. The latter 2 won’t draw much if any interest so I consider them foregone conclusions.

      Jones can leave for anything over the vets min. Boykin is as good and I think they’ll draft WR in the 3rd or so. If Raji leaves then Pickett on a one/two yr deal. One of Raji or Pickett needs to come back. We don’t have a NT otherwise. Pick is about done so would rather have Raji back and actually playing NT instead of DE. He has to be the NT going forward if he is signed! No more of the playing him out of position crap!!

  • Rossoneri83

    Great list! Only one I disagree with is Raji. If the Packers offered $8M and Raji already rejected it, then there is no other price that would be right for him. Anything over that would be overpaying. He may go somewhere else and be a beast, but he’s been terribly inconsistent to demand that type of money.

    If Jolly and Pickett come back — and they absolutely have gas left in the tank — then that will help bridge the gap with the younger guys like Jones, Boyd, Worthy, Daniels, etc.

  • John

    Excellent article Chad, Thanks. My only wish is that Packer fans and management don’t overrate Packer players. If a free agent is better than a Packer player, use the money to sign the free agent and cut the Packer. IE: Raji or Byrd. No comparison in my book.

    • Dobber

      The big difference between Raji and Boyd is that Raji can (and should) play the nose. Boyd is more of a 3-4 DE, isn’t he?

      • Razer

        I think John is referring to Jarius Byrd, the Bill’s safety.

        • Dobber

          Well, I wouldn’t sign him to play NT… ;)

          • JimR_in_DC

            Hahahaha!

  • Since ’61

    Since our offense is the strength of the team I would try to keep the offense as intact as possible. JJones is expendable because of Boykin. The others should be kept for the right price. On the defense, I would try to resign Shields and see what happens in the market for the rest. Pickett and Jolly probably will not generate much interest and be kept at reasonable salaries. If teams want to overpay Neal and Raji, let them. As the old saying goes “we can be 25th or 26th defense with them and we can be 25th-26th defense without them”. Thanks, Since ’61

    • Dobber

      “As the old saying goes “we can be 25th or 26th defense with them and we can be 25th-26th defense without them”

      Huh. Just how old IS that saying? ;)

      • Since ’61

        Dobber – I enjoy your posts and your sense of humor. My quote is a paraphrase of a Casey Stengel quote when asked by his owner about keeping one of the players on the old New York Giants baseball team (before Casey managed the Yankees). Casey replied “I was last place with him and I can be last place without him. The same applies to Raji and Neal for the Packers. Our defense can rank 26th with them and we can rank 26th without them. Thanks,Since ’61

        • Dobber

          We have a similar saying here at our 4-year-private institution of higher learning that we use with students who are on the edge of being dismissed for gpa, and that is, “you can fail out of community college for a lot less money than it’s costing you to fail out of here”.

          Thanks for the note!…and I enjoy your posts. I’m very stream of consciousness, and I certainly don’t mean to be dismissive of your content in any way.

          • Since ’61

            No offense taken Dobber. I enjoy the various points of view and debates that we have on this blog. As long as it’s not derogatory or personal, it’s all good. Thanks, Since ’61

          • John Willard

            Dobber, I’ll bet you love reading James Joyce…
            As far as all the free agents, we will lose a few…Would especially like to keep Neal, Jolly, and Kuhn. Shields will sign elsewhere, as will Raji, and for less than the $8 mill. a year the Packers offered mid-season.
            One simple question to all: “Why would we be interested in re-signing an ‘average’ center?
            On another note, we need a starting safety who is a playmaker, either through the Draft or free agency.
            Last thought…why did Tramon Williams suddenly come to life in the last few games of the year?

  • packett

    If TT is a ‘draft and develop’ guy like everyone says…then he’d keep a high number of these FAs. I would expect a ‘D&D’ philosophy to include most of your list…and then some; maybe except for shields and Raji (too expensive). But I don’t think the Draft and Develop label is accurate. TT is more a “Draft and Replace” manager. He gets as many draftpicks as possible, and plays gets good players because the percentages of gems-per-busts…just work out ok if you have more picks. Its not a bad strategy…but, let’s see if he is truly a “Draft and Develop” guy by how many quality FAs he retains.

    • Hank Scorpio

      How many of those FAs are quality players? When I looked over the full list of 20 guys no longer under contract, I was struck by how few of them I thought would be tough to replace.

      I appreciate continuity so I’d like a fair number back. But TT’s philosophy is to keep the core group together. I’m not so sure many of these 20 qualify.

  • Rossoneri83

    I couldn’t agree more on re-signing Evan Dietrich-Smith too. Why the Packers would experiment with an unproven rookie like J.C. Tretter is beyond stupid and reaches into the realm of imbecilic.

    If EDS got injured late in the season and Tretter came in and performed well, then I could see why the Packers would let EDS go. But that did not happen and it’s not like EDS would command a ton of money, but he’s certainly earned a contract in my book.

    • Razer

      I think that our O-line is average at best and our center is the definition of average. Having said that, he is the best we have. Tretter was a LT at Cornell and is not a center. You have to resign EDS or you push the reset button and the learning curve starts all over.

      This argument is typical of a Packer problem. While we can retrain guys, why don’t we find guys that fit, play and improve in their native position. Instead, we roll the dice and hope that a guy works-out. Both our O-line and defense suffer from this constant experimentation. Very frustrating.

      • Dobber

        I think the OL thing is less of an issue than the DL thing…given that OT tend to be the most athletic players on the OL, the idea that you can use them to build a very athletic, mobile pass-blocking line has merit (at least from my limited perspective).

        The DL thing has a different set of issues, but they become less glaring in my mind given the interplay between defense and offense you expect in GB…that just didn’t materialize this year.

      • marpag

        Josh Sitton and TJ Lang are probably the most underrated guard tandem in the league. They’re not THE best, but their up there.

        In college, Sitton played 11 games as a freshman at guard, and started the entire rest of his career at right tackle. Lang was a DEFENSIVE lineman as a freshman, and then started the rest of his college career at OT. I’d say they made the adjustment to guard pretty well.

        In fact, who are the best guards in the league? I’d say Evan Mathis. He played three college seasons at tackle and one at guard. Who do you like? Marshal Yanda played a few games as a guard, but far and away more at tackle when he was at Iowa. Andy Levitre? Logan Mankins? Jahri Evans? All were college tackles.

        To be fair, I will admit that most good centers were centers in college as well. But still this issue of moving players from one position to another within the same unit doesn’t really worry me.

        As for the defense, how many draft picks get switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 (or vice versa) when they go to the pros? Or how many DEs get moved to OLB? EVERY team in the NFL does this, and they do it a lot.

    • Dobber

      We all assume that the natural plug-in at C is Tretter, but the name that hasn’t been dropped very often in this context is Lang. This all presumes the Packers wouldn’t be better with Lang–who has game experience at C–sliding over and someone else stepping in at RG. There are contingencies…

      • Johnny

        Lang is a possibility, with Bulaga returning & Sherrod around, there a some different O-line configurations MM could try out. Lang to Center, Barclay to Guard(I think that’s his more natural position) and RT could be Bulaga or Sherrod. Put me in the camp that felt EDS was average, always seemed to be getting walked back into the pocket.

        • Dobber

          I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of any number of guys currently playing OT (Bulaga, Sherrod, Bakhtiari, Barclay) ending up inside. Someone else said it: put the best 5 on the field. I think that’s great advice as long as the chemistry works.

        • GB fan in DC

          Lang seemed to be clicking at G and looked lousy at C. Hope he stays where he is and is not diluted into a C in camp.

          • JimR_in_DC

            I agree with you completely, GB fan in DC!

      • GB fan in DC

        I think Barclay could get another look at center too. If EDS gets too good an offer, TT could leave it to Trettor and Barclay to battle for the spot.

        Which brings we to tackle – I must admit that like thought of Bak, Bulaga and Sherrod duking it out to see who will start and who will come off the bench as a 3rd tackle.

  • Razer

    Dline – Unless we resign either Raji or Pickett, we are going to have trouble in the trenches. I am not a Raji fan and Pickett may only be able to contribute in some packages. Either way we need a good veteran for next year.

    TE – I doubt Finley will play for the Packers next year so we need someone at TE. Our offense could work on all cylinders, if we incorporate a solid TE (MM needs to include the position in his playcalling). At this point, Quarless is the best that we have.

    QB – If Rodgers gets hurt again are you guys going to be happy with Scott Tolzien. I thought so.

    James Jones, Starks and Kuhn. Ted will draft cheaper, younger versions of these guys.

    Mike Neal plays out of position. Not on the line anymore and not really a linebacker. How much do you pay for a guy that needs to be retrained for a scheme that has a bunch of players that don’t fit.

    Johnny Jolly – how could you not like the guy. He came back out of shape and fought his way back into the lineup. Now a neck injury. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t hit 350 pounds this off season.

    Sam Shields is the one that I want to see back because he keeps the secondary solid going forward. He will be the only one that will command big FA money. Goodbye Sam.

    • Rossoneri83

      I agree with what you said about D-Line, TE and QB. However, TT will not draft cheaper versions of Jones, Starks and Kuhn. The FB is practically being phased out, Boykin will replace Jones and DuJuan Harris and Jonathan Franklin will replace Starks.

      I’m no Dr., but I’ve heard that Jolly’s injury is not as serious as Finley’s. The Packers love his attitude and nasty streak and Jolly has loyalty for them because the Packers gave him a 2nd chance. He won’t balloon to 350 lbs. either, that is crazy talk.

      • Razer

        I hope that you are right about Jolly. I have seen very little evidence that Jolly keeps himself in top shape. He wore down fairly quickly this year.

    • Katsuya

      Yeah, they should bring back Pickett, because he’s a vet and actually tries, unlike Raji. They should draft a young and hungry NT high in the draft this year and let him learn under Pickett.

  • Ed Schoenfeld

    Great article and I enjoyed the comments.

    My one concern on this list is Jolly, who had a neck injury that may end his career. Otherwise I think the evaluation is pretty accurate.

    Shields and EDS will be the test cases for how much TT is willing to spend on a starter who can solidify a position group.

    Outside of those two, every FA the Packers have is a ‘keep at the right price’ value proposition (except maybe for Seneca Wallace or Marshall Newhouse, who imo need to be let go even at the minimum.)

    Part of that value will be set by where these players rank on the list of actual UFAs at their positions. Many good players on other teams will get tendered or signed before the free agency period starts, that’s why it is way to early to talk about players like Byrd.

    • Hank Scorpio

      I think we’re past the test stage of TT’s philosophy in regards to retaining his own players. I think the track record is clear: He pays his guys what he thinks they are worth.

      Rodgers, Matthews, Nelson, James Jones, Finley, Sitton, Lang, Hawk, Brad Jones, Tramon Williams, Woodson, Nick Collins, Pickett, Kuhn, Crosby and Burnett were all signed to 2nd deals that were not throwaway deals by TT. Sometimes he got good value, sometimes bad value and sometimes the value was about right.

      In other cases, guys got to the open market and found a more lucrative payday than what TT offered. Cullen Jenkins, Scott Wells and Greg Jennings come to mind.

      If TT’s tenure to date is any guide, he will set his price for all the FAs. Some will be set at zero. He’ll be the high bidder on some. If he’s not, he’ll move on.

  • James David

    Sign ED-S, Sam Shields, Johnny Jolly if he is healthy and Matt Flynn if affordable. GB needs to get lucky with its compensation Picks like a 3 and a 5. It is way to early but if I were TT, my draft would look like this: #1 FS C.Pryor, #2 DT D. Mc Cullers/NT D.Q. Jones, #3 ILB C. Borland/Y. Smallwood,and #3 comp. CB/S K. Mc Gill.

    • Rossoneri83

      Agree on all accounts of the signings you mentioned. I forgot about the compensation picks — good point. My mock draft is as follows: #1, DT Louis Nix (Notre Dame), #2 FS Deonne Bucannon (Washington State), #3 OLB/ILB Christian Jones (FSU), #4, TE Jacob Pederson (Wisconsin), #5 OLB/ILB James Morris (Iowa), #6 OT/G Andrew Norwell (Ohio State), #7 CB Bennett Jackson (Notre Dame)

  • Kurt the Turk

    So GB carried 5 TEs this year and last, butnow that Finley’s carreer looks to be over the other 4 are so bad TE is STILL A need?

    So why were 5 TEs kept these past two years if 4 of them are no good?

    • Razer

      Great question. Other than Finley (at times) MM’s play calling didn’t seem to include a TE. Tight ends and linebackers, we have a ton of them but its hard to find a TE or LB in the bunch.

      Sorry, having a bad day.

    • Barutan Seijin

      I guess the answer to your question is that the team didn’t think they could get anyone better given the constraints of cap, draft picks and needs elsewhere on the team. They might have been wrong about Mulligan, whom they cut loose after training camp. He can at least block.

      You saw the games. Did the non-Finley Four impress you in any way? Bostick seems to be the most athletic, but he’s very raw. Also, i don’t think he has Finley’s gifts. I guess he could blossom into the poor man’s Jermichael Finley. You could do worse than that.

      Quarless made a catch now and then. On the other hand, he’s lost some speed & he’s become a bad blocker. He’d make an OK second string TE. I’d want someone who does something well in front of him.

      Ryan Taylor played on special teams. I can remember him getting flagged a few times on kicks.

      Stoneburner? Can’t figure him out. Cheaper than the alternatives?

      • Hank Scorpio

        Part of the justification for keeping that many TEs was STs. STs is a great consideration for the back end of the roster but you don’t want a bunch of STers playing TE.

        Under contract right now is Bostick, Taylor and Stoneburner. 2 are ST guys that make little contribution on offense. The 3rd is a no-block, pass catching type. I would be ok with adding Quarless to that and heading to camp. Or another FA. Or a relatively early pick.

    • http://MSN Mark

      Trade the rights to all five of them to get Crabtree back. The only one that would be missed is Taylor on not so special teams.

  • funcrusher

    I really hope Mike Neal is back next year. Some people underestimate what a difficult transition it is from 34 DE to OLB. He didn’t do much early, but by the end of the year, he was playing well. I think he could take a huge step next season.

    Plus, with how often Perry and CM3 are hurt, they need an extra OLB who can play

  • Bill

    I don’t think EDS will be a priority unless there are more injuries to the O-line. I like EDS but he is a backup at C/G at best. He is the strongest lineman but very limited range and athleticism. I would sign Newhouse over EDS for backup if he can get a hint of a nasty attitude, maybe with Sherrod coming back he can light a fire under Newhouse.
    Bulaga,Sitton,Lang,Bahktiari,Sherrod, 2014 starting line. Barclay,Tretter and Newhouse are backups that can spell the starters so they can really grind down a defense in the 4th quarter.
    I have no problem with the rest of the free-agents. Spend the big money on Raji and Shields. Do every thing possible to keep Quarless,Starks,Kuhn,Jones and Neal.
    Flynn is a big signing if he can accept the fact he isn’t an NFL starter.

    • JimR_in_DC

      I think Newhouse needs a change of scenery to keep his NFL career going. He’s bottomed out in Green Bay.

  • 1stngoal

    I would have to put Matt Flynn at #3 on that list. As this season showed, the Packers need a dependable back-up to Aaron Rodgers, and Flynn is that guy. He’s not flashy by any means, but he is dependable and knows the playbook inside and out. If the Packers don’t re-sign James Jones, I would love to see Thompson make a run at Hakeem Nicks from the Giants. It probably won’t happen, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed…

    • Hank Scorpio

      I look at Flynn a lot like I look at Quarless. They need a guy at that spot. The guy they had in 2013 is my first choice. But there are other options if the first choice falls through.

  • aaronqb

    The good news is that none of these guys are “must re-sign”. I’d rate Shields at the top of the list, though. He is one of the top cover corners in the NFL. The question will be price.

    EDS is a solid center, but may not have much more upside. I’m sure the reason Tretter was activated was so the coaching staff could watch him practice and determine whether he could start next year. If not, there may be better options at center than EDS, including the draft.

    I expect a very large list of veterans who will be testing free agency. The most important players are under contract, except Shields.