Why Haven’t the Packers Signed S Chris Clemons?

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Free agent safety Chris Clemons seems like a logical fit for the Packers.
Free agent safety Chris Clemons seems like a logical fit for the Packers.

The Packers need a safety. Chris Clemons is a decent safety still on the NFL free agent market. So why haven’t the Packers signed Clemons?

Clemons isn’t a star, but he’d be an immediate upgrade over what the Packers already have. He hasn’t missed a start in two seasons and has 187 tackles, three interceptions and 12 passes defended over that stretch.

He won’t light up receivers over the middle like Earl Thomas, but Clemons has range and can cover. That’s what the Packers need.

If you’e into advanced metrics, Pro Football Focus ranked Clemons as the 19th best safety in the NFL in 2013 and the ninth best safety in pass coverage, one spot behind big-money free agent Jarius Byrd.

Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings were ranked as the 63rd and 67th best safeties, respectively. In pass coverage, Burnett came in 58th and Jennings 74th.

So what gives? Clemons seems like the type of player Packers general manager Ted Thompson would bring in. He’s still young, he won’t cost too much, and he’s a solid player.

Perhaps Thompson just doesn’t want to pay a safety again after committing so much money to Burnett. Maybe Clemons has injury concerns we don’t know about. There’s always the possibility of Micah Hyde moving to safety. Or maybe Thompson just wants to do what he always does: bring in someone through the draft.

I’ll be interested to see if Clemons to the Packers gains any steam as free agency advances. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    Thank you Adam, I’ve been beating the Chris Clemons drum before FA even began. On another site where they show teams interested in him he doesn’t show any, not one team! That concerns me a little but given his rankings, he’s young, and hasn’t been injured. I’d rather go into the draft with a Safety you’re sure about, that’s already been doing it in the NFL, than hoping either Pryor or Clinton-Dix falls to you, or Hyde will work out. I love Micah Hyde and he may very well turn out to be a good Safety,God knows he can tackle. I’m just very optimistic about the Packers defense and the way it’s shaping up, Clemons would just add to that.

    • Stroh

      Packers aren’t interested for the same reason all the other NFL teams aren’t. He’s not as good as you think… Face it GM’s know a lot more about football than you do and not one team is interested.

      Another Packer site asked this question a day or 2 ago. Answer was that he’s not as good as fans think. The GM’s know. He gave up well over 50% completion rate and a QB rating of 80. Even Delmas who never practiced had significantly better numbers

      • http://Allpackers.com Nick Perry

        Exactly Stroh, I know this. Unfortunately for those of us that visit the same websites you’re still even allowed on, you still think you know more than us, GM’s Coaches, and the players themselves. Do you ever get tired of knowing everything? Must be exhausting.

        • Stroh

          What I know is you just made it personal when I didn’t! WHat about that don’t you understand? I think I know as much or more as anyone here. Big deal, a lot of other do too. I don’t question HC or GM’s ad nauseum becuz I KNOW they KNOW more than I do…

          I don’t question playcalling cuz I KNOW McCarthy knows a lot more about it than I do. However, that doesn’t seem to stop you questioning most of McCarthys play calls!

          Talk about the kettle calling the pot black!

          • chad lundberg

            “face it GM’s know a lot more about football than you do”

            That’s making it personal Stroh. If you want to avoid this kind of situation again, then just avoid using the word “you” from now on.

            And nobody said that CC was that good, we’re only saying that he’s an instant upgrade over what we already have, and he wouldn’t cost nearly as much as other top FA’s. Although the numbers would indicate he does have some potential.

            TT brought in Erik Walden even though the spectacular stats weren’t there, but it sure was the right decision. Why not CC?

            GM’s make dumb decisions all the time. nobody wanted Dujuan Harris but when he was picked up by GB he proved he can play. Yes, we don’t know what GM’s know about CC, but we do know that they’re human, and humans can be stubborn, prideful or even stupid (on purpose).

            • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

              Chad, Many fans make it personal, some more than others. When people call others morons, uninformed, idiots, to name a few, they’ve gone a tad to far. The idea of sites like this escapes some people, they don’t have a clue. We come here to voice a “Opinion” about the team we all love, that’s all. It’s not about knowing this or that, it’s a opinion and supposed to be fun.

              I could even give a example of a certain someone who was kicked off a site for their rude obnoxious behavior. The editor of the site was contacted by this person and a poll was actually taken to determine if this person had been banned long enough. The results? The person is still banned, the poll not even close.

              As for questioning play calling? I’ll question that run on 1st and goal at the 9 be Cobb against the 49ers till the cows come home. Why? Marshall Newhouse was in the game and they ran to the left. Anywhere but the LEFT!

            • Stroh

              “face it GM’s know a lot more about football than you do”

              That’s not making it personal, its a statement of fact. They also know more than me, you, Al and every blogger. If he takes a statement of fact as a personal assault that’s HIS issue.

              Maybe you should realize that.

              • Chad lundberg

                It doesn’t matter if it’s a statement of fact or not. If I called someone fat because they were fat, i wouldn’t justify by saying “it’s a statement of fact” even though it actually is.

                The key word here is condescending. You were being very condescending. And let’s not forget that you have a history with this site, among other sites as well. Your reputation doesn’t help here, you should work towards fixing it to avoid this kind of situation again.

                Maybe you should realize that.

        • Shavager

          Is he better than what the Packers have? YES, is he a player they can depend on for a full season? YES, will he improve this Packers secondary? YES. Ya’ll gonna say he’s not that good when he rates three times better than Packers safeties? SIGN him at a team friendly price if he remains available. Past history should prove there are no certainties in draft, at least Clemons has production to judge him by.

  • Slayer

    I truly believe that Micah Hyde should get an opportunity to fill one of the safety positions. Hyde performed well for a rookie last year. He was inches short of an interception against the 49ers that may well have sent the Packers deeper into the playoffs.

    If Clemons is so much more of an upgrade he’d have suitors for his services. Saying Clemons is an upgrade or M.D. Jennings isn’t much of an endorsement. Let’s hope Morgan Burnett rekindles the desire he had before signing his big contract.

    Last who knows how the draft will go. Maybe a big name prospect will drop or Thompson trades up to get one.

    • Steve Cheez

      Quite frankly, there were a few times I thought I’d be an upgrade over MDJ

    • Steve Cheez

      Quite frankly, there were a few times I thought I’d be an upgrade over MDJ

      • Two Bears, One Cup

        To be honest, I’ve occasionally felt that he would be marginally better than MD Jennings.

  • Big T

    Micah Hyde is a stud and plays with heart. Wouldn’t hurt to have a little insurance however. We all know about injuries in Green Bay. Can we pick up a strength and conditioning coach in the draft???

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      If you pay Clemons the money guys at his talent level received this year, he will be your starter, not insurance.

      If you start Clemons and Burnett, when does Hyde play? Hyde wont stay as your nickel CB because that job will go to Hayward, and your starting CBs are both big money guys. This is not the year to dump Tramon Williams.

      If you have big money at all 4 starting DB positions and are 3 deep (Hayward Hyde and House) with backups what do you do in the draft when the best player available is a Safety or Corner? How does that player get enough playing time to develop the way you want even a talented 4th rounder top progress?

      There are two words in “draft and Develop’. If you are going to develop players you need to do so according to a plan.

      But most of all, with Draft and Develop you don’t fill needs by just throwing money at them until you are out of money.

      Even presuming the Packers will still have lots of cap space left after extending Nelson and Cobb (which is a bad assumption) the team may choose to ‘pre-pay’ those cap hits or otherwise roll cap space forward to next year when they will need to think about big contracts fro Mike Daniels and Casey Hayward (contracts expire in 2016, so you want to extend them in 2015).

      Its a multi-year process. Just like saving for retirement or paying off college or a house. You cannot spend all your money at one time (unless you want to wind up like Jacksonville or Oakland before Reggie McKenzie).

      • Big T

        Then we just stick with Hyde and hope he doesn’t get injured…

        • Anonymous

          Or they hire an insurance player *after* the draft.

          It’s a long pre-season. Let’s keep our pants on.

          • Dobber

            ” Let’s keep our pants on.”

            Dammit.
            *zzzip*

            • Adam Czech

              I write these posts with my pants off and I’m not going to change.

              • Icebowler

                I hope your at least wearing the proper protective gear. We wouldn’t want you to end up on IR:)

              • Two Bears, One Cup

                Stay golden, Ponyboy.

      • dave

        You forgot Dallas

  • ThomasMagnumPI

    I just don’t see TT painting himself into a corner by not having a plan other than drafting a starting FS for 2014. If nothing else, he has to be a bit snake-bitten from being “forced” to draft Perry and Jones to address needs of the defense and the lack of production that they have been able to bring thus far. That’s not to say that they might turn it on this year, it just hasn’t led to much production in the early years of their contracts.

    Whether TT’s plan is to let other teams spend all their monies in the first couple of rounds of FA before signing a low-cost stopgap with hopes of developing a future starter, or to move Hyde to FS because coaches like what they see so much so far to hand him the keys remains to be seen. I really hope that he isn’t banking on both getting good value by drafting a FS and not passing up on an even better opportunity because he is forced to plug the hole with a draft pick.

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      The point about being ‘forced’ to draft to fill an immediate need is a very good one. But remember that if they do move Hyde (which seems likely) they will have 3 or 4 rounds of the draft to pick up an FS who can develop into a starter. So there is already no ‘need’ to pass by value at one spot just to get a FS.

    • ThomasMagnumPI

      To clarify: “plug[ging] the hole with a draft pick,” to me, means using a top-50 pick or so to address the position. I feel that in order to be comfortable inserting a totally unproven rookie into the starting lineup, they have to be drafted quite highly. I’m all for drafting a Safety, as long as the player is being drafted for a reason other than the need to address the starting FS position.

  • Dobber

    Can someone fill us in as to whether or not the Packers have even kicked the tires on Clemons at all? If the answer is “yes” then this article becomes much more pertinent. If not, then I suspect the previous note about TT wanting to see how the draft shakes out before even looking in his direction (or that he has other ideas in mind) is probably about right.

    • Dobber

      For that matter, have the Packers kicked the tires on ANY FA safeties?

      • Hank Scorpio

        Given that nobody had a clue the Packers were interested in Peppers until after he signed a contract while on his visit, I’d say that the Packers play things pretty close to the vest in FA. It’s pretty amazing that not so much as a whisper got out until it was a done deal, particularly in this day and age.

        They could have made dozens of calls about Safeties. They might be perfectly happy with Burnett, Hyde, Richardson and Banjo.

  • John

    Excellent story. I like the factual statements about Clemens, Burnett and Jennings 2013 grades.

    • marpag

      Not to quibble about words, but grades aren’t “factual.” They’re opinions. In my eyes, PFF’s grades often seem to be rather suspect opinions, no matter which team a person chooses to cheer for.

      • Dobber

        “Not to quibble about words, but grades aren’t “factual.””

        Tell my students that.

        Being said, I taught at Mercer for 7 years before moving to my current institution, so–despite the fact that my bracket took a hit–we’re a happy group today.

        • marpag

          LOL. Alrighty, then. But I think we probably agree that the question of whether or not Letroy Guion can stuff the run is not quite so much a matter of historical fact as whether or not Alexander the Great made it as far as the Indus River.

          Kudos to your boys at Mercer. When they’re playing against the dookies, everyone’s a Mercer fan.

      • Two Bears, One Cup

        Be careful with facts. According to Stephen Colbert facts have a well-known liberal bias.

  • Eric

    I think the writing is on the wall. Safety is now priority no. 1 come May.

    • Dobber

      I would argue differently. I think that if safety were priority 1, TT would have been checking out some of the FAs at the position, if only in passing. There’s been no sign of that.

      The previous comment about depth at CB (which could potentially force the Packers to make a roster decision on Hyde, Hayward or House), all but necessitates a move–likely for Hyde–to safety. We might argue that House could go away, but his size and his flashing cover ability makes that a hard cut.

      I would argue that moving Hyde would devalue S in the draft and allow the Packers to look for an offensive playmaker, LB or DL early in the draft, and wait until later to find a S.

      • Geronimo

        Only tires Ted’s kicking are in his own garage

      • Eric

        I don’t think they target DL or LB in the first round of the draft because of the signings and resignings they already made so far. They have done nothing to address safety and i don’t think Micah Hyde is the answer there. He played two games in a pinch in college as a safety. Not to mention that the safety position was by far the WORST area of the defense last year and one “starter” has already signed with another team.

  • Eric

    I think the writing is on the wall. Safety is now priority no. 1 come May.

  • marpag

    I agree with what “slayer” said above. If Clemons is such a good player at a good price, why hasn’t ANYONE signed him yet? To me, the logical answer is that he must be asking for much more than he’s worth.

    More than that, even if Clinton-Dix and Pryor are gone before the Packers pick in Round 1, is Clemons clearly better than the second-tier safeties that are likely to be available in Round 2?

    Given the fact that this is a fairly deep draft, I don’t think it’s out of the question at all that TT might trade down out of round 1, and look for someone in round 2.

    • ThomasMagnumPI

      Everyone (including me) loves the idea of trading down out of the late first round to secure an early second and a fourth (or so), but the fact of the matter is that it rarely happens.

      I don’t think that the question is whether Clemons is better than a first or even second-round draft pick (he probably isn’t). The question is whether GB is better off with whomever they choose to draft in the 1st and 2nd round because they have the flexibility to do so by adding Clemons, or if they are better off saving the veteran salary and drafting a FS in rounds one or two to address the need.

      Of course, this begs the question of whether Hyde to FS is the best option of all. Who knows, but it certainly would be nice to see GB get all of their top four or five currently-rostered DBs on the field at the same time, as long as they are effective as a unit. On paper, Shields, Williams, Hayward, Hyde and Burnett seems like a pretty solid backfield! If Hyde just doesn’t have the skill-set to be a FS at this point, I would rather give him a year to further develop and use a free agent as a stopgap than drafting a FS high and blocking Hyde’s route to playing time in the long run.

      • marpag

        While I do agree with most of what you say, I would certainly NOT say that trading out of the first round is rare. In fact, in each of the past six years, at least one team traded out of the first round, including Green Bay in 2008, when TT grabbed Jordy Nelson near the top of the second. The streak may go back even further than that… I just stopped checking.

        • ThomasMagnumPI

          Fair enough,a couple of teams do it each year–a couple out of 32 teams.

          Seems rare to me.

  • mark

    It seems to me that inside linebacker and offensive line help are higher priorities than safety. It looks like the Packers will have Burnett start and Hyde will get a chance to start. Losing EDS means they need to straighten out the O line. As for inside linebacker…. enough has been written about that already.

  • palmda

    Him not coming to Green Bay may have something to do with his wishes. Not every black guy is going to want to play in the frozen tundra if they have a chance for the big markets. Im sure they all dream about going to the east or west coast where they don’t stand out, make more money and have a good chance for the super bowl. It may be more than just money.

    • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

      wow dude… I’m not so sure it has as much to do with race as it does the rural (NFL wise anyway) culture and weather and FINANCES that TT usually offers to FAs.

      If you notice, not every “white dude” (or yellow dude. Or purple with green stripes dude) wants to come to GB to be a FA either.

      • Icebowler

        “Purple with green stripes dude”. Are you referring to Letroy Guion after he was run over by Eddie Lacy last year?

    • Dobber

      I went to college up there (at SNC, where the Packers house during camp), and those guys are revered. I don’t know that they get that kind of hero worship on the cynical coasts.

      • Ed Schoenfeld

        I don’t know that they *want* that kind of hero worship. Guys like some time off-stage, too, ya know.

        Now I know folks in Green Bay understand that, and give the players some space when they are ‘off the clock’ so to speak, but I’m not sure player who aren’t on the Packers understand that the fans will give them that space.

  • beardownpackup

    Clemons hasn’t been signed because TT doesn’t want to give up the (likely) 3rd and 7th round compensatory draft picks we’re going to get for Jennings and Walden.

    Per the rules of comp. picks, if you sign someone who is NOT cut by a team, but rather played out their contract, you have to give up a comp. pick in exchange for that signing. This is why TT signed both Peppers and Guion; they were both cut, thereby allowing TT to keep those draft picks and pick up a couple pretty good players on the cheap.

    IN TED THOMPSON WE TRUST, YA HEARD.

    • ThomasMagnumPI

      I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the comp picks are calculated based on the FAs lost vs FAs signed during the same offseason. Signing Clemons would factor against comp picks for 2015 related to losing JJ and EDS this year.

      However, you do have a valid point that I feel plays an important role in TT’s decision making regarding Free Agency. In fact, he might pay more attention to comp picks than any other GM in the league.

      • packett

        Good observation. You’re on to something.

  • Tom

    It says he hasn’t intercepted a pass in the past two seasons. None of the Packers safteys had a pic last year. Interceptions by the safety position is a Pack priority this year. They want/need a ball hawking safety who can be left alone in the deep middle so Burnett can play solid closer to the line.

  • funcrusher

    There’s two reason’s TT isn’t signing a free agent safety.

    The first is that they’re probably moving Hyde there, where he should be an instant upgrade over Jennings.

    The second is that Ted’s probably fallen in love with the safeties in this draft class and wants to draft one early. Charley Casserly stated that he likes Pryor and Clinton-Dix better than any of the safeties in last years class including Reid and Vaccaro.

    If both moves are made, they could have two young stud safeties, allowing them to get out of that bad Morgan Burnett contract next offseason. The money they save could go toward resigning Cobb or whoever.

  • GBPDAN

    If TT can get Clemons for 2M for a one year contract, he should do it. There’s a good chance that the 2 good safeties in the Draft are gone before we pick and who knows if Hyde will be the answer. Even if Hyde is adequate, we are domed he or Burnet gets hurt

  • packett

    Its more urgent to address ILB. Get one that can fill the middle of the field, and track opposing tight ends. That needs a #1 pick. Good enough safeties are available in 2nd and 3rd round.
    Draft order: ILB, FS, TE, C, DE, WR (but adjusted a bit to best available player.

  • beardownpackup
    • Packers west

      Definitely a consideration, is this guy worth loosing a comp pick next year and is he any better than a first or second round pick? Don’t know the answer, but he hasn’t generated a lot of interest at this point. Well Ted didn’t bother to ask me, but I’m still offering my advise, pass on him, unless he comes cheap.

    • Icebowler

      Thanks for the link.

  • Since ’61

    I don’t necessarily think that we should sign Clemons, however, I don’t like the idea of going into another season with Burnett as our only experienced safety. He was awful last year. I realize that he is on a sizable contract and that he his still (hopefully) developing in his position but if we match Burnett with Hyde and Hyde does not come up to expectations we will have another mess in the defensive backfield again in 2014. I’m fine if TT waits until after the draft, but even if he drafts a Safety I would still like to see a veteran back there who can stabilize the position, allow the young guys, including Burnett and Hyde to develop, and bring some leadership and reliability into the defensive backfield, as a Woodson or Collins could do. As of right now, Safety is the biggest question mark and weakness on the team.
    Thanks, Since ’61

  • http://12ave larry valdes

    2m.a.year 2.y grate insurance cheap price.

  • http://12ave larry valdes

    2m.a.year 2.y grate insurance cheap price.

  • Nopainnogain

    At this point, I don’t think there is a rush to sign anyone that’s still left in free agency. I figure TT is waiting to see what he can get in the draft before making any more moves. I’m not so sure that the secondary is as bad as people think. The previous year, with Burnett, Jennings/Mcmillian, and Hayward in the middle, PFF graded Green Bay’s secondary as the 2nd-best in the league behind Seattle.

  • KW

    March 13, 2014 …. Clemons signed a four-year, $17.5 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    What was with all wishing TT would sign him, like 6 days AFTER the fact? LOL

    • John

      I believe you’re thinking of Chris Clemons the defensive end…

  • GBPDAN

    I agree with Since ’61. That’s why I think if the Pack can get Clemons for cheap, they should. 2M for 1 year or so…Clemons probably won’t sign for this cheap and if not, oh well, let’s move on

  • Marc Wilson

    Thompson has 3 options to solve the Safety problem: 1) He can draft a safety, and there are several that wil be available in the first 2 or 3 rounds. 2) He can buy a free agent for 3 to 6 mil, although there weren’t many quality cover safeties this year. And 3) he can move Hyde back to FS.
    It looks to me like he’s going to draft a safety in Rd 1 or 2, and pair him with Burnett, who hopefully will have a better year than he did in 2013. Of course, they still might try Hyde at FS on training camp.
    I like this approach better than paying 5 mil or so to a mediocre safety like Bethea, Whitner, or Clemens. And if Peppers, Matthews, Neal, and Daniels can bring more pressure, the play of all our DB’s will improve too.
    For me, the bigger question is at inside linebacker. GB has nothing on the bench and there was very little available in FA. So TT will have to find a stud in the Draft. I’m hoping for Shane Skov in the third round.

    • Stroh

      Packers need ILB that can cover and make plays sideline to sideline. Shane Skov does neither. He’s a 2 down MLB in the NFL. He would be best going to a 43 D where is allowed to play the run, and gets replaced in passing situations.

      Should be looking for Mosley, Shazier, Christian Jones types. We need speed and playmaking at ILB, not a big run stuffing box MLB.