Early Predictions for Green Bay Packers Free Agents

Fans of the Green Bay Packers will have to find cures for their collective angst beginning on March 10 when 2015 NFL free agency kicks off for the 32 franchises.

Fifteen Green Bay Packer players are set to become Free Agents according to the Packers’ official web site. Included are five starters and several others who played pivotal roles this past season.

Key offensive players WR Randall Cobb and OT Brian Bulaga as well as cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Devon House on defense are set to hit the open market unless signed to a contract by next Tuesday at 3 PM eastern time. There is a chance that the Packers General Manager along with primary contract negotiator Russ Ball will have one or more of their own under contract by then. However that is far from a given.

Here is what I see happening with the Packer free agents.

Randall Cobb: It is becoming apparent the Packers have made their best offer and Cobb and his agent have rejected the offer. Reportedly that offer was a 4-5 multi-year proposal in the $8M per year range. With the top two UFA wide receivers, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas, already tagged with franchise player designation; Cobb surfaces as the best of rest. At just 24 years old and coming off a very productive season it looks like Cobb and his agent feel he is the one in the driver’s seat. Unless competing offers don’t come in as high as expected (supposedly $10M – $12M/year) he will be lost to a desperate, free-spending club like Jacksonville or Oakland. I see Cobb as good as gone.

Bryan Bulaga: With the Cobb negotiations at an apparent stalemate, the next best FA Packer player comes more into focus – Bryan Bulaga. Bulaga could become the highest paid right tackle in the league, supplanting current leader Gosder Cherilus. Cherilus signed a 5 year / $35,000,000 contract in 2013 with the Indianapolis Colts, including a $10,000,000 signing bonus, $15,500,000 guaranteed and an annual average salary of $7,000,000.
Bulaga is only 25 years old and coming off a solid injury-free season. Look for the Packers to sign him prior to hitting FA on March 10.

Tramon Williams: The latest buzz has the Seattle Seahawks courting Williams and targeting him as their top outside FA acquisition. Seattle GM John Schneider is familiar with Williams from his days in Green Bay and the Seahawks may have a glaring need for a starting corner. The 32-year old Williams turned down a reported 2 year, $8M contract offer from the Packers. I see him gone on the first day of free agency.

Devon House: House is a young ascending player who is looking for a starting job with pay equal to the position. He is only 25 years old with a solid, if not spectacular, body of work to draw upon and plenty of upward potential. I see several other CB-needy teams looking to land House early in free agency, should he get that far. Look for the Packers to step up and make a contract offer to keep him on board – perhaps a 2 year deal with lots of incentives giving House the option of going back into free agency in his prime with starting credentials.

Letroy Guion: With his NFL football career in limbo due to his arrest for marijuana and gun violations in Florida which are about to be adjudicated, it appears that Guion will be able to play in 2015. That is not to say he won’t be disciplined with a suspension by the commissioner’s office. I predict that Guion will be re-signed well into free agency at a bargain basement price, serve at least a four game suspension and resume his career with the Packers.

BJ Raji: Raji comes off a lost year on injured reserve after signing a 2014, one year contract at $4M. Look for Raji to return to Green Bay on a one year deal at roughly half that amount.

John Kuhn: The security blanket of having someone like fan-favorite Kuhn on the field is a big plus for the offense and Aaron Rodgers in particular. Kuhn will be allowed to test the waters and if the All-Pro doesn’t sign elsewhere (and I doubt he will) the best guess is that Kuhn will be back to compete. With younger more versatile backs challenging him this could be the year that Kuhn doesn’t survive final cuts.

Jarrett Boykin: The strange case of the disappearing receiver. Boykin came into camp as the de facto third receiver behind Nelson and Cobb. A promising start deteriorated with injuries. And then upon his return, he disappeared. If the coaching staff thinks he might return to 2013 form, he may get an offer to compete. However, if 2014 is the true indicator of his ability to help this team, no offer of any kind will be tendered. Boykin is a restricted rights free agent. My guess is a one-year, near-minimum dollar contract and an uphill climb to make the team.

Scott Tolzien – Matt Flynn: I put the two quarterbacks together because as I view it only one will be invited back. Given age, experience and upside, I’m betting it is going to be Tolzien. Add in a draft pick or undrafted college QB brought in to develop behind him and you have a winning mix next year.

Jarrett Bush: After all other priorities are met, the 30 year old Bush may be invited back. Given his age there must come a time when younger players will be asked to take his place. I’m guessing a tepid market for his services. But he will be signed and return to compete this year as the Green Bay Packers Special Teams ace.

Jamari Lattimore: Poor production when given the chance to play and injuries coupled with the perception that there is little chance of any meaningful improvement means the end of the line for this once promising linebacker.

DuJuan Harris: Harris is the Packers only Exclusive Rights Free Agent. He couldn’t find the field for any type of meaningful playing time and was relegated to special teams, in particular kick return duties. There his tentativeness was his undoing. Harris ended the season being a healthy scratch for the season finale vs. the Lions and all of the playoffs. With a very strong running back draft class he won’t be back.

Don Barclay, Sean Richardson: The talented duo of Restricted Rights Free Agents Richardson and Barclay should receive contract offers and come to camp competing for meaningful playing time. Barclay might very well be the top back-up at both offensive tackle positions if not the starting right tackle job should Bulaga sign elsewhere. Richardson has promise and a legitimate chance to help the team in 2015.

Packer fans will have to take a deep breath and be patient while weathering the disappointments of not having their team sign any of the big name free agents during the early days of free agency. They will need to trust the tried-and-true system that has been the Packer template for success beginning with Ron Wolf in 1992 and elevated to a science under Ted Thompson.

——————

Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .

——————

43 thoughts on “Early Predictions for Green Bay Packers Free Agents

  1. “They will need to trust the tried-and-true system that has been the Packer template for success beginning with Ron Wolf in 1992 and elevated to a science under Ted Thompson”
    Well I don’t know about this tried and true system. I see a lot of bungled opportunities from my armchair perspective. One that baffles me is why didn’t TT get a deal done with Cobb early in the season? Maybe he tired, and Cobb refused, I don’t know. But early in the season was when Cobb’s production was low, but everyone knew Cobb has the talent and high production level. Signing him then was an obvious risk-reward a GM should not have passed on.

    1. Lets see how truly talented Cobb is when hes having the ball thrown to him by someone other than Aaron “MVP” Rodgers.

  2. Something else about this tried and true system: How comes the Packers have so many free agents? One would expect a tried and true system to have less than 18 FAs all in one year. That’s about a third of the team. Wasn’t there enough drafted talent in the past 3 years to bump out some of this FA class? Were too many extension made for 1-2 year contracts, so TT keeps kicking the can down the street another year or two at a time? I dunno. Seem like a lot cats to try herding up.

    1. Draft classes of ’11 and ’12 were poor. ’13 and ’14 were good, but are still developing. If Bulaga and Cobb hadn’t been injured, it is likely they would have been extended. Richardson and Barclay’s injuries also factor in. House and Tramon were up and down and it was tough to decide whether they were ascending, staying the same, or about to give it up to father time. The rest are not main players.

  3. like Cowherd was saying on ESPN radio today, these F/A receivers will find out real fast what its like to play for a mediocre QB…they’ll have money but the fun of the game and a lot of stats will be gone…adios Cobb, you were a good guy…NEXT MAN UP!!!!

    1. Cowherd’s so dumb it’s amazing he can feed himself. I doubt that Jennings cares if his stats are down as long as he’s collecting $9mil a year. The only factor Randall has to consider is, at 24, he could sign a 2nd lucrative contract in 3-4 years. Otherwise, it’s a business, and most players will go for the most money, as they should. Stats, and winning, are totally secondary.

  4. Good article, Jeff. It was a succinct and cogent analysis. I for one, though, would prefer to see no dealings with Guion. Since the NFC Championship game, some of my non-Packer friends now refer to the team as “the Green Bay Chockers.” That’s bad enough. I don’t want them calling it, “the Dopers.”

      1. Sorry for the typo. Either I wasn’t wearing my glasses or I had inhaled some of the smoke from Guion’s MJ. .

        1. Oops! Another typo. Two periods after “MJ.” Why do I have a sudden craving for the munchies? Letroy? Is that you?

  5. A nice enough recap. I would have been more interested in your thoughts on what GB’s max offer to each of these guys should be. I deduce that $10 million/yr for Cobb is too much. $9? No idea what you think GB should offer Bulaga, but perhaps more than Cherilus’ average (I think the guaranteed amount should be not more than 30% – Cheilus got 44%). Gather the max for Tramon is 2 yrs/$8. No idea what you think about House. > Tramon? Same? Less? I think I know what you suggest for Guion, Raji and Kuhn. I assume that you don’t think GB should offer tenders to Barclay and Richardson, but should re-sign them for less. If healthy, I would reluctantly tender Barclay but only if Bulaga does not re-sign. I have Bush at $1.6 million max. No idea what you think. Flynn and Boykin are gone. Harris (I didn’t see much scat in the scatback last yr) and Lattimore can compete at league min. deals.

    The deadline for extending tenders to RFAs and ERFAs is March 10.

    1. I think Barclay is definitely worth a tender. It’s still pretty cheap labor, and he would be solid for a backup role.

  6. Not re-signing Cobb will be a major loss for the Packers, After Rodgers, Cobb is the best offensive player the Packers have. His hands, ability to get open and knowledge of the Packers offense will be difficult to replace. AA & MM should both be lobbying heavily to keep Cobb in Green Bay. If Cobb leaves the Packers will have another area of need going into the draft, specifically for a receiver to replace him. The Packers have enough needs at ILB, TE, and DL without having to add receivers into the mix. Without Cobb the Packers have only Jordy Nelson as a legitimate NFL receiver. After Jordy, Adams is still a question mark, Boykin is probably gone and Abbrederis and Janis are unknown quantities. Is that how we want to go into next season with the best QB in the league? Ridculous for a team that strength is its offense. Maybe a deal is still to be made. If not the receiving corps is virtually gone. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Exactly right 61! Cobb is the 2nd best offensive player, and perhaps the 2nd best player on the entire team (sorry CM3 and Sitton). Anyone saying Cobb is “just a slot receiver” isn’t watching very closely. He’s an all around player with a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Casey Hayward is the only Packer that comes close to having Cobb’s field vision and football instincts. Cobb could probay play safety or CB if he wanted to.

      In my opinion Cobb isn’t going anywhere. TT and MM know what they have.

  7. I’ll put out my view of the maximum offers GB should make to its FAs:

    Cobb: $9.25 mill/yr, 50% guaranteed (prefer longer yrs to shorter);
    Bulaga: 4 yrs./$31 mill, 30% guaranteed
    Tramon: 2 yrs. $9 mill 35% guaranteed
    House: $4 mill/yr 35% guaranteed + achievable incentives up to $5.5m/yr
    Raji: 1 yr. $2.5 mill ($500k guaranteed)
    Guion: 1.75 mill/yr 30% guaranteed (deal with suspension in guarantee)
    Bush: 2 yrs. $3 mill 0 to 10% guaranteed
    Tolzien: 2 yrs $3 million No guarantee
    Barclay: Tender at $1.54 million if Bulaga is not signed.
    Richardson: Release (no tender) and re-sign for 2 yrs $1.6 million
    Kuhn: Qualifying offer (vet min with no more than $65K guaranteed)
    Banjo: Renew contract at min (ERFA)
    No interest in Flynn, Boykin and Lattimore. Minimum in each case if GB has interest.

      1. I don’t understand the reply.

        If Bulaga leaves, we have no ROT other than Barclay. Tender pretty much will guarantee Barclay’s return. Note I do not advocate tendering Richardson, who is not worth $1.54 million.

        1. TGR – you’re an intelligent commenter so I have a serious question please. If Bulaga is going to be the highest paid RT shouldn’t he be moved to LT? Everyone, including me, loves Bahk but, realistically, he’s on average LT. Switching Bahk to RT would also lower his price when his rookie contract expires.

          1. Thanks for the compliment. I like to think so, but I know that I have my moments the other way. I am not convinced that Bulaga can play LOT full time, but if Bakh gets injured, Bulaga might have the chance to persuade me. I agree that Bakh is just okay at LOT – in fact, I would rate him a little below average, but I think he can get stronger, thereby improving his one (big) weakness, which is run blocking, and he can become a good to a very good LOT. I looked up LOT salaries last yr. Breno Giacomino was the 16th highest paid LOT and he earned $7 mill per year. If some team thinks Bulaga can be an above average starting LOT, his price tag goes way up. I might be too old for your question. At one time there was a big difference btw LOT and ROT. It seems today that more teams are putting their best pass rushers at LDE or LOLB (against the RT) than in my hey day. Still, there is the blind side argument. Still, the NFL pays LOTs a lot more that ROTs, so there must be a reason. I think teams know that Bakh can play LOT, so moving him might not help with his salary too much. The cat is out of the bag on that. Plus, I think Bakh is better at LOT than at ROT because his pass pro is excellent. I point out sometimes that Bakh is our best value player, since at LOT he saves GB a ton over what a LT normally costs. Plus, we saw what continuity can do for an O-line. I would not flip Bulaga and Bakh myself.

  8. Tried-and-true, I don’t know. Going on 10 years as GM, and only ONE Super Bowl appearance, despite having 2 Hall of Fame quarterbacks?? I like draft & develop as a philosophy, but I don’t like draft & develop ONLY. Thompson needs to step up his game.

    1. How many teams can say they made the playoffs the past 6 years in a row? TWO! The Patriots & the Packers! You know how hard it is to get to the Super Bowl much less to WIN it?

      1. With the best quarterback in the game?? Must be pretty hard, since Thompson has only done it once in all his years as GM.

        1. You think it ONLY takes a great QB to WIN a Super Bowl? How ignorant are you? Is that why Peyton Manning has only won ONE too? Marino won NONE. Elway didnt win a Super Bowl til his second to last season! Jim Kelly won NONE. Warren Moon won NONE!
          You are such an ignorant fool youre initials should be “BS” instead of “BR”.

          1. Hey, miller, are you always this excessively nasty?? Of course it takes more than a great QB to go to a Super Bowl. That was my point! Thompson hasn’t provided the players needed to get us over the top. We’re “very good” every year, but never great. There’s always a Bostick or Brad Jones or McMillian to stop us, instead of a wily veteran.

            1. How many GMs have made it to the Super Bowl? And how many have won? And how many have done either multiple times since Ted has been GM?
              You cannot be this naive! I suppose its Teds fault for the Packers imploding in the NFC Championship game vs Seattle? Or making Favre throw the INT in the NFC Championship game vs NY Giants?
              You dont realize how good us Packer fans have it to have success to make the playoffs 6 years in a row! Only the Patriots can say that as well!

              1. Miller– you do realize that we have the BEST quarterback in the league, don’t you? He’s a future Hall-of-Famer named Aaron Rodgers. HE is the reason we’ve been to the playoffs 6 years in a row… not the one-trick-pony that is Ted Thompson. I guess you think the other 31 teams are ALL WRONG for signing players in free agency, and Ted Thompson is the only one who is right. WOW! (btw, I’m 50+ years old, and remember the lean years very well. I’m just not blindly loyal to TT like you)

              2. BR-you do realize Ted DRAFTED Rodgers in ’05 even though he already had Favre? You think this is an exact science? Are you that foolish or naive?
                Dont be so condescending! You are not a Packers expert! The reason the Packers have been in the playoffs 6 seasons in a row is in large part to Ted Thompson! he put the team together! 48 of 53 players have NEVER played for another NFL team except the Packers! DRAFT & DEVELOP! It obviously works! Dont be a doofus or a douche bag! Oops! Too late!

                Do I believe everything Ted Thompson is right? No! But hes got a pretty damn good track record! There are 30 other teams wishing they could say they have been to the playoffs 6 straight years & have a great chance to make it 7 & possibly more!
                So quit being Danny Downer!

              3. Rodgers fell into Ted’s lap, although I give Ted props for not passing on him. Ted’s greatest draft pick (IMO) was trading up for Clay Matthews. I support Draft & Develop… I just don’t support Draft & Develop ONLY. But, whatever. I’m done debating with a hateful, name-calling troll like you (“doofus” “douche bag” “foolish” “naive” “stupidly” “ignorant fool”).

              4. You are right. I apologize for name calling. Im not here to say everything Thompson has done is right or should be supported. But what hes done has been a blueprint for being & staying successful without mortgaging the Packers future away. As long as a team makes the playoffs, that team has a chance to win the Super Bowl.
                I didnt like that Ted didnt trade for Marshawn Lynch several years ago nor did he atempt to trade for Randy Moss. Those 2 were traded for something like 3rd rounders. I also didnt like the Justin Harrell draft pick. Not everything he does is right & I dont support every decision he makes. But for the vast majority of work he does do, it is correct.

              5. And I’m not saying Thompson is not a very good GM. Look at my original post. I like draft & develop, proper cap management, not overpaying for free agents, etc., etc. But when I see unnecessary holes that could be easily filled with low-cost veterans (ala Ron Wolf and Bill Belichick), I start to worry that the Packers will always be very good… but never great.

              6. Valid point. But its not as easy as you make it sound. All players want the most money possible. Which holes and who are these “low cost” veterans do you have in mind.
                Whenever a team makes the playoffs, they have a chance to win the Super Bowl. The Packers have had 6 chances in a row & succeeded in only one. Its not that easy of a thing to do. None of us are perfect. Even Aaron Rodgers throws an INT on occasion.

            2. Hindsight is always 20/20. You didnt live thru the lean years of the 1970s & 1980s or you wouldnt be talking this stupidly!

    2. There might have been another SB in ’07 if your “hall of fame” QB Mr. Favre hadn’t quit on his teammates in the NFC championship because he was soooo cold.

      1. There might have been another one this year if Rodgers had had a decent game in Seattle. Or if he hadn’t coughed up the game losing fumble in ’09. Or played like a HOF QB in games against the Giants or the Niners.

  9. Losing Cobb would be huge. Losing Bulaga would be a big deal. Losing 1 or both CBs would be cause for concern. Losing any of these guys puts their position as another need . We already have needs for impact players at the top of the draft, we don’t need more. But , signing any of these guys at this point would probably require over paying them, just like Shields last year. What a mess.

    1. Losing Bulaga is more of a big deal than Cobb. With Adams, Abberneris & Janis plus with an unknown draft, the WR position will be fine. Lets see how Cobb likes having the ball thrown to him by someone other than Aaron “MVP” Rodgers.

  10. I think losing Bulaga is more of a big deal than Cobb. With Adams, Abberneris & Janis plus with an unknown draft, the WR position will be fine. Lets see how Cobb likes having the ball thrown to him by someone other than Aaron “MVP” Rodgers.

  11. Wow this is nerve wracking, but if you think about it, when isn’t it at this time of the year!!!

  12. Is the author contending TT’s approach to free agency I s the same one utilized by Ron Wolf?

    Is he 15 years old? Has he heard of Reggie White? Santana Dotson? Sean Jones? Eugene Robinson?

    Ron Wolf was very active in free agency just like the Patriots, Ravens and the Seahawks under Wolf’s true protege Jon Schneider.

Comments are closed.