No Free Agents Left? Here are Three the Packers Should Sign Now

Nearly two weeks into NFL free agency it is time to take stock as to how the Packers are faring and how they might still be able to improve with the signing of a select few of the available players left on the open market.

For comparison sake, let’s examine the web site NFL.com for an insight as to their appraisal of free agent talent.

To their credit the Green Bay Packers secured two of the early prizes in #14 Bryan Bulaga and Randall Cobb. Interestingly enough Cobb was not ranked in their top 100 – a glaring error – although Around The NFL has Cobb ranked 8th overall and ESPN rates the Cobb signing as a solid ‘A’.

In addition the team also inked back-up QB Scott Tolzien and made tender offers to restricted FA’s Don Barkley and Sean Richardson.

A solid start.

Ex-Packers Have Been Popular During This Free Agent Frenzy

The Packers lost out on signing two their own ranked players in #37 Devon House (Jaguars) and #38 Tramon Williams (Browns). Also leaving for greener pastures was DuJuan Harris (Vikings) who the Packers showed little interest in retaining. Jamari Lattimore (visiting Jets), and Jarrett Boykin (visiting Panthers) are also expected to exit shortly. A.J. Hawk (Bengals) and fellow inside LB Brad Jones (Eagles) along with Kevin Dorsey (Patriots) were released but quickly found new homes. Brandon Bostick was also cut and signed with the Vikings.

None of those loses will hurt the Packers. Roster depth however will suffer.

Still available from last year’s roster are NT’s BJ Raji, who I covered in a previous article, and Letroy Guion who has had well-publicized legal issues.

Veteran FB John Kuhn and CB Jarrett Bush are also awaiting offers and I expect that they will return at veteran’s minimums and compete for roster spots this coming fall. It would not be surprising to see both of these situational players not make the 53 man Packers roster however.

Available Free Agents Who Could help the Packers

According to NFL.com’s top 100 free agents for 2015, the top 19 are already signed, sealed and delivered to their current team. Here are three available top-ranked players from the list who I believe would be good fits in Green Bay:

1. BJ Raji, NT – Green Bay Packers. After #20 Michael Crabtree, Raji is the next highest ranked player on the list. The Packers obviously know him well. He stuck around the team facilities and his team mates this past season while rehabbing from a torn biceps tendon. Reportedly he wants to return. Interior D-line alternatives include last year’s third round draft pick Kyrie Thornton who is coming off IR himself and was not impressive in camp last year and Josh Boyd who is limited. With unsigned incumbent Latroy Guion working through the legal process in Florida and with at best a disciplinary suspension coming his way, there is precious little proven talent at the NT position right now. At the right price and hopefully with the incentive to prove that he belongs, Raji can help this team.

2. Mason Foster, MLB – Tampa Bay Bucs. Ranked #62 overall on the NFL.com list and a former 2011 third round pick. To be candid, Foster’s numbers were not great last year and I would not have ranked him this high. He recorded only 62 tackles and had 0 forced fumbles, 0 interceptions and 0 sacks, however he averaged 85 tackles per year in his four-year Bucs career. Look beyond the numbers and you see a young (26 y/o) linebacker with impressive build (6’ 1” and 241 lbs.) who has flashed ability in the past. He just didn’t excel in Lovie Smith’s defensive scheme. But with the cupboard all but bare in Green Bay, and a 3-4 defense which would play to Foster’s advantage, he may very well flourish in Green Bay. At worst he would be a lower priced rotational player at a position of need.

3. Jake Long, OT – St. Louis Rams. #71 on the NFL.com list. When healthy he can be a force, but admittedly those times have been rare. The former #1 overall draft pick of the Miami Dolphins has had his share of medical issues having landed on injured reserve each of the last four years. As Long was cut by the Rams there would be no ‘draft pick compensation penalty’ associated with signing the eight-year veteran. I certainly don’t see Long coming in and unseating incumbents Bryan Bulaga or youngster David Bakhtiari. But the key to the Packers offense is keeping Aaron Rodgers upright. Should an injury befall either of the starters, a competent veteran replacement needs to be ready to step-in. Last season was a game of Russian Roulette at the OT position – one injury away from disaster –  and there is no need to play that dangerous game again this season.  What a relief it would be to have Long waiting in the wings. With his past medical issues he should come at a bargain price and a change of scenery might benefit the former Michigan Wolverine and get his once promising career back on track.

Packers Are the Only Team Yet to Acquire a Free Agent From Another Team

There is still an opportunity for General Manager Ted Thompson to make a splash in Free Agency by adding depth to a roster that has taken a hit this off-season. None of the three will break the bank and can be effective affordable additions now that the initial flurry of signings has died down.

And each would fit the template of a Ted Thompson free agent signing: low risk, high reward, good locker room guys and of course cost-effective.

Replenishing team depth needs to be a high priority this off-season, and bringing in these players would represent a solid start.

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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 .

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22 thoughts on “No Free Agents Left? Here are Three the Packers Should Sign Now

  1. Raji only at the right price and I mean cheap! There are a lot of big guys in the draft that can fill the hole at NT this year!

    Don’t need Jake Long period!

    I would not mind signing Foster just for depth in case of injury to one of the young guys who were drafted just for this occasion! If Bradford, Barrington, Palmer or Thomas fail to produce then give him his shot.

    1. The Packers cut ties with AJ Hawk for a good reason, so going out and signing version 2.0 doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  2. Yes on Raji at the right price. No on Foster and no on Long. Holes can be plugged using the draft and UDFAs. Signing Foster would cost the Packers a compensatory draft pick. For a draft and develop team like GB, compensatory picks are very important.

    Here are some of the players on the Packer roster who were acquired using compensatory picks: Josh Sitton, Mike Daniels, Richard Rodgers, Jared Abbrederis, Josh Boyd.

    And the Packers will get a compensatory pick for former compensatory pick Davon House.

    The Packers need cheaper talent to complement the highly-paid core – not expensive UFAs like Mason Foster.

    1. The compensatory picks for Tramon Williams and House will be awarded in 2016.

      This year’s comp picks will be fore Evan Dietrich Smith, James Jones, Marshal Newhouse and Corey Williams.

      That’s one medium salary WR, a starting OL bust, and two near-minimum wage guys.

      Journal sentinel is guessing two 6th rounders at best:
      http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/297258641.html

      1. I can’t see Jones netting anything less than a 5th,possibly even a 4th he got a decent sized contract. Smith will be a 6th, he was a bust, but had a big enough contract.

    2. Mason Foster signed a one year deal just yesterday with Chicago. If he lasted this long, signed a one year deal, something tells me he’d not a “Expensive UFA”.

  3. Luckily,I assume,you writers don’t own restaurants or are Chefs in one….you seem to quick to add unneeded seasoning.

    At this moment,Raji is like salt..maybe you’ll need a pinch of it or maybe you won’t…..Long is close to expiration for use via injuries…Foster is a kitchen fire extinguisher… if necessary. 🙂

    1. Raji we can certainly use. I hope you rest of the league continues to undervalue him because I think he could have a great bounce back year and would be a bargain. It’s not like we don’t have the cap space either

  4. You failed to mention Falcons’ free agent RB Jaquizz Rodgers. We can’t have too many “Rodgers” on the team.

  5. I don’t understand the need to add Jake Long to the list at all. We have a complete offensive line aided by two capable starters as back-ups.

    Raji? Feels redundant even mentioning his name at this point, that said what’s the risk of bringing him back in? REALLY wish they made a push for Knighton though..

    Foster? the only person who comes close to being necessary, needless to say we need another linebacker and pronto. It would be wonderful if Thompson didn’t have to spend a high priority draft pick on a linebacker, especially with this lackluster class of them. Seriously, not one really stands out, and the one that does will be long gone before our pick. I honestly thing that a FA is the best course of action here. He may be 36, but James Harrison still packs a punch.

  6. NFL.com doesn’t list Cobb as a Free Agent because he signed on March 9th — before free agency actually began. So Cobb was on the Packers before any other team was allowed to sign him (even though it was after teams were allowed to negotiate). Bulaga signed on 3/12, so he was a Free Agent for a day.
    That distinction only matters as a technicality, but since nfl.com is the official NFL website, they are stuck following the technicalities where other sites are not.

  7. 2 of these mentions are ridiculous. The Packers have a capable starting linebacker, will have access to numerous during the draft, and we signed Josh Francis to add some athletecism to the group. DL is a bit of an issue because we have a bunch of players but only a couple “Players” we could use Raji regardless of the starting role, because the Packers don’t have enough “Big Guys” to work with. I would say they add the likes of Jordan Philips or Eddie Goldman if they are available in the 1st and Carl Davis if he is available in the second. Offensive line is the least of the Packers worries.

    1. To call signing mason foster ridiculous, is ridiculous. Draft picks aren’t exactly sure things, Josh francis, Carl Bradford, and Joe Thomas are complete unkowns. If the packers can get an affordable veteran if nothing else it adds depth, and flexibility in the draft.

  8. I agree with most of the previous commenters here. Raji for the right price, Long no, unless of an emergency and he’s still around. I might consider Foster for depth but not at the expense of a compensatory pick. A team with 2 wins last season is in no rush to sign him so why should we? Thanks, Since ’61

  9. I really like the idea of picking up a run stopping 2 down linebacker on the cheap, along with drafting an athletic ilb to come in for him on pass downs. Foster, and spikes fit that mold. However, as the off-season progresses there is a decent chance a better linebacker gets cut,and will not cost a pick on top of providing better value

  10. Barclay knows the blocking scheme and is young. I want him back over Long. I’d take Guion over Raji but would like both. And the MLB you mentioned, sure!

  11. I think Packer fans will come to regret Ted Thompson letting Davon House get away. None other than Gus Bradley, the guy who gave us the Legion of Boom in Seattle, is ecstatic with the acquisition. What GM lets a young guy like House not only get away but not even talk contract to him till he already had offer from another team in FA and was all but out the door. Tramon Williams is past his prime, House is entering his prime. I just don’t understand Thompson at all.

  12. LB Mason Foster signs a one year deal with the Bears. “A Day late and a dollar short” Ted strikes again!

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