Packers Expiring Contracts: Trust Ted

Mike Daniels

The Green Bay Packers currently have 22 players under contract whose contracts expire after this season.  Many of those players are undrafted free agents on the usual one-year deals, but there are a few big names that will become the center of contract extension discussions very soon.  Among those are defensive lineman Mike Daniels, cornerback Casey Hayward, safety Sean Richardson and possibly even defensive lineman B.J. Raji.  General manager Ted Thompson has been very choosy with who he decides to negotiate with and make big offers to and has proven to be right most of the time.  Over the past two years, he has cast away Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Tramon Williams.  In each case, the Packers overcame the loss and didn’t really miss a beat.  In looking to this next year, we have to continue to think Ted will continue to evaluate and make the right decision.

Of those players mentioned, Raji holds the highest draft pick status, as the ninth overall pick in the 2009 season.  Raji missed all of last season after suffering a bicep injury late in the preseason.  Prior to that, Raji had bet on himself and rejected a multi year, multi million dollar contract offer by the Packers the year prior.  He never got that deal and settled for a one-year, “prove it” deal worth $4 million.  Raji will have to prove it once again in 2015, as he’s back on another one-year deal.  Raji is far from consideration on an extension and will need to perform at a career-best level often this season before the Packers start throwing an offer his way.

Daniels is the biggest name on the list and the most likely to get a lucrative extension from the Packers.  Daniels has 12 sacks over the last two seasons and has become the team’s most explosive defensive lineman during that time.  He’s not in the All Pro category just yet, but Daniels has turned the corner and has no trouble making plays on a regular basis.  As long as the Packers continue to run a version of the 3-4 and as much nickel as they do, Daniels is a huge asset to the defense and his value cannot be underestimated.  The Packers often keep themselves in good financial shape so that they never have to let one of their own young veterans walk away.  Daniels is a near perfect example of why Green Bay takes that approach.  The Packers need to get Daniels locked up before he hits the open market but after watching them wait to re-sign receiver Randall Cobb and do so at a team-friendly price, it seems likely that they’ll be able to keep Daniels either way.  It won’t be cheap, but he’s probably worth being slightly overpaid.

Richardson is back on a $2 million deal.  The team chose to match the offer sheet Richardson had signed with the Oakland Raiders during free agency.  Richardson has been an asset on special teams and played a decent number of snaps on defense as well last season.  Defensive coordinator Dom Capers likes to try different rotations and looks and with Richardson, the team gets a third safety on the field who can moonlight as a linebacker in run support or in short coverage.  Last training camp, Richardson made a few nifty plays and showed that he’s more than just a special teamer.  Hopefully this new contract motivates him to earn another for a longer term.  Right now, Richardson isn’t on the Packers’ radar, but they didn’t throw multi millions at him for no reason and he’ll get a chance to start earning his next payday sooner than later this season.

Hayward is an interesting situation because he finds himself injured again.  In his rookie season of 2012, he was leading the league in interceptions at one point.  It seemed as though the Packers may have found the heir apparent to Woodson and were in great shape.  Then came the injuries.  Hayward missed most of the 2013 season after suffering a hamstring injury during the offseason.  Hayward is dealing with another offseason injury, an ankle, and won’t be ready to participate in practice until training camp later next month.  While his talent is undeniable, Hayward has to prove that he can stay on the field and continue to do so.  Despite his big-play ability, the Packers are likely weary of throwing any type of significant money at Hayward right now and likely won’t begin negotiating with him until very close to the free agent time period next year.  That can all change if Hayward gets healthy, wins the starting outside corner spot opposite Sam Shields and has a great year.  That’s what the Packers are hoping for and they’d likely reward Hayward for returning on that hope.

Other notable names on the “expiring contract” list are James Starks, Andrew Quarless, Scott Tolzien, Don Barclay, John Kuhn and Brett Goode.  Of those, Starks and Tolzien have a good chance to be back in Green Bay if they turn in a solid season this year.  If Richard Rodgers develops further and sixth-round tight end Kennard Backman can crack the roster somehow, Quarless may be in his last season as a Packer.  Kuhn is likely on his farewell tour either way, as the team spent a sixth-round pick on Aaron Ripkowski.  Barclay and Goode could go either way and the Packers would likely survive the loss of either or both.

The good news is that we won’t likely have to speculate much more on this topic for another seven months.  Training camp starts in seven weeks and that means real football is right around the corner!

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • packett

    Thanks for reminder on who is coming due this coming year. I agree TT does well managing contracts. So my question is; all that we heard last 2-3 years of Dallas being in Cap-Hell, yet each year, they seem to shell out big bucks for new FA and generally keeping most of their stars (with a notable exception. How does Jerry do it? Is he better than TT, b/c he is more creative with contracts? Is Romo making any money these days, or actually paying to play by now?

    • dobber

      The cap keeps going up, and they keep cutting contracts/players.

    • marpag

      From the beginning of TT’s time as GM, the Packers are 4-2 head-to-head vs. Dallas, and have won the last four straight, so I really doubt that Jerry is better than TT at much of anything football-related.

      As far as football is concerned, the only thing that Jerruh ever had going for him was his own money and Jimmy Johnson’s brains. In the mid 90s, he lost both things. Johnson finally couldn’t stand Jones anymore – thereby removing Jones’ last shred of football knowledge – and the NFL implemented a salary cap – thereby removing the advantage of Jones’ deep pockets. He hasn’t won squat ever since. In the past two decades, despite all of his “big-time” free agent signings, he’s won 52% of his games, has all of 3 playoff wins, and has never made the Superbowl. He’s a dinosaur. The game has evolved beyond him.

      The problem with Jones now is that he is becoming TOO senile. A number of years ago he still had the wherewithal to actually DO all of the stupid things he wanted to do. Now it seems that there are football minds in the Dallas organization who are able to say, “Look, Pops, if you insist on trying to draft Johnny Manziel we’re going to send you to that nice home over on Maple Street…”

  • TedTomsin

    These headlines just keep getting better and better. The living legend will definitely get Daniels signed as well as Hayward. Daniels will be a pro bowler this season plus his leadership skills are probably 2nd to Rodgers. Hayward will or should take a home discount for all the games he missed.
    Ted

    • Nick Perry

      I don’t know about that Ted, Bulaga and Cobb were the exception to the rule by taking less. This is a business first and foremost and most teams and players treat it exactly like that. House was injured quite a bit in his 4 years at Green Bay and because the Packers wouldn’t “Guarantee” a starting spot he took the money and went to Jacksonville. 99.9% of NFL players seem to go where the pastures are greenest. I mean who would choose Jacksonville over Green Bay if winning was important? The positive in my mind? The Packers drafted 2 players in Randell and Rollins who I think will be better than House and Williams, maybe as soon as this year.

  • aaronqb

    These decisions will be made by how well these players perform this year, how ready their backups are, and their asking price. I agree that right now Daniels probably is in the best spot for an extension, but a lot can change between now and then. For instance, if Ringo looks great, that would impact the likelihood of GB throwing big bucks at Daniels. If one of the FA RBs looks real good, that would impact Starks’ attractiveness for another extension. The guys at the end of the 53-man are very important in this process even if they don’t see a lot of playing time in 2015.

    One other thing .. losing high priced free agents gives the team compensatory picks in the draft. Josh Sitton, Mike Daniels, Davon House, and Richard Rodgers were all acquired using compensatory picks. It is healthy to lose some high-priced free agents to keep the roster young and affordable.

    • dobber

      Losing a decent FA at 30 is one thing. Losing a decent FA at 25 is a whole different matter.

  • dobber

    Daniels doesn’t strike me as a guy who’s likely to get paid and become a “fat cat”. He certainly says and does the right things to lead me to believe money won’t change him on the field. Absent an injury, it would be nice to take care of him before the season starts.

    I think Hayward needs to play and produce. I don’t see Raji being back whether he has a good season (and prices himself out of TTs range) or not.

  • Since ’61

    With the possible exception of Daniels I would not do anything with any of the players mentioned in the article until the end of the season. Raji is on a show me deal, Hayward has injury concerns and may get beat out flat by Randall or Rollins and Richardson is also on a show me deal. Starks, Quarless, Tolzien, Barclay and Goode can all wait until after the season and unless they have huge seasons they are all replaceable anyway. Kuhn is probably done. Even Daniels, who is a good player , but not a dominate player can be re-signed at a reasonable price unless he has a dominant or pro bowl type season. It’s too early to say anything definite, but it looks like sign Daniels and maybe for the rest. Thanks, Since ’61

    • Archie

      Yep.

  • Mojo

    Outside of Daniels, there isn’t a pressing need to sign any these guys.

    Hayward has the most upside, but let’s face it, we still have no idea what his ability is as a full time outside corner. Plus, his injury history is very disconcerting. Two off season non-contact injuries, one of which cost him nearly an entire year. Let’s just say I’m not optimistic about his long-range future. That would be too bad, because he could be one of their better secondary guys if healthy.

    The others – meh!

    Now, it would be interesting if the value for Tolzien goes up based on early indications of significantly improved mechanics. His slinging it in OTA’s. He was already dedicated and bright enough, so if he can do it physically he would be worth bringing back.

    And unfortunately I see ARod missing a lot more games as his body seems to be breaking down. His injuries last year came without contact. His holistic acupuncture and juice therapy might be good for his mind, but won’t keep him on the field.

    • holmesmmd

      Lol

  • Archie

    “….Daniels is a huge asset to the defense and his value cannot be underestimated.”

    If we can’t underestimate his value, his value is miniscule.

    Something about Packer writers, they all make this mistake.

    If you thinkl Daniels is very valuable, you should say “his value cannot be overestimated.”

    • Steve Cheez

      Is that you again, Mom?

    • JordyJanis

      Maybe “should not be underestimated” would work

  • Archie

    After Hayward and Daniels, everybody else is a JAG. Even Hayward and Daniels are far from Pro Bowlers. So I’m not too worried.

    • dobber

      This is why they drafted Rollins and Randall: TWill and House are gone and Hayward is far from a sure thing. You’ve got to have talent at the position. If Hayward doesn’t pan out, you’ve got options. If he plays well, you’ve got depth. If he plays well and prices himself out of TTs budget, you’ve got options.

      On one of the previous posts the question was posed: who will be surprise starters? CB is an obvious position to point toward based on attrition, but injury doesn’t create a “surprise starter”. Injury creates a vacuum someone needs to step into. Someone being outperformed by a player further down the depth chart creates a surprise starter. At this point, Hayward is such a wild-card, healthwise, that to say Randall would be a surprise starter is not quite right. If they picked Goodson as a surprise starter that would be something a little more in line with what “surprise starter” means to me….because he’d have to leap-frog a guy penciled in as #1 on the depth chart AND a recent first-round pick.

      • Archie

        No doubt CB was a major need position this year. Just like S, ILB and back-up QB have been in recent years. Losing House and Williams and relying on an injury plagued guy with speed issues is not a great formula for success. Let’s just hope TT got value with his first two picks. He has been burned so many times drafting a DL that I think he shied away from going DL again.

    • Jason Perone

      Should not be underestimated. Easier fix 🙂

    • marpag

      We agree on this, Archie. Daniels is good, but probably not as great as some think. As things stand, he’s not worth a primo contract unless he kicks it up another notch. But those are the guys you are likely to lose. Someone will give him crazy money just because they are desperate.

  • Archie

    #12 is just entering his prime. And I think he’ll age much better than P Manning.

    • dobber

      As I mentioned above, ARod’s a completely different player than Manning. His game will need to change much more than Manning’s did as he aged…so in many ways I agree with you: ARod’s both an excellent pocket passer and passer when he’s on the move (which Manning really doesn’t do). But how his game evolves as his legs start to go will dictate what kind of player he will be in his waning years.

      • Oppy

        That’s the thing- his game doesn’t have to evolve if his legs start to go. He doesn’t rely on his legs to move the chains. As you already stated, Arod’s an excellent pocket passer. We know he’s smarter with the ball than any QB who has played (lowest interception rate all time), and we know he has top-flight arm strength as well as accuracy. He already has full and total command of the offense. Rodgers could practically lead a team to victory from a lazy boy recliner.

  • TedTomsin

    You tell em’ Doc!!
    Ted

  • Mojo

    Two things from last season were cause for great despair on my part.

    1.) Packer team commits epic fail in playoffs and loses out on very legit chance to win SB. Not much more needs to be said there.

    2.) ARod sustains injuries while running on scramble plays. You might recall that Rodgers injured his hammy in October against NO. Then later, his calf falls apart in two different places after a December game in Tampa. All without contact.Quite different from the collar-bone injury when he was drilled into the ground. He even has a deformed calf now.

    He may be at 100% in his mind, but I see a pattern here that is very alarming. Two non-contact leg injuries when trying to accelerate and run.

    One of the better attributes to ARods game was his ability to scramble to keep drives alive. He passed on quite a few opportunities(as he should have) post injuries last season. And I see more reason to believe the hammy pulls and calf muscle tears will be less infrequent as he ages. Sticking pins in his ass isn’t going to cure anything.

    So the reasons for my despair last season – # 1 above cost us a SB in the present and # 2 could cost some in the future.

    • dobber

      In the end, everyone loses their legs. Mobility has always been one of ARod’s great assets: the ability to extend plays and to keep defenses honest with his threat to run. As he gets older, he has to recognize that he’s not going to be scrambling to run anymore, and that he can’t stop and start with the same suddenness that he used to be able to. These are adjustments that he’s going to have to make in his game to stay on the field. If he fails to recognize this and tries to play like he’s still 26, you’re right: he’s going to have soft-tissue injury problems on a more regular basis.

      These are issues that statues like Peyton Manning and Dan Marino never had to deal with…

    • Archie

      Let’s wait another year before we conclude AROD is an injury waiting to happen. If TT could only find a defense, AROD could shatter the record for SB appearances/wins. Based on past experience, I truly don’t believe TT has the ability to draft quality defensive players. CMIII will probably begin losing it in a couple more years. So I no longer expect AROD to make than 1 or 2 more SB appearances, if that. It’s sad to have the best QB on the planet and get so little out of him. But TT is satisfied with winning records and playoff appearances. That’s not hard to do when your QB is the likes of AROD. Wish Lombardi was here. He’d be in the SB every year with this QB.

      • Nick Perry

        I agree with the injury waiting to happen Archie, even before last season Rodgers injury history was 2 concussions and the collarbone and already he was being described as “Injury Prone” by some. I was like, HUH???? He had a man fall on him just so and his fricken collarbone snapped. Now with the calf injury he’s a “China Doll”? BS!!!

  • Oppy

    I don’t think there’s a chance in hell the Packers allow Goode to walk.

    He might be the first guy they lock up. The value of an ultra-reliable long snapper can NOT be underestimated.

  • Agree that Daniels is the only real candidate for an extension in the next few months. He currently is rated somewhere btw 5th and 8th best 3-4 DE. The market for him appears to be btw $9 and $11 mill per year. Watch what the Jets do with Muhammad Wilkerson.

    No mention of Guion. Last year GB signed him for his versatility along the d-line, but he got stuck playing NT mostly. We’ll find out if he can play DE and if he can rotate in along with Daniels and Datone for the 2-4-5 packages. If so, look for him to possibly displace Boyd despite Boyd still being cheap and under contract for the next 2 years in a numbers crunch (really a draft status crunch since Boyd looks to me like he has proven he is the 5th best D-lineman to date on the team). Datone will have to make a jump to get his option picked up.

    All the hate for Quarless. He is getting paid like a good #3 TE. Even if R. Rodgers displaces him for #1, and even if Backman should miraculously show he is the #2 (and not the PS fodder I think he is), Quarless would still be the #3, unless Perillo finally takes a jump. We might lose him to another team that thinks it can live with him as a #2 TE, though.

    No reason to think GB will dump Goode. They’d need to have his replacement in mind.

    All the love for Richardson. No rush to extend him at least.
    Hayward: he won’t want to extend based on being a slot CB and nickel back. No rush there.