Packers Free Agent Overview: Offense All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Will Packers running back James Starks return and once again team up with Eddie Lacy?

With 17 free agents and just under $10 million in salary cap space carrying over into 2014, changes are coming to the Green Bay Packers roster.

We’ve already taken a look at upcoming Packers free agents on defense. Now let’s examine the decisions Packers general manager Ted Thompson has to make about free agents on offense.

WR James Jones
When Jones hit the open market in 2011, there were few buyers and he ended up back in Green Bay. After three good seasons, will Jones find more suitors this time around? He’s been a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver his whole career, but Jones has had stretches where he kinda sorta looks like a No. 1. At 29 years old, though, I doubt anyone will pay Jones as a No. 1 receiver and it could lead to him once again landing back in Green Bay at another Packers-friendly contract. With the emergence of Jarrett Boykin down the stretch, Thompson has plenty of leverage when negotiating with Jones and might even feel comfortable enough to move on entirely from the man who wears a sleeveless turtleneck. It’ll be interesting to see if Aaron Rodgers lobbies for Jones to be re-signed like he did back in 2011.

TE Jermichael Finley
This one will be up to the doctors. If Finley is cleared to play football again, how big of a contract is a team willing to give him? Does Finley sign a cheaper one-year deal and try to prove himself all over again to land a fat deal in 2015? Even if he is cleared to play, are the Packers interested in re-signing him?

TE Andrew Quarless
Quarless didn’t come close to filling the playmaking void left by Finley, but he did have a few moments. Quarless’s future will be determined by what happens with Finley and whether the Packers address the tight end position in the draft.

C Evan Dietrich-Smith
The Packers put the lowest restricted free-agent tender on Dietrich-Smith last offseason and were able to retain him. When Dietrich-Smith hits the market this offseason, he should have more interest. The Packers were effective on the ground in 2013 and Dietrich-Smith’s physical play was a contributing factor. But with J.C. Tretter waiting in the wings and capable centers available in the mid-rounds of the draft, Thompson could choose to save some money for other areas of the team and let Dietrch-Smith find work elsewhere.

QB Matt Flynn
I doubt another team is going to throw a big contract at Flynn like the Seahawks did after the 2010 season, so look for Flynn to be back as the backup quarterback. It’ll be nice to go through a preseason without gnashing our teeth about the inexperience and incompetence at the backup quarterback position. Flynn did exactly what a backup quarterback is supposed to do: Make a few plays here and there and keep the team above water until the starter returns.

RB James Starks
I wonder if someone will throw a fat contract at Starks. Yes, the injury questions will always loom over him, but he looked faster than he ever has this season. At times Starks appeared to be controlled by 15-year-old kid holding down the turbo button while playing Madden Football on the PS4. I’d love to have Starks back as a speedy, yet powerful, complement to Eddie Lacy, but don’t be surprised if the Packers can’t match offers from other teams and Jonathan Franklin and DuJuan Harris have to step up as backups.

FB John Kuhn
Kuhn’s block on Julius Peppers in the season finale might have been worth $10 million by itself. Is anyone else going to throw a decent contract at pass-blocking fullback who occasionally crashes forward for 1 yard or catches a dump-off pass? I don’t think so. Look for Kuhn to return at a team-friendly price.

RB Kahlil Bell

T Marshall Newhouse
Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod should be back next season, meaning Newhouse’s days in Green Bay are probably over.

QB Seneca Wallace
Wallace couldn’t beat the Bears and exited after one series against Philadelphia. His day with the Packers are over.


Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .


60 thoughts on “Packers Free Agent Overview: Offense

  1. Looking ahead, don’t Cobb and Nelson both come up after 2014? Thompson absolutely cannot allow the cupboard to run dry on weapons surrounding ARod. I think Jones’s days are numbered with those savings going toward extending either Nelson or Cobb (or both) and a couple skill position guys being selected in the 2014 draft.

    Flynn’s crash and burn in Oakland and then Seattle means he’s a lifer as long as the Packers want him.

    1. I hope you’re right about Flynn. I wouldn’t mind seeing him sign a series of one year, vet min deals like Doug Pedersen did to back up Favre for all those years.

    2. Flynn sucks. Two 1 point wins over bad defenses and a tie vs 3rd. Whoop-di-do. Tolzein or somebody else is the future.

    3. Anybody know what the price of keeping Flynn would be? I concur that this back-up fits our current scheme and if he can give us .500 ball that is better than what a lot of teams have as a starter. If we can keep him on the cheap makes sense.

  2. I’m a little surprised and disappointed that the Packers did not extend Dietrich-Smith during the season. I thought he played pretty well this year,and I think it would be good to have some consistency at the position, considering that if he leaves the Packers will have 4 different starting centers in 4 years.

    Tretter was injured his first practice, and has never played center. I don’t think it is safe to assume he can just step in from day 1 and be as effective as Dietrich-Smith.

    And I think the Packers have enough needs at other positions that spending a high or mid-round pick on a center would be foolish.

    1. I’d like to keep EDS for continuity but they must take care of the cap situation with the Rodgers and Matthews contracts. And it only takes one team to blow up the market for a particular guy.

      Tretter is not the only alternative to EDS. With Bulaga coming back, Barclay will probably be sliding inside in search of a job.

      Maybe something like this:

      Bakh, Sitton, Lang, Barclay, Bulaga

          1. Barclay will have to work very hard during the off-season to be considered at center again. He had some big problems at center during the preseason in 2013. He may become a G/T, but not a center at this point in time.

      1. When TT wants to keep a player he will try to do so during the season. Ted will generally make a good offer to keep his guys. I’m afraid EDS is part of a growing group of packer FA whose agents think they are worth way more than they are.

  3. I’d like the Packers to keep most of those guys but only on team-friendly contracts. None of them are make or break for the offense. But most provide something.

    The exceptions are Newhouse, Bell and Wallace. I thank them for their service and wish them well somewhere else.

    The one difficult question is Finley. He’s uber talented. But hasn’t been uber productive. I thought he was a different guy this year prior to the injury. And it was a change for the better. But the neck complicates things a whole bunch.

    1. I think Finley is gone either way. If he’s cleared to play I don’t think McCarthy and Ted T want to take a chance(Just like Nick Collins)Mark Chumura had the same injury and was forced to hang it up. Finley’s high water mark was that playoff game against Arizona in 2009.

      1. If Finley is cleared to play, he might come cheaply on a short-term for just that reason: no one wants to gamble on him. At some point, the potential payoff for a motivated Finley becomes worth the risk…and it frees up early draft choices in April to use elsewhere. But it’s all contingent upon being cleared and capable.

    2. Need to move on past Finley. Too expensive. Production doesn’t match and is injury prone. Look to draft a new guy in top 3 rounds.

  4. We only have $10 million towards resigning FAs and signing our draft picks going into next year. Are you stating this correctly and am I reading this right? Signing bonuses for our FAs alone will account for all of this and more.

    Are you sure about this number?

    1. Plenty of dead wood to cut and amass big FA bucks. Practically entire defense except CMIII.

  5. I read a CBS Sports article (Dec 17th) that has us at the 9th best salary cap situation in the league with over $26.5 million in cap room. Where are all the numbers coming from and who is accurate?

      1. I think it will be above $30 mil when all is said and done. The projected cap is around 126 mil. With the space rolled forward, that means 136 for the Pack. has them at 107 mil now. is listing Raji as signed. My guess is that is a voidable year that will be voided. That’s another 2 mil savings from what they report. They can get 7 mil by cutting Tramon Williams and 2 mil each from Hawk and Brad Jones. I’d leave Williams alone. It’s a big number but CBs have that kind of value and Williams played well last season. I never understood the contracts for Jones & Hawk in the first place so I’d say to cut both. But they obviously won’t do that. Maybe one but not both.

        1. Given how Tramon has played this season, maybe he’ll take a page out of Hawk’s book and negotiate down to make his number more cap friendly and to stay in town.

          1. I hope you’re right, Dobber. I can’t see Hawk or B. Jones getting cut. Best we can hope for is a renegotiated contract. Even that is unlikely.

        2. Actually , i believe, Raji has a player option that he can void. If he keeps he will have 4mil cap hit-my guess is he thinks he is worth way more(which is why he turned down 8mil). We will have cap hit-the site shows 1,800,000 dead money which usually means the amount still guaranteed.

          I know we difintely still owe him 480,000 signing bonus. The 1,400,000 misc is (I think) a roster bonus-although it could be anything-with out knowing exactly cant tell if it is guaranteed.

  6. Keep Quarless. Rated top five blocking te, in the NFL. He hasn’t even had a real chance to show his full potential in the passing game .

  7. I would to keep Jones and Starks if the prices are right. Finley may not be back due to his injury. He may not want to risk playing again even if he is medically cleared. While Quarless improved as a receiver his blocking went downhill. If we can draft a quality TE, I’m not sure about keeping Quarless. EDS is good for continuity but again if a true quality center is available I’d pick him up in the draft, keep EDS for next season while the rookie develops for 2015. Flynn is a no brainer. I think that he wants GB and is satisfied in the backup role. Bell, Wallace and Newhouse, thanks and goodbye. TT likes to re-sign his own people, so I think he’ll try to keep Jones, Starks EDS and Finley(if Finley can and wants to play again). Fortunately, our offense is overall in great shape, especially when compared with the defense. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Starks won’t stay. Was underutilized yet was more productive than Lacy when he played. He will start somewhere in 14.

      1. Someone else will offer him more money than the Packers can, but one year of health (and real competition) vs. an ongoing track record of injuries makes him expendable with Franklin and Harris waiting in the wings.

    2. Jones missed one if not two big time catches last week. If made one of those big plays Pack advances. I think the money needs to be directed at Nelson and/or Cobb in a extension early.

  8. QB: Need a back-up-preferably Flynn
    RB: Could possibly go forward with Lacy, Harris, Franklin
    FB: Kuhn is in primarily for pass blocking even though Lacy was among the league leaders in pass blocking proficiency
    TE: Taylor, Bostic, Stoneburner? Methinks not enough firepower for ARod to be happy
    OT: Bulaga, Bakhtiari, Barclay, Sherrod. Need Sherrod to become a beast to take this OL to the next level.
    OG: Sitton, Lang, Tretter, Taylor…questions exist with depth here.
    C: nobody of note other than the potential of Tretter…really need EDS for continuity sake

    1. I disagree that they need Sherrod to become better. It would be nice. But it isn’t necessary. A stronger Bakhtiari and a healthy Bulaga came make a pretty good outside duo, IMO. Certainly better that Bakh as a rook and Barclay, who is a battler but a bit overmatched on the edge.

      With Bulaga back, I think Barclay slides inside to compete for a spot, which looks to be a better fit for him, IMO. That takes a little of the pressure off Tretter developing in the event EDS walks. There are 5 guys that have been starters even without EDS.

      Still, I’d rather have EDS back on a team friendly deal. Let 7 guys with starting experience, a promising younger guy and a former 1st rounder looking to shake injury issues battle for the 5 starting spots.

      1. Bulaga certainly makes the group better, but in order for the line to take “the next step” they need a beast. My poorly articulated point is that we already know what we’re getting from Bulaga. The likely “beast” candidate is what I want Sherrod to be.

    2. Sherrod or Wilkerson?
      Raji or Crabtree?
      Bulaga or Sez Bryant or DeMarius Thomas?
      Justin Harrell or Darelle Revis?
      AJ Hawk or Vernon Davis?

      Everytime, our ass-clown made the wrong choice.

      Next up, Datone Jones and Nick Perry.

      1. This disappoints me.

        Playing retrospective “coulda, woulda, shoulda” absent any kind of context in this way should be above this conversation.

      2. Wilkerson was drafted 2 spots ahead of Sherrod…Demaryius Thomas was drafted 1 spot ahead Bulaga…Revis was drafted 2 spots ahead of Harrell. So in Archie’s world, TT should trade up in every draft. I apologize for the language but i think you’re the “ass-clown” who should do some research before you say, “TT made the wrong choice”. Do you really expect TT to trade up every draft??

        1. You’re exactly right, Ryan! It’s like crushing the Chargers old GM for taking Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning…makes no sense.

      3. Archie almost made it through the posts without imploding…but he just can’t help hisself.

  9. Keep EDS, though he made some really ugly blocks this year, and this could be a very dominant OL, with crazy good backups.

    Let Starks test the market, like Jones 2011. Maybe he stays, if not, develop the next guy.

    Jones would be great to keep, but i would again let him test the market. Same with Flynn and Quarless, hopefully all will stay.

    The offense looks pretty stacked if players can be kept, which looks likely for most especially since I think finley will be done and that will open some cap space.

    1. “Keep EDS, though he made some really ugly blocks this year, and this could be a very dominant OL, with crazy good backups.”

      Maybe EDS looks like “just a guy” on paper, but there has to be some recognition that the interior OL had much improved chemistry over a year ago and the OL in general was far better–at least in the run game–than we’ve seen in recent years. That counts for something.

      My hope is that the return of Bulaga and Sherrod creates competition at OT that allows the Packers to put their two best on the field and upgrade those positions.

    2. With more experience EDS will be better next year. Maybe we should consider this his rookie year at a new position.

    1. Who’s buying the tickets?

      But seriously, it’s possible, if we can keep our offense in tact and plug the more gaping holes on defense.

  10. As a Packers fan since early Favre ERA, aswell as Ravens fan from MD. I usually am lucky having 2 teams in the dance. The Packers had that game won no matter what anybody says then like the apacolyse coming half the team dropped like flies. The Pack have the best player in the world with Rodgers, and they have no problem drafting offensive talent. Now Rodgers can win 2 maybe 3 more rings playing at this level, but the only way that happens is if Thompson goes bargain hunting on the free agent market for some defensive gems to get this team back to the 2010 level. Example, 2 guys who would be dynamite and relatively cheap, steal James Ihedigbo SS/FS and Daryl Smith MLBr from my other team the Ravens. Two Awesome tacklers and Smith got robbed of a pro bowl with 120tackles 17Pass breaks and 5sacks. Then bring Woodson back his versility to play FS/CB changes the defense and he is still a beast 90 tackles a interception and 3FFs. So thats what Thompson needs to do this offseason

  11. We need more speed and length on defense. We should try to keep the offense intact and go for safety, lb, TE, DL in that order in first 4 rounds in that order. Need Cam Chancellor or Eric Reid in the draft. Biggest impact on defense.

  12. Let Starks walk. Someone will pay for him to compete as a starter – which is what he should want anyway. Lacy, Harris, Franklin and Kuhn (if at a team friendly price) are fine.

    Assuming Finley can even make it back, let him walk, unless the deal is short team and uber team friendly. Man wants to get paid.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Quarless and Bostic man the position next year on the cheap with a high ceiling draft pick.

    If EDS is cheap – bring him in. If not, let him walk. IMO someone will pay him well as a starter. I’d hate for it to be TT. Tretter/Barclay/Van Routen should be ok.

    I’d like to see Jones back at a team friendly price. But I’d bet that someone signs him for a good salary to play as their constant WR2.

    Bottom line: The big bucks HAVE to be spent on an instant impact safety, retaining Shields and saving for Cobb and Nelson (neither of which will come cheap).

    The defense is what is holding the team back – and the defense is where more $ needs to be spent.

  13. James Jones didn’t get any offers the last time he was a free agent and that was three years ago. I don’t know why any team would make him one now. He even said he would like to finish his career in Green Bay. Playing in Canada may be an option,but I hope Ted T gets him back!

  14. I’d be really surprised if EDS isn’t re-signed. We saw how much it hurt the line when TT let Wells go and try to patch w/ Saturday. There was play-killing penetration right up the middle on seemingly every run play. Nobody has even really seen Tretter play, so I think hopes are a little overly high on him.

    I agree on the rest.some say we can’t afford JJones anymore, but what we paid him this year is pretty appropriate for how he performed this year. same is true for Kuhn, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see either back. Starks is the one that might have earned himself a raise that we sadly can’t afford.

  15. Here’s what I would do if I had to make the decisions:

    Jones-Depends on what he is offered when he tests FA. With the development of Boykin I would be OK seeing him go and we draft a WR.

    Finley- I would let go, he would be on top 5 TE money and he isn’t a top 5 TE in the league.

    Quarless- I would sign, showed some decent improvement this season. I would also look to draft or find a free agent TE.

    EDS- I don’t rate him, wouldn’t sign.

    Flynn- Depends on the money but I would look to sign.

    Starks- Would Sign. Showed he could be a nice combination with Lacy. Depends on the interest though.

    Kuhn- Another depends on the money. If he’s willing to do a cap friendly deal would keep.

    Newhouse- Let go.

    Wallace- Let go.

  16. No, No, No, Noooo! I only agree with the last 4 players mentioned by the author (the no-brainers or obvious decisions), and disagree with more than some of the commenters, some of whom I suggest didn’t think things through.

    EDS is priority ONE. With all respect to Since 61, whose posts I often like and always respect, he is a free agent and will want and easily command financial security in a contract with multiple years and with good guaranteed money. GB can’t sign him for a year and develop a center. GB never even saw Tretter in pads (unless it was late in the year after he returned from injury). GB as far as we know has no idea what Tretter can do in the NFL. The idea that GB can draft and start a rookie center (Tretter is virtually a rookie) is a very bad idea. I posted comments after the 2nd and 3rd games suggesting GB extend EDS when he would have been a bit cheaper, but now TT will have to pay the man, but not Wells $. Lane Taylor and Van Rotten are the fans’ Zombo/So’oto types: bottom of the roster types only. On a related note, Bulaga becomes a free agent after next year, and GB has a club option on Sherrod after next year which equates to $5 or $6 million per year, so both will be expensive to keep after next year. If Sherrod blossoms, he is a 1 year solution unless GB wants a VERY expensive o-line. Best hope Bakhtiari becomes a stud. Need a cheap tackle.

    Jones: Other than the author, I don’t know of anyone who remotely thought of Jones as a #1 receiver. I consider him to be a very good #3, or a poor #2. He can’t get any separation unless matched up against the other team’s #3 corner: that’s why he makes so many difficult catches while closely covered. Re-sign Jones if he’ll take his current deal again, otherwise Boykin has replaced him. TT probably needs to find a gem WR in the 2nd or 3rd rounds to re-stock WR with Nelson & Cobb coming up for extensions. Pay Nelson; Slot receivers like Cobb get no love in the NFL and won’t cost that much.

    Finley/Quarles: If medically cleared, try for a 1-year incentive-based contract, probably split contract with game by game payments. I don’t think Quarles is a good blocker at all. He is an inconsistent blocker and an inconsistent receiver who showed no burst and no fluidity or change of direction. He is a mediocre at best #2 worth just $1.5 per year.

    Flynn: Vet minimum. No one will offer much.

    Starks: Depends on what Starks’ opinion of himself is and where he perceives GB has him on the depth chart. MM gave him far fewer carries than I think his play warranted. I would love to have him back. Does Starks want the chance to be a starter somewhere? He is behind Lacey, but is he behind Harris and Franklin too? I suspect he leaves for a chance to be a starter.

    My priorities are EDS and Flynn (I like Tolzien as a developmental guy). GB can afford to let all of the rest walk if friendly contracts can’t be worked out.

  17. Packers’ most valuable free agent on offense = Starks and he will get away.

    The rest don’t really matter.

    On defense it’s Shields and he will get away.

    The rest don’t really matter.

    Sad but true.

  18. Greatreynoldo – thank you for your feedback and comments on my posts. Your analysis of the offense free agents is excellent. Concerning EDS, my thoughts about keeping him were based on the price he will command in free agency. I agree that he would be good to keep as I mentioned for continuity, but I am not sure that he is the #1 priority and I am not sure that we will able to or want to afford him. You’re also correct about Tretter, we don’t know what he can do, which is why I think that we should draft a true center if a good one is available. TT likes to keep the team younger rather than older. In 1964 we drafted Ken Bowman and by 1965 he became our starter. Lombardi traded HOF Jim Ringo to the Eagles when he told Lombardi that he had an agent to discuss his contract. Lombardi made the trade while Ringo was waiting and then told Ringo that his agent should be speaking with the Eagles. Bowman became a pro- bowl center. He was an 8th round pick, back then fewer teams but more draft picks. As I mentioned, I think will TT will try to resign Starks, Jones, EDS, Finley, and probably Flynn and Kuhn. Will he be able to? Depends on price. They know the offense, their good players, and Rodgers will probably give input on which weapons he would like to hold onto, as he has done before. I think that we all agree that Newhouse, Wallace and Bell are gone. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Agree. TT let EDS get to FA, so he will have to overpay to keep him, but if EDS wants Wells money, might have to let him walk. Tough call for me. But if EDS walks, then TT needs to draft a college player who actually played center – the true center you mention, not a conversion project. Either that, or overpay a mid-level FA center.

      Also, I agree the defense needs more attitude in the front 7 especially, but also in the secondary. Opposing QBs mustn’t be able to think they can toss a jump ball and figure it is either a nice gain or an incomplete pass. The opposing QB has to worried that it will get picked off a respectable percentage of the time.

  19. “Flynn did exactly what a backup quarterback is supposed to do: Make a few plays here and there and keep the team above water until the starter returns.”

    Somebody forgot to give Josh McCown that memo (#3 in NFL QB rating).

    To be serious, Flynn is prob our best option for QB2 in 2014, but some people are a bit too enchanted with him. Understandable, after seeing VY, BJ Coleman, Wallace and Tolzien all struggle, but Ted is coming up short if Tolzien or someone else doesn’t overtake Flynn for QB2 in 2015 or sooner.

    1. It’s all a matter of $$. When you’ve got a megabucks starter who has proven to be amazingly durable over his career, how much money and effort do you want to sink into a guy you never want to have to use?

      In this case, Flynn did OK based on his ability to recall the playbook from 2 years ago, but who’s to say he wouldn’t put up better numbers in this system with another off-season behind him?

      Ultimately, the measure of play is going to be wins. McCown for all his numbers was 3-3 in games he started for the 8-8 Bears (essentially no better than Cutler). Flynn was 2-2. Neither team played any 2013 playoff teams over these stretches.

  20. Here’s who I’d keep in order of importance:
    Starks, Jones, and Dietrich-Smith.
    I think Finley’s career in GB is over. They just don’t keep guys with neck injuries.
    We all love Kuhn, but look around. HC’s are using “O” linemen to do what Kuhn does. I know Rodgers loves him, so he’ll probably be back. But I really think we could use his roster spot for someone more athletic than Kuhn.
    Quarless is an enigma, to me. He’s far too inconsisent, and his blocking — which is supposed to be his forte — is just not good enough. That said, we saw some glimpses of hope as a pass catcher. I’d bring him back for the right price.
    The rest are no-signs, to me, including Flynn. Flynn cannot throw the ball deep. He eliminates teams having to worry about Jordy down field.

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