Under Ted Thompson’s Green Bay Packers, we fans go through the same song and dance every year. Thompson tries to sign all his expiring contracts, picks up the occasional outside talent, and leaves the fans wanting more improvement. While he has been effective at filling the roster with talent through the draft, it’s frustrating at times. We identify clear issues but often have to wait years for that to pay off. That being said, Thompson’s frugality has allowed us to keep our top talent and open the door to sign the occasional Free Agent.
The problem here is it’s impossible to satiate the fans who basically go to Spotrac, identify the top Free Agents and want Thompson to aggressively court them. It not only ignores the possibility they will be Franchised, resigned by their old team, are a possible bad scheme fit, or the fact they might not want to play in Green Bay. Sometimes, it really is just a matter of luck. The Packers signed Charles Woodson after the ‘stupid money’ phase of Free Agency was over and he was still available. They got Woodson on a good contract, and it was a great fit in Dom Capers’ system. Jared Cook and Julius Peppers were street Free Agents who were looking to win now. The stars just need to align to bring these guys from sunny Florida or California to frigid Wisconsin.
Before we jump all in on Free Agents we want the Packers to sign, we need to take a look at fit, cost and level of need. I take a look at my top 5 Free Agents the Packers should target that weren’t on the roster in 2016.
There is a very real chance the Packers are going to be without the services of Nick Perry. Perry was not only the team’s best pass rusher last season, but he anchored the run defense by setting a stout edge. He’s basically Nick Perry light – a stout run defender who can rush the passer in a pinch. He came from the Browns having sported 23 sacks standing up in a 3-4 defense, but was asked to put his hand in the dirt in New England.
At 6’2 255, he’s a much better fit at OLB in a 3-4. Topping out at only 5 sacks in 2016, he won’t cost the Packers much in terms of salary, only projected at $8.8 million according to Spotrac. The Packers would lose a compensatory pick in this scenario, so I doubt it happens, but to fill the gap of Perry at a decent price, the Packers could do a lot worse.
The Packers need guys who can match-up with the size and speed of guys like Julio Jones and Dez Bryant. In light of Sam Shields’ departure, they no longer have anyone on roster who can do it on a consistent basis. Kirkpatrick is 6’2 and runs a 4.51. It’s not sexy, he doesn’t offer much in run support, and he may not be a number 1 corner, but the Packers need guys who can play at this point. Kirkpatrick’s lack of stats will likely keep him from signing for much, and he offers decent size and speed to keep up.
Again, this would be another scenario where the Packers would lose a compensatory pick with the loss of T.J. Lang or J.C. Tretter. They simply wouldn’t have enough guard help if both guys left, and the draft class for OL is horrible. Warford offers stability in both pass and run defense, as he grades out about the same in each category according to Pro Football Focus. Where Tretter and Lang are looking at between $8-$10 million a piece, Warford is looking at about $6-$7 million. Again, the Packers could do a lot worse.
There’s an adage that “Your defense plays as fast as your ILB play.” I like the Packers ILB corps of Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez and Joe Thomas, but none of them are world beaters and only Thomas offers a speed boost. Worrilow flies around the ball, and plays in the Falcons 3-4 defense. He amounted 386 tackles in his tenure in Atlanta, but had a slow 2016 season at only 21 tackles. His contract won’t break the bank and he offers a significant injection of speed to the corps.
Before you lambaste me for this one, let’s just take a step back here for a second. Yes, he got benched in Jacksonville and yes he was released by said bottom dweller. However, Packer fans complained that the current group wasn’t big or fast enough to keep up with top WRs across the league. House is 6’1 and runs between a 4.45-4.5 and saw his best success in the Capers system. This would free Thompson to draft from an absurdly deep CB draft class and not completely punt on filling the gap in the secondary. It also helps that House is likely desperate to prove himself, so I wouldn’t expect anything other than a 1 year prove it deal .
House-to-the-Packers isn’t just a wild idea, either. Per Rob Demovsky, the Packers have already reached out to House about the possibility of a return.
The Packers have contacted CB Davon House about a return to Green Bay, according to a source, and there is… https://t.co/qroeyxUHye
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) March 7, 2017
Will any of these moves happen? Probably not. These are some of the moves that the Packers have often blown off as unnecessary temporary fixes to problems that offer no guarantee to solving the issues long term. However, they need to look in the Free Agency barrel from time to time to find stopgap solutions to real problems on this team. While Thompson does a great job of this through the draft, he needs to occasionally dip his toes in Free Agency to fix significant problems with this team.