Re-sign a few core players
Ted Thompson is known for taking care of his own and carrying a young roster every year. With 18 pending free agents, unfortunately not all of them will be back next year. Let’s take a look at the core players that will be key to this offseason.
- Nick Perry: a 26-year-old pass rusher who lead the team with 11 sacks and missed two games with a broken hand. You better believe Thompson will sign him! The expectation is four years $8 million.
- Julius Peppers: 37 years old and at the point of his career where it’s one year at a time. Peppers showed his age near the end of the season. I’d personally say it’s been a great run, but it’s time to get younger at that position.
- Eddie Lacy: 26 years old and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Eddie was clearly having a bounce back yearbefore injury, so I’d expect a one year prove it deal for $4-5 million.
- Jared Cook: Do not let his regular season numbers fool you. Cook clearly showed what he is capable of in the playoffs. McCarthy knows how to utilize him and Thompson knows another year in Green Bay will only improve the offense. He’s staying put. Expect him to sign a three-year deal worth $4-5 million a year.
- TJ Lang: 29 years old and set to turn 30 in September. He is clearly a top five guard in the NFL, and with the Packers letting go of former All-Pro Josh Sitton last year, it’s hard to imagine another star leaving this offseason. Core players don’t often leave Green Bay, but with his injury history and potentially large price tag, this could go either way. Lang either gives the Packers a hometown discount or takes the money and most likely plays for a non-contender. My prediction is he takes the money while he can.
- Micah Hyde: 26 years old and had arguably his best season. Being one of the most versatile defenders in the league, there’s no way he hits the open market. My prediction is he’ll sign a four-year deal worth $5-5 million a year.
- JC Tretter: 25 years old with an unfortunate injury history. Tretter is the Micah Hyde on the offensive line. He can play any position at any time. If Lang doesn’t come back, expect Tretter to fill that void. If no other team completely overpays him, Tretter should be back. My prediction is four years at $4 million a year.
- Datone Jones: Jones is a bit of an enigma. Switched to linebacker in the offseason, but with Clay Matthews and Nick Perry missing some time due to injuries, Jones never took over like he should have. He may never become the star he once was projected to become, but Thompson may want to kick the tires with a prove it deal. Jones could sign a one year prove it deal, but it may not be with the Packers.
- Christine Michael: Michael was a fantastic change of pace back and an offseason in a Green Bay to master the offense will only help the young running back. My prediction is Michael signs a two year, $1 million deal.
- Don Barclay: Every Packer fan cringes when an offensive lineman goes down and Barclay enters the game, but his familiarity on the team helps his case. I think he will stay for the veteran minimum.
- Christian Ringo: Ringo didn’t get much playing time, but when he was on the field he showed strength and toughness. The defensive lineman will probably re-sign for two yrs, $2 million.
This will be another typical Ted Thompson offseason. He will sign his core players for the right price if they’re also trending upward. Unfortunately, if Packers fans want to see a big signing, someone will have to take a pay cut or someone above with a huge price tag (a la TJ Lang) probably won’t be on the team next year.
Pay cut for either Clay Matthews or Randall Cobb
After cutting cornerback Sam Shields and running back James Starks, the Packers have roughly $43 million in cap space. Counting the draft class ($8-9 million) and those who should re-sign ($24-30 million) the Packers probably won’t have too much cap space to spend on free agents. They can pay for a free agent or two if someone is willing to take a pay cut. Clay Matthews is scheduled to make $15 million this next year at 31 and coming off a semi-productive season. No one is questioning his injury situation or his toughness, but a pay cut allowing room for incentives could be the way to go in order to add a veteran free agent.
I do not see Randall Cobb being asked to take a pay cut, but he’s the type of person that wouldn’t say no in my opinion. Playing with Aaron Rodgers is a wide receiver’s dream, and if he was released, he would not make more for a different team. The Packers would have a leg up in negotiations solely because the lack of production for Cobb, however, it is unlikely to happen.
2017 draft class will need solid contributors
The Green Bay Packers will have the 29th pick in this year draft, and it’s going to need some immediate impact from a few players. Experts often say it’s impossible to predict who Thompson will draft. A tendency I’ve noticed with the Packers general manager is he often picks from the deepest position(s) in rounds one or two. Here’s my mock draft for the Packers:
- 29th pick: Linebacker T.J. Watt (Wisconsin). So hear me out before this sounds like a biased decision. There’s no doubt he’s on Ted Thompson’s radar, especially with only Matthews and Kyler Fackrell under contract at outside linebacker for next season. Watt provides a lot of upside with this past year being his first complete season at linebacker. He led the Big Ten in sacks and commanded one of the best defenses in college football. He will fit right in opposite Matthews.
- Cornerback: Jourdan Lewis (Michigan). The Packers definitely need defensive help, and Lewis, paired with a rejuvenated Randall and Rollins, should be fantastic. Lewis may lack size, but his motor and mechanics are off the charts
- TE: Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech). He is more of a big wide receiver than anything, but with a red shirt year to develop and add more weight to his 6’7” frame, he could become a terrific player in head coach Mike McCarthy’s offense.
- CB: Brendan Langley (Lamar). A converted wideout who is still learning the corner position. I think he is going to test well at the combine and that should be enough for Thompsonto pull the plug and do what he does best: draft talent and develop.
- OG Isaac Asiata (Utah). With the potential for both T.J. Lang and J.C. Tretter moving on to different teams, Thompson will have to get younger at the guard position and draft someone worth developing.
- RB: James Connor (Pitt). An extra running back certainly won’t hurt the Packers, and they definitely don’t want to be in the same position as last year. Connor could excel in Green Bay.
- OG: Ben Braden (Michigan). This pick is more for depth along the offensive line, and, since Braden could play anywhere, he would be a solid contributor if someone went down due to injury.
All in all, the Packers most likely will not surprise anyone in free agency. Free agency is where most teams overspend and over-hype their offseason. Thompson loves to draft and develop so expect him to have more picks than seven. The Packers will again attempt to fix the defense and roll into the offseason healthy and ready for redemption.