Ted Thompson has long been considered one of the best general managers in all the NFL, yet he seems to always be one year behind on getting to the Super Bowl. The current state of the Green Bay Packers outside linebackers looks good on paper, but if you delve deeper there is one unfortunate problem: injuries!
Clay Matthews just turned 31 and has been plagued by injuries since the Super Bowl. No one is arguing how great he can be when healthy, as Matthews is a terror on the field like J.J. Watt. His motor doesn’t stop which is the reason his injuries happen. As long as McCarthy can monitor his snaps so he’s fresh, like some form of a snap count, it only strengthens the Packers chances at keeping him healthy for the long term.
Nick Perry can also wreak havoc when healthy but after breaking several fingers, forcing him to wear a club, the Packers were in danger. Perry had his best season of his career with 11 sacks last year, but it’s tough to put a lot of stock into someone who has been injured every year thus far. Perry still has a chance to have another stellar season, but having another veteran alongside he and Matthews would be the perfect recipe to keep both stars fresh for the long haul.
The Packers also drafted Wisconsin favorite, and former University of Wisconsin Badger Vince Beigel, who unfortunately recently had foot surgery and is looking like a long shot to be ready for training camp. The coaches are looking for second year player Kyler Fackrell and three year veteran Jayrone Elliott to pick up the slack this year, and thus far, Elliott has been injury prone and Fackrell needs to prove more this season.
This leads me to why the Packers should kick the tires on veterans Elvis Dumervil, Mario Williams, and/or Dwight Freeney. The packers recently lost Datone Jones and Julius Peppers and have made up for those losses with one outside linebacker. All three of these veterans can also put their hand in the dirt and play defensive end which is exactly what both Jones and Peppers did.
Dumervil is 33 years old and three years removed from a 17 sack season. Dumervil can fill multiple voids if need be which provides defensive coordinator Dom Capers with flexibility to move players around. Dumervil can also provide the leadership the Packers would need to put them over the top, similar to what Peppers did for the team three years ago.
Mario Williams may scare some people due to locker room concerns, but hear me out. Williams is only three years removed from a 14.5 sack season and being rated as the 42nd best player in the NFL. He is only 32 years old and can provide Capers with much needed speed and power off the edge like that of Julius Peppers. Williams had his best seasons when playing for great coordinators who know how to work with stars like Jim Schwartz and Wade Phillips, as they both made him a Pro Bowler at his various stops around the NFL. Williams and Capers would be a blessing in disguise and provide the Packers with a versatile weapon. His salary would not hinder the Packers as they can sign any of these veterans to a cost-effective incentive driven one year deal.
Dwight Freeney would be a locker room move and a player you know will get you anywhere from three to eight sacks potentially. Freeney can line up at defensive end or outside linebacker and cause chaos for opposing quarterbacks. Freeney is 37 and only a year removed from an eight sack, 11 game season. Older undersized pass rushers have defied father time before a la James Harrison (39 yrs old and five sacks last season). Freeney is looking for another ring and would provide the leadership and experience to get the Packers over the hump.
No matter what you think about the Packers, this team needs some depth at the outside linebacker position and these three players would fit the organization very well. They would also provide fans one more recognizable name on a defense that should be improved from last year.