Free Agency Begins In Green Bay

As you read this, the "legal tampering" period has begun in the NFL and teams are now permitted to start talking to players who are free agents.  Contracts cannot be signed nor finalized until Wednesday, but the league recently instituted this two-day window to allow more teams the opportunity to reach out to players before they're off the market.  Previously, a team could make an offer and if the player accepted, other interested teams were out of luck.  At least this way, they can make their pitch and try to convince said player to consider joining their team.

As we know, free agency and the Green Bay Packers are not often linked together.  That's not to say they're never linked, but not as often as most fans would like.  I have succumbed to the fact that it will never surprise me and always entertain me when Packer fans suggest free agents who might help the team.  While it's true and very possible that these players may make the Packers better, it takes so much more for general manager Ted Thompson to engage in considering them.  

We know Ted loves his draft picks and the Packers always seem to be on the plus side of the equation when it comes to determining how many compensatory picks they'll receive each year.  This has to do with how many of their own free agents they lost the year prior, the type of contract that they signed and their performance.  A team that loses more players than it signs receives additional picks and those are like candy to Thompson.  If you've ever tried taking candy away from someone who loves sweets, you're likely to get a scowl, barked at or in severe cases, smacked in the face.  Thompson actually controls the process that gets him the candy, er, free agents, so he would actually be taking them away from himself by making certain types of moves.  I know that most of you already understand the general formula for how these picks are determined so basically, this section is a reminder that unless a guy is not going to cost the Packers an extra pick, he's likely not coming to Green Bay.

In 2014 when Julius Peppers was signed, it came after he was released by the Chicago Bears and that release meant that Peppers would not count against Green Bay as far as awarding compensatory picks.  Last year, the Packers lost Tramon Williams and Davon House to free agency and they are likely banking on some good picks coming their way this year.  To sign a player such as, say, Matt Forte, would lessen the value of that pick or picks because Forte wasn't cut by the Bears, his contract merely expired.  Former Houston Texans running back Arian Foster was cut and so if the Packers were to sign him, he would not count against the compensatory pick equation.  I'm not at all advocating for the Packers to sign Foster, I was just using his situation as an example.

Some have opined that Thompson may be near the end of his tenure in Green Bay as GM and so he might make some moves that go against his usual grain in order to win now and knowing that he's handing the keys off to someone else soon.  This is also not very likely.  It is often said that a leopard's spots don't change and Thompson has very much been a leopard over the last decade with the Packers.  He's signed his share of outside free agents, but there's always careful consideration given to who, how and when.  Thompson went after Charles Woodson in 2006 when no other team was really making a play for him.  The Packers still had to pony up for Woodson's services, but he was signed to a deal that proved to return great value to the team.  Four seasons in, Woodson was the NFL's defensive player of the year and would help lead the Packers to a Super Bowl title.  Peppers also came with a price, but the Packers were able to structure the contract such that had they wanted to part ways early, it would not have hampered their salary cap situation much.  Peppers has had two productive seasons and appeared in the Pro Bowl following this last season.  If Thompson is going to make a move of similar caliber this time around, it's probably going to fall in line with the previous scenarios.

Players who have been released from their contracts or will be released from their deals are worth more of a look as possible targets of Thompson and the Packers.  Still, they strongly prefer to give the guys they have drafted or are already in their system the best opportunity to fill a need.  As obvious as it would seem that bringing in a sure-fire veteran like a Danny Trevathan or Forte would best help the Packers, it's just not how they operate.  On the flip side of that argument is Peppers and so we can't say "never".

We've discussed free agency a few times since the end of last seasons here and none of what I've shared is new.  This was just a mere reminder to temper your expectations over the next few days, as far as the Packers are concerned.  While teams throw funny money around left and right and are dominating the ESPN headlines, the Packers will be sitting back waiting for the right coal to toss into the fire that is their 2016 team.  A complementary player who adds depth and a bit of security because fortunately, most of the needed coals are already there.

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (36)

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NickPerry's picture

March 07, 2016 at 06:13 am

Thompson could improve the Packers each year without hurting them financially OR giving up draft picks. If you sign some of these "Mid Level" FA, he might not have to give up more than a 6th rounder anyways depending on the contract. Since the 6th round seems to be TT throw away round who cares!! Not since 2007 has Thompson picked a winner in the 6th round other than James Starks. My point is the Packers could sign a guy like Jared Cook for example and be much better because of it. It's doubtful he'd cost that much since he didn't live up to his contract with thae Rams. Better yet, because he was cut Ted could keep his draft pick. Mason Foster was a player I was screaming for the Packers to sign last season. He wasn't even on an opening day roster if I remember correctly and signed until week 4. There's plenty of players the Packers could sign who won't morgage the future. There's plenty on players who have been cut who won't cost the Packers a draft pick.

It's time for Ted to step up and GET the players the Packers need to win. This ignoring a position for years at a time has got to stop. Go get us a TE and ILB Ted, Bishop was hurt in 2012 and Finley in 2013. It's time Ted, it's time.

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croatpackfan's picture

March 07, 2016 at 09:05 am

"It's doubtful he'd (Jared Cook) cost that much since he didn't live up to his contract with the Rams."
I wonder why do you think that he (Jared Cook) will live up to his contract with Packers? If he can not block or catch the ball, or run correct routes, it does not make difference who throws balls to him...

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dobber's picture

March 07, 2016 at 09:55 am

^^THIS^^

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NickPerry's picture

March 07, 2016 at 10:09 pm

They paid him over $35 Million for 5 years with $19 guaranteed!!! If the Packers could sign him for a fraction of that he'd be worth a look.

"If he can't black or catch the ball or run correct routes, it does not make a difference who throws balls to him..."

Are you really serious???

I highly suggest you look at his stats, especially his first 2 years with the Rams. He caught 103 passes for 1305 yards and 8 TD's, that was with the fearsome foursome of QB's throwing him the ball.

That fearsome foursome was Kellen Davis 9 games and Sam Bradford 7 games in 2013 and Austin Davis 8 games and Shaun Hill 8 games in 2014. Something tells me Rodgers could do more with Cook than those 4 but it's just a hunch.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 08, 2016 at 12:46 am

Both Nick and Croat make valid points which can be reconciled. TT as the GM should recognize Cook's undeniable talent. Cook did have something of a down year in 2015, so his price might be less than in the past. TT needs to try to reconcile the talent with Cook's production over the years to see if there is an explanation, and figure out if the player fits the GB system and/or is available at a price that makes it efficient to use the player just in certain situations. Only TT can decide whether Cook's attitude and motivational issues disqualify the guy.

I don't follow the Rams or the Titans, so I was neutral on Cooks, but here is what I found just now. Stats are generally good. There are lots of negative articles about Cook, particularly re: his attitude, effort and blocking (see links). IF TT just wants a big, fast receiver who can threaten the seam, sounds like Cook is a fit if the concern that he isn't a locker room cancer is allayed. If TT wants a dual threat (can block and receive) TE, maybe that is not Cook. Perhaps someone with a PFF account can supply his recent blocking grades.

http://www.turfshowtimes.com/2014/11/7/7173233/jared-cook-is-the-nfl-s-m...

http://chowderandchampions.com/2016/02/24/new-england-patriots-not-call-...

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2016/02/steelers-tight-ends-dwayne-allen-ja...

http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/12537/jared-cook

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Tundraboy's picture

March 07, 2016 at 10:50 am

NP, Thanks for venting for me. And your point about the 6th rounders was long overdue.

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NickPerry's picture

March 07, 2016 at 10:19 pm

Thanks Tundraboy. I found something interesting today while checking some things out. In 2012 TT moved up to draft Terrell Manning in the 5th round. Danny Trevathion could have been picked in the 6th or better yet, in Mannings spot! Man 2012 was not Teds year...

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4EVER's picture

March 08, 2016 at 07:43 pm

"It's time for Ted to step up and GET the players the Packers need to win. This ignoring a position for years at a time has got to stop. Go get us a TE and ILB Ted, Bishop was hurt in 2012 and Finley in 2013. It's time Ted, it's time."

Music too my ears...throw a true NT (Ian Williams) in and I'm in cheese heaven.

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4EVER's picture

March 08, 2016 at 07:48 pm

How do edit post on this site?

throw not through

Found the edit not button...

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4thand1's picture

March 07, 2016 at 08:57 pm

hit the edit button

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 07, 2016 at 06:52 am

If Green Bay decides to be active in Free Agency, which is a big IF, and IF they do, active for them is signing 1 player, then I hope its a TE.

There are a number of TE's that could come in and really help the position out. Guys like Dwayne Allen, Jared Cook, Coby Fleener, Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green among others.

The draft is thin at TE. Also it typically takes 2-3 years for TE's to really make much of a difference. If you want a player to come in and make a difference right away getting a veteran TE would be the best way to go.

If I had my choice I would like either Gates or Green first. Followed by Allen, Fleener then Cook.
Gates is at the end of his career so he likely won't command as big of a salary. He can still get open deep and could be the Keith Jackson to our Chmura (Rodgers) 1-2 set. Green has under performed a bit which means he could possibly cost less then Allan or Fleener, but could really be a great 2nd TE with Rodgers. Allan I think overall is the best TE of the group, but I am guessing his cost will be higher then the rest which is why I lowered him on the list. Fleener has been inconsistent, but still would be a really good 2nd TE. Cook, very talented but has some questions marks.

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NickPerry's picture

March 07, 2016 at 07:25 am

I mentioned Cook because there wouldn't be the Comp pick. Someone compared him to Finley, fast, athletic, but will drop a few. Gates would be a good signing, especially if the Packers drafted a kid that needs a year like Vannett or Higbee. I'd just like to go into OTA's knowing Rodgers has as complete of a receiving group as he could possibly have including a TE. At 36 Gates could fall off the cliff at any time, that would be my biggest concern.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 07, 2016 at 08:11 am

Yeah, I agree. I am just not sure about Cook. Why did the Rams let Cook go? I mean he has the athletic ability no doubt, but a Jeff Fisher led team let him go? That would be my hesitation about him. As a player I think he could be a great compliment to Rodgers, and also, with the other receiving options that Green Bay has Cook could be an added piece that could come in and give us that 1 extra weapon that makes it nearly impossible for defenses to defend. But are there problems off the field with him?

My ideal situation, is to sign Gates, and draft either Adams or Vannett this year or a TE next year when the draft class will likely be much better. I agree that Gates could fall off at any time. That is one reason why he will come a lot cheaper. But also if they draft a TE like Adams or Vannett they are covering themselves for when Gates would be done. But also by signing Gates, he wouldn't have to come in and be the starter. He could just be our #2 who could be used in packages and certain situations.

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NickPerry's picture

March 07, 2016 at 07:26 am

Sorry double post.

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dobber's picture

March 07, 2016 at 10:16 am

I agree in that any position has a rookie learning curve, but some--like TE--are multifaceted (unless you limit the responsibilities dramatically) and it's more likely that the acclimation period will be longer than for a rookie playing, say, ILB or RB?

Not interested in either Gates or Green. Gates was productive the last two years because they had NOBODY else catching the ball due to attrition at WR and the fact that SD was throwing the ball 40+ times per game. He's no longer the kind of TE we all remember from 5+ years ago and he's injury prone. And Green has never matured into the production his physical assets argue should develop. Someone will seriously overpay him based on measurables despite is lack of production.

I would kick the tires on Allen or Fleener first, but I don't see Indy letting both of those guys walk. One will get tied up just before the signing window opens, which will drive the market on the other. Then maybe I would look at Cook on a short-term no-guaranteed-money deal. He has a reputation as a head-case, and this would limit the investment if he doesn't make it out of camp. I would rather draft a better multipurpose TE, though.

In the end, I believe they could seriously upgrade the TE position through free agency, but it's about pass catchers regardless of position. If you're looking to draft a TE who is just going to split wide 90% of the time, I'd rather have a WR doing that...and the Packers have more WR than they can get on the field. I'm not all that bothered with RRodg as the TE as long as his blocking develops, as long as they make the best use of the depth and talent they have at WR (where they've spent significant money and draft picks).

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 07, 2016 at 10:39 am

A couple of weeks ago Evan showed us a great list of TE's production as a rookie and their 2nd years. Its crazy how much more productive a TE is in their 2nd year vs first year.

Ok, i'm not sure of your argument with Gates. You said he was productive because they had no one else to throw to? Then why wouldn't he be better if he was in an offense that had more weapons? No he isn't the top tier player he was a few years ago but he is still productive and can make plays down the field. He could be a good complimentary TE to Rodgers.
Green hasn't taken off like many thought he would. For that reason I don't think he will get a huge salary. I don't think he will get a bigger salary then Allen or Fleener. I could be wrong, I just don't think he will.

For the most part I agree with you about pass catchers. The one thing they are missing though is a big fast receiving target that can create mismatches. I like Rodgers if used the right way. I like our WR's. But we could really use a faster more athletic TE that can create mismatches. Like what we had in FInley.

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dobber's picture

March 07, 2016 at 12:34 pm

I see your point, but my argument with Gates is that he's not the field-stretching TE he was 5 years ago. His production (which wasn't stellar) was inflated in 2015 because he was being force-fed the football. He was 10th among TEs in targets in 2015, and that's with him missing the first 4 games. His yards/catch have flatlined in the vicinity of 11.3 over the last 2-3 seasons...he's a chain-mover now. In the end, if I can sign Fleener or Allen for the same money, I'd take the younger guy.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 08, 2016 at 06:23 am

Yeah, if you can sign the younger guy for the same money its a no brainer, you go with the younger guy. That's where I'm projecting Gates to not cost as much as all of these younger guys.

Allen just signed last night for what 4 years almost $30 million. That's a lot more then the Packers would spend, and more then what Gates should cost. I don't expect Fleener, Green or Gates all to sign for that much.

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4EVER's picture

March 07, 2016 at 01:42 pm

"as long as his blocking develops"

May be a long wait...missing; punch, technique, effort, and desire.

Went back to the last game against Arizona; RR had a direct roll in 7 run plays, 3 of the tackles were made by his first contact (responsibility?).

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holmesmd's picture

March 07, 2016 at 08:54 pm

Correct, WR are your best pass catchers, faster, quicker...ETC. I'm uncertain why all of our fans are intoxicated by the TE position. RR is fine enough. We need a big elusive Y receiver. This fixation on TE is irrational. Gronkowski is the only field tilt in the entire NFL. Everyone else is JAG. The modern NFL isn't predicating production on the TE position. It's a luxury, not a necessity

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 08, 2016 at 06:45 am

The Packers offense over the last 8 years or so has been built around the ability to do many different things with the TE because they had Finley. Finley was a special talent. Maybe his production didn't always match up, but his presence did. The Packers offense hasn't been the same since they have lost Finley.
They tried using Rodgers like they used Finley, and it just doesn't work. Rodgers is not the same type of athlete that Finley is. Rodgers is fine as a traditional type of TE. I have used the comparisons but Rodgers is like our Mark Chmura from the 90's. We need to find our Keith Jackson now.

Packers have a need for a big target that can make people miss. They need a guy who can put stress on the middle of the field. Packers have a real need at the position.

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NitschkeFan's picture

March 08, 2016 at 08:30 pm

I agree. There is no Gronk out there in free agency. The available guys all have significant question marks. If you can get one cheap to increase team depth, fine.

An upgrade at WR would be more valuable, but I know too many Packer fans over-rate our WR group.

We all HOPE Jordy comes back with the same speed, agility, durability that he had prior to major knee surgery.
We all HOPE Cobb finds his way back to being a solid #2.
We all HOPE Davante is not the bust he's starting to look like.
We all HOPE either Janis or Abby or Montgomery takes a SIGNIFICANT step up and become a legit NFL WR instead of just a special teams guy.

Probably our hopes will be realized on one or two of the above and probably we will be disappointed as several of those hopes are not achieved.

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EdsLaces's picture

March 07, 2016 at 06:57 am

The more I think about it and the more I look at this draft class I am thinking this. There is a decent amount of depth at MLB hardly any depth at TE and a ton of great players at the top for DL. Having said that I think we should try n get Martellus or Green in free agency. Get us a stud DL like Billings Reed or Rankins in the first round and maybe like Brothers in round 2. Maybe get the guy from BYU or whatever at OLB after that and call it good. I think that would make this team pretty solid all around for this season.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 07, 2016 at 01:19 pm

I agree. Let's hope it plays out that way, players may change but that is a good approach.

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egbertsouse's picture

March 07, 2016 at 07:53 am

Yeah, Teddy doesn't need any FA's. He to hoard all those 5th, 6th, and 7th round draft picks because Christian Ringo and Josh Boyd and Kennard Blackman are gonna get him a Super Bowl one day.

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Kyle Graham's picture

March 07, 2016 at 11:52 am

I think if we could grab a running back like cj prosise in the mid rounds and grab a tight end like Henry in the 2nd (which is a stretch he last that long) that would be great in filling some team needs for us. The one free agent who would be worth losing a pick for is Danny T from Denver. He is fast, can cover, and plays all 3 downs. That would be a huge upgrade worthy of losing a mid round pick over. In my opinion.

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Icebowler's picture

March 07, 2016 at 04:13 pm

I totally agree about Danny Trevathan. We need an ILB who can cover as well as stop the run. As far as I'm concerned he made the play of the Super Bowl that no one is talking about. All the highlights show TJ Ward's interception, but then cut it off and don't show his ensuing fumble. Danny came out of nowhere and beat four Panthers, who were all closer to the loose ball, to make the fumble recovery at Denver's own eight yard line. If Carolina had recovered, they had first and goal to make the score 16-14 (Denver) and gain a ton of momentum. C'mon Ted, Sign Danny T!

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holmesmd's picture

March 07, 2016 at 08:58 pm

I agree but we both know he'll do nothing. Hold onto the 6th round picks...because that's how champions are built! ;) Lol ROFL

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AgrippaLII's picture

March 07, 2016 at 03:29 pm

Oh goody...Free Agency has arrived. It's time for Gm's to decide whether they are going to overpay for an old maybe...or wait and draft a promising young maybe for a lot less. Duh! I like it that Ted Thompson favors young maybes.

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Icebowler's picture

March 07, 2016 at 03:45 pm

Ted says his philosophy is to draft the BPA in the first few rounds. But he's been drafting for need for quite a few years now with mixed results. If he would fill a few select holes (TE & ILB) in Free Agency, maybe he could actually select the BPA early in the draft.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 08, 2016 at 12:55 am

Amen. Clinton Dix arguably was the best player when TT drafted him. Otherwise, the last time our first round pick wasn't a need pick was 2008.

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pooch's picture

March 07, 2016 at 05:34 pm

Take candy away from baby and he throws a tantrum =Ted Thompson

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Amanofthenorth's picture

March 07, 2016 at 06:31 pm

He eats candy and, more often than most, he shits jewels.

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holmesmd's picture

March 07, 2016 at 09:03 pm

I think this team would look pretty darn good with a chase backer and some competition at RB. Forte' and Trevathan would certainly help. DL & & a good WR in the draft and the Packers are GOOD!;)

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L's picture

March 09, 2016 at 03:45 pm

OLB Quinton Coples could be someone the Packers take a glance at given his young age and perhaps untapped potential. He's a released player and so he wouldn't count against the team's compensation draft picks, but I imagine any possible decision to sign him is linked to what the team decides to do with M.Neal and N.Perry.

I wonder what kind of scouting information the Packers have on LB James Laurinaitis (formerly of the Rams). Is he just another AJ.Hawk-type? On the positive side he's a released player so no loss of draft pick compensation.

TE J.Cumberland and TE J.Cook are two guys I'm not enamored with but they possess some field stretching ability from the TE position. Neither guy has really had any sustainable success in the NFL; however, maybe they're worth at least checking out to see what they could provide to the team during training camp. I don't think they'll generate too much interest in Free Agency, so the Pack can take their time with deciding if it makes any sense.

There are many other released players covering some positions the Packers may want to consider adding depth to raise competition in training camp. I expect they'll do their due diligence and determine if any of them is worthy of signing.

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