By: Joshua Amacher
With the 2017 NFL draft closing in, the Packers may veer off from signing any more free agents and focus on filling holes through the draft. With this offseason being unusually active for Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson, there is a lot to cover. He has signed a total of six free agents that did not previously play for the Packers. Something that should not go unnoticed.
Don Barclay – offensive line
Starting with the big men up front, we have Don Barclay, who signed a one-year, $1.3 million deal. He played in a total of 16 games last season, starting only one. He has seen a lot of playing time in the past, including all five positions. His downside is that he has never been the same since tearing his ACL in 2014, and he gives up big plays and sacks frequently. His upside is that he can play all of the positions on the offensive line. He has shown potential, and Ted Thompson probably did not have any other choice but to sign him as insurance. This is mostly a good move due to the fact that the Packers’ offensive line needs to get back on its feet since losing guard TJ Lang to Detroit.
Justin McCray – offensive line
Another guard that the Packers have signed is Justin McCray, who was inked to a one-year, $2 million deal. McCray spent some time with the Tennessee Titans, as they originally signed him in 2014 as an undrafted free agent. Justin then spent time in the Arena Football League before coming back to the NFL and signing with the Packers. He played four seasons at Central Florida, where he started 32 times in the 45 games that he played in, and he was also named team captain. He was named first-team all Athletic Conference, and was also a wrestler in high school, just like Packers’ Mike Daniels. His downside is that he has not proven himself as an NFL player. He also failed to make the 53-man roster for the Tennessee Titans. His upside is that he’s athletic, he’s a talented pulling guard, and he’s a very physical player.
Christine Michael – running back
The Packers have resigned RB Christine Michael to a one-year, $800 thousand deal. Michael has played 37 total career games, only starting in nine of them. He has played for Seattle and Dallas aside from Green Bay. We all saw what he did last year, busting out a few solid runs against the Chicago Bears. He rushed for 114 yards on 31 attempts, a 3.7 yard/average. His biggest downside is that he only has 254 rushing attempts in his career, which could mean he has a shallow peak or he needs more time to develop. Only time will tell which is the case. Running backs usually hit their peak around the age of 27 or 28 and he is only 26. Also, we have not seen a lot of him in Green Bay and how he fits in, so he will most likely be used as a backup role. His upside is that he placed top 10 in his draft class in the 40-yard dash, running a 4.54 (which also included former Packers RB Knile Davis). He also posted a draft-best time for RB’s (which also included Eddie Lacy, Le’Veon Bell, Giovanni Bernard, and C. J. Anderson) of 4.02 seconds in the 20 yard shuttle which means that Michael is quick on his feet.
Martellus Bennett – tight end
Being the talk of the town and all around Packer land, everyone knows we have signed tight end Martellus Bennett to a three-year, $21 million deal. Bennett started 12 out of 16 regular season games last year with the Patriots with QB Tom Brady. Last year, Bennett posted a career high in TD’s scored with seven, so he truly shines with an elite QB. Comparing him to former Packers TE Jared Cook (who is now with the Raiders), Martellus Bennett caught 25 more passes last season for 324 more yards. Bennett’s downside is his age. At 30 years old, many question how productive he will be in the future, but age is just a number, right? His upside could be scary, for other teams that is. He is a long, versatile player with great potential to fit into the Packers’ offense and hopefully he’ll click with Aaron Rodgers. Jared Cook was too slow and Martellus Bennett will for sure spice things up, just go look at this twitter account (comical guy). He has also put up the numbers. Last season, Bennett had 55 receptions for 701 yards, and, as mentioned earlier, was much more productive than Jared Cook (30 rec for 377 yards) last year.
Lance Kendricks – tight end
Previously with the Rams, Lance Kendricks signed with the Packers on a two-year, $4 million deal. With 50 receptions for 499 yards and 2 TD’s, Lance Kendricks proves to be a solid backup behind Richard Rodgers and Martellus Bennett. Bennett will be the clear starter at tight end for the Packers, but it may look like Lance Kendricks will mix some snaps with Richard Rodgers. Kendricks’ downside is that nobody necessarily knows where or how he will fit into our offense. We do know that he will most likely be behind Martellus Bennett, but will he be behind Richard Rodgers as well? His upside is that he proves to be a solid backup. He has the experience and the proven ability that the Packers need. He provides solid depth, something the Packers have not had for a while at TE. He played a total of 826 snaps for the Rams last year.