The NFL offseason is officially upon us. For the Green Bay Packers, and many other franchises, the primary focus of the next few months will be scouting and the NFL Draft. For other teams, free agency will be the primary area of concern. Ted Thompson stated, once again, that Green Bay would be more active in free agency than in the past. Don’t get your hopes too high for that, however, as Ted hasn’t signed an unrestricted free agent since Jeff Saturday in 2012 (players who are cut by their respective teams, such as Julius Peppers and Jared Cook, are considered street free agents). Thompson and the rest of the Packers front office prefers to spend the team’s money on talents they know well, namely the team’s own players. The league year will end on March 12th, marking the start of the free agency period. Currently, the Packers have 18 players on expiring contracts and roughly $42 million in cap space. Assuming they keep their current seven draft picks and get a few compensatory selections, they’ll need around $9 million to sign the rookies, leaving them with an estimated $33 million dollars with which to “reload” the roster.
The obvious question becomes who are the upcoming free agents for Green Bay, and, of those, who will be resigned. The resigning of current Packer players will make it easier for the team to formulate its scouting and free agency strategy later on. So, without further ado, here’s a list of Packer players set to become free agents, and my prediction as for if they are resigned (and for how much).
Tier One – Starters
Peppers’ three-year, $26 million contract from was seen as quite the risk in 2014, but the veteran linebacker certainly delivered. He averaged over eight sacks, three forced fumbles, and five passes defensed per year over his time in Green Bay, and he never missed a game. Scaling his minutes back again in 2017 could keep him productive, as he’s shown no signs of slowing down. So long as he wants to keep playing, we want him back.
Prediction: Resigns for two years, $9 million ($4.5 million guaranteed)
Lang had arguably his best season as a pro in 2016, leading the Green Bay offensive line and being voted to his first Pro-Bowl. That being said, he’ll turn 30 in September and the Packers have depth along the offensive line. A guard of Lang’s caliber is looking at around $8 million per year, which, given the depth the Packers have along the offensive line, may be more than they are willing to spend.
Prediction: Signs a four-year, $30 million contract, but not with the Packers.
Perry showed flashes of the potential that made him a first-round pick in 2012 during his first-four years in the league. Playing on what was essentially a “prove it” contract this year, Perry played the best football of his life, recording 52 tackles, including 11.0 sacks, and four passes defensed, including an interception. On a team that struggled to apply consistent quarterback pressure, Perry was the best pass rusher by far. Players of his production and age have been consistently seeing deals in the range of $8-to-$10 million per year. Perry should be a top priority signing for the Green Bay front office.
Prediction: Resigns for four years, $30 million ($12 million guaranteed)
When your MVP-caliber quarterback says resigning you is a top priority, safe to say you’re probably coming back. Though his numbers on the season were modest (30 catches for 377 yards and a touchdown in 10 games played), he transformed the offense when on the field. Entering his age-30 season in 2017, the Packers will look to get Cook at a bargain. He made $2.75 million in 2016 and is looking at similar numbers going forward.
Prediction: Resigns for three years, $9 million ($3 million guaranteed)
Lacy has been a disappointment the past two years. He failed to produce at expected levels while overweight in 2015 and was placed on injured reserve after just five games in 2016. Despite the past two years, Lacy provides a pounding running attack that will compliment the running style of Ty Montgomery. Market value for players of Lacy’s age and caliber is about $5 million per year, but it shouldn’t be surprising to see him get less than that, given the past two years.
Prediction: Resigns for three years, $12 million ($4 million guaranteed)
Tretter is an ace in the hole for the Packers. He has proven a capable player at guard and center when healthy, and his market value is far lower than it should be, given his lack of significant play time. Assuming Green Bay doesn’t resign T.J. Lang, Tretter is a must have who will fill in as the new starting guard.
Prediction: Resigns for three years, $10 million ($5 million guaranteed)
Tier 2 – Backups
Hyde is a like a swiss army knife, it seems he can do anything he’s asked. He’s a quality special teams player, safety, and cornerback, and he’s only missed one game in his four NFL seasons. Given he’s never been a starter but provides great value, he’ll likely see the money of lower end starting safeties in the league, which is somewhere in the $3-to-$5 million range.
Prediction: Resigns for four years, $16 million ($7 million guaranteed)
Jones has been a complete disappointment since being selected in the first round of the 2013 draft. His paltry 9.0 career sacks are all you need to see to know this pass rusher hasn’t panned out. A 4-3 defensive end in college, he hasn’t proved able to play outside linebacker or defensive end in a 3-4 system, and Green Bay needs to let him walk unless he’s willing to sign for an unguaranteed minimum salary.
Prediction: Signs a one year, $1 million contract, but not with Green Bay
Michael was a phenomenal change-of-pace back when he joined the team mid-season and he would be a perfect third option, assuming the team resigns Eddie Lacy.
Prediction: Resigns for one year, $1.5 million (non-guaranteed)
Barclay hasn’t been all too impressive when he’s seen the field the past few years, but he’s been a serviceable backup. Line depth is always important, and the Packers will likely keep Barclay at least into training camp, where he’ll have to earn a depth position.
Prediction: Resigns for one-year, $0.7 million (non-guaranteed)
Thomas proved to be a tremendous asset in 2016, recording 70 tackles and five passes defensed, including an interception, while being the only inside linebacker on the team to play in all 16 games. He’s been a quality find since signing with the team as an undrafted rookie in 2015 and the team should keep him around. He’ll likely see just north of the minimum salary.
Prediction: Resigns for two years, $2 million (non-guaranteed)
Tier 3 – Depth Players
Elliott has shown glimpses of potential but has never seen a significant run of action to show what he can do. He’s a special teams player and a backup, meaning he’s unlikely to get more than the minimum.
Prediction: Resigns for two-years, $1.4 million (non-guaranteed)
Crockett spent time on the Packers’ practice squad but never proved to be great when he did see game action. With the emergence of Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael Crockett’s time in Green Bay is likely done.
Prediction: Signs a minimum non-guaranteed contract with another team
Goode has been the Packers’ long snapper since 2008 and the team has no reason to move on from him at this point. The only reason to let him go would be to replace him with a slightly cheaper rookie, but a long snapper is one of those things you don’t appreciate until the new guy messes up. Stick with what works, Ted.
Prediction: Resigns for one year, $0.8 million (non-guaranteed)
Ringo has made two tackles while appearing in eight games during his two years in Green Bay. Much like Don Barclay, Ringo is no guarantee to survive training camp cuts, even if he is resigned.
Prediction: Resigns for one-year, $0.7 million (non-guaranteed)
Jackson is on here as a formality after the season injured reserve. He has little to no chance of making the roster if Eddie Lacy and Christine Michael are resigned.
Prediction: Signs with another team for the league minimum
Kerridge was dressed for eight games as a rookie in 2016 but had just one carry (for zero yards). He’ll likely be signed at least for training camp, but it’s no guarantee he’ll survive roster cuts.
Prediction: Resigns for one year, $0.5 million (non-guaranteed)
If Green Bay were to make the signings as specified here, it would cost them roughly $32.2 million in cap space for 2017, leaving them $9.8 million to sign rookies and bring in outside free agents. If Ted breaks the mold and signs an unrestricted free agent from another team, the money will likely come in the form of one of the aforementioned Packer players not being signed and the money for their contract going to a new player (as I said earlier, don’t get your hopes too high on this happening). The resignings here would constitute a reloading, as opposed to a rebuild, and set the Packers up for another run at a title in 2017.