After about a month of waiting, rumors and speculation, the NFL Free Agency Frenzy finally begins on Tuesday at 3:30 PM EST, meaning we will finally get some answers on who will and who won’t be a Green Bay Packer in 2014.
Fortunately, the Packers got their most important work done before free agency began as they were able to come to terms on a four-year, $39 million deal with prized free agent corner Sam Shields, locking up one of their most important assets long-term and keeping Shields as a core part of the defense for the prime of his career.
However, the Packers still have a lot of work left to do and depending on how things go in the market, there could be movement sooner rather than later on some of the team’s most important free agents.
The next domino to fall for the Packers will likely be defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who is currently considering a one or two-year deal worth around $4 million per year to stay in Green Bay on a prove it deal.
The Packers had offered Raji a five-year deal reportedly worth around $40 million but he turned it down and after a poor 2013 season, the Packers pulled that offer and are now only offering the short-term deal. Yet, a one-year deal would allow Raji a chance to prove himself and with a big season, he could position himself for a big payday in the 2015 free agent market or a long-term extension to stay in Green Bay.
Raji is currently mulling the Packers offer and is waiting to see what the free agent market has in store for him before making a final decision.
Whether Raji is back or not, the Packers are interested in defensive line and It’s been reported by numerous sources that they have shown interest in defensive lineman Lamar Houston of Oakland and Arthur Jones of Baltimore. But after seeing the price tag go up and up for Houston, it appears the Packers will bow out of the mix unless the price drops dramatically.
Jones, on the other hand, might still be in play but after performing as one of the top 3-4 ends in 2013, he is sure to be in high-demand and will likely be signed within the first day or two of free agency, which means he probably won’t be coming to Green Bay.
Despite the fact that the Packers may not sign any big-name free agents, they can still have a successful free agency period if they simply re-sign their own players such as center Evan Dietrich-Smith, outside linebacker Mike Neal, tight end Jermichael Finley, tight end Andrew Quarless, running back James Starks and backup quarterback Matt Fylnn.
The Packers Guru believes all these players have a legitimate chance to return to Green Bay if the money is right and re-signing players such as Dietrich-Smith, Neal, Finley and/or Quarless should be the top priority along with Raji.
If the Packers are able to reach agreements with the players listed above, which is definitely possible considering they still posses $27 million in cap space after re-signing Shields, then they will have done a lot to shore up their needs heading into next season.
The one position that’s getting left out right now is safety, which is possibly the Packers most glaring need.
There has been some talk of the Packers being interested in Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell, who would certainly be an upgrade over M.D. Jennings but is not one of the big-name safeties on the market.
Yet, at this point, the interest in Mitchell seems to be lukewarm at best, so the Packers may wait until the draft to address their need at safety. But as long as they take care of business in free agency and re-sign their core guys then safety may by the only glaring need left to fill come draft day.