Over the years, the Green Bay Packers have not taken the plunge into veteran free agency very often. And this offseason, I wouldn’t expect them to suddenly turn into big spenders.
However, just because the Packers don’t take a lot of risks in free agency, doesn’t mean they can’t find good players. Just look at the New England Patriots.
New England doesn’t have the greatest draft record in the world. In fact, the Patriots miss on lots of players. But they supplement their draft picks with veterans. After the first few weeks of free agency, when all the big-money deals have been signed, there are plenty of bargains to be had.
And the Patriots love to go shopping at the bargain bin. Last year, it brought them Chris Long. They got Alan Branch and many others the same way. It’s something the Packers could look to emulate and a good first step would be re-signing former Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams.
Williams, a former Pro-Bowl cover guy for the Packers, was released by the Browns Tuesday. Now, Williams isn’t the same player he was a few years ago and he’s 33 years old. Over the past two seasons with the Browns, he has started 22 games, has two interceptions and 14 passes defensed. He also had 82 solo tackles the past two seasons.
Williams isn’t a star player anymore or a shutdown corner. But he’s a veteran, who has always done well in press-man coverage and he knows Dom Capers 3-4 defense.
Certainly, there will be questions of whether or not he can run anymore, but that’s what training camp is for. The market for Williams isn’t going to be huge and if they wanted, the Packers could probably get him for barely more than the veteran minimum.
These are the kinds of deals the Patriots make all the time. Some of them work, many of them don’t. But New England is also trying to improve its roster, it doesn’t wait around and hope players grow and develop over the course of the season.
So here’s my proposition for the Packers: give Williams a cheap, one-year deal. Give him a chance to prove he can still play and let him compete against the young corners. If he can hack it, keep him on the final 53-man roster. If not, cut him. No harm, no foul.
These are the kinds of moves the Packers need to be making. They need to add veteran competition to their football team and adding Williams, who plays a position of need and fits well in Green Bay, would be a very good start.