If you didn’t know, NFL teams can start what is called legal tampering Tuesday, which means for all intents and purposes, free agency starts today.
For the Green Bay Packers, that means a number of key players are getting set to hit the market. Guys like T.J. Lang, Nick Perry, Micah Hyde, Jared Cook, Eddie Lacy and others.
The tampering period can be both good and bad in terms of retaining players. It can allow players to see their market value and then use that to strike a deal with their current teams. However, it also gives another club a chance to offer big money to a player, which the home team, especially one like the Packers might not to pay.
This year, Green Bay is going to have a lot work to do. Not only does it need to shore up certain positions, but it also needs to keep others from becoming a problem. With that in mind, here are three guys the Packers absolutely need to bring back.
1 — J.T. Lang —
Many people will say that Jared Cook is the Packers most important free agent on offense, but I disagree. The Packers go as Aaron Rodgers goes and protecting him should always be a priority.
🔟 things learned from Mike McCarthy at the #NFLCombine, including his thoughts on bringing back G T.J. Lang.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) March 2, 2017
Remember how good the Packer pass blocking was last season? Lang was a big part of that. Do the Packers really want to go from having Lang and Josh Sitton to Lane Taylor and Jason Spriggs?
Taylor played fine last season. But it’s too early to say he is going to be a starter for years to come. The Packers know what they have in Lang and even though it may take close to $10 million a year to do it, they should find a way to keep him.
2 — Nick Perry —
The Packers waited for four seasons for Nick Perry to start realizing his potential and finally in his fifth year, he became a pro-bowl caliber player. Even with an injury limiting him to one arm down the stretch, Perry still managed 11 sacks. He had two huge sacks in the postseason and is great at setting the edge.
Mike McCarthy shared his thoughts on free agency, RB Eddie Lacy, LB Nick Perry & more at the #NFLCombine.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) March 1, 2017
Like with Lang, there is no clear replacement on the roster for him. Julius Peppers said he wants to play next season, but he is a free agent, as is Datone Jones. That leaves Kyler Fackrell as the next guy on the depth chart. Certainly, the Packers would try to add a pass rusher in free agency or in the draft if Perry left, but after finally seeing him become a double-digit sack guy, does Green Bay really want to see him leave?
Again, it will cost some serious cash, but the Packers have $40 million in cap space — they can afford it.
3 — Jared Cook —
Cook definitely looks like a top priority for the Packers this offseason and he should be. Cook was stellar down the stretch for the Packers and made a huge difference in the passing game. It sounds like Cook wants to stay in Green Bay, but it’s doubtful he does it on the cheap.
The cost of moving up in the first round, how D-III players get discovered & more.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) February 21, 2017
Yet, it could probably get done with something in the $5 million a year range. Last season was Cook’s first in the playoffs and that seemed like an experience he wants to repeat. If that’s the case, there are few places better than Green Bay.