Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Rings Disperse Around the NFL

After the NFL Lockout was finally lifted the Green Bay Packers cut five veterans: Nick Barnett (MLB), Brandon Chillar (MLB), Justin Harrell (DL), Brady Poppinga (OLB), and Mark Tauscher (T). Besides Chillar, the rest of the guys cut never played for another NFL franchise but unfortunately father time or injuries caught up with all of them.

Chillar (recently injured), Harrell (perpetually hurt), and Tauscher (old and injured) have not signed with another team yet while the other guys signed with different NFL teams:
- Nick Barnett signed a three-year, $11.5 million contract ($1.5 million signing bonus) with the Buffalo Bills.
- Brady Poppinga signed a one-year, $685,000 veteran minimum contract with the St. Louis Rams.

All of the players cut by the Packers allowed them to trim roughly $15.4 million off their 2011 salary cap* with roughly $2 million in "dead money" hitting their salary cap in 2012 thanks NFL accounting rules. For how sad it is to see all of the veterans go, the youth movement continues in Green Bay so the cuts are understandable.

The Green Bay Packers had 11 unrestricted free agents: Atari Bigby (S), Daryn Colledge (G), Mason Crosby (K), Korey Hall (FB), Brandon Jackson (RB), Cullen Jenkins (DE), James Jones (WR), John Kuhn (FB), Anthony Smith (S), Jason Spitz (G), and Matt Wilhelm (LB) once the lockout was lifted. Predictably Green Bay Packer general manager Ted Thompson let most of those guys leave via free agency without even offering them a legitimate contract offer:
- Daryn Colledge signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract ($7.5 million signing bonus) with the Arizona Cardinals.
- Korey Hall signed a two-year, $2.1 million ($400,000 signing bonus) contract with the New Orleans Saints.
- Brandon Jackson signed a two-year, $4.5 million ($1 million signing bonus) contract with the Cleveland Browns.
- Cullen Jenkins signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Jason Spitz signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract ($750,000 signing bonus) with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Anthony Smith signed a contract for an undisclosed amount with the Tennessee Titans.

Of the guys that the Packer decided not to resign, Jenkins is the only guy that I would have tried to resign if I was general manager Ted Thompson. The Eagles will only pay Jenkins $4 million in 2011 and have an out where they can terminate the contract with very small cap ramifications if Jenkins struggles in 2011 according to various reports. At that price, especially with the question marks along the defensive line for the Packers, Jenkins should have been resigned. Besides Jenkins the Packers have younger, better, and cheaper options than the guys they let leave via free agency.

With eight of the 11 unrestricted free agents signing elsewhere or remaining free agents** that means that the Packers only resigned three of their 11 unrestricted free agents:
- Mason Crosby signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract with a $3 million signing bonus.
- James Jones signed a three-year, $9.5 million contract with a $1.5 million signing bonus.
- John Kuhn signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract with a $750,000 signing bonus.

Crosby signed one of the richest contracts ever given to an NFL kicker, which feels a little expensive based on Crosby being merely an average NFL kicker. Jones resigning with the Packers shows that general managers around the league are either think that Jones was a product of playing in one of the most potent offenses in the NFL or they think Jones will continue to drop passes in important situations. Either way the Packers were able to resign Jones at a reasonable price to give the 2011 Green Bay Packers the most prolific wide receiving core in the NFL heading into the 2011 NFL preseason. The Kuhn deal makes the most sense of three contracts because it gives the Packers hybrid running back, fullback, and special teams player that fits perfectly on the team.

There were some other minor contracts signed in the last week*** that barely deserve a mention. The free agency period for the Green Bay Packers proceeded exactly how most people thought it would, older guys were cut or let go via free agency while younger guys (besides Crosby) were retained at a reasonable price. Check back for more Green Bay Packers coverage as the preseason kicks into high gear.

* = Barnett ($5 million), Tauscher ($4.5 million), Poppinga ($2.3 million), Chillar ($2.3 million), and Harrell ($1.3 million).

** = Atari Bigby and Matt Wilhelm remain unsigned.

*** = Restricted free agents Brett Swain (WR) and Spencer Havner (TE/LB) resigned with the Packers but look like prime candidates to get cut at the end of training camp while former Packer Donald Lee (TE) signed a one-year, $850,000 contract ($40,000 signing bonus) with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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