Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012 Free Agent Shopping Guide for Ted Thompson

The Green Bay Packers follow a similar blueprint for other successful NFL franchise by building through the draft and sitting on the sidelines for free agency. This is mostly academic because my shopping guides have been ignored in the past. It wouldn't be that fun if I just posted the last sentence and said check back for my draft coverage in a month though so I am going to push on.

The Packers are set at a number of positions (QB, WR, TE, T, and MLB) so I am going to focus my advice for Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson on other positions. Trust me, I know the chances of Thompson signing any of the players below are equal to the chance I have of leveraging this blog into a job running a professional sports team but I still hope you enjoy my 2012 Free Agent Shopping Guide for Ted Thompson:

#25 - Terrell Thomas (CB, 6'0", 191 lbs, 27 years old): There is .0001% chance that Thompson signs a borderline starter that is coming off a serious injury. The only reason I added Thomas to the list is that he might bring some of the secrets for why the Giants have dominated the Packers in the playoffs at Lambeau Field.

#24 - Nick Hardwick (C, 6'4", 305 lbs, 30 years old): Since Thompson didn't follow my advice to sign Wells there is going to be a bunch of centers on this list. Hardwick is an upper echelon center in the NFL but his age hurts his case. If Hardwick were a few years younger he would have already signed a lucrative extension with the Chargers though.

#23 - Mark Anderson (DE/OLB, 6'4", 255 lbs, 28 years old): Last year Anderson had a career renaissance as a pass rusher for the New England Patriots. After an impressive rookie season in 2006 when he registered 12 sacks, who would have thought it would take till 2011 for Anderson to registered another double digit sack season. It's hard to tell whether Anderson is going to post a bunch of sacks every five years or whether he is turning into a legitimate pass rushing threat. As always I think Anderson is somewhere in between but clearly an upgrade at the outside linebacker spot opposite Claymaker.

#22 - Israel Idonije (DE, 6'6", 275 lbs, 31 years old): This marks two former Bears in a row. It pains me to talk up one, let alone two former Bears but either Anderson or Idonije would clearly be an upgrade for the Packers.

#21 - Matt Birk (C, 6'4", 310 lbs, 35 years old): Despite being a former Viking (before playing for the Ravens) and being old, I am very happy to put Birk on the list because he is the current recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. After hearing Birk's acceptance speech, I blocked out that Birk is 35 years old. Don't get me wrong, I would much rather have Wells on the roster than Birk in 2012 but if Wells leaves via free agency then Birk would be a fine stop gap starer for the Packers in 2012.

#20 - Andre Carter (DE/OLB, 6'4", 255 lbs, 32 years old): Much like Anderson, Carter had a career renaissance with the New England Patriots in 2011. If Thompson didn't want to keep Cullen Jenkins last year the odds of him signing Carter are slim but much like Birk, signing Carter for one year seems worth it to me.

#19 - Samson Satele (C, 6'3", 300 lbs, 27 years old): I know I am starting to sound like a broken record but if the Packers are going to let Wells leave via free agency then adding a guy like Satele would be a younger, more cost-effective version of Wells. Let me be clear, I would rather have Wells than Satele in 2012 but I am not sure if that is the case in 2014.

#18 - Manny Lawson (OLB, 6'5", 240 lbs, 27 years old): Thanks to playing Madden with my buddy Sug I have a Madden Crush on Lawson. Although Lawson's purported skills according to Madden have rarely been backed-up on the field, I am still a huge Lawson supporter.

#17 - Jeremy Mincey (DE, 6'3", 270 lbs, 28 years old): Since the Packers let Aaron Kampman leave via free agency to sign with the Jaguars, may be its time to return the favor. Unfortunately if the Jags are returning the exact favor they got when they signed Kampman then Mincey would struggle through a handful of injury riddle seasons. Even I am getting confused now, let's just move on.

#16 - Aubrayo Franklin (DT, 6'1", 317 lbs, 31 years old) & Shaun Rogers (DT, 6' 4", 350 lbs, 32 years old): Let's call this the Old Man Bounty Special. I would be downright shocked if Thompson considered either of these older defensive tackles but they both could be a decent upgrade from Howard Green at a slightly higher price.

#15 - Reggie Nelson (S, 5'11", 206 lbs, 28 years old): When the Packers took Justin Harrell 16th in the 2007 NFL Draft I had a huge draft crush on Darrelle Revis and Reggie Nelson. Revis went before the Packers picked and Nelson turned out to be better than Harrell but not the stud safety I thought he would be. I know that doesn't sound like glowing praise for Nelson but the Packers could use a guy like Nelson with the uncertainty surrounding the safety position.

#14 - Luis Castillo (DE/DT, 6'3", 290 lbs, 28 years old): Injury problems make this a long-shot at best but when healthy, Castillo is one of the better combo 3-4 defensive lineman in the entire NFL. Please re-read that sentence. Yes, Castillo is injury prone but with the lack of quality depth the Packers have along the defensive line he seems like the perfect guy to take a risk on.

#13 - Jarret Johnson (OLB, 6'3", 260 lbs, 30 years old): Might be overvalued because he played on the impressive Baltimore Ravens defense but any legitimate presence opposite Claymaker at outside linebacker is poised for a big year.

#12 - Kendall Langford (DE, 6'6", 295 lbs, 26 years old): Miami is moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 so since Langford is a perfect fit at defensive end in a 3-4, the Packers should get on the horn ASAP because Lanford will be a hot commodity.

#11 - Red Bryant (DT, 6'4", 323 lbs, 27 years old): After being a part-time player for his first three years in Seattle, Bryant appeared in every game last season. Although Bryant has never put up a ton of stats but he has a big body that can plug up the middle of the defensive line.

#10 - Chris Myers (C, 6'4", 289 lbs, 30 years old): Thompson reportedly already kicked the tires on Myers despite the fact the he is still under contract with the Texans till March 13th. Much like all the other centers mentioned so far, I would rather the Packers just resign Wells but with only a few days left before free agency it looks like both sides are too far apart so Meyers would be a taller version of Wells with a ton of experience anchoring a zone-blocking offensive line so he is arguably the next best option besides Wells.

#9 - Jason Jones (DE/DT, 6'5", 276 lbs, 25 years old): Although Jones never put up huge stats, he looks like a big combo defensive lineman that is poised for a huge breakout. The odds are that Jones stays in Seattle with former Green Bay Packer front office member John Schneider but if there is any chance the Packers can prying Jones out of Seattle, they should do everything in their power to sign Jones.

#8 - LaRon Landry (S, 6'0", 220 lbs, 27 years old): Call this the Expensive Nick Collins Insurance Policy. Landry is dealing with his own injury problems but they are not of the career threatening variety that Collins is facing. If Collins is healthy, the Packers would be set at safety with Burnett, Collins, Jennings, and Peprah. If Collins is forced to retire because of a neck injury then "should Woodson move to safety" speculation would kick into high gear. All of that would be muted if the Packers added a guy like Landry to the roster.

#7 - Paul Soliai (DT, 6'4", 355 lbs, 28 years old): 6'4", 355 lbs. After foolishly letting Cullen Jenkins leave via free agency, making a run at Soliai would give Thompson a mulligan on that poor decision. Add in that Soliai is only 28 and Thompson would not be overpaying for an older guy.

#6 - Michael Bush (RB, 6'1", 245 lbs, 27 years old): With how little the Packers run the ball, adding a potentially expensive free agent running back seems silly but Bush is just the big, punishing running back the Packers need to add to the young three headed running back monster of Alex Green, Brandon Saine, and James Starks.

#5 - Cortland Finnegan (CB, 5'10", 188 lbs, 28 years old): Will never be mentioned in the same breath as Revis but signing Finnegan would give the Packers a ton of options in the secondary. If Nick Collins is forced to retire, adding Finnegan would allow the Packers to move Woodson to safety. If Collins returns healthy, Finnegan would lock down one side of the field while allowing Sam Shields to mature as the 4th cornerback instead of having to play almost every snap as the 3rd cornerback since the Packers play Nickel on roughly 2/3rds of their defensive snaps.

#4 - Kamerion Wimbley (OLB, 6'4", 255 lbs, 28 years old): Although Wimbley is technically still a member of the Oakland Raiders, former Packer front office member Reggie McKenzie has been cleaning house since he took over as general manager. Wimbley has a huge cap number for 2012 so he looks like the next potential salary cap casualty in Oakland. Much like Lawson discussed above I have had a huge outside linebacker crush on Wimbley for years because of his outlandish Madden ratings (speed, agility, acceleration, etc). In fact, if the Packers sign Wimbley I promise to buy a Wimbley jersey (kids XL as always) once Nike releases their new jerseys.

#3 - Brandon Carr (CB, 6'0", 207 lbs, 25 years old): As I've said many times, the odds of Thompson signing any free agents is slim but I view Carr as the best potential free agent not named Carl Nicks or Mario Williams so landing Carr would force Thompson to break the bank. Carr's potential former employer (Kansas City Chiefs) have a ton of cap space so if they let Carr walk without trying to re-sign him that is a bit of a red flag, especially since the Chiefs are run by a well respected general manger (Scott Pioli).

#2 - Carl Nicks (G, 6'5", 343 lbs, 27 years old): In the early 2000's the left tackle became the new sexy position. With the influx of dominate defensive tackles (i.e. Ngata and Suh), the need for bigger guards has become the new sexy position. The Packers seem set at guard with T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton but Sitton regressed last year after signing an extension and Lang is set to become a free agent after the season. Nicks is a very large man but still very agile for his size, which makes him the perfect antidote to dominate defensive tackles. Add in that Nicks is only 27-years old and the Packers would not be paying an over the hill guard for past performance, they would be adding a building block to their roster for the next five to seven years. If the Packers do in fact lose Scott Wells to free agency, moving Lang to center and slotting Nicks at left guard makes a ton of sense to me.

#1 - Mario Williams (DE/OLB, 6'6", 283 lbs, 27 years old): Most people argue that Super Mario's best position is at defensive end in a 4-3 as opposed to outside linebacker in a 3-4 but since the Packers play mostly Nickel anyhow the versatility of Super Mario would be utilized at both defensive end and rush outside linebacker. The only reservation most teams are having is that Super Mario is recovering from a season ending torn pectoral injury. In a weird way I actually look at the injury as a positive because if Super Mario played an entire season as a rush outside linebacker in the new 3-4 defense installed by Wade Phillips last year for the Texans, there is no way he would be a free agent. Super Mario has 53 sacks and is only 27-years old so he has a few more years of improving until he starts to decline in his early 30's. Add in that Claymaker was double teamed on almost every play last year and signing Super Mario would have such a positive waterfall effect on the entire defense. There is a 5% chance that signing Super Mario turns into Joe Johnson 2.0 while there is a 95% chance that signing Super Mario tuns into Reggie White/Charles Woodson 2.0 so open the check book TT.

If any of the players mentioned above actually play for the 2012 Green Bay Packers I would be absolutely shocked but we can always hope.

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