Thursday, January 9, 2014

Building The 53 - How to Handle 2014 RFA's on The 53

The Green Bay Packers have three restricted free agents currently on The 53: Chris Banjo (S), M.D. Jennings (S), and Jamari Lattimore (LB).  Banjo is a restricted exclusive rights free agent while Jennings and Lattimore are standard restricted free agents.  That means the Packers can deal with Banjo differently than Jennings and Lattimore so the Packers can retain Banjo in 2014 for roughly what he was paid in 2013 without any other team being able to sign him.  Given that Banjo earned a little more than $400,000 in 2013, even if he gets $50,000 raise, the Packers should tender Banjo so they have him on a non-guaranteed one-year contract for less than $500,000 in 2014.

Moving onto Jennings and Lattimore.  The Packers could tender them a one-year deal at various levels or offer them a long-term contract.  NFL teams usually tender one-year deals to restricted free agents to get them on the cheap for one more season before deciding whether to lock them up long-term since they become unrestricted free agents after their one-year restricted free agent deals expire.

Advice for Ted Thompson
How to Handle Players on 8-Man Practice Squad
How to Handle Players on Injured Reserve
How to Handle 2014 RFA's on The 53
How to Handle 2014 UFA's on The 53
Potential Salary Cap Casualties on The 53
First Look at the 2014 NFL Draft
Locks for The 53 for 2014
In 2013 the NFL had three levels of restricted free agents: $2.879 million for 1st round compensation, $2.023 million for 2nd round compensation, and $1.323 million for original draft round compensation.  If a player that was tendered a one-year, $2.879 million contract is offered a long-term deal by another team, the tendering team has the option to match that long-term deal.  If the tendering team does not match the long-term deal offered by another team, they get the other team's first round draft pick as compensation for losing that player.  Some NFL agents think that the restricted free agent system is rigged because players rarely change teams.  What happened last season for the Packers lends credence to that theory.

Last off-season the Packers rolled the dice by tendering a couple of starters lower than first round tenders.  The Packers tendered center Evan Dietrich-Smith a one-year, $1.323 million deal and cornerback Sam Shields a one-year, $2.023 million deal.  Since EDS was an undrafted free agent, if another team signed EDS to a long-term deal and the Packers did not match that deal, the Packers would have lost their starting center for no compensation.  At least with Shields, if another team signed Shields to a long-term deal and the Packers did not match that deal, the Packers would have gotten a second round pick as compensation.  As EDS and Shields showed on the field this year, they would have been great players to pluck from the Packers.  Both are among the 13 unrestricted free agents currently on The 53 that I will discuss how to handle tomorrow.

With all of that as background, let's actually talk about Jennings and Lattimore.  Being a borderline starter and a quality special teams contributor seems like the ceiling for both players.  I am more of a fan of Lattimore than Jennings but I am not sure either are worth paying upwards of $1 million in 2014 for their services so I would not tender either player.  I would approach both about accepting a one-year veteran minimum contract with an eye towards locking up Lattimore long-term, especially if the Packers decide to cut one of their two starting middle linebackers in 2013, A.J. Hawk or Brad Jones, before 2014.

Make sure to check back tomorrow when I give my advice to Thompson for how to handle the 13 unrestricted free agents currently on The 53.

No comments:

Post a Comment