Friday, March 6, 2015

Building The 53 - Free Agent Shopping Guide

There are two types of players that I would target in free agency if I were Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson: unquestionable studs at their position that could be a franchise changing acquisition or quality veterans on the cheap after the market plays out.  The former is NOT likely while the ladder is somewhat likely depending on how the market plays out.

Sure there are some big name like Byron Maxwell (CB, Seattle Seahawks) and Julius Thomas (TE, Denver Broncos) about to hit the free agent market but typically Thompson does NOT engage in bidding wars, which guys like Maxwell and Thomas will create so I see Thompson taking a much more measure approach.  The one caveat to that is defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.  Sure Suh had a number of dust up with the Packers (remember the stomps on EDS and Rodgers) but there is truly only one game-changing free agent on the market this off-season and that man is Suh.

2015 Off-Season Advice for TT
Projections for Practice Squad
How to Handle 2015 ERFA's
How to Handle 2015 RFA's
How to Handle 2015 UFA's
Free Agent Shopping Guide
Potential Salary Cap Casualties
Locks for The 53 in 2015
I presume that it will take an NFL record contract to land Suh that will be even bigger than Gerald McCoy's six-year, $95.2 million contract with $51.5 million guaranteed.  I am not sure how the Packers could fit a deal like that into their long-term plans given what they have committed to Rodgers and Matthews but I hope Packers vice president of football administration/player finance Russ Ball is at least running the numbers right now to see if this pipe dream of landing Suh has any chance of becoming a reality.  Suh's on the field performance speaks for itself.  In fact, the only games that Suh misses are due to suspension as opposed to injury.  The one caveat to all of this is that Suh is 28 years old, which is old by defensive lineman standards.  The more I think about, the more I think it makes sense for Thompson to pass on Suh so I actually hope you are NOT running the numbers Russ.  Onto advice that Thompson might actually follow.

Given what I just said, odds are that Thompson sits back and doesn't sign any unrestricted free agent that played for another team besides the Packers for the first week of free agency.  Truth be told, I am fine with that strategy.  If any of the following players are left after a couple weeks of free agency, I hope that Thompson signs them to one-year deals: Tyson Alualu (DT, Jacksonville Jaguars), Akeem Ayers (OLB, New England Patriots), Jordan Cameron (TE, Cleveland Browns), Adrian Clayborn (DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Mason Foster (MLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Brandon Graham (OLB, Philadelphia Eagles), Terrance Knighton (DT, Denver Broncos), Zach Miller (TE, Seattle Seahawks), Jared Odrick (DL, Miami Dolphins), O'Brien Schofield (OLB, Seattle Seahawks), Malcolm Smith (LB, Seattle Seahawks), or Brandon Spikes (MLB, Buffalo Bills).

Clearly NOT all of those guys will be available in a few weeks.  Even if they were, Thompson would not even have the roster spots much less the salary cap space to make it happen.  You will notice that all of the players above fit into four categories: pass catching tight end, versatile defensive lineman, edge rusher, or athletic middle linebacker.  If I had to prioritize any of those positions, I actually think I would put versatile defensive lineman first on the list.  That is why I was tempted to throw more money at Knighton or Odrick but drafting well and showing fiscal restraint in free agency has kept the Packers a perennial playoff contender for the better part of the last decade so although it would be nice to lock down either of those guys early in free agency, I don't want Thompson to do that if it means he potentially overpays them for their services.

Let's see how the top end of the free agent market plays out over the next couple days and I will revisit with my thoughts, if necessary.

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