The Green Bay Packers are in a peculiar situation. They enter this offseason with around $27 million in cap space. That large number gives the Packers plenty of options of how they can spend their large amount of money. General manager Ted Thompson could choose to go a different route than in year’s past and try to sign some big money free agents. However, Thompson has been very hesitant to go out and sign a big name player during the free agency period. The second option for Thompson and the Packers might be to resign many of their own free agents. 19 players on the Packers roster hit the free agent market, and there are plenty that the Packers should consider resigning.
First, let’s take a look on the defensive side of the football. Defensive tackle B.J. Raji and cornerback Sam Shields are both free agents and both looking for large paydays. In my opinion, I think the Packers should concentrate on signing Shields instead of Raji. While Raji is a former top ten pick, his numbers were down compared to the last few years. Instead of possibly playing his way into a contract extension, Raji might have played his way out of one.
Now back to Shields. While Tramon Williams has been the Packers’ number one cornerback the past couple of years, Shields has been the best corner on the team. Shields had four interceptions last season, including his interception of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo that helped the Packers cap a 23 point comeback. Shields was also a big part in the Packers playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Shields went down early with a knee injury, and it allowed the 49ers to pick apart the Packers secondary. Shields should be the Packers number one offseason priority. The Packers just have to give him some money.
On the offensive side of things, tight end Jermichael Finley and wide receiver James Jones headline the Packers’ free agents. The biggest thing with Finley won’t be because of his performance last year. The main concern is whether it is safe for Finley to continue his football career after suffering a dangerous neck injury against the Cleveland Browns. If the Packers feel that Finley is able to still play, he will be signed. If not, Finley will have to see if other teams want to take a chance with him.
The situation with Jones is quite interesting. Jones has emerged as the Packers number one wide receiver over the last two seasons. But, with fellow wide outs Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are entering the last years of their current contracts, so the Packers will have to start working on contract extensions for both of them. I think that the Packers should keep Jones. But, the question for Jones is what is more important: the money or winning a championship?
One under the radar free agent for the Packers is fullback John Kuhn. Kuhn is arguably one the top five fullbacks in the league, and is a fan favorite in Green Bay. If Kuhn had not blocked Chicago Bears defensive lineman Julius Peppers, Aaron Rodgers would not have been able to find Cobb for the game winning touchdown in week 17, and the Packers would not have made the playoffs. Ted Thompson has some tough choices to make this offseason.