Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has always had the philosophy of draft and develop, and patch the remaining pieces in free agency. The one previous exception to that was when Thompson signed veteran defensive back Charles Woodson away from the Oakland Raiders. Woodson was a key part during the Packers Super Bowl run in 2010. Fast forward to this year, and Thompson again went after another big name free agent, former Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers. Head coach Mike McCarthy has said that Peppers will be able to play as an outside linebacker, as well as a defensive end.
While the Packers did go out and sign a big name, they also spent money on keeping some key parts of their football team. Cornerback Sam Shields was given a four year deal, meaning the Packers have three quality corners in Shields, Tramon Williams, and Casey Hayward. Also on the defensive end, defensive tackle B.J. Raji resigned for a year deal, hoping he will be able to play himself into getting a bigger contract after next season. Outside linebacker/ defensive end Mike Neal was given a two year contract, giving the Packers even more pass rushing depth.
Offensively, the Packers re-signed two players who played big down the stretch last year. Running back James Starks was signed for a two year deal, giving the Packers a strong one-two punch with reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Eddie Lacy.
After former tight end Jermichael Finley was out for the season was a devastating neck injury, Andrew Quarless was tagged as the “next man up.” After a slow start, Quarless really started to emerge as a threat in the game against the Atlanta Falcons. He caught six passes for 66 yards and caught the go-ahead touchdown from Matt Flynn. The following week against the Dallas Cowboys, Quarless matched his previous week’s stats, again catching six passes for 66 yards and one touchdown. Quarless showed that he could produce when he needed to, and was rewarded with a two year contract.
While the Packers didn’t go out and spend on other free agents like other teams, they did make a big splash by signing Peppers and re-signed the players they needed to in order to remain competitive in the NFC.