Twitter, Facebook and just about every other NFL blogging site is lighting up this week with the advent of one of the most enjoyable times of the professional football offseason – the free agency signing period.
I like it even more than the draft, actually … and I’m a Packers fan who hasn’t had anything to shout about during this period since Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf reeled in Reggie White.
But that doesn’t matter. It’s always so much fun watching the other teams meet with, negotiate and sign big name free agents.
We know it’s not going to happen in Green Bay, so we sit back, watch, listen and enjoy.
There are some who look at the holes that seem be appearing in the Packers roster and have wondered aloud whether this might be the year that Packers General Manager Ted Thompson might step out of his comfort zone and jump into the frenzy starting this week. Even Thompson has hinted that he may be open to the right player if he considers them “useful tool” for his team.
After all, one can do only so much through the draft – Thompson’s favorite mode for building and rebuilding a team. The draft is great for bringing in “projects” and molding those players to fit the system. Thompson’s Super Bowl XLV ring is evidence of that.
However, the Packers showed last season that if they are to fill the holes the team has, especially on the defensive side of the ball, they’ve got to do more than just draft. Thompson has always said he likes to sign his own players and he faces that task this year as the team’s most valued free agents, Jarrett Bush and Scott Wells, are ready to test the waters.
Will he get something done and signed before 3 p.m. Tuesday? That remains to be seen. If he doesn’t, most likely Bush will be gone and depending on the temperature of those waters, Wells might be, too. But if Wells doesn’t sign before the start of the period and finds only tepid waters out there, he may be back, ala James Jones.
Other free agents such as Harold Green and Erik Walden most likely won’t be signed to offers, but there is a good chance that, like Wells, if the money is available, Ryan Grant may be back in camp.
The real question is the money. The Packers are $5 million under the $120 million salary cap. Should the team shed offensive lineman Chad Clifton and restructure wide receiver Donald Driver’s contract, the team will gain at least $5 million more in cap room. With that money available, my guess is that the Packers could strike a deal with Wells and possibly Bush, but that doesn’t leave much for signing draft picks and other undrafted free agents to round out the roster.
I’m just glad I’m not an NFL team’s accountant because this must be a stressful time of the year.
Whatever happens will be a surprise for all fans …
In the meantime, get your popcorn, turn on your favorite sports station and see where all the money goes and where the players end up.