If the Green Bay Packers don't bring Jermichael Finley back because of his neck injury it will hurt the team more than it will Finley. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Green Bay Packers face an off-season of 'good' problems




With nearly $28 million in projected salary cap space, the Green Bay Packers and General Manager Ted Thompson head into the thick of the NFL offseason with what you may consider “good” problems – and with about $10 million more in cap money than they had at this time last year, the Packers have the advantage to do pretty much whatever they want.

Because we all know that Thompson loves to draft and develop and avoids spending big dollars in free agency, the Packers at least have some choices this time around. In other words, Thompson has to make some decisions on how best to manage that $28 million.

Three of the top issues TT faces are the likes of B.J. Raji, Sam Shields and Jermichael Finley. Given that Finley suffered an injury similar to former Packers cornerback Nick Collins, it’s unlikely J-Mike will be back. Many were surprised when the Packers committed to him in the final year of his contract, but had it not been for his injury, Finley most likely wouldn’t be talking about getting on the first plane out of town – he’d have already booked his window seat. And while Finley and his agent have been talking about Finley being a Packer for life, we all know it’s a smokescreen. When free agency kicks off in a few weeks, Finley will be on more than one team’s short list.

The real issue comes down to Raji and Shields. Does Thompson sign one and franchise the other? Does he let them both test the market and let the chips fall where they may? Personally, I think they need to re-sign Shields and let Raji walk. Shields has proven his value the past couple of seasons; Raji has been nothing better than average. I feel the Packers can draft some fresh defensive line legs to make up for the loss of Raji. However, it’s important for the team to keep Shields … he’s one of, if not the best defensive players on the team.

And then there are other issues with which Thompson must consider. Those “issues” are free agents like James Jones, John Kuhn, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Andrew Quarless, Mike Neal, and Ryan Pickett.

With all those names, one might consider them as a “problem.” However, looking long-term Thompson has his usual tool with which to work – the draft. If he doesn’t sign the majority of those free agents, he will most likely replenish the team with very good talent in this year’s draft – one that’s considered deep at many positions.

So, what’s the bottom line?

Well, if I were the GM, here is what I would do: Let Finley and Raji walk, re-sign Shields and bring back these guys with bargain deals – Jones, Kuhn, Dietrich-Smith, Neal and Pickett.

Using the draft, Thompson then can find some talent in the early to mid rounds. Heck, he might even be able to pick up a couple of decent safeties this time around.

With a gob of money in hand, a deep draft, and the option to bring some important players back on the cheap, Thompson has some good problems this offseason.

Let’s hope he makes hay when the sun is shining.

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Tags: Free Agency Green Bay Packers NFL Draft

  • Phillip

    Jones will not be back for a bargain deal, he’s gonna get around 5 or 6 a year on the market n that’s far too much to give to a WR when we have both Jordy n Cobb needing new deals before free agency next year, and no way in hell would it be smart to keep all 3 together for 1 more year just to have to turn around n lose 1 of the 2 main guys the following year. Jones is pretty much a luxury we cant afford right now, unless he come back to us for the right price, he is gonna have to go, there’s more pressing needs with the D that our money needs to go towards and the draft can’t fix all the holes. Also, if we spend any money on offense, the more imprtant position is TE, but I think we’ll be able to get somebody like 6’7.CJ Fedorowicz in the middle rounds that’d be a solid RZ guy for Rodgers that could develop into a big time TE. I believe it’d be best to retain what we possibly can on the line, possibly bring Raji back n put him back where his desire to play is, where he was a dominant player, DT. He should have been playing back there 2 and a half years ago after his production slipped when they moved him, with him, Daniels and hopefully a progressed Datone, our line will be set n biggest worry is just getting a little depth. Sign Shields back n our CBs are set and then that gives the opportunity to focus on LB and Safety during the draft, which I believe we should get hopefully Pryor Rd 1, best MLB rd 2 n than get the best available safety round 3. Either way, Line, LB or Safety has to be addressed in FA, no way we get that lucky n fix all 3 through the draft and I believe, with more progression from our D-line we already have the makeup to be successful there with Raji playing DT on run and pass downs. I believe Perry will be much better as long as he’s healthy n that’ll just leave our hole at MLB unless Jones steps up but we can find an immediate impact at MLB in the 2nd if he doesnt. Safety is easily our most pressing issue, I believe a.move back to SS for Burnett will get him back on the right productive track that he was when he signed his 24 million dollar deal n than hopefully Pryor or Dix is still there for us, either 1 of them will instantly make our D better.

    • Brandon J Haas

      I got a scenario for you. Shields leaves, Then Tramon, Casey Hayward, House, and Hyde are the four options to battle it out. Packers then Pick up a First tier Free agent Safety like Byrd or TJ Ward for about 6 or 7 million a year that Shields may be getting. Would you feel confident in that? I think House has a bright future along with Hyde and Hayward.

  • Mike Brand

    would not mind at all if we got shields back at 5-6 mil range but anything over that we can let him walk and try free agency . i think i read where cbs were getting at high cost now of like 6 mil a year. james jones i think is gone, raji outside his raji dance did nothing to wow me the last 2 years. i think we should keep pickett 1 more year get that big guy McCullers from tn and let him learn from pickett . at 6-7 350 pounds and drafted in the 3rd round he can develop into a future nt guy. the tight end from iowa will fit in great he was basically the only offense ioaw had and he had a great game against lsu . but for now the two biggest names i would worry about is locking nelson and cobb up for years to come . we can always pick up that wr from byu in the 6th or 7th round not to mention we have 2 wrs we have locked up for a long time in dorsey and harper both whom i think could be impact players in 2014 after getting some real otas and practices in