Yesterday, the Packers jumped right into fray by re-signing cornerback Sam Shields to a four-year $39 million deal with a $12.5 million signing bonus. That was what is appearing like the first step in a plan to utilize free agency to help improve this team - and improve it in a hurry.
Today the news broke that the Packers were seriously interested in the services of Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones, as well as Lamarr Houston, the Oakland Raiders defensive end/OLB.
It seems every NFC North team is working to improve on the defensive side of the ball and using free agency to do so. The Vikings signed Everson Griffen and LB
Jasper Brinkley, as well as being on the short list for Cincinnati Bengals DE Michael Johnson. The Bears have also shown interest in Johnson and seem squarely set on hiring Seahawks DE Michael Bennett.
The Lions have been reported to be working on securing the services of Cleveland safety T. J. Ward.
While Houston is ranked above Jones in the NFL.com “Around the League,” the Packers could benefit from either of these players. Here’s how he was described in the “Top 101 NFL free agents for 2014″by Chris Wesseling and Gregg Rosenthal
Houston is hardly a household name, but he’s a youg, scheme-versatile lineman capable of pushing the pocket and stopping the run. That’s a rare NFL commodity.
Houston was ranked fifth by Wesseling and Rosenthal in their second tier “impact starters.”
In four years at Oakland, Houston started 59 games, has had 16.5 sacks, one interception, five passes defensed, four forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, 171 tackles and 56 assists.
As for Jones, he wasn’t given the love that Houston received. Jones was listed in the tier 3 “starters with questions” category.
Ranked 31 overall and seventh in the third tier, Jones was described as such:
The oldest of the Jones brood that includes UFC’s Jon “Bones” and Patriots sack artist Chandler, Arthur is about to get paid as a run-stopping defensive end capable of disrupting the passing game.
In four seasons with Baltimore, he has started 20 games, has 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble, 66 tackles and 52 assists.
It’s great to see the Packers considering the services of Jones and Houston. They are players who would bring more physicality to the Packers defense. And while it’s simply amazing we’re even writing about the Packers in free agency, it’s even more amazing that we are talking about multiple players.
The talk over the past few weeks was that the Packers would be active in free agency was just talk to most who follow the team. Ted Thompson’s past practice is well known, but with nearly $35 million in cap money available, it appears Thompson is ready to make moves that will make his team better immediately.
That said, I am of the opinion that of the two mentioned here, it’s Houston who seems to be the better fit. Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy are well known for liking versatile players – Houston fits that bill. His statistics speak for themselves.
The Packers could still sign B.J. Raji to the single-season offer sheet they have on the table, as well. That, too, might be the best way to proceed with Raji. Make him prove his worth to the team.
In the meantime, it’s nice to see Thompson making moves. This will be an interesting offseason, for sure.
Stay tuned …