Last Saturday, I was awake early because I was traveling to Chicago that day, but it didn’t stop me from logging in to check any news about the Green Bay Packers - and was I glad that I did.
Early on that morning of March 15 the Packers announced that they had signed Chicago Bears DE Julius Peppers to a 3-year, $30 million contract – and that was just the beginning of what was to be another interesting week for the team.
The signing, announced nearly out of the blue as the Packers were masterful in keeping any kind of negotiating or interest in Peppers from leaking, surprised just about everybody – some snapping derogatory comments, while others praising the move after the contract details were announced. This was a Packers-friendly contract. Some may even see it at this point as a single-year deal to allow Peppers to show he still has it and for an opportunity to play on a team that is annually in the hunt for a Super Bowl title.
But that’s not all that caught our eyes this past week. Let’s talk about the team’s running game.
That part of the Packers offense got even stronger early on this week when James Starks canceled a visit to Pittsburgh to stay back and re-sign with the Packers. Another cap-friendly deal was put together by Ted Thompson as he again kept one of his own. With Starks in the fold, the Packers run game is immediately thrust into elite status – at least on paper at this point.
At one point or another last season, each one of those running backs missed time because of injury. Harris missed the entire season and Franklin missed the final quarter of the season and playoffs. Lacy suffered a concussion on the first play of their Week 2 game at home against the Washington Redskins and Starks also missed two games with a leg injury.
The point is that if the Packers have players they can plug in – players with proven skills – it makes it much easier for a team to offer a strong run game week-in ad week-out.
Some other news that broke this past week was that Johnny Jolly could be medically cleared within the next couple of weeks. On another note, it appears Jermichael Finley, who seemingly has a handshake agreement with the Seattle Seahawks, has not yet been cleared and there are those who feel it might be months before he is cleared. That’s sounding more and more like a Nick Collins situation.
There were rumors … that former Chicago Bears WR and return specialist Devin Hester was being considered by the Packers. The rumors appear to have been just that, as Hester just a couple of days ago signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
It was an interesting thought, however.
And there wasn’t all good news.
James Jones left Green Bay and signed with the Oakland Raiders, and Evan Dietrich-Smith left for Tampa Bay. While not complete surprises, many felt that the Packers and Jones had been headed for a split, but there were many who felt the Packers probably should have ponied up for Dietrich-Smith.
Center has become a position in question at this point. J.C. Tretter has been mentioned as the heir-apparent, but others think there may be other ways to address the situation. Maybe the team addresses the situation in the Draft.
But at this point, the Packers are certainly a better team today than they were eight days ago. While Marshall Newhouse signed yesterday with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Packers may have interest in only half of those still out there, at least many needs have already been addressed. A plan of action seems to be unfolding and will continue through free agency and in the NFL Draft.
Is Thompson done with free agency?
Well, not when you consider there are still nine free agents who are still on the market. How many of their own will they sign? How many will walk?
|Rob Francois||ILB, LB||UFA||GB||TBD||–|
|Marshall Newhouse||RT, T||Signed March||CIN||Mar 21|