Green Bay Packers restricted free agents: Who will be tendered?


Packers cornerback Sam Shields, a restricted free agent, will be brought back into the fold for next season.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

The NFL Free Agency period doesn’t start for more than a week, but already rumors of player movements are rolling across the league – though it looks like the Green Bay Packers role will be very limited – like that’s a shocker, right?

Ted Thompson has been about as active in free agency over the years as Santa Claus at Easter. Nevertheless, there has been some talk that Green Bay may slap the Franchise Tag on wide receiver Greg Jennings. Well, let’s put an end to those thoughts immediately.

The deadline for placing the tag on a player is Monday, March 4, 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. CST). If the Packers had been serious about all this, they would have been negotiating to re-sign Jennings. That hasn’t occurred and neither will the franchise tag.

We’ll talk more about the Packers’ unrestricted free agents as we move through the week toward the unofficial and the official start to the bargaining period. But first we must take a look at the team’s restricted free agents.

Tom Crabtree

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Those restricted Packers players are Sam ShieldsEvan Dietrich-SmithRobert FrancoisFrank Zombo, and Tom Crabtree.

Now, the Packers aren’t going to tender all of these players – simply put, if they were to do so, they would have to match contract offers by other teams to retain their services. Clearly, the Packers aren’t going to want to retain Frank Zombo – so he’s out of the equation. He will become an unrestricted free agent as soon as the Packers say they aren’t interested.

However, the other four will be tendered, but each of them will be tendered by varying degrees. I know, it gets a bit complicated here, but stay with me.

There are tendering categories: high, medium and low. Here’s the way each of those designations have been described:

"If another team signs away a low-tendered player, the team that incurs the loss gets a draft pick in the same round that player was chosen in as compensation. Medium supplies a second-round pick and the high tender carries a first-round pick as compensation.There are also dollar amounts associated with each tender, meaning the team has to pay the restricted free agent X dollars on a one-year deal. For the low tender that is $1.323 million. Medium is $2.023 million and high is $2.879 million."

That being said, Shields will get the high tender = a one year contract worth $2.879 million; Dietrich-Smith, medium = $2.023 million; and Crabtree, low = $1.323 million. Francois will be offered the veteran’s minimum which is $715,000.

It will be interesting to see if the Packers gamble even more and don’t offer Dietrich-Smith or Crabtree the higher tenders. They might not in hopes they can bring them back into the fold for fewer dollars. However, even at the higher tenders listed above, they will be good values for the team.

In all, it looks like it will cost the Packers between $5 million and $6 million to bring these players back, which will leave the team with about $16-$17 million in which to work with in possibly signing a free agent or two, as well as retaining some dollars to rework the deals for B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers.

Chris Canty

Photo by Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger via USA TODAY Sports

Former New York Giants defensive lineman Chris Canty is expected to visit Green Bay this coming Wednesday, while the Packers have also expressed an interest in visiting with 49ers defensive lineman  Ricky Jean-Francois. No visit has, as of yet, been set with him. There has been some speculation that the Packers may also be interested in the services of Cullen Jenkins, but again, no visits have been scheduled.

The unofficial start to free agency (when teams can start talking with players’ agents) begins Friday, March 8, while the official start to the period begins Monday, March 12.

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