Green Bay Packers: Which 2017 free agents deserve priority?
A daunting list of free agents awaits Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson following the 2016 season. Here’s a look at the notable names.
How Ted Thompson deals with the Packers’ list of free agents next season is going to be crucial. The Packers will lose good players, it’s impossible to keep them all, so Thompson will need a plan in place to ensure the departing names are adequately replaced.
The process could already be underway, you only have to look at the 2016 draft class. The Packers selected two offensive linemen — tackles Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy — which is important as four key linemen are set to hit free agency next term.
Pass rushers Julius Peppers, Datone Jones and Nick Perry will be free agents. The Packers selected Kyler Fackrell to play outside linebacker and Dean Lowry as a five-technique end.
Let’s look at the notable names on the Packers’ 2017 free agency class.
This one should take care of itself. Peppers is 36-years-old and will be 37 should the Packers make a deep playoff run. It’s highly unlikely he returns to Green Bay following the end of this deal, even if he puts together another strong campaign. This could even be the final act of Peppers’ Hall of Fame career, but that’s a decision for another day.
Sitton has been a key cog at the heart of the Packers’ offensive line for what feels like forever. The ironman is an unsung hero in the trenches who has missed very little time in his career and played at a high level through injuries. The Packers will want this man back.
Sitton’s potential departure is bad enough, but now add in his partner in crime in Lang. The two form arguably the league’s best tandem at guard, and it will likely take a hometown discount to keep both in the building for 2017 and beyond.
Perry re-signed with the Packers on a one-year “prove it” deal, so his 2016 season will directly influence whether he returns on a longer term extension. If Perry puts his injury history to one side and proves himself as the pass rusher he’s always promised to be, the Packers will have another talent to pay.
Cook is very much the short-term solution at tight end, and he will be hoping for an inflation of numbers which will lead to a strong payday a year from now. Green Bay needs to find the future at tight end, and a strong season from the former Ram could make it tough to let him walk.
Jones is set to spend more time at outside linebacker as an “elephant” rusher. The move could be just what the 2013 first-round talent needs, and a solid season will leave the Packers with a tough decision to make after declining his fifth-year option earlier this offseason.
Left tackle is a premium position and Bakhtiari has offered solid play here for three years. With another, he will be looking for top left tackle money. Can the Packers afford it, or will they turn to their 2016 second-round pick Jason Spriggs?
This season is crucial for Lacy. Forget what he did in years one and two, because he looked disinterested and out of shape in 2015. If he bounces back as we all expect, the Packers will want to lock him up long term. If the price is too high, maybe they look to what appears to be a strong running back class in the 2017 draft.
Tretter is a valuable piece to the offensive line. He hasn’t been able to lock down a starting job in Green Bay, but his ability to play across the line at a high level will make it tough to let him go. If one of the starters leave, Tretter could be a cheaper option to re-sign and promote into a starting role.
Inside linebacker was a weak area for the Packers last season, and that was partly due to Barrington’s season-ending injury. If he returns fully healthy and puts it all together this year, the Packers will want him back.
Next: Green Bay Packers: Jeff Janis vs. Jared Abbrederis
Of these pending free agents, who would you put top of the list? Who can’t the Packers afford to lose, and who is replaceable?