A few days have passed and its full steam ahead towards the offseason for the Green Bay Packers. With twenty players set to become free agents and a handful of positions that need upgrades, this poses to be an eventful summer in Green Bay. Keeping this in mind, lets take a look at the 5 moves that Ted Thompson has to make this offseason.
- Re-sign Sam Shields – This needs to be one of Thompson’s first moves this offseason. Shields has turned himself into one of the better cover corners in the NFL and combined with Tramon Williams make up a formidable cornerback duo. Shields will command a contract that will pay him near the top of the cornerbacks in the game but despite that, I think Thompson needs to bring him back. I know that the Packers will be getting Casey Hayward back next year which may make Shields expendable, but I think a trio of Shields, Williams, Hayward, and then throw in Hyde as a safety, that is starting to turn into a solid secondary. Shields has solid corner skills and closing speed that allows him to take some chances. As Shields continue to improve, you’d have to think that his interception numbers would improve but that isn’t a make or break number. If the Packers are serious about improving the defense, resigning Shields is one of the first steps.
- Pick up a Safety – Whether this is a draft pick or a free agent signing, this isn’t a position that can be neglected this offseason. The Packers in 2013 were horrible at safety! The combination of M.D. Jennings and Morgan Burnett ended the season with zero interceptions and left no doubt where the weak link on the defense was. M.D. Jennings is a restricted free agent but there is reason to believe that he will not be coming back. The hot name being discussed by Packers fans is Alabama Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix but my worry is he won’t be available when the Packers are on the clock with the 21st pick. He has the talent to make an immediate impact as he is solid in both pass and rush defense. Another possible target, albeit a little more far fetched, would be a player like Jarius Byrd who is a free agent this offseason. Thompson hasn’t been one to spend much in the free agent market, usually just focusing on depth and complimentary players, but this year would be a great year to make a splash. Whether it be through the draft or free agency, safety is a position of need.
- Bring back Matt Flynn – We learned this year just how important the back-up quarterback position is when Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone. Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn each took their crack at the starting job with only Flynn collecting any wins, both being in dramatic, come from behind fashion. Tolzien will get his shot as the Packers did sign him to a deal that will bring him back but Flynn will give the Packers the best shot if Rodgers were to get hurt again. He has a great understanding of the offensive system, has a solid relationship with Rodgers and McCarthy and has shown that if the situation calls for it, he can lead the team to a victory. Flynn has signed big deals and has been all over the NFL trying to get a starting gig and it brought him back to Green Bay. If he is willing to sign a team friendly deal, he needs to be on the roster in 2014.
- Let B.J. Raji Walk – When word came out that the Raji camp turned down $8 mil a year before the season, everyone thought he was crazy for not taking it. After the season he just had, he may now be wishing he would have. From the sounds of it, Raji is wanting to test the free agent market and I say Thompson should let him go. As far as replacing Raji, Thompson will have options. For starters, both Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett are free agents and would cost less (probably combined) than Raji will want. Additionally, the Packers have last years first round pick, Datone Jones, waiting in the wings. If the Packers were able to sign Raji to a team friendly deal, then I’d be fine with his return but considering he already turned down a $8 million deal, his days are probably running out.
- Re-sign Evan Dietrich-Smith – Aaron Rodgers has already given his support to EDS returning and I’m on board with this as well. The fact that Rodgers wants him back is already a huge endorsement but what it means for the offensive line is just as important. The offensive line this season had its down moments but as a whole played pretty well. Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang are make up one of the better Offensive Guard combos in the NFL. With Brian Bulaga set to return next year along with the emergence of David Bakhtiarai, the offensive line is coming together and could be a dominating force. While he isn’t the center that Scott Wells was in his prime, he is a major improvement over Jeff Saturday. It will be interesting to see what kind of money EDS will command but as long as it is with reason, Thompson needs to keep EDS in Green Bay.
Obviously there are other needs that the Packers must address this offseason and we will continue to discuss those leading to Free Agency, the Senior Bowl and NFL Draft. Make sure to keep checking us out here at Packers360.com.
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