Some Thoughts on What Green Bay Needs to Do in Free Agency and the Draft

Matt KonkleContributor IMarch 1, 2009

Another swing and a miss from the Green Bay Packers.  Chris Canty, the former defensive end of the Dallas Cowboys, has signed with the New York Giants.

Though it's not surprising the Packers didn't land a marquee free agent within the first few days of free agency, it is disappointing knowing that it came down to the Packers and the Giants as the landing spot for Canty, meaning the Packers had a legitimate shot at signing him.

It's disappointing knowing we had a shot at an impact player and one who would be a perfect fit for our new defensive scheme.

Not only that, but Canty would have been a great addition to a defense that will be transitioning to a 3-4 scheme over the course of a few years.

Canty can play the five-technique to a T.  He can also kick inside and provide a presence from a pass-rushing standpoint when the Packers go back to the 4-3 during a game.

Canty is young, has incredible size at 6-7 and 304 lbs, and has been heralded for never quitting on a play, a trait not all big men have.  And even though he was one of the bigger names on the free agent market, 17.25 million dollars guaranteed is not a whole lot for a player of Canty's caliber.

Yes the Packers have to re-sign Greg Jennings, Nick Collins, Aaron Kampan, and others set to hit the market after the '09 season.  But Green Bay has over 30 million to work with under this year's salary cap, which I think was enough to make a play AND LAND the former Dallas defensive end.

I've backed Ted Thompson and his decisions ever since he arrived in Green Bay, but c'mon Ted, get somebody!

So what now?  I think the Packers need to make a strong play for Igor Olshansky, formerly of the Chargers, whom also played the 5-technique for a 3-4 defense.  He, at least, will come cheaper and should help by providing some much needed experience in the new defensive scheme Green Bay is trying to employ.

As for the draft, with the Packers losing Colin Cole to Seattle, it's a no-brainer that TT has to go get a defensive tackle to back up Ryan Pickett, or start for that matter.

Pickett is the only player we have that has the physical make-up to play the very important nose tackle position.  He is getting old, however, and his knees are becoming a concern, so depth at that position is questionable, to say the least.

I'm hoping the Packers acquire either defensive tackle from Boston College in the upcoming draft:  B.J. Raji or Ron Brace.  Both have the size and strength to play the nose tackle position in the 3-4, though Raji is by far the more athletic and talented of the two.

If Raji slips to the 9th pick, it should be an easy decision for Ted Thompson.  To me, it looks like the only competition we will have for Raji is Seattle and Cinncinati.  But with Seattle signing Cole, their need for a defensive tackle is no longer as great.

The Bengals were poised to pick Seddrick Ellis last year in the draft before the Saints leap-frogged them to take the defensive tackle out of USC, so they might have their eyes set on Raji. 

Losing Houshyomamma though, and the possibility of trading Ocho-cinco might force the Bengals to consider Michael Crabtree with their pick, leaving a clear path for Raji to fall to us.

If for whatever reason the Packers don't land Raji, I believe we could pick Brace up with our second round pick, or trade back into the first round in order to secure him for sure.

It actually wouldn't be a terrible idea to possibly draft both of these guys, Raji and Brace.  I have a feeling, for reasons already mentioned, that the Packers won't be re-signing Pickett once his contract is up, so having two talented, young, big men rotating at the center of our defense could really set the foundation for a successful switch to the 3-4 defense.

It's also imperative that we find a defensive end/linebacker 'tweener to rush the quarterback from opposite Kampman, but those players can always be found later in the draft and this draft in particular has a lot of depth in that position.

The Packer offense should improve upon it's productive '08 performance ,in which they ranked 5th in the league, as Aaron Rodgers leads the way with a year's worth of starting experience under his belt.

The special teams play will hopefully improve with increased attention being paid to it by Mike McCarthey and Teddy.

Other than that, I think the Packers will be alright.