The Definitive Blueprint to Green Bay's Perfect Offseason
After another successful season as the NFC North champions, the Green Bay Packers are back in the playoffs. They're the third seed in the NFC, but that really comes with an asterisk since they would've earned a first-round bye had it not been for the controversial Seattle Seahawks game.
If the Packers win the Super Bowl or lose in the first round of the playoffs, it shouldn't really matter as far as their offseason goes.
Either way, the Packers' dream offseason scenario remains the same.
Extend Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Possibly B.J. Raji
Extending Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews are musts. Both are among, if not the, best at their positions and are grossly underpaid.
The Packers will want to lock them up as their contracts will expire in the next one or two years, respectively.
This will hurt the Packers' chances of signing any big free agents and re-signing Greg Jennings, but I'm not sure they wanted to do either of those.
Normally, I'd be against signing B.J. Raji to a long-term contract, as he's been overrated for much of the past two years, but he's really stepped up his play recently.
Raji will have two years left on his deal after this season, so it may be smart to wait another season before extending him.
Restructure the Contract of or Cut Charles Woodson
The casualty of several injuries, a high cap number and a youth movement in the Green Bay secondary, Charles Woodson should be let go before his roster bonus is due next season.
With M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian playing well in his absence, Woodson isn't really needed in Green Bay.
Sure, he's an amazing person and great leader, but this is a business.
If he won't take a severe pay cut, he should be let go.
He's coming off several injuries in the past few seasons, and Green Bay won't want to shell out $10 million for an old player like Woodson when they have perfectly capable replacements.
Don't Re-Sign Greg Jennings
Jennings, like Woodson, is a class act and great player. The problem is that, again like Woodson, he's getting old (although on a lesser scale) and is too expensive.
Rodgers and Green Bay's passing attack can survive fine with Jordy Nelson and James Jones on the outside and Randall Cobb in the slot.
They can find a fourth receiver on the early third day of the draft and possibly keep Jeremy Ross for his return ability.
Ted Thompson must be really happy he didn't trade James Jones right now.
Find a Running Back, Pass-Rusher and Offensive Lineman in the First Three Rounds
There are a couple ways this could work, all involving the Packers' first three picks.
The Packers take UNC RB Giovani Bernard at the end of the first, and then take an offensive lineman and pass-rusher with the next two picks.
The Packers could also draft Alabama OL Barrett Jones in the first round since he's the only legitimate plug-and-play center in the draft, take an RB in the second round and find a pass-rusher who's either dropped due to concerns or is one-dimensional.
Either way, the Packers desperately need help at running back, need a new offensive lineman of some sorts and need to find another pass-rusher.
Sign Chris Ivory
New Orleans is stacked, albeit with mostly mediocre talent, at running back and probably won't retain Chris Ivory as a restricted free agent.
The Packers would do well to obtain Ivory, who shouldn't prove too costly.
Ivory is young and runs with extreme power in the mold of today's best power backs but isn't receiving enough carries in New Orleans to show it on a week-by-week basis.
This could be seen as an alternative to using a high pick on a running back, as Ivory could be a legitimate feature back.
Either that, or Ivory could pair with the Packers' draft pick at running back to form a stud duo and the legitimate threat on the ground the Packers haven't had in a while.
Deal with Other Free Agents in a Proper Manner
Cedric Benson, RB: Let Go
Donald Driver, WR: Let Go
Tom Crabtree, TE (RFA): Let Go
Ryan Grant, RB: Let Go
Robert Francois, MLB: Let Go
Frank Zombo, OLB: Let Go
Brad Jones, ILB/OLB: Keep
Evan Dietrich-Smith, G/C: Keep
Sam Shields, CB (RFA): Keep