Buying or Selling Latest Free Agent Buzz Surrounding the Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers and free agency. They go together at times like peanut butter and Tabasco sauce.
Still, that doesn't mean general manager Ted Thompson won't dabble in free agency from time to time and have success. Running back Cedric Benson was playing well until he went down with a foot injury last year, and the signing of Charles Woodson in 2006 was one of Thompson's best moves since he came to Green Bay in 2005.
So what will happen in 2013? Well, not many expect the Packers to wade into the free-agency waters, but the Packers do have to answer some questions about their own players and their future in Green Bay.
Here are five rumors about the Packers' free-agent buzz and whether or not the rumors should be bought as potentially true, or sold as unlikely.
Will Jermichael Finley Be Traded or Cut?
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With the release of Charles Woodson this past week, one of the next hot topics of discussion revolves around the Packers' mercurial tight end and whether or not he will be back in Green Bay next season.
Finley will be entering the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Packers last offseason, and it is still unclear whether or not he has a future with the team. The 25-year-old set a single-season reception record for a Green Bay tight end this year, but 2012 also saw him question his chemistry with Rodgers and his agent call out the quarterback's leadership.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote in December that the Packers appear to be finished with Finley. It was a thought that surprised no one at the time, but Finley's play improved after the article was written, clouding his future even further.
McGinn summed it up best in the article:
The overriding reasons behind the Packers' decision to move on are Finley's contract and his disappointing performance in the last 1½ seasons. But certainly the way Finley has conducted himself over the five years enters the equation as well.
As one NFC personnel man said last week, "He seems to always say the wrong thing at the wrong time."
The time of reckoning is near for Finley. He even said it's a "50-50" chance he's back with the Packers next season. Since it's a coin flip, I think he gets one last shot, but a rough start to the season could see him shipped out at the trade deadline.
Will A.J. Hawk Be Cut?
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This much remains certain: something will be done with A.J. Hawk this offseason.
Whether he is cut outright or gets his contract restructured, Hawk will not return to the Packers at the salary he was paid last season. If Green Bay were to release Hawk, they would save $5.45 million against the cap, which would help them with the looming contract extensions of Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji.
Hawk was the No. 5 overall pick in 2006, but he has not lived up to that billing. He's been a respectable inside linebacker, but he has not come close to the performance expected of someone taken in the top five of a draft.
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette wrote that Hawk could still see a re-worked contract, but the Packers will have to keep in mind Hawk will turn 30 right around the start of next season's playoffs.
If the Packers cut Hawk, they could save $5.45 million in cap room. Hawk, who has been a starter since his rookie season of 2006, is 29, an age when many NFL players have begun to decline, depending on position.
The Packers likewise could try to work out a pay cut with Hawk, but they also will have to consider whether they need to get faster and more athletic at linebacker regardless of salary.
I think Hawk would be serviceable with a re-worked deal, but I agree with Dougherty: Hawk is likely gone.
Will Darrelle Revis Be Traded to Green Bay?
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It seems like every offseason the Packers are rumored to be involved with some big splashy move, but it never seems to materialize.
The talk about the New York Jets shipping Revis to Green Bay, however, does make some sense. The Packers just cut Woodson, who was one of the best corners in franchise but has slowed down in the past two seasons. Adding Revis would immediately improve a secondary that is young and raw but has a ton of potential.
However, Revis seemingly is addicted to holding out and very well could pose trouble in the Green Bay locker room. Living in a city like Green Bay could do wonders for Revis' maturity like it did for Woodson's, but with the emphasis Mike McCarthy places on locker room serenity, Revis probably won't end up with the Packers.
Still, Mike Freeman of CBS Sports floated the possibility:
One team also constantly mentioned by league sources is Green Bay, though the Packers, possessors of one of the best front offices in all of sports, usually don't give up high-round picks.
I think Thompson would rather draft the next Revis. This one won't happen.
Is There a Chance at All Greg Jennings Comes Back?
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Everyone seemingly has Greg Jennings out the door in Green Bay, perhaps even Jennings himself. He and his wife have already put their Green Bay home up for sale.
However, it would be wise to not formally say that Jennings is definitely gone until he's at a podium with another team's logo on it. The Packers have been freeing up cap space with the release of Woodson, retirement of Donald Driver and the potential releases/trades of Hawk and Finley.
Green Bay could still keep Jennings if he doesn't get what he wants from other teams. Keep in mind he has been hurt the past two seasons and has missed multiple games. That alone may forcibly drive his value down even if Jennings doesn't think so.
Some team will probably sign him despite his past injuries, but the possibility of a return to Green Bay should not be utterly dismissed. Stranger things have happened in the NFL.
Verdict: Selling, but with a slight chance of seller's remorse
Could the Packers Land Maurice Jones-Drew?
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If there was an even more outlandish-sounding trade possibility for the Packers than Revis, it would be Jones-Drew.
Still, Green Bay has been mentioned as a destination for the Jaguars running back. His salary demands likely wouldn't fit with a team trying to re-sign Rodgers, Matthews and Raji, but the thought of putting Jones-Drew in same backfield as Rodgers makes this a tantalizing prospect for the Packers and their fans.
Nate Davis of USA Today wrote way back in August:
Green Bay Packers: Yes, it's a streeeeeetch. They just signed Cedric Benson. They need to set aside cap space for the monster contract that is inevitably coming QB Aaron Rodgers' way. And pulling off a megatrade that will also cost additional money and precious draft picks just isn't GM Ted Thompson's style. But just try to envision this offense if it was legitimately two-dimensional. Nice, right?
Trade talk around Jones-Drew has quieted down since the summer, but with a new regime in Jacksonville, the possibility could still arise.
It just won't happen though, given how precious money and draft picks are to Thompson.
Verdict: Selling, but a guy can dream can't he?