The Green Bay Packers are normally very quiet during the NFL free agency. They concern themselves with re-signing their own guys—the players they have drafted and developed and who have earned a second contract with the team. Those are the players championship teams are built with and those are the players Green Bay spends money on.
Head coach Mike McCarthy had this to say when asked if Green Bay would be active in free agency: "The focus has always been our guys. Those are the guys I want back. I want my own guys back."
Yes, the Packers have some players they need to get back, but there are also some positions that could be added to...at the right price.
Certainly Green Bay needs to be thinking about getting contract extensions done with Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji and others such as Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett, Evan Dietrich-Smith and possibly Jermichael Finley.
Yet the team is in fairly decent position salary cap-wise following the release of Charles Woodson. And with Shields and Dietrich-Smith, both restricted free agents, the Packers can almost guarantee their return for at least the 2013 season.
The only noteworthy free agents are Greg Jennings, Brad Jones and Erik Walden. If the Packers decline to use the franchise tag on Jennings, they should have plenty of money to invest in a new deal for Matthews and maybe even a little left for a defensive lineman.
It's no secret that the Packers have struggled for production along the defensive line since the departure of Cullen Jenkins, and it's a position that must be addressed sooner rather than later.
Last year in the NFL draft, the Packers selected Jerel Worthy in the second round and Mike Daniels in the fourth to address the defensive line. Yet, Worthy got hurt and is questionable to start the season on time. Daniels flashed potential as a pass-rusher but is not an every-down player. So the need still exists.
Thanks to a tight salary cap, the free-agent market actually has some appealing options. Jenkins, who was recently released by the Eagles, is one of them, and there has been some talk of a reunion with the Packers.
I feel there is a better solution out there, though: Chris Canty.
Canty, who was released by the New York Giants, would be a perfect fit in Green Bay. He is 6'7" and over 300 pounds, and before heading to New York, he starred in the Cowboys' version of the 3-4 defense.
Last season, Canty posted 26 tackles and three sacks in just nine games. He can be prone to injury, as he missed seven games last season and eight games in 2009, but he has proven to be an effective player in multiple front. That kind of versatility would be priceless in Dom Capers' defensive system.
The former fourth-round draft pick also brings length to the Packers defensive line. He is the tall, long-armed, five-technique athlete Green Bay has never had. He can rush the passer with 19 career sacks, can stuff the run and even has 12 career batted passes.
The Packers have shown some interest in Canty, just as they did four years ago before he signed with the Giants. Back then he wanted more money than the Packers were willing to spend. This time around, the Packers should splurge for the athletic defensive lineman from Virginia and dish out the $4-5 million per year that it would probably take to secure his services.
It is still a lot of money, but it would be money well spent for a team in desperate need of a player with Canty's size, versatility and pass-rush skills.
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