Green Bay Packers: The 5 Moves Green Bay Must Avoid in Free Agency
With the NFL draft still roughly two months away, fans of the Green Bay Packers and other NFL teams have settled into a debate about what moves they hope or expect their teams to make once the new league year begins March 12.
There are countless posts and articles all over the Internet that are lobbying general manager Ted Thompson to sign this guy or draft that guy or cut someone else. Everyone is playing armchair GM at this point in the offseason.
Well, what about the moves Green Bay should not make? Is there a move out there that might make sense right now but could come back to bite the Packers later? Or do the fans see a player one way and Green Bay management sees them another?
Here are five moves that the Packers should not make in free agency.
Dump Jermichael Finley
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If there's one player on the current Green Bay roster that is an instant lightning rod for debate, it's Finley.
The tight end has seemingly made as many headlines off the field as he has on it. Despite a well-publicized struggle with dropping the ball, Finley set a team single-season receiving record for a tight end in 2012. After a sluggish start, Finley came on strong late in the regular season and gave some fans renewed hope he could still realize the potential he showed early in his career.
Then there's the off-field matters. While Finley hasn't run afoul of the law, his mouth has landed him in some hot water. From saying he lacked chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers to his agent questioning Rodgers' leadership skills and most recently by saying he would not take a pay cut to stay with the Packers.
All this aside, Finley will count $8.75 million against Green Bay's salary cap this year, unless he is extended, traded or released. Head coach Mike McCarthy had high praise for Finley at the scouting combine last week, and his strong finish to the season indicates it's very possible Finley returns to Green Bay for 2013.
The Packers should bring Finley back but not extend him quite yet. Should the drop issues continue or if his mouth continues to land him in hot water, the Packers could very well move him at the trading deadline. Cutting him now, however would be a mistake considering wide receiver Greg Jennings is all but gone.
Franchise Tag Greg Jennings
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Speaking of Jennings, word came out this week that the Packers very well could franchise tag Jennings for the 2013 season.
It was assumed by many that Jennings was already out the door in Green Bay when the offseason began, but if these recent rumors are true then the Packers are at least considering keeping him one more year to try and hammer out a long-term deal.
The problem here, as is often the case, is that Jennings doesn't want to play under the tag and made that clear in an interview last December. Tagging Jennings would eat up just over $10 million dollars, which is around half of the $20 million the Packers are currently under the salary cap.
Then there could be the matter of Jennings possibly refusing to sign his tender. There are a whole lot of variables to using the franchise tag and Green Bay has avoided it in the past.
It would be best for them not to tag Jennings and let him go via free agency.
Cut A.J. Hawk
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Hawk is another player that many had labeled all but gone from Green Bay and that was surprising.
He had one of his best seasons in 2012 and has been one of the more consistent linebackers on the team, especially this past season when the position was ravaged by injuries. Hawk was the steady hand in the inside and served the role as the defensive "quarterback" well.
The big complaint with Hawk is his salary and where he was drafted. As the fifth overall pick in 2006, he was expected to come in and be a difference-maker on defense. That never materialized and became much more difficult when the Packers moved to a 3-4 in 2009.
He will count $7.05 million against the cap in 2013, and it's clear something has to be done. Cutting him outright isn't the answer. Hawk is a good enough linebacker to get a decent draft pick for, but the best path forward for the Packers will be to ask him to take a pay cut and it indeed sounds like that will be the case.
Trade for Darrelle Revis
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With the recent release of safety Charles Woodson, some think the Packers could very well make a deal with the New York Jets to have Revis sent to Green Bay.
While adding a player of his ability could help the Packers, there is enough young (but raw) talent in the secondary that giving up valuable draft picks to add Revis would be a foolish idea. Revis is 27 years old but is coming off of surgery on a torn ACL. There's no guarantee he will return from that to the same dominant form.
Throw in the fact that it seems like Revis is asking for a new contract every other season, and the headache just wouldn't be worth it for the Packers. Yes, Woodson was a bit of a headcase too when he arrived in 2006 but adding Revis to a locker room with an impressionable young secondary is not worth taking the risk.
Draft Manti Te'o
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As outlined by yours truly earlier this week, the selection of Te'o by the Packers would be ill advised even if it isn't in the first round. The possibility of him landing in Green Bay was raised by Te'o himself when he said at the combine that he met with the Packers.
The Packers need help on defense and could still use someone to help take pressure off of Clay Matthews on blitzes but Te'o isn't that guy. He has all the hype coming out of college, but there are concerns about him playing at the NFL level.
Te'o is smart and is good at quickly diagnosing plays, but he may not be able to hold up against the better NFL backs and with Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte in the division the Packers need someone who can counter those backs.
Green Bay already went through a hyped college linebacker that didn't quite pan out in Hawk and the Packers would be wise to avoid making the same mistake with Te'o.