General manager Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers certainly caught quite a few folks off-guard last season when he signed a number of free agents. Among the group was center Jeff Saturday, defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, defensive lineman Daniel Muir, defensive lineman Phillip Merling and running back Cedric Benson.
Only Saturday and Benson made the 53-man roster, however, and Benson was lost for the season in Week 5, while Saturday was benched late in the season. Still, Thompson's activity in free agency was quite surprising.
Thompson is a draft and develop-type of general manager. That is how he has built the Packers. When he does dabble into free agency, it's usually by signing "street" free agents or undrafted rookie free agents. However, he did hit it big in 2006 when he signed both defensive back Charles Woodson and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett.
So, what will happen this year? Expect Thompson to prioritize the players on his own roster. That includes unrestricted free agents like linebacker Brad Jones, as well as restricted free agents like cornerback Sam Shields and center/guard Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Plus, it has been reported via Pro Football Talk.com that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be getting a long-term extension in the near future. You can also expect one soon for linebacker Clay Matthews as well. Rodgers and Matthews also have the same agent...David Dunn.
In addition to Rodgers and Matthews, the Packers also want to extend the contract of defensive lineman B.J. Raji.
Even with all that, the Packers will probably sign two or three free agents. I expect the compensation to be quite minimal, though—similar to the contract Benson got last season, which was at the veteran's minimum.
Maybe with the right player, the Packers may give a reasonable offer.
Let's look at some of the Packers' potential free-agent targets.