Chris Banjo (Exclusive Rights): Signed to a one-year exclusive-rights free-agent deal last offseason, safety Chris Banjo's two options are to sign a two-year minimum contract with Green Bay or to leave the NFL.
The Packers must offer the deal by March 10, and Banjo cannot sign with any other team. Banjo had a promising season, and there's no reason why, for such a small amount, the Packers wouldn't let him prove he's a worthy special teams contributor as well as a rotational safety.
Evan Dietrich-Smith (Unrestricted): A must for the Packers to re-sign, Evan Dietrich-Smith has proven himself to be the center of the future. Aaron Rodgers has advocated for him to remain on the team for the rest of his own career in Green Bay.
After finishing the 2013 regular season ranked as the No. 8 overall center by Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the Packers should plan to make Dietrich-Smith one of their re-signing priorities and offer him a competitive offer to keep him from leaving for greener pastures.
Jermichael Finley (Unrestricted): As Pro Football Talk reported on Friday, Jermichael Finley's doctor is "99.9 percent certain" Finley will be cleared for contact in three to four weeks. However, at the price tag he'll require, this development still may not be enough for the Packers to make the tight end an offer.
Using the franchise tag on Finley isn't a wise option. He would actually be owed 120 percent of his prior year's cap number, which amounts to $10.14 million, as his 2013 cap number was $8.75 million. And it's unlikely the Packers would be willing to match some of the offers he could see in free agency, which Finley has indicated he would take if the Packers can't come up with the cash, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Matt Flynn (Unrestricted): Will Matt Flynn ever land a first-string quarterback spot again? The best thing for Flynn and the Packers is for him to remain in Green Bay. After failed stints in Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, it's unlikely Flynn gets an offer to start for a club this offseason. He excels in Green Bay's system, keeping the team alive long enough for Rodgers to return and lead them into a playoff game.
The Packers should, and probably will, continue to develop Tolzien behind Rodgers. But if there's one lesson Thompson should have taken away from the 2013 season, it's that he needs at least two capable quarterbacks on the bench. Why change a good thing when Flynn could be signed relatively inexpensively?
Rob Francois (Unrestricted): Linebacker is a position the Packers can be expected to address in this year's draft, and being one of four bench players behind starters A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones (the others are free agent Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington and Victor Aiyewa) doesn't make Francois an incredibly likely target for Green Bay to re-sign.
Francois had the opportunity to prove himself in 2013 after Jones missed action with an ankle injury, but then he himself suffered a torn Achilles. Ultimately, Lattimore has more utility on special teams and put together a nice season in 2013, with two sacks and a forced fumble, while Francois had just two tackles and two forced fumbles.
M.D. Jennings (Restricted): He's only due the league-minimum tender...but should the Packers give M.D. Jennings even that? He was an easy scapegoat for all that plagued the secondary in 2013 and more particularly the safety group, which didn't have a single interception on the season. However, most of the criticism directed Jennings' way was deserved.
He allowed opposing quarterbacks an average rating of 148.8, which was the third-worst among all safeties, per Pro Football Focus. The Packers need to rebuild the safety position around Morgan Burnett, and Jennings shouldn't be a part of that.
In addition to drafting a top talent such as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor, the team could also consider moving corner Micah Hyde to safety, where he would be well-suited.
Johnny Jolly (Unrestricted): Four defensive linemen appear on this list, and while the Packers won't be able to re-sign all of them, Jolly proved his worth in 2013.
His opportunity to play for the Packers in the postseason was taken from him for the second time last season (the first being, of course, his suspension in the 2010 championship season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy), after he suffered a neck injury.
It's unclear at this point whether Jolly will have surgery to repair his neck, which will factor into Green Bay's decision to offer him a contract. But his showing in 2013 indicated he is capable of returning to his dominant play of 2009.
James Jones (Unrestricted): Is the fact that the Packers have veteran Jordy Nelson, slot star Randall Cobb and breakout talent Jarrett Boykin on their receiving corps reason to let James Jones walk...or a stronger argument to bring him back?
Green Bay consistently has one of the most productive receiver groups in the league precisely because it's always stacked with talent. Each player can be the X receiver, the Z receiver or the slot receiver, rather than be tethered to one area of the field. And Rodgers can trust that he can hit any player in any order in his checkdowns and that he'll make the catch nearly all of the time.
It was just two seasons ago that Jones led all receivers in touchdowns, and he's a consistent big-play threat for the Packers, with the fifth-longest catch among receivers in 2013 (83 yards). With Nelson and Cobb both set to become unrestricted free agents in 2015, Green Bay may look to extend Cobb's deal this offseason and thus may not be able to afford Jones.
There are talented receivers in the later rounds of the draft, like BYU's Cody Hoffman, but Jones would be missed in this offense.
John Kuhn (Unrestricted): There's only one player who has been on the Packers longer than John Kuhn and knows the offense better, and that's Aaron Rodgers. The veteran does a lot for the offense that doesn't show up on the stat sheet, and he finished the 2013 season No. 2 in blocking among all fullbacks, per Pro Football Focus. (In fact, Kuhn's blocking made Rodgers' touchdown pass to Cobb that propelled the Packers to the playoffs possible.)
Fullback may be a dying position elsewhere in the league, but it's very much alive in Green Bay, and Kuhn's role on the team is a varied and important one. With 20 impending free agents, however, is it an essential one, worthy of more than $2 million? More questions surround the fullback position after Thompson signed free-agent fullback Ina Liaina on January 27. While the signing doesn't mean Kuhn's out the door, it does muddle the process a bit.
Jamari Lattimore (Restricted): To briefly re-state from the Francois section above, of the two linebackers, expect Lattimore to return to Green Bay. He's a restricted free agent who won't command a large deal, and his two sacks and two forced fumbles in 2013 promised that the Packers could expect to see more out of his development in 2014, even if he is largely in a special teams and backup role.
Mike Neal (Unrestricted): The move from defensive lineman to outside linebacker hasn't been resoundingly successful for Mike Neal...yet. Is there a possibility Green Bay keeps him on in 2014? Of course. But with the struggles Green Bay experienced in the pass rush in 2013, one has to assume that picking up an outside linebacker in the mid-rounds of the draft is in Thompson's plans.
Still, if Neal gets re-signed, it will be with the 2013 season at the front of Thompson's mind—when Clay Matthews and Nick Perry missed 10 games between the two of them, converting Neal to outside linebacker suddenly seemed like an act of foresight.
It's possible the Packers make him a deal to let him continue to develop at the position in their system rather than another team's, while benefiting from the depth he adds.
Marshall Newhouse (Unrestricted): He's filled in at left tackle, right tackle and right guard and hasn't impressed at any position. Newhouse no longer makes sense for the Packers even just for depth and probably won't receive an offer to stay.
Ryan Pickett (Unrestricted): If Ryan Pickett were re-signed by Green Bay this offseason, he would be the oldest player on the roster at 34. He's been a solid nose tackle but can't be factored into the future of the team. With four defensive linemen currently set to become free agents, re-signing Pickett to a two or three-year deal may not make the most sense.
One option would be to let Pickett walk and move Raji back to nose tackle, where he has been far more effective than elsewhere on the line. Though Pickett would be one of the less expensive 3-4 nose tackles in the league, it's a short-term fix for a line that should value longevity and strength above all else.
Andrew Quarless (Unrestricted): If the Packers elect not to re-sign Finley, is Andrew Quarless the best pass-catching tight end replacement? He certainly tried to prove as much at the end of the 2013 season, with two 66-yard games in a row, both of which also included a score.
However, he hasn't proven he can play at the level Finley could as a receiver, and he struggles in run blocking. He also needs to prove he has surer hands. Don't put it past Thompson to pick up a tight end in the draft if the value is there, but it would also be surprising to see Quarless walk.
B.J. Raji (Unrestricted): When Raji was moved from nose tackle in 2011, the premise was that he would be given more freedom to make plays; in fact, the move has largely silenced his production. Without true leeway to get after the passer and mainly asked to grab guards, and with Mike Daniels emerging as the star pass-rusher in subpackages, it's now no longer beneficial to Raji or the team to keep him in at the 3-technique position.
Raji's rejection of the team's initial $8 million offer in mid-November no doubt hints at his frustration with his position. But two questions now present themselves. Would a move back to nose tackle, with pass-rushing privileges, entice Raji? More importantly, could the Packers re-sign him for no more than $6 million.
If the answer to both is yes, expect Raji to stay. If the answer to either is no, don't be surprised to see him moved to a 4-3 defensive tackle in another club's scheme.
Sam Shields (Unrestricted): Shields should be the team's highest priority to re-sign this offseason, after leading the team in interceptions (four) and allowing just a 50 percent catch rate into his coverage, per Pro Football Focus. If Green Bay is going to rebuild the safety position around Burnett—and there's nothing to indicate that the team can avoid that any longer—it's wiser to keep the current pieces in place at corner.
It's possible that in order to re-sign Shields, the Packers may have to restructure Tramon Williams' deal. He's currently set to receive $6.9 million in base salary in 2014, with a monster cap hit of $9.5 million. By offering Williams a large signing bonus and backloading his cap hit, Green Bay can then lock Shields down and expect both to continue to produce.
James Starks (Unrestricted): Starks may be the player on this list who most deserves to get an offer from the Packers but won't receive one.
He proved himself to be a fantastic one-two punch with Eddie Lacy in the backfield, but with Johnathan Franklin and DuJuan Harris both returning from injured reserve, and with cap space filling up quickly with genuine needs, Starks just isn't an essential re-sign. He's a pipe dream, but it's a virtual certainty that another team is going to extend him a deal that's higher than the Packers would be able to offer.
Seneca Wallace (Unrestricted): Journeyman quarterback Seneca Wallace can expect to continue his travels this offseason, as the Packers are more likely to re-sign Flynn and continue to develop Tolzien or even to spend a low draft pick on a backup quarterback than to make Wallace an offer.
C.J. Wilson (Unrestricted): The eager-to-prove-himself Wilson has the fewest factors working against him out of Green Bay's four defensive linemen about to hit free agency. The status of Jolly's health after his season-ending neck injury is still unclear, Raji has already rejected one offer and may feel he's worth more than the Packers can offer him and Pickett is the oldest player on the team.
Wilson, on the other hand, is a young, developing player who has been especially effective at stopping the run. Though missing action with an ankle injury hurt his ability to prove himself in his contract year, if the Packers are looking to build their run defense of the future, they'll include Wilson.