In less than a week, starting on March 11, the Green Bay Packers can begin signing free agents. Since Ted Thompson took over the front office of the team in 2005, the use of pure free agency has been rare, and even then, that was done after the initial wave of free agency started.
That normally is the right way to proceed fiscally. Why pay an extraordinary amount of money to a potential free agent on the first few days of free agency?
Some NFL teams have done that in the past, and that decision has come back to bite them in terms of being in salary-cap hell later on. Especially when the player the team had signed turns out to be a bust.
The Packers under Thompson prefer to let the free-agent market settle down after that first wave and then move on to potential free-agent candidates.
That will probably be the case again in 2014. That being said, the Packers have plenty of cap money to work with. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has calculated that the Packers are almost $35 million under the salary-cap limit of $133 million.
Also, Ian Rapoport recently reported that the Packers could be big spenders in free agency this year. Rapoport thinks the Packers might sign as many as five free agents. That hasn't happened in Green Bay since 2006, which was Thompson's second year as general manager.
To add to the free-agent situation with the Packers, the team itself has 19 players (17 unrestricted and two restricted) who could be free agents starting March 11.
In terms of the free agents who would fill a need on the Packers in 2014 and beyond, I have listed five of those players in this slideshow, with the pros and cons of signing each one of them.