Green Bay Packers Rumors: Fact or Fiction with Latest News Ahead of Free Agency

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIMarch 3, 2014

Green Bay Packers Rumors: Fact or Fiction with Latest News Ahead of Free Agency

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    What the Packers will do with B.J. Raji is one of the biggest questions heading into free agency.
    What the Packers will do with B.J. Raji is one of the biggest questions heading into free agency.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Free agency is set to begin on Tuesday, March 11 at 4 p.m. ET and the Green Bay Packers figure to be quite active this year. While the Packers have rarely made big moves in free agency under general manager Ted Thompson, this year will likely be different due to the simple fact that Green Bay has so many needs to fill before the start of next season.

    Just like with any season, there are always rumors swirling around concerning what the Packers will do in free agency this offseason. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which rumors are backed up by fact and which ones are simply pure fiction.

    Luckily for you we're going to break down the main rumors and news surrounding the Packers and free agency and let you know whether they are fact or fiction.

Will the Packers Spend Big Money?

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    The 2014 NFL salary cap has been set at $133 million. That gives the Green Bay Packers $34.7 million in cap space this offseason, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

    That's a pretty good chunk of change for the Packers to work with. However, we've seen Green Bay stay relatively quiet in free agency under general manager Ted Thompson. So far, that plan has worked nicely since the Packers generally boast one of the better teams in the league.

    Well, the spending habits of the Packers could finally change this offseason. They could spend the most they've spent in years, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. It's hard to believe that Thompson would do this, but with all the struggles, especially on the defensive side of the ball, it makes sense.

     

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    There are simply too many holes on the Packers roster for them to not spend money in free agency. This doesn't necessarily mean they'll spend big money on one or two big-name free agents. In fact, it's more likely that they'll bring in a number of quality players at reasonable salaries to improve the depth across the roster.

    Look for Green Bay to be one of the more active teams in free agency this year with so much cap space to work with.

Will James Jones Be Playing for a New Team in 2014?

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    Peter Morgan/Associated Press

    While wide receiver James Jones hasn't ever been the No. 1 option for the Green Bay Packers, he's been consistently productive for the team. Heck, two years ago he led the NFL in receiving touchdowns.

    The problem with Jones being a free agent this year isn't his production; it's the fact that the Packers are quite deep at the receiver position and have much cheaper options than what Jones would cost them. With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as the clear top two targets in Green Bay, Jones would be a No. 3 receiver at best on the depth chart.

    And you simply don't pay a No. 3 receiver what Jones should be able to make on the open market. To make matters worse, Jones' own agent, Frank Bauer, doesn't believe Jones will be back in Green Bay next year.

    In an interview with Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Bauer said, "I don't think Ted Thompson wants him." If that isn't a pretty clear indication that Jones won't be back in 2014, I'm not sure what would be.

     

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Money will play a part in this decision for the Packers, but the bigger reason Jones won't return is due to the players behind him on the depth chart. Head coach Mike McCarthy is extremely high on receiver Jarrett Boykin and he should see his role increase this upcoming season after a breakout campaign last year.

    With Nelson, Cobb and Boykin, the Packers simply don't have a need for Jones anymore.

Is It Possible That Jermichael Finley Comes Back?

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    After suffering a season-ending neck injury in Week 7 against the Cleveland Browns, no one really knew whether tight end Jermichael Finley would ever play football again. Now, it not only looks like Finley will play, but that the Green Bay Packers could be the team he signs his next contract with.

    Head coach Mike McCarthy feels "optimistic" about Finley's return, according to Jason Wilde of ESPN. While the Packers stayed away from a similar injury with safety Nick Collins a few years ago, Finley's injury obviously doesn't make them as nervous.

    With both Finley and Andrew Quarless free agents this offseason, the Packers certainly have a need to bring in talent at the tight end position. Whether or not it's Finley will likely depend solely on how healthy he is in the next few months.

     

    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    The problem with Finley is that the Packers weren't even sure they were going to re-sign him before he got injured. Sure, he was on his way to having a career year in 2013, but he wasn't a lock to receive another contract from Green Bay.

    Now, with his health in question, it just seems so unlikely that the Packers would bring him back, even for a cheap, one-year deal. 

Is Evan Dietrich-Smith Headed for the Big Apple?

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    There aren't many free agents as important to re-sign for the Green Bay Packers than center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Unfortunately, the Packers aren't the only team who see Dietrich-Smith as a high priority.

    The New York Giants are one team that could be interested, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. The main reason for this is due to the Giants' new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

    McAdoo was the former quarterbacks coach for the Packers, so he's obviously quite familiar with the play of Dietrich-Smith. And if McAdoo feels that Dietrich-Smith would do a good job of protecting quarterback Eli Manning, then the Giants would likely be extremely interested in signing him away from Green Bay.

     

    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    It's not fiction that the Giants are interested in Dietrich-Smith; it's fiction that he'll head that way this offseason. When your All-Pro quarterback wants his center back, you do whatever it takes to get him back.

    That's the scenario with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Dietrich-Smith. Since Rodgers wants him to be re-signed, it's likely going to happen.

Are the Packers Ready to Move on from B.J. Raji?

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    It was only a few years ago that B.J. Raji was considered one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. Unfortunately, Raji's play hit rock bottom last year as he finished the year as the third-worst 3-4 defensive end, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

    Now that Raji is a free agent, the Green Bay Packers need to decide whether last year was a fluke or the way things will be from here on out. However, the bigger problem for Raji may be the changes that the Packers want to make on the defensive side of the ball.

    The Packers want to become a faster unit on defense, especially along the defensive line, according to Dan Hanzus of NFL.com. That means the 337-pound Raji isn't likely to fit with what defensive coordinator Dom Capers wants to do moving forward.

     

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Even before news of a faster defense came out, it was unlikely that the Packers were going to re-sign Raji. They simply can't afford to spend money on a player who makes as little of an impact as Raji does.

Will Sam Shields Sign Somewhere Else as a Free Agent?

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    No free agent for the Green Bay Packers was as important to re-sign as cornerback Sam Shields. He was the No. 1 priority even before the 2013 season ended.

    However, the Packers will now have to fight with 31 other teams for Shields since the cornerback is planning to test free agency, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. While the Packers would have loved to have a new deal done before free agency started, that simply didn't happen.

    Now, the big question is whether or not a team will be willing to pay more than what Green Bay will pay in order to get Shields to play for them. One team that could be interested would be the Cleveland Browns, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

     

    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    The reason that Shields leaving is fiction is because the Packers have plenty of cap room to give him just as much as any other team could offer. In fact, they might be willing to pay a little more due to the fact that their secondary needs so much help.

    Losing Shields would be a massive blow to the Packers defense. Re-signing him is a move they simply have to make if they want any chance of slowing down opposing offenses next year.