The 7 Moves the Green Bay Packers Must Avoid in Free Agency
There are plenty of moves the Green Bay Packers should be making once free agency begins in a week. However, there are also a handful of moves the Packers should avoid making.
Those are the ones that we are interested in today. For example, one move that the Packers should stay away from making is re-signing tight end Jermichael Finley. We'll talk about this a little more in depth later, but Finley simply has too much risk to be a quality signing this offseason.
While the Packers still boast a talented overall roster, they still need to have a solid free agency in order to take that next step. Avoiding these next seven moves will certainly help them do that.
Staying Extremely Quiet
It's hard to remember the last time there was this much buzz surrounding the Green Bay Packers heading into free agency. That's likely due to the fact that the norm for the Packers under general manager Ted Thompson has been to stay extremely quiet throughout free agency, especially at the start.
Usually the Packers will sit back and watch what other teams do before snagging one or two low-profile free agents right before the NFL draft. Unfortunately, that's not something Green Bay can afford to do this offseason.
Using this same technique of staying quiet simply won't work for this Packers team because there are so many holes across the roster. Plus the Packers have an incredible 19 of their own free agents they need to decide on.
What the team needs to do this offseason is be aggressive right from the start. The Packers certainly have the money to do that with just around $35 million to work with according to Spotrac.com.
If Green Bay stays quiet throughout free agency, it could be the first chink in the heavy armor Thompson wears in the eyes of fans.
Letting Sam Shields Walk
The report of cornerback Sam Shields choosing to hit the open market in free agency from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk certainly wasn't unexpected. However, it'd be a mistake for the Green Bay Packers to not do everything in their power to re-sign Shields.
In fact, letting Shields walk in free agency would instantly have a negative impact on the secondary. Without Shields, the only real cornerbacks Green Bay has to work with are Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward. Williams and Hayward could potentially be a decent unit, but, by adding Shields, the Packers are almost guaranteed to have one of the better groups of cornerbacks in the league.
The Packers should be willing to match, or beat, any offer that another team could give to Shields. If Shields isn't the No. 1 priority this offseason and the most important free agent to sign, then there is something extremely wrong with the decision-makers in Green Bay.
Re-Signing Jermichael Finley
Mike McCarthy said he has been feeling "optimistic" and "open" to the return of tight end Jermichael Finley at the NFL combine. Re-signing Finley would just be a poor decision by the Green Bay Packers.
For starters, Finley's career in Green Bay was already up in the air before he suffered an extremely serious and season-ending neck injury. Finley certainly wasn't guaranteed to be signed to another deal before his injury, so even if he were 100 percent healthy right now, he certainly wouldn't be a lock to be re-signed.
Furthermore, the Packers simply can't ignore the type of injury that Finley suffered this past season. While Finley may ultimately get to the point of being 100 percent, it's certainly going to take time for him to get there and feel comfortable back on the football field.
Finally, the Packers would be better off spending a second- or third-round pick on a player like Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington than re-signing Finley. There's no doubt it'd be a touching story for Finley to return to Green Bay, but it's a move that the Packers absolutely need to avoid making.
Passing on Big-Name Free Agents
While this year's free-agent class isn't filled with a ton of big names, there are still a handful of quality players the Green Bay Packers can attack. The move they should avoid is to stay away from these big-name free agents simply because it isn't what they've done in the past.
The one player who would be the ideal signing for the Packers would be safety Jairus Byrd. He didn't get the franchise tag from the Buffalo Bills, and, according to Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 in Buffalo, it's unlikely Byrd will re-sign with them.
While Byrd is going to be extremely expensive to sign, it's still a move Green Bay should make. Money certainly isn't an issue because the Packers have the cap space to offer Byrd whatever type of yearly salary he wants.
What's ultimately going to hold back the Packers from signing a player like Byrd is their own hesitancy to spend that type of money on one player. However, they need to remove that thinking from their minds because this move would drastically change the overall production of the team's defense.
Bringing Back B.J. Raji
Had defensive tackle B.J. Raji been a free agent only a few years ago, he would have likely been able to sign a huge contract for whatever amount of money he wanted. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.
Raji's overall play has slowly been on a decline the past two seasons. It reached the ultimate low last year with Raji barely making an impact in any game late in the 2013 season. He couldn't stop the run or put pressure on opposing quarterbacks on a consistent basis.
Now that the Packers have made it clear that they aren't going to overpay for Raji, they also need to make the decision to not re-sign him no matter what type of "hometown" discount he may be willing to give them.
The Packers need to re-work their entire defensive line, and Raji shouldn't be a part of those future plans.
Being OK with Their Backup Quarterback Situation
The two quarterbacks currently on the roster for the Green Bay Packers are Aaron Rodgers and Scott Tolzien. If Rodgers were to get hurt again, would that backup situation instill confidence in anyone?
There are plenty of options for the Packers, with quality backup quarterbacks on the free-agent market. One player to keep an eye on is Matt Flynn. He's already familiar with the offense in Green Bay, and while he may demand a little higher salary after performing well last year, he should still be a cheap enough option for the Packers.
The Packers could make the decision to not sign free-agent quarterbacks and simply look to add one in the draft. However, this would be a poor decision because you simply never know how a late-round quarterback is going to turn out.
Signing a free agent certainly shouldn't keep them from also drafting a quarterback, but the last thing the Packers want to do is be OK with their current situation.
Passing on Defensive Playmakers
No one would argue with you if you said that the Green Bay Packers lacked defensive playmakers last year. It was obviously clear for even the casual observer that the Packers need to make major improvements on the defense heading into the 2014 season.
The Packers need to be looking at free agents who can come in right away and make plays. The unit should really matter because Green Bay can use help along the defensive line, at the linebacker position and in the secondary.
All these free agents need to be able to do is make players. If they can consistently rush the quarterback or create turnovers, the Packers should be looking to sign them.
By adding defensive playmakers, the Packers can be sure to make huge improvements in the weakest area of their overall game from the 2013 campaign.