Creating Green Bay Packers' Free-Agency Fallback Plan

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIMarch 11, 2014

Creating Green Bay Packers' Free-Agency Fallback Plan

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    Is safety Chris Clemons a quality backup plan for the Packers?
    Is safety Chris Clemons a quality backup plan for the Packers?Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    With the 2014 NFL free-agency period set to begin in less than 12 hours, things are about to get crazy for the Green Bay Packers.

    What ultimately makes the start of free agency such an exciting time is the fact that anything can happen. A team might think it has a player locked up until the competition swoops in and offers more money to steal him away.

    That's why it's import for the Packers to have a fallback plan in case things don't go exactly as planned. Here are four things Green Bay can do if its first option in free agency simply doesn't work out.

If Jairus Byrd Is Too Expensive, Look at Chris Clemons

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    There's no doubt that safety Jairus Byrd is the premier free agent available this year, but that also will make him quite expensive. In fact, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune is saying that Byrd's price could be around $8 million per year.

    It's definitely possible that the type of money Byrd wants will scare away a team like the Green Bay Packers. If that's the case, then the Packers' fallback plan should be safety Chris Clemons of the Miami Dolphins.

    While Clemons isn't the same caliber safety as Byrd, he's great in coverage and knows how to make plays in the secondary. The only real issue with Clemons is the fact that he's more of a strong safety than a free safety. This would keep Morgan Burnett out of his natural position, and we saw how poorly that worked out last year.

    However, Clemons would still be a major upgrade at the safety position if things simply won't work with Byrd.

Can't Re-Sign Evan Dietrich-Smith? Look at Brian de la Puente

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    One of the more important free agents for the Green Bay Packer to re-sign is center Evan Dietrich-Smith. However, there's always a chance that Dietrich-Smith will leave for more money like Scott Wells did a few years ago.

    Should that happen, then the Packers' backup plan needs to be Brian de la Puente. While he doesn't have the long-term upside that Dietrich-Smith has, he does bring a number of positives to the table.

    For starters, he's extremely experienced in a pass-first offense due to playing with the New Orleans Saints. While his run blocking needs improvement, his ability to keep the quarterback upright is definitely something that the Packers would enjoy.

    The ideal situation at the center position would be to keep Dietrich-Smith. However, if that can't happen, then De la Puente would be the ideal backup plan.

Move B.J. Raji Back to Nose Tackle

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    There are a number of needs along the defensive line for the Green Bay Packers. With Ryan Pickett a free agent, one of these needs is is at nose tackle.

    While bringing back Pickett doesn't seem likely due to his age (he'll be 35 during the 2014 season), the Packers could look to re-sign another free agent to fill this need. That player would be none other than B.J. Raji.

    Yes, Raji is coming off an absolutely dismal season for the Packers. However, that was at defensive end, a position that isn't natural for a player of Raji's size. Moving him back to nose tackle would allow him to play a position he is better suited for where he could have more of an impact than he did last year.

    Now, the Packers have already offered Raji a deal, but it appears that he won't accept it, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. That means the Packer either need to offer more money or wait to see what the market truly is for a player like Raji.

    If they can't find another option at nose tackle or they aren't convinced that drafting a nose tackle is the way to go, look for them to continue to pursue Raji to fill that need for the foreseeable future.

What About Shaun Phillips Instead of Lamarr Houston or Arthur Jones?

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Two of the bigger name defensive linemen available this year are Lamarr Houston and Arthur Jones. The Green Bay Packers are interested in both of them, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com.

    There's no doubt that signing either Houston or Jones would offer a huge boost to the Packers defense. However, both of these players are likely to be some of the more expensive free agents on the market.

    A less expensive option for the Packers if they miss out on Houston or Jones could be the Denver Broncos' Shaun Phillips. While he isn't quite the difference-maker that Houston or Jones are, he still has plenty to offer a team like Green Bay.

    For starters, Phillips has the versatility to play either defensive end or outside linebacker. That type of versatility could really go a long way to adding depth to a Packers roster that is extremely thin along the defensive line and at the linebacker position.

    Phillips would likely only sign for a few years, meaning he'd only be a short-term solution. However, he'd be a cheaper option than either Houston or Jones, which would allow the Packers to spend their money elsewhere.