On Tuesday afternoon, NFL free agency will officially begin. Although general manager Ted Thompson has not been known to dip into free agency often, rumors have circulated that the Green Bay Packers are looking to change their strategy this season and acquire several free agents, and they have the cap room to do so.
With free agency drawing closer, the rumor mill for many different teams has been active, including the Packers' potential interests in the open market. Here are three players the Packers are said to have interest in.
On March 9, it was reported that Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Lamarr Houston had drawn interest from the Green Bay Packers, via NFL.com's Ian Rapoport (h/t NFL.com's Chris Wesseling). Although Oakland has been a struggling team for the past decade, the Raiders have had some talented players on their roster, and Houston is one of them. In fact, Houston may be the most intriguing free agent the Packers are said to be interested in.
The Raiders would likely be unwise to let go of Houston, who is said to be their best defensive lineman. Last season, Houston registered six sacks and was relatively healthy all year long. In fact, he has been healthy for his entire career, which could be a major selling point to a team that seems to have injury problems every year.
Perhaps what is most intriguing about Houston, however, is that he is relatively young at 26, which could make him a long-term starter on the defensive line, as long as he becomes a solid contributor.
The same report also named Arthur Jones as drawing interest from the Packers, via Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (h/t NFL.com's Chris Wesseling). Although Jones isn't a well-known player by many, he was still a solid contributor for the Ravens, as he accounted for four sacks last season.
With the Packers defensive line being a big question mark for 2014—given some of their younger players like Jerel Worthy and Datone Jones haven't contributed much, and older players like Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly could be gone next year—it is wise for the Packers to look at bringing in players like Jones and Houston to improve on a defensive line that has disappointed in the last two years. And like Houston, Jones is relatively young at 27 years old.
Another report from NFL.com's Ian Rapoport floating around is that the Packers will look to improve their tight end situation by signing Garrett Graham, who played in Houston last year and accounted for five touchdowns.
Like the defensive line position, the tight end position has some major questions. Jermichael Finley, who has been the predominant starter for the past few seasons, sustained a serious neck injury earlier in the season, and many doubt his return to the NFL, let alone a return to the Packers.
Andrew Quarless was the starting tight end for much of 2013, but sources are saying that he may not be back next year. According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, he has drawn "heavy interest" from other teams, particularly the New York Giants, where former Packers tight ends coach Ben McAdoo is now the offensive coordinator.
Although Aaron Rodgers could likely throw to anyone in the NFL and still put up good numbers, having a productive tight end would certainly open up the offense even more, and Graham would be an inexpensive option to do this.
The Packers would be wise to make a serious run for Graham.
Overall, the three main targets the Packers are rumored to have interest in all appear to fit major needs for this team, and all seem to be solid contributors who wouldn't break the bank. As long as the Packers address their needs at safety and linebacker in the draft, these pickups would certainly answer some major questions facing Green Bay in the offseason.
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