3 Veterans the Packers Must Part with Before 2014 Season
When a team has as many free agents as the Green Bay Packers have right now, it's inevitable that some of those players will not be on the roster in 2014.
The Packers have been able to re-sign three of their free agents recently, as the team inked cornerback Sam Shields, defensive lineman/outside linebacker Mike Neal and tight end Andrew Quarless to new deals.
But a number of their free agents won't be back, and I have listed three of them in this slideshow.
One player who would have certainly been included on this list had he still been on the team, was safety M.D. Jennings.
Offensive Lineman Marshall Newhouse
Offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse is an unrestricted free agent. The odds are pretty good that he will be with another NFL team in 2014.
Why? No. 74's play has gotten progressively worse the past three years.
Newhouse was a starter in both 2011 and 2012 at left tackle. But he gave up way too many sacks, plus he was soft when it came time to run-block.
In 2013, the Packers decided to give the blindside of quarterback Aaron Rodgers more protection, and the team switched right tackle Bryan Bulaga over to the left side. But Bulaga was lost for the season early in training camp with a knee injury, and the left tackle position was open again.
But instead of Newhouse regaining his old spot, he was beaten out by rookie David Bakhtiari, who had a fine year overall at left tackle. Newhouse couldn't even win the right tackle position, as Don Barclay ended up being the starter over there.
When injuries forced the Packers to use Newhouse at either tackle or guard this past season, the results were not good.
Bottom line, with Bulaga expected back in 2014, and with second-year offensive lineman J.C. Tretter also now in the mix along with former first-round pick Derek Sherrod, there just isn't any room for Newhouse on the line.
Quarterback Seneca Wallace
The back up quarterback situation in Green Bay was in a state of flux almost the entire year in 2013, starting in training camp.
At the start of camp, the Packers had veteran Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman battling to become the back up to Aaron Rodgers. When the Packers didn't see enough good things from either Harrell or Coleman, the team brought in veteran Vince Young to compete.
When it was all said and done, none of those quarterbacks would make the team. Just before the start of the regular season, the Packers signed veteran Seneca Wallace to the roster and also third-year quarterback Scott Tolzien to the practice squad.
After Rodgers fractured his clavicle in Week 9 versus the Chicago Bears, the team put in Wallace, who ended up being lost for the season the very next week with a groin injury.
The Packers elevated Tolzien to the roster, plus brought in former Green Bay back up Matt Flynn. Tolzien showed some nice ability at times when he played (which included two starts), but he also made some key mistakes, as the Packers went three weeks without a win.
Finally, after struggling against the Minnesota Vikings at home, and with the Packers trailing 23-3, Flynn got his opportunity. He was able to bring the Packers back to at least get a tie with the Vikings, and the starting job would be his for the rest of the season until Rodgers would make it back in Week 17.
Flynn led the Packers to two comeback wins over the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys in his four-week stint as a starter. Overall in 2013, Flynn threw seven touchdown passes, compared to four interceptions for 1,146 yards
Wallace and Flynn are unrestricted free agents. While I see Flynn being brought back to his old job as the main back up to Rodgers, I see Wallace moving on.
Tolzien will be back in 2014, and there is also a chance the Packers will select a quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft.
Defensive Lineman Ryan Pickett
The Packers have four defensive linemen who are all unrestricted free agents. They are B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly and C.J. Wilson.
When it's all said and done, it might be that only one of those four linemen will be brought back, as the team is trying to get more athletic across the defensive line.
The Packers currently have Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd and Jerel Worthy slated to be back in 2014 on the defensive line.
That means there is probably only room for two more linemen across the line. One could be one of the four unrestricted free agents, and the other could come via free agency or the draft.
Plus, the Packers are expected to use both Mike Neal and Nick Perry on the defensive line in certain passing situations, as the team is trying to get their best personnel on the field depending on the down and distance.
The Packers recently gave a short-term offer to Raji to stay with the team, according to Tom Silverstein and Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Raji is still mulling that offer over, but he still is the best bet of the four unrestricted free agents to come back.
Pickett has had a fine eight-year run in Green Bay, but he has also reached the age of 34, and he isn't the player he once was. However, if Raji does not take the offer from the Packers, Pickett would probably get another chance to remain with the Packers as nose tackle.
There are still medical questions about Jolly, who suffered a season-ending neck injury in 2013. Jolly recently had a single fusion procedure done on his neck, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. There is still a chance the Packers might give him another opportunity, at least based on the comments of his agent Jack Bechta.
“I talked to the Packers [last week] about Johnny at the combine, and they said they love him,” Bechta said in Demovsky's story. “They’re just in a wait-and-see mode.”
Jolly had the same type of surgery I once had to repair a damaged disc in the neck between the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae. The chances of returning to the NFL are better with a procedure done in that area, as opposed to the C-3 and C-4 area where both Nick Collins and Jermichael Finley had their fusion procedures done.
Wilson, on the other hand, appears to be on the outside looking in for another opportunity to play with the Packers.