As the Saints and "Who Dat" Nation are celebrating their first (and well deserved) Super Bowl victory, I am in full offseason mode. But as many Packers know (and complain about) it could be a long offseason for the Packers fans, since GM Ted Thompson (who does a very good job at his job) generally doesn't too much until the draft.
So I figured I would do a piece on what I would do as the Packers GM/VP of Player Personnel. So I will cover the players who I would re-sign (without the dollar amounts, because I suck at those), trade, cut, and draft.
I understand that not everyone will agree with what I would do, but I am doing this under the current CBA situation (or lack thereof).
Here I go.....
Ryan Pickett: He is a perfect nose tackle in Dom Capers' system. He is also a player who has out played his contract and didn't make any noise about wanting a new one. Re-sign
Nick Collins: He has been to the Pro Bowl for two straight years and is a playmaker in the defensive backfield. He has also been very good about not letting his contract situation distract him on or off the field. Collins' play alone says that he deserves a new deal. Re-sign
Chad Clifton: Clifton is not the same player he once was, but when he is in, he does a very good job. He knows the system and is a player who is a leader in the locker room. It would only be a one-year deal. Re-sign
Mark Tauscher: Tauscher is another case of the Packers' lack of depth at the offensive tackle position. When he started for the Packers, it seemed that the offense came together. It would also be a one-year deal. Re-sign
Tramon Williams: Tramon is a very good nickel back and a player who can start for many teams in the NFL. He is too talented and has enough starts under his belt as a Packer (the past two seasons) to show that he is a capable starter. He is a restricted free agent, but I would tie him up long-term. Re-sign
Johnny Jolly: Jolly may have been the Packers' best and most consistent defensive linemen in 2009. He can play either left defensive end or nose tackle. With his legal issues, he should be a little easier to re-sign (and may face some type of NFL suspension). Re-sign
Jason Spitz: Spitz is coming off back surgery and that makes him a question mark. When he is healthy, he is a guy who can play either guard spot and center. He has the "nasty" that offensive line coaches love. It will be a one-year deal to see if he can stay healthy for the season. Tender
Daryn Colledge: I struggled with this one. Colledge played well at times, but when he was bad, it was in the biggest games. He is a guard, not a tackle, and that was made clear by the Minnesota Vikings. I will tender him, and he would get a $900,000 raise. If he shows that he can improve from a poor 2009, then I would look into locking him up long-term. Tender
Will Blackmon: Blackmon is a really good punt returner and is a better dime back than Jarrett Bush. He is coming off a knee injury, but he has too much big-play potential for me to let walk. A roster spot is not guaranteed, but I am not willing to give up on him. Tender
Derrick Martin: Martin was (and is) the best special teams player on the Packers. He can also be a solid backup safety. He is a special teams demon and a player I place a high value on. Re-sign
Aaron Kampman: Coming off a season-ending ACL injury and an unproductive season, some may scratch their heads, but I have a bigger plan. The re-signing will be under the premise that I would deal Kampman to a team where he would be a better fit (see what deal I made involving him on draft day in a few moments). Re-sign
Atari Bigby: Bigby is a big hitter, but to me, those big hits blind some of his coverage abilities (or lack thereof). He is a huge liability in coverage and gets burned far to often. He is also a player who can't stay healthy. I feel I can upgrade the safety position through the draft and (yes) free agency. Not Re-signed
Jarrett Bush: If I can't trade him (and my first call would be to Tennessee), I would cut him. He is a poor cover corner, and he is a better than average special team player. I KNOW I can upgrade his position. Cut
Brady Poppinga: Overpaid for a fifth or sixth linebacker. Yes, he plays a mean special teams, but not at his price tag. High motor and effort guy, but why pay him as much he is getting paid to play (almost) solely on special teams? Cut
Others I would cut/release/not re-sign:Joh Kuhn, Jeremy Kapinos, Patrick Williams, Josh Bell, Trevor Ford, Matt Giordano, Deshawn Wynn, Devin Frischknecht, and Mike Montgomery.
Free Agent Signings
Ryan Clark—Pittsburgh Steelers: Clark would be the strong safety the Packers (and Dom Capers) would love to have. He understands how to play in the 3-4 and is underrated. He does have a medical condition, but would be a major upgrade in the secondary for the Packers.
Larry Foote—Detroit Lions: Foote adds even more depth to the inside linebacker group and is a player who has played in the same type of defense in Pittsburgh.
Adalius Thomas—New England: Here is a guy who can play almost anywhere in the front seven (in the 3-4) and can still get to the passer. He is a guy who will be cut by the Patriots and will try to prove them wrong (about not playing him that much in '09). He would be a really nice player opposite of Clay Matthews III.
Aaron Kampman to the Saints for Jammal Brown: A draft day deal that would benefit both teams. The world champs get a pass rusher who is tailor-made for a 4-3 defense (as an end), and the Packers get a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle who will be 30 years old in 2010. Brown will need a new deal so that would have to get done, but coming off an injury, he should be cheaper than people think.
Before I begin, I project a fifth-round comp pick for Colin Cole.
Round One: Trade pick to Tampa Bay for their second-rounder (No. 35), 2010 fourth-rounder and a 2011 first-round pick)
Round Two (A): Taylor Mays—SS—USC: I know he can't cover, but Mays' ability, work ethic, attitude, and blood lines (his dad played for the Vikings) make him too good to pass up in early Round Two. I think with Darren Perry's help, Mays will become a better coverage guy, and Dom Capers would put him in a position to use his strengths.
Round Two (B): Perrish Cox—CB/KR—Oklahoma St.: Cox plays with a chip on his shoulder and is a playmaker. He is brash and overconfident (but what NFL corner isn't?) and would help in the return game as well as play nickel (or dime) back right away (depending on how good Al Harrises recovery is coming).
Round Three: Dexter McCluster—RB/WR/KR—Ole Miss: McCluster is a lot like Percy Harvin in the sense he can line up any where. He can play RB, WR, or even "Wild Pack" quarterback. He is lightning in a bottle and a playmaker.
Round Four (A): Eric Norwood—OLB—South Carolina: Here is the big, strong guy who will line up next to CM-III in the future. He is projected by some scouts to be a third- to fourth-rounder and to get him here is great value.
Round Four (B): LeGarrette Blount—RB—Oregon: Blount is that tough, physical running back with surprising burst and speed. He slips due to character concerns, but here he provides very good value in Round Four.
Round Five (A): Ciron Black—OT—LSU: A big, mammoth guy who projects at right tackle on the NFL level. Again, here is value and a guy who, coming into the season, was a late first-early second rounder. Could be a steal here.
Round Five (B): Akwasi Owusu-Ansah—CB/FS—Indiana (PA): A playmaker who has it all and is an outstanding return man. He is a ball hawk who may rise up draft boards after the combine but is coming off an injury. He has great size and speed and would be a welcome addition the the Packers secondary. I see him as a fifth CB, back-up free safety, and a return man. He slides because of two reasons: He is coming off an injury and the level of competition he played at.
Round Six: O'Brien Schofield—OLB—Wisconsin: He tore his ACL at the Senior Bowl, but he was a standout at the Shrine game. This is a pick that will have value in a year or two and would provide depth then, as opposed to 2010. He is a real go-getter with upside and make-up that I love.
Round Seven: Mike Tepper—LT—California: He is a pretty good player who was hurt a lot while at Cal. In 2005, he was out with a broken right leg, and then in 2008, he was out with a pectoral injury. He does a good job of sealing off the edge rushers, but will have trouble with powerful bull rushers. Another value pick.