10 Offseason Moves Essential to a Packers Super Bowl Repeat
The talk of Green Bay repeating as Super Bowl Champions in 2011-2012 started even before Aaron Rodgers proclaimed to a packed house at Lambeau field that they would be celebrating again next year. The Packers are a young talented team with stars at key positions.
These ten moves would all but guarantee a repeat performance and possibly lay the groundwork for…wait for it…. a dynasty. Some ideas are very practical and probable; others are too far out of character for Ted Thompson to be realistic.
10. Cut Donald Lee.
Even with Jermichael Finely missing most of the season Donald Lee could not capitalize. He saw both Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree receive more snaps than he did 2010. Quarless is a far better receiver and Crabtree is an equal blocker.
With Finley returning in 2011, Lee’s 2 million dollar contract is simply too high for the fourth best tight end on the team.
9. Re-Sign Charlie Peprah.
Charlie Peprah stepped in and did a masterful job at safety in 2010 for the Packers considering his lack of physical talent. Keeping him on the roster to push Morgan Burnett for a starting job and to provide insurance against injury is a no brainer. He will come cheaper and create fewer headaches than Atari Bigby.
8. Let Brandon Jackson Test Free Agency.
If Brandon Jackson thinks he can be a feature back on another team, the Packers should let him try to prove it to another NFL team. After Grant suffered the ankle injury, Jackson had the opportunity to seize the starting role and failed to do so. While he is a valuable third down back because of his ability to pick up the blitz and catch the ball, Green Bay should not chase after him in free agency.
Using a late round draft pick or signing a free agent in the Kevin Faulk mold would easily fill the void left by Jackson’s departure. If Jackson expects to win more championships he should realize staying in Green Bay is his best opportunity for that. For the right price, which is much lower than Jackson expects, Green Bay would be glad to have him back.
Expect Jackson to be wearing a different jersey next year.
7. Re-Sign James Jones
James Jones will no doubt garner interest on the free agent market (St. Louis makes the most sense). It would be in Green Bay’s best short and long term interests to re-sign Jones.
Fortunately for Green Bay teams may remember Jones’ drops in critical games down the stretch run (would be touchdowns against the Eagles and Steelers) bringing his price tag down. As Donald Driver continues to age, it will be worthwhile to keep four starting caliber receivers on the roster to exploit mismatches in four and five wide receiver sets. Wide receiver depth was a key for the Packers success all season in 2010; it would be foolish to change that winning formula now.
Jones clearly needs to improve his level of concentration, but he is worth keeping on the roster because of his big play ability and familiarity with Mike McCarthy’s offense and Aaron Rodgers. If the price tag to keep Jones around is too high he is ultimately replaceable.
6. Trade Nick Barnett for a Third Round Draft Choice.
Barnett will not stop talking and has been adamant that he will be better than ever in 2011. However, for Green Bay his talking is nothing but a distraction and unneeded drama. There at least two possible landing spots for Barnett in a trade scenario.
Houston, with their transition to a 3-4 defense under Wade Philips, could use Barnett’s experience and attitude. Pairing him next to Brian Cushing would create a strong middle for their new look defense. It would create a bit of a jam at middle linebacker with Demeco Ryans projected to play the middle. Barnett's ability to cover and mentor Ryans and Cushing would be valuable.
Buffalo is another team that could use Barnett's services. They are hurting for talent and could use some swagger and leadership on what was an abysmal defense in 2010. Barnett and Paul Posluszny could be a solid middle for Buffalo's 3-4 defense. Barnett will probably be frustrated to be traded to another small market team, especially a losing one, but Buffalo would be glad to have him.
5. Re-Negotiate AJ Hawk’s Contract.
10 million is far too much money for a player that has struggled to live up to the hype of the fifth overall selection. Hawk showed great leadership stepping into the defensive play-calling role when Nick Barnett went down. He is more than capable of filling Barnett’s shoes and a few years younger.
Structuring an incentive laden four year contract averaging 4-5 million a year, comparable to the deal Desmond Bishop signed should be adequate for Hawk and the Packers.
4. Keep Matt Flynn.
The greatest value Matt Flynn has to the Packers is as their backup quarterback. Although he is garnering interest as a trade candidate from other franchises, it would be surprising to receive anything higher than a third round draft pick in return. With relatively few roster spots to fill draft picks are not as important as they have been in previous years unless they are in the first or second round.
If Rodgers sees anytime on the bench due to concussions or any other injury, Flynn has the confidence of the team and coaches to navigate and probably win games. The Packers management would still have the option of franchising and trading Flynn or signing a short-term deal and then trading him in 2012.
3. Apply the Franchise Tag to Cullen Jenkins.
With the franchise deadline almost past this move is looking nearly dead already. Nonetheless Jenkins is too disruptive on the defensive line to allow him to walk in free agency. His 7.5 sacks this year in limited playing time would have projected to an 11-12 sack season had he been healthy. Health is a concern, but with the youth they have in Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson and the potential comeback of Johnny Jolly they should be able to keep him fresh.
Franchising Jenkins would also allow Green Bay to trade him in order to improve another area of need on the roster.
2. Trade Jenkins and a Third Round PIck to The Patriots for Logan Mankins
Both players win in this deal. Jenkins is convinced he is on his way out of Green Bay (looks like he is right at the moment). He won a ring and is being traded to a contender. Mankins is more than frustrated with his situation in New England. He is given an even better opportunity to win a Super Bowl ring blocking for a younger franchise quarterback.
The Patriots could use an upgrade from Matt Wright. Jenkins’ experience, leadership and ability to create pressure will bolster a very young unit. With Jenkins, and Ty Warren on the ends and Vince Wilfork in the middle, Jerod Mayo would have no problem getting to ball carriers. Belichick loves draft picks and a third-rounder is included to make up for the difference in age of the two players.
The Packers pass offense was solid, but the run game was lacking. Using Mankins to replace Daryn Colledge is an immediate upgrade giving the Packers one of the most formidable lines in the NFL going into 2011.
Blocking is an attitude in the NFL, one that Mankins possesses. Putting Mankins next to Chad Clifton improves the chances of Clifton duplicating his terrific 2010 season in 2011, despite being 35-years-old next season.
1. Sign Nnamdi Asomugha.
Ted Thompson struck gold in 2006 when he signed Charles Woodson from the Raiders. He could do it again by signing Asomugha. Dom Capers would have a field day drawing up new packages and blitzes with this secondary. Asomugha and Tramon Williams are both lock down corners on the outside. Sam Shields, a viable starter, would play nickel back. Nick Collins would still be a ball hawk in the back. Allowing Charles Woodson to play a hybrid safety/corner close to the line of scrimmage may be the best part of this signing. Woodson has stated he would make the switch to safety if this signing happened, but also claimed he is not recruiting Asomugha, a former teamate.
Asomugha is a character guy; the type of player Thompson and McCarthy like to have on their team. It would be possible that Asomugha would take a slightly lower salary for a chance to win a championship with Green Bay. A contract similar to the one Woodson signed in 2009 (five years for 55 million) may be enough to convince Asomugha he belongs Green Bay. This would no doubt be a luxury move, but one Green Bay must consider if it really plans to repeat as Super Bowl Champions in 2011.