NFL Free Agency 2011: Green Bay Packers Building for the Future

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NFL Free Agency 2011: Green Bay Packers Building for the Future
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The first five days of free agency are over and it has been a whirlwind of activity. There are a few teams, however, that remain very quiet during the free agency period. The Green Bay Packers have not made any significant moves in free agency, instead releasing or allowing several veterans to leave the team.

The 2011 Packers are set to look much different from the 2010 Super Bowl-winning squad.

Gone are guards Darryn Colledge and Jason Spitz. Colledge has been a mainstay on the offensive line for three seasons, but he recently signed a deal with the Cardinals. Spitz shuffled in and out of the starting lineup during his time in Green Bay and was valued for his versatility. He signed to join the Jaguars.

Tackle Mark Tauscher was axed today, likely due to his large salary. Also gone is backup and third-down running back Brandon Jackson, who signed with the Browns. The Pack also released often injured and ineffective DT Justin Harrell, a 2007 first round bust.

Another key player from the 2011 postseason run looks likely to leave Green Bay as well. WR James Jones appears set on leaving the Packers for greener pastures, possibly to division rival Minnesota.

GM Ted Thompson has also been cutting several veterans. Linebackers Nick Barnett, Brandon Chillar and Brady Poppinga were all released in the last week. The absence of these three players leaves the Packers very thin at the middle linebacker positions. And since they run a 3-4, linebacker depth is a priority.

Although the number of players leaving/released seems alarming, Thompson is unfazed.

The roster moves saved the Packers a large amount of cash, as they are now $19 million under the salary cap. Compare this to the beginning of free agency, when the team was only $62,000 under, and I would say the Pack has saved some serious cash.

What will Thompson do with this money? He could use the money to make an effort to retain James Jones. QB Aaron Rodgers has pledged his support for Jones and wants him back.

Will Thompson make a move for a remaining free agent, possibly an inside linebacker? Or will he continue to save money for the future?

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