There are several players that are set to be free agents after this season, not many of which that the Packers can't afford to keep, and yet can't afford to let go.
This is one key reason why I felt it was so necessary to let James Jones walk, simply because I felt that if there was a dispensable player on the team, it was him, and that as good as Green Bay is below the cap level, there still doesn't seem to be enough space to resign all of their key free agents.
Ryan Grant has agreed to take a $1 million pay cut, but there may be more bad news to that than good.
Taking a pay cut nearly confirms that he will indeed play for Green Bay, and that means they'll have to pay a much needed $2.5 million for a running back that seems to have taken a step back. Yes, I know it hurts to think about, but Grant hasn't demonstrated that he still has the burst in the preseason so far.
So that's a total of nearly $5 million that Green Bay is paying for two players that might have both easily been replaced by RB James Starks and WR Randall Cobb. That would have given them a comfortable $18 million of cap space.
But without further ado, here are the key free agents that Green Bay simply must retain this season.
Howard Green is a funny case. The man is overweight, has been cut more than 10 times in his NFL career, and is 32 years old.
How in the world did Green Bay just pick this guy up? He's played extremely well in his time in Green Bay. In fact, he's one reason that I personally have felt that Green Bay will be just fine despite the loss Cullen Jenkins.
Green has been a key contributor in the Packers win to the Super Bowl, including a play in the Super Bowl where he knocked Ben Roethlisberger's arm that forced a pick-six by Nick Collins.
So far in the preseason, he looks like he hasn't slowed down at all. The way I see it, Green is a must re-sign for Green Bay. Especially considering for just how cheap they may be able to keep him.
Yet another player that demonstrates why Green Bay could have let James Jones walk. Jordy Nelson has been inconsistent almost his entire NFL career, but he is also slowly but surely getting better.
Nelson caught nine catches for 140 yards in the Super Bowl (with a blown knee), and was wide open on several key plays in the Packers preseason game against the Colts.
He is undoubtedly getting better. I can see Nelson one day passing Jones on the depth chart.
Nelson is a must re-sign for the Packers, though with our next two players, that may actually be too difficult to task.
Doesn’t it just feel good to see this guy playing again?
This may be the most obvious one; however, I don't think that he's even close to being the No. 1 top priority. And yes, I know that's saying a lot.
But here's why.
Jermichael Finley is a decent blocker, but his raw skill comes from the passing game. The Packers proved that they were nearly just as effective in the passing game without him as they were with him.
There are several other talented tight ends like Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams that can help fill in the gap of Finley if he were to leave. Not saying that that combination of tight ends would make up for the loss, but they would certainly help.
Also, Finley is a weapon of Aaron Rodgers, not someone that Rodgers needs like the guy I believe should be Green Bay's No.1 priority.
Josh Sitton is easily a top-five guard in the league, and it doesn't matter how many people disagree with that notion, because it's a fact.
Green Bay's offensive line didn't look so good against Indianapolis last week, and while I'm praying that it was only a fluke performance for just that one game, I'm not counting on it.
Rodgers can't take much more of the beating he's taken. The man's been sacked 115 times in 47 regular season starts. Can Green Bay really afford to let something like this continue?
Sitton is the first and best step to countering this problem. Jermichael Finley is a great weapon, maybe even the best tight end there is in the league, but Finley won't be catching anything if his quarterback is constantly facing the ground.
Between Sitton and Finley, I would take Sitton without hesitation.
Walden definitely helped the Packers in their Super Bowl run last year, but I want to see more from him before I can say that he's a keeper.
He wasn't even winning the battle for OLB in training camp until Frank Zombo went out with an injury.
Fortunately for him, that gives him a real chance to prove that he can be a full-time starter in this league, and that he deserves a new contract.
He's a bit of a wild card right now, but let's wait to see what happens.
Wells...I don't know about Wells. I know he's a good player, and even half-decent centers are very tough to find in this league.
For some reason, I just can't shake that feeling that he's on the decline already. I know it sounds silly, but I'm a guy that likes to listen to his gut feeling.
But not only that, the Packers have a player by the name of Nick McDonald that Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff have been really high on. They even said that they plan on making Nick their future center some day.
Flynn is a guy I would love to keep, but there's one reason why I probably wouldn't.
Why? Simply because I probably can't.
Flynn is building a starting quarterback’s resume, and it looks more and more impressive with each game he plays. Can't this guy demand a serious amount of money?
Yes, he most certainly can, and in this league, teams will pay just about anything to get a quarterback that they even think can be a starter for their team.
Why in the world would Flynn stay in Green Bay? He knows, they know, and we know that he's not going to take Rodgers' job. So why not get one somewhere else, along with a big fat paycheck too?
But there is one more reason. Graham Harrell's only highlight with the team so far is that fourth-quarter comeback against the Colts, but given enough time, can't Harrell prove that he's also a capable backup quarterback?
If Harrell proves that he can do that, then there's virtually no reason from either Flynn's or the Packers perspective to keep Flynn at all.