Green Bay Packers' Biggest Free Agent Decision: Corey Williams

RealFootball365.comSenior Writer IFebruary 12, 2008

Teams say they want to keep their free agents. Those players usually agree that they'd like to return—if the price is right, that is.

That's the catch. Most players, and deservedly so, want to check the sometimes treacherous but lucrative waters of the NFL marketplace, especially during their first foray into free agency. And many find several fishermen dangling bigger bait than what their former/current team is waving at them.

Green Bay's biggest free-agent fish is defensive lineman Corey Williams, who recorded seven sacks while starting nine games, third-highest behind Pro Bowl end Aaron Kampman and pass-rush specialist Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.

While Williams likely will be one of the most popular defensive tackles available, Packers general manager Ted Thompson may not want to fork over another huge deal to someone playing in the team's deepest unit.

Green Bay also has Cullen Jenkins, who they signed right before the free agency period last year and switches inside for long-yardage situations, plus top draft pick Justin Harrell, 2006 signee Ryan Pickett, up-and-coming Johnny Jolly, and Colin Cole, a restricted free agent. Jolly was outplaying Williams before suffering a major shoulder injury.

So, despite having an estimated $25 million in cap space room, Thompson may not want to break the bank on Williams, although he and coach Mike McCarthy believe in building both lines first and are always looking for depth.

The team could place the franchise tag on Williams, but that would cost them about $6.3 million. Green Bay must do that by the Feb. 21 deadline or Williams starts gauging other teams' interest Feb. 29.

Other Packer free agents besides Williams and Cole include long snapper Rob Davis, halfback Vernand Morency, cornerback Frank Walker, linebacker Tracy White, quarterback Craig Nall and tight end Ryan Krause.

Morency is the only restricted free agent in the bunch and along with Walker, Nall and Krause aren't expected back. Davis is almost certain to return on another one-year deal, while White should be a key cog on special teams again.