Missing Pieces the Green Bay Packers Could Still Get

Brian Carriveau@@BrianCarriveauContributor IJune 3, 2012

Missing Pieces the Green Bay Packers Could Still Get

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    The roster of the Green Bay Packers is currently full. They're at their 90-man offseason limit.

    But that doesn't necessarily mean they'll take those same 90 players to training camp in late July.

    General manager Ted Thompson isn't afraid to tweak his roster in order to find the 53 best possible players for when the regular season starts in September.

    On Friday of last week, the Packers GM released wide receiver Marcus Rivers in order to claim defensive back Micah Pellerin off waivers, evidence that the Packers don't always stay put.

    Often times, Thompson will sign an obscure player most fans have never heard of.

    But there are a few potential targets that are familiar names, available through either through free agency or trade, that could complete the Green Bay Packers' 2012 puzzle.

Ryan Grant

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    Even though the Packers haven't exactly showed an eagerness to re-sign free agent running back Ryan Grant, the possibility exists that a deal could still happen.

    Working against Grant is a roster full of younger and cheaper alternatives at the running back position, guys who have more tread on the tires than their veteran alternative.

    As past history has shown, effective NFL running backs can be unearthed almost anywhere, including undrafted free agency, lessening the need to hang onto a player perhaps past his prime.

    But there are a couple of reasons the Packers could look to bring back Grant.

    As someone with intimate knowledge of the Green Bay offense and its schemes, Grant is a player the Packers could afford to wait to sign until training camp and not skip a beat.

    The Packers also have the remainder of OTAs and minicamp to evaluate the younger players on their roster.

    Perhaps James Starks isn't ready to bear the burden of becoming the featured back. Maybe Alex Green's recovery from a torn ACL last season goes slower than expected. And there's the possibility that the undrafted rookies like Marc Tyler or Du'ane Bennett simply aren't ready for prime-time.

    In any of those scenarios, the Packers could sign a healthy Ryan Grant to a minimal contract and plug him into their stable of running backs. After all, he's a known commodity.

    Grant is a two-time 1,200 rusher, and even though he rushed for only 559 regular season yards last season, he seemed to get better as the year progressed.

Colt McCoy

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    Even though the Green Bay Packers and the Cleveland Browns didn't work out a deal for Colt McCoy during the NFL draft, as was reportedly being considered, that doesn't mean they can't come to some sort of agreement at a later date.

    It's not as if the Packers' interest in a quarterback would be limited to McCoy, either.

    They could be looking for veteran help if the backups to Aaron Rodgers currently on the roster, Graham Harrell and rookie B.J. Coleman, flop this offseason.

    The Packers are taking a risk by entering the season with Harrell and Coleman as their only backup options. Neither has so much as attempted a pass in an NFL game.

    McCoy to the Packers, however, makes sense for a couple reasons.

    When the Browns drafted Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round of the NFL draft, a rookie that is actually three years older than McCoy, the writing was on the wall that McCoy was on the outs in Cleveland.

    While there's allegedly an open competition for the starting job, Weeden has been receiving repetitions with the first-string offense this offseason.

    The future of McCoy can generally be viewed in two ways.

    After his first two seasons as a professional in which he's thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns, some might argue that McCoy is overrated and incapable of being a starter.

    On the other hand, with some experience under his belt and a better supporting cast, McCoy could be on the verge of becoming a quality player.

    If the Packers did happen to trade for McCoy—or any quarterback, for that matter—it's assumed that player would be Rodgers' understudy.

    But as long as the Packers didn't have to give up more than a mid- to late-round draft choice in return, it could be worth it.

Aubrayo Franklin

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    As one of the top remaining free agents regardless of position, it's perhaps a surprise that Aubrayo Franklin has yet to be signed.

    And with suspensions to defensive linemen Mike Neal and Tony Hargrove, Franklin could be on the radar of the Packers.

    It could be a case, however, of Franklin holding out for the money he thinks he deserves.

    Even though he spent the 2011 season with the New Orleans Saints, it wasn't that long ago when Franklin received the franchise tag from San Francisco 49ers in 2010.

    Rather than pay the millions of dollars it would have taken to keep him in San Francisco, the Niners allowed Franklin to sign a one-year deal with the Saints to become a part-time starter, and now, the defensive tackle is a free agent once again.

    Franklin wouldn't help the Packers pass-rush that so badly needs improving, but he's a run stuffer that could man the nose tackle position.

    If injury were to strike either B.J. Raji or Ryan Pickett, or the Packers decided to part ways with Neal or Hargrove rather than live with their baggage, Franklin's stock could rise.

Howard Green

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    A few of the reasons the Green Bay Packers might consider signing Aubrayo Franklin are the same reasons they'd be interested in signing Howard Green: a big-bodied defender that provides insurance against the suspended defensive linemen, Mike Neal and Tony Hargrove.

    Green also provides the additional value of knowing the Packers' defensive system, having played with Green Bay each of the past two seasons before his contract expired.

    As a mammoth defensive lineman that in all likelihood exceeds 350 pounds, Green isn't known as the type that stays in shape.

    At the very least, however, the Packers' short-yardage and goal-line defensive packages were better with Green's presence.

    Packers fans will be quick to remember Green's hit on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLV that led to Nick Collins' interception return for a touchdown.

    While Green may not be a big-name impact player, all it takes is one play like his in the Super Bowl that makes an under-the-radar move worth making.

Offensive Tackle

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    Offensive tackle is one position where Ted Thompson could look for an unheralded player, all but unknown except to professional football evaluators.

    One such case was in 2011 when injuries forced the Packers to add depth to the position at midseason and signed journeyman Herb Taylor.

    Tackle could be a trouble spot for the Packers as they make their way through the offseason while dealing with the injury bug.

    Over on the right side, Bryan Bulaga seems entrenched and as healthy as can be, but that's not the same case on the left side of the offensive line.

    Marshall Newhouse, the odds-on favorite to win the left tackle job, had been practicing with the starters until he hit a speed bump this past week when he didn't participate in the team's organized team activity open to the public.

    Head coach Mike McCarthy typically refuses to discusses injuries during voluntary workouts, but said this past Wednesday of Newhouse, "We don't do injury reports, but he's here. He's here working and working out in the weight room and in meetings." (via ESPN)

    Meanwhile, last season's first-round draft choice, Derek Sherrod, hasn't been taking part in on-field practice portion of the offseason program as he continues to recuperate from a broken leg suffered late last season.

    And while healthy at the moment, rookie Andrew Datko has a lengthy injury history to his shoulder dating back to high school, which invites skepticism about his durability.

    If the Packers encounter any more injury concerns, they may have to look for reinforcements at tackle.

    One familiar face on the free-agent market is Tony Moll, who was a fifth-round draft choice of the Packers back in 2006 and spent three seasons in Green Bay before being traded away.

    Moll isn't likely to be more than a stopgap solution for the Packers, but at least he brings a knowledge of head coach Mike McCarthy's offense.

    Brian Carriveau is a Green Bay Packers Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via Mike McCarthy's Wednesday May 30 press conference.