The Green Bay Packers won the NFC North on the back of Aaron Rodgers in 2016. The 2017 offseason has brought some changes to the Packers roster. Frugal Ted Thompson has dabbled in free agency out of necessity at TE and DE and re-signed a few of his own players. This was an active free agency for Ted Thompson, relative to other years. Let’s take a look at what happened so far this offseason.
Black Unicorn and Badger Added
Martellus Bennett 3 years 21 million from the Patriots (Bears/Giants/Cowboys)
Martellus Bennett 3 years 21 million with 6.3 million guaranteed. Bennett has been a productive tight end for the Giants, Bears and Patriots as a free agent. He earned a back-loaded deal at the age of 30 with cap hits of 3.85 million, 8.55 million and 8.6 million in 2017 through 2019. It is essentially a one year deal with a hefty team option for year 2 and year 3. The Packers and former TE Jared Cook couldn’t reach agreement and he got 6 million per from Oakland. Bennett is a better player and the Packers wisely spent a little more to upgrade at tight end.
Ted Thompson double dipped at tight end with former Wisconsin Badger, Lance Kendricks. Kendricks was a high pick by the Rams but didn’t produce for them. Thompson got him on a cheap two year 4 million dollar deal. The Packers are set at tight end.
Welcome Home House
The Packers resigned Davon House to a one year 2.8 million dollar deal. House failed on a big contract with Jacksonville but did have success on his rookie deal with the Packers. House provides CB depth as the Packers lost Sam Shields (concussions) and Micah Hyde (6 per deal) in free agency.
Menage a Francois
Thompson added a 3-4 DE in free agency. Ricky Jean Francois was cut by the Redskins for cap reason. Thompson gave Francois a 1 year 3 million dollar deal after the Bears showed interest. Francois will play DE and could start for the Packers over their other Frenchmen Letroy Guion. Guion is suspended the first 4 games of the season as well.
Prove It Perry
The Packers best free agent was Nick Perry. Thompson lured him back with a 5 year 59 million dollar deal. Perry earned an 18.5 million dollar signing bonus and decent-sized roster bonuses in 2018 and 2019. His cap hits will be 5.875 million, 10.9 million, 14.7 million, 14.3 million and 13.1 million from 2017-2021. This is a good deal considering the pass rusher market.
Frugal Teddy Makes Some Re-signs
Green Bay re-signed punter Jacob Schum, OLB Jayrone Elliot, G/T Don Barclay, ILB Joe Thomas and RB Christine Michael to cheap deals.
The Packers were active but lost a lot of key players this free agency. TJ Lang bolted for the NFC North favorite Detroit Lions at 9.5 million per year. The Packers have a big hole at right guard right now. Former 2nd round pick (2016) Jason Spriggs or Kyle Murphy (7th round 2016) may get a crack at the job or the Packers could draft a new guard.
Eddie Lacy took his talents and size to Seattle on a one year 4.25 million incentive laden dollar deal. The Packers lost Lacy for the last 11 games and playoffs last year. They will try to move on with converted RB Ty Montgomery, Christine Michael and probably a rookie draft pick.
OLB Datone Jones and Julius Peppers both left the team as pass rushers. Jones signed a 1 year 3.75 million dollar deal with rival Minnesota. Peppers went back home to Carolina on a one year 3.5 million dollar deal. The Packers will miss their pass rush skills.
Nick Perry, Clay Matthews, Kyle Fackrell and Jayrone Elliot will have to be the Packers OLB pass rush. We’ll see if Thompson adds another OLB in the draft after losing two productive players.
Center/guard JC Tretter got 5 million per year from the Browns and Micah Hyde earned 6 million per year from the Bills on long term deals. The Packers depth takes a hit with these losses but I don’t blame Thompson for letting them walk on these deals. As mentioned, tight end Jared Cook left for Oakland but the Packers upgrade at tight end with Bennett and Kendricks.
Green Bay has 23.4 million in cap space using the 51 player rule. Green Bay should have plenty of carryover for next year due to Thompson’s frugality. Davante Adams, Corey Linsley, Lane Taylor, Morgan Burnett and Ricky Jean Francois are free agents for the Packers next season that Thompson could try and lock up early. Ha-Ha Clinton Dix will be on the fifth year option next season and Green Bay should try to lock him up to a big long term deal sooner rather than later.
Green Bay needs a right guard (and interior depth), OLB, work horse RB and CB 1 in the draft. They could think about a future center, WR2, SS and DE if they want to add depth with an eye for future starters. The Packers could upgrade at ILB and CB 2/nickel CB if they are unsure of Blake Martinez, Jake Ryan, Damarious Randall and Quentin Rollin as starters going forward. Green Bay has some work to do in the draft.