Unless you are really into the draft, this is usually a pretty boring time of the year for Packer fans. But this offseason seems like it will be a little different.
A little over a week ago there was a sizeable portion of the Packer fan base losing their collective minds over reports that Sam Shields would be testing free agency and not resigning with the Packers any time soon, if at all. This was confirmation to Ted Thompson haters that he was in fact trying to destroy the Packers from within. In actuality this was probably a smart, albeit predictable, ploy by Shields’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to leak this information to media outlets which in turn would exert some pressure on the Packers to increase their offer.
Now that the Packers and Shields have come to terms on a 4 year $39 million contract extension, all the anger and consternation over his potential departure has dissipated, replaced by anger and consternation over whether the Packers overpaid for Shields’ services. As John Rehor points out in his latest article, sometimes you just can’t win.
A few days after the Shields news, a report came out that the Packers were close to signing BJ Raji to a 1 year deal. A deal that in my opinion would be a win for both the Packers and Raji. The Packers wouldn’t immediately have to worry about having to find a nose tackle in free agency or the draft, and Raji gets a year to rehab his value on the free agent market.
While nothing has come of this deal yet, and despite the relatively low risk for the Packers, there has been the predictable backlash against Raji by some Packer fans. Yes, Raji’s performance the last two years has been underwhelming, but if he can play anywhere near the level he played at during the 2010 season, the $4 million the Packers are allegedly offering him would be well worth it.
And now with free agency just around the corner, the rumors, smoke and subterfuge have begun. Despite the Packers rarely being players in free agency, their name will be linked to numerous free agents.
The Packers are already reportedly interested in defensive linemen Lamarr Houston and Arthur Jones. Rumors like this will continue throughout the off season, and most, if not all will end up being completely meaningless. That doesn’t mean Ted Thompson isn’t trying to bring in free agents that could help the Packers win, but if there is one thing we know as Packer fans, it’s that Thompson will not get in a bidding war for a player.
It seems to be the same story every year for the Packers. The Packers are interested in a player, they will see if the player has mutual interest, they may make an offer, and most likely, there will be another team willing to play that player more. And that is ok. Ted Thompson can be criticized for many things, but one thing he has excelled at is controlling the salary cap by not overpaying for outside free agents.
Last year for example, the Packers were reportedly interested in signing defensive lineman Chris Canty, who they were interested in signing in 2009 as well, when he first became a free agent. But Canty eventually signed with the Giants in 2009 and the Ravens in 2013, probably for more money than the Packers were willing to pay.
Sure, the Packers could go out and spend what is left of their ample cap space, but how often do teams that spend big in free agency actually get a high return on their investment? I think this year the Packers will make that extra effort to sign an outside free agent or two, a defensive lineman, a safety, or maybe even a tight end. But I wouldn’t hold my breath for any of the big names early in free agency.