The Packers made their biggest splash in free agency in years this weekend with the acquisition of defensive end Julius Peppers. The Peppers signing was the type of free agency pick up that many Packer fans had been wanting for years – a big name that could come in and have an immediate impact. Even with the Peppers signing, and the reality that the Packers will want to get extensions done with Randal Cobb and Jordy Nelson sooner rather than later, the Packers still have some cap flexibility.
Players who were cut from their previous team rather than those reaching free agency due to an expiring contract may be more appealing to the Packers due to the fact that they do not count towards compensatory picks. But if the right player at the right price comes along, I would think the Packers would be fine with the possible loss of a compensatory pick.
As we enter the second week of free agency, I doubt the Packers go after any other big names, but there is some room to go after some experienced veterans who could fortify the Packers roster.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – QB, Cut by the Tennessee Titans
Fitzpatrick has started games for the Rams, Bengals, Bills, and most recently Titans, over his 9 year NFL career. At this point it is highly improbable that anyone gives him another chance to start, but he would make an excellent second string quarterback. Last year the Packers found out firsthand how important it is to have a capable backup in the game’s most important position.
There is still a good chance that the Packers re-sign Matt Flynn, but if they choose not to, Fitzpatrick could be an interesting choice to fill the Packers backup quarterback spot. Although not familiar with the Packers playbook like Flynn, Fitzpatrick is probably` the better all around player.
Will Montgomery – C/G, Cut by the Washington Redskins
I personally think it was a mistake to let Evan Dietrich-Smith leave in free agency, but as Mike McCarthy would say “the train has left the station”, and the Packers will be starting their 4th center in as many years. I would be surprised if anyone other than JC Tretter was the Packers starting center this year, but they could still use a veteran center to push Tretter and serve as a back up in the interior of the offensive line.
Montgomery started at center the past 3 season for the Redskins, never missing a game. Before the 2012 season Montgomery signed a 4 year $12 million deal, but the Redskins think they have a younger, better option in Kory Lichtensteiger. Although most of Montgomery’s starts were at center, he has also played guard during his 7 year NFL career, which would give the Packers the versatility they look for in their offensive linemen.
Major Wright – S, UFA
Major Wright played poorly for the Bears last season. Wright was bad enough that Chicago chose to sign MD Jennings rather than attempt to re-sign Wright. Despite his horrid season, Wright still had more tackles (100), interceptions (2), and forced fumbles (2) than Morgan Burnett, who was picked four spots ahead of Wright in the 2010 draft.
Signing Wright to a short term deal could be beneficial for both Wright and the Packers. Wright would get a year or two to possibly increase his worth on the free agent market, and the Packers could get a veteran safety that wouldn’t preclude them from drafting a safety early in this year’s draft.
Shaun Phillips – OLB, UFA
Shaun Phillips was a key contributor to the Broncos defense last year, racking up 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and an interception. Phillips played defensive end in the Broncos 4-3 scheme last year, but had previously played outside linebacker in the Chargers 3-4 scheme.
With the Packers re-signing Mike Neal, they may feel they are set at outside linebacker, but adding another player who can get to the quarterback with the frequency of Phillips is never a bad idea.
Pat Sims – DT, UFA
Although BJ Raji was re-signed to a 1 year deal, the Packers may still want to add another big body to the defensive line to counter the probable losses of Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly. They reportedly had defensive tackle Letroy Guion in for a visit on Sunday, but Guion would be more likely to play defensive end in the Packers’ 3-4 scheme, while Sims’ weight has been listed as high as 335, making him a better fit at nose tackle.
A 3rd round pick by the Bengals in 2008, Sims started all 16 games last year, his first with the Raiders, and had 2 sacks to go along with 54 tackles. Sims’ career in Cincinnati was rather lackluster, but he played pretty well for the Raiders last year, which is why I am a little surprised the Raiders did not make more of an effort to retain him. But the Raiders loss could be the Packers gain.——————