Economical Free Agent Options at Key Positions Part 2

Exploring Free Agency:

In last weeks article, I talked about how it is important for the Packers to build depth through investing in economical free agent options. This week, I would like to continue that discussion and create a scenario of potential low-cost free agents that the Green Bay Packers can sign for their front seven, and still have enough money available to make a sizable investment in one or two higher priced free agent options.

Offseason headlines are created by making a splash signing with a big name like Ziggy Ansah, DeMarcus Lawrence, or Trumaine Johnson but Super Bowls are won by signing low cost, high impact free agents that add depth and fit a system.

Economical Free Agent Options:

Last week, I highlighted how signing Tramon Williams brought value, added depth, and fit the Packers organizational needs. This week, I would like to create an interesting scenario in which the Packers would sign two high risk, high reward players that would add depth, impact, and would address their organizational needs by bolstering their front seven.

1. Sheldon RichardsonDT  Yes, you heard that right. Sheldon Richardson.

Sheldon has had a checkered past during the last few seasons with personal conduct issues as well as attitude problems, but at age 27, he is an unrestricted free agent with little to no chance of scoring a long-term, big money deal. Sheldon is young enough to take this time to rehab his image for one or two seasons and then hit the free agent market coming off of a productive season both on and off of the field.

In Green Bay, Sheldon would have a no-nonsense coordinator in Mike Pettine and a no-nonsense mentor in Mike Daniels, not to mention far fewer distractions in the city of Green Bay compared to the bright lights of New York City.

Sheldon Richardson is coming off of a down year by his own standards with much to prove. He had just 1 sack and 27 solo tackles but forced a fumble, recovered two, and intercepted a pass. Pro football focus agrees with the notion that Sheldon Richardson still possesses value, as they ranked him as the 27th defensive lineman in the NFL and gave him a grade of 83.8 (above average). Richardson has a connection to Mike Pettine’s defensive philosophy under the Rex Ryan system, during his most productive seasons with the Jets.

With solid coaching and a positive support system around him, the Packers should expect Sheldon’s pff grade to increase by 3-4 points (87-88 pff grade) and put him back in the category of a high-quality defensive lineman. Projected contract: 1-2 year deal worth $4-9 million ($2-5 million guaranteed) with an opportunity to earn more money with incentives.

2. Alex OkaforDE

Okafor’s 2017 season ended very abruptly with a torn Achilles tendon in late November, but at 27 years of age, he has a very good chance of making a full recovery and returning to form. Last season, the New Orleans Saints signed him to a 1 year 935,000 dollar contract that was worth every penny. Coming off of an injury, Okafor knows that he will have to sign another short-term deal, stay healthy and continue to make a similar impact akin to last season.

During his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Okafor played a hybrid role in multi-front defenses and was effective as both an edge rusher and run stopper. During this season in New Orleans Okafor played in a four-man front and had 3 pass defenses, 2 forced fumbles, 4.5 sacks, and 27 solo tackles, earning him a pff grade of 84.7 (above average) and ranking him as the 22nd best edge defender in the NFL.

Okafor’s versatility on defense coupled with his solid play during the 2017 season would make him a valuable commodity for the Packers struggling defense. He would have the opportunity to stay healthy for a season and prove that he is worthy of a long-term contract by helping stabilize a struggling defense. Projected contract: 1 year deal for $1-3 million dollars ($500,000 guaranteed).

Stay tuned for Thursday’s article when I attempt to put the entire 2018 defensive Free Agent picture together for the Green Bay Packers.

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David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave

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