Ted Thompson surprised a lot of Green Bay Packers fans with his aggressive move to sign Tight End Martellus Bennett, and followed it up with a very solid signing of Lance Kendricks. The Packers still have some money to spend in free agency, and there are some moves that could help shore the team up leading into the draft.
RB Eddie Lacy
Sometimes signing your own players is the best move to make in free agency. Lacy can still be a top 10 RB in this league when healthy and in shape. He knows the offense and with the development of Ty Montgomery would no longer have to be the workhorse back the Packers have asked him to be. The thunder/lightning combo of Lacy and Montgomery could be one of the best combinations in the league. Lacy hasn’t signed yet, which tells me his agent isn’t seeing the kind of offer he would like. The best situation for both Eddie and the Packers is for him to return to Green Bay on a one year “prove it” deal.
OLB Datone Jones
Jones only had one sack last year, but he led the team in QB pressures. It was his first season as an OLB, and he looked impressive at times. The Packers depth at OLB has been eaten into this season, and keeping players who know the scheme will be critical to their success. It also would help to keep him away from Mike Zimmer and the Vikings, as they have a lot of success with guys with Jones’ skillset.
OLB Connor Barwin
Barwin has been linked to Green Bay since his release, but we haven’t heard anything about a visit or contract offer. Ted rarely lets any of this news leak, but Barwin appears to still be a contributor at this point in his career who likely won’t demand a huge contract. He struggled with his transition to a 4-3 last season, and would likely be looking for a team that runs a 3-4. Capers ability to move him around should be enticing to both Barwin and Green Bay.
C Nick Mangold
What is lost with all the noise about losing TJ Lang is that he is 30, coming off a major injury, and was going to be paid like an elite Guard for three years. Mangold is 33, and coming off a nagging ankle injury, and would have to change positions to Guard. However, he’s going to be signed for a lot less than Lang, and could give the Packers a stop-gap player while they develop the eventual RG replacement. Having a former All-Pro at Center next to him would help the development of Corey Linsley, and reduce the blow of losing Lang at a greatly reduced cost.
CB Brandon Flowers
The Packers have to address Cornerback early in the draft, but I think it would also help to bring in a veteran presence. Flowers was a top 10 CB a few years ago, but injuries have derailed his career since signing a big free agent deal with the Chargers in 2014. He showed flashes of his old self last season, but wasn’t able to stay on the field. I’m sure everyone cringes at the thought of another injury-prone Packer, but Flowers would be a low cost replacement for Sam Shields. Taking a risk on a veteran player like Flowers is the type of move that has propelled teams like the Patriots and Falcons past the Packers.
The Packers still have time to make a big impact on the secondary free agent market, without having to hand out huge contracts. These moves would allow them to use the draft as a way to patch some holes, instead of relying on draft picks to make huge contributions right away.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig