Look into Major Free Agents this Offseason

21 current members of the Green Bay Packers will have their contracts run out after the 2019 – 2020 NFL season, presenting the team’s front office with a bunch of important decisions to make moving forward. At the top of that list are right tackle Bryan Bulaga, kicker Mason Crosby, and inside linebacker Blake Martinez, three trusted veterans who played lights out in a contract year.

Elevated play in the season prior to being up for a new contract is definitely not unheard of, but Bulaga, Crosby, and Martinez have been career-long members of the Packers, and their performance has been fairly consistent throughout their long careers in the green and gold. 

Bulaga, who is a nine-year veteran and has been the right tackle anchor for this team since being drafted in 2010, played and started all 16 games this year, the first time since 2016 and only the second time of his career in which he has done that. Injury concerns have followed him throughout his career, but that is quite typical for any offensive lineman playing in the trenches.

The Big-10 alum from the University of Iowa has joined left tackle David Bakhtiari in holding down the tackle positions for many seasons, taking away one major issue that commonly plagues teams. In 2015, a five-year, $33.75 million deal was signed by Bulaga, which looked like a pretty decent discount over the years.

Offensive linemen are being paid very handsomely in their primes, and while the 30-year-old former Hawkeye is not in his prime, this represents his last chance to cash in and get a large deal in his professional career. Something that resembles a four-year deal, set at a base value of $7.0 million per season, with snap incentives and $2 million roster bonuses built in to raise the maximum value up to $42 million would look to be a fair deal for Bulaga.

For Crosby, one of the final few remaining players that were on the Green Bay roster when they won the Super Bowl in 2010, he has been a very reliable aspect of this team in 2019, hitting 91.7 percent of his field goals (22/24) and 97.6 percent of his extra points (40/41) in the regular season.

The Colorado Buffaloes product has not missed a game in his 13-year career in Green Bay, and the 35-year-old kicker, just like Bulaga, is looking to cash in one final time before hanging up his cleats. Crosby is currently being paid as the eight-best kicker in the NFL, sitting at $4.025 million per season.

Looking to be the best kicker on the free-agency market in 2020, Crosby may receive a few high-money offers from teams that are looking to improve their kicking game with a proven veteran presence. However, all signs are still pointing to Crosby preferring to remain with the Packers, finishing out his impressive career after the team was thought to be wanting to give up on him a few seasons ago.

Three years, with a base value of $4.2 million, as well as per-game bonuses of $10,000 and a $1 million roster bonus all three years of the contract to help raise the max value up to $16.08 million, which would keep him in the top ten of salary for punters.

For Martinez, he has been a model of consistency for Green Bay as the captain of their defensive unit, starting all 16 games over the past three seasons and having played in over 98 percent the past two years. While consistently getting flak from the Packer fan base due to his unflashy style of play, racking up 145, 144, and 155 tackles the past three seasons is enough to justify bringing him back.

The impending draft class of linebackers is not all that impressive, and while a free agent addition could always be seen as ‘better,’ simply because it shows that the team is doing something, but Martinez understands his role in the Mike Pettine defense, and he is very successful in carrying out the play calls and his role as the tackling specialist.

While not on the level of Bobby Wagner, C.J. Mosley, or Myles Jack in terms of production, Martinez deserves to get paid this offseason, which would be his first contract after completing his rookie deal. Coming out of Stanford, Martinez may not have a nose for making plays in the passing game (three career INTs), but his ability to be involved in pretty much every play on the field speaks for itself.

A five-year deal that promises $9 million per season guaranteed, combined with $500,000 roster bonuses each year, as well as tackling bonuses that pushes his maximum value up to $50 million. This type of contract would instantly anger Packer fans who feel as though Martinez should be moved on from, but the fact is pretty clear that Martinez’s captaining of the defense, mixed with his league-leading tackling numbers justifies a new deal.

Other pending free agents, like cornerback Tramon Williams, wide receivers Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow (ERFA), and Allen Lazard (ERFA), safety Ibraheim Campbell, and linebacker Kyler Fackrell, among others, are all up for a new deal. For Kumerow and Lazard, their status as an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA) means that as long as the Packers offer up a tender with a monetary value equal to their amount of ‘tolled’ seasons in the NFL, then they automatically return to the Packers; if no tender is offered, then the player becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Any moves made now in terms of future money will be with 2021 free agency in mind, especially with players like Kenny Clark and Aaron Jones in line for big-time contract extensions. While Bulaga should be at the top of the team’s list this offseason, there are many other players that should be back in a Packers uniform in 2020 and beyond.

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Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23

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2 thoughts on “Look into Major Free Agents this Offseason

  1. Ah, what part of Nebraska did Martinez come from? He went to High School in Oro Valley, AZ and played his college ball at Stanford.

  2. Blake Martinez played at Stanford! I believe you were thinking about Taylor Martinez the QB from Nebraska who graduated in 2013.

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