My wife hates taking me grocery shopping. It’s not because she dislikes my company (for the record, I am delightful!). It’s mostly because of my expensive tastes (it takes a lot of premium unleaded to power this 250 pound dump truck). My wife is notoriously cheap. She is a bottom shelf bagged cereal and generic hot dogs girl. Me, I am a brand name guy (could explain why I root for the Green Bay Packers versus, say, the Houston Texans). If our shopping cart isn’t teaming with orange and black bags of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or black and blue cartons of Ben and Jerry’s than what was the point of the shopping trip in the first place? I am an adult in age only, you see. My lavish taste carries over to shoes, clothes, and cars. I once spent $660 on a pair of shoes. Rubber and leather. The shoes didn’t have a fitbit in the sole or goldleaf on the laces. Nope. Just rubber and leather and a poorly painted Nike swoosh on one side. On the flip side, my wife once bought a pair of jeans for 43 cents. CENTS!!! Not a dollar. Cents. They weren’t used or anything. A brand new pair of Old Navy jeans for 43 freaking cents. Given Green Bay’s current salary cap situation for 2022, the front office may want to bring my wife in to consult in helping find some Packers Free Agency Bargains!
Let’s do a little thought experiment. For this exercise that we about to embark on, we need to assume a few things.
1. That Aaron Rodgers is coming back.
2. Davante Adams is resigning with the Packers (hopefully for life).
3. That Russ Ball is deep in his Jason Bateman Ozark bag and has managed to squirrel away at least $10 million with which to pursue some bargain bin free agents.
Next, we need to thank Mason Crosby and Za’Darius Smith for their service. Mason has been kicking for the Packers since I was 25. I am damn near 40. He will eventually find his name in the Packers Hall of Fame, and rightfully so. For now, he is just too expensive, and, quite honestly, too erratic. I spoke with my priest before I wrote that line and he has absolved me of my sin. Z has been an absolute blast to watch, but, he is also far too expensive, and, whether we like it or not, you just can’t sign everybody. Lastly, it seems like Marquez Valdes Scantling’s price tag may be a bit too bulbous to swallow—He is going to get paid. He deserves to get paid. And, wherever he gets paid, I will always be pulling for him. Seems like a helluva nice guy. That leaves us with some holes to fill. I think we can all agree that Kenny Clark needs some help. And, (broken record alert), it wouldn’t hurt to get Aaron a new weapon or two. Also, depending on what transpires with DeVondre Campbell in the next few weeks, we may need a linebacker, too. I have spent the last few weeks diving into what gems may be hiding among the detritus of free agency, and here is what I have dug up.
Sheldon Richardson–Potential Contract: 1 Year–$2.5-3 Million
The former Jets first round pick spent last season with the Vikings, and had a few cups of coffee with Cleveland before that. According to the fellas over at PFF, he was the 47th best interior defender in the NFL last season. And, despite spending most of his career playing over guards, Minnesota chose to line him up over tackles in nearly 100 snaps last year, and he excelled. He is 31. But, he has been extremely durable throughout his career, only missing 3 games in the last 6 years. Not quite as sturdy against the run as he once was, Sheldon could still be a useful body for a line that could definitely use one.
Maurice Hurst–Potential Contract: 1 Year–$1.5-2 Million
Maurice is a former college teammate of Batman super villain Rashan Gary. Mr. Hurst was injured most of 2021, but was extremely highly rated in 2020, his last season in Oakland, albeit on limited snaps. Hurst was a athletic phenom in college, with most draft “experts” projecting him as an early first round pick. Unfortunately, a rare heart condition unearthed shortly before draft day caused his stock to plummet, and he slid into the 5th round. Maurice has the speed to line up on the outside, with plenty of bulk and strength to kick inside in a 4-3 look. And, he may very well relish the opportunity to line up with his former world-destroying teammate once again. Maurice has Prototypical Gutekunst Signing all but tattooed on his forehead.
Jamison Crowder–Potential Contract: 1 Year–$3-4 Million
A prime time offensive talent who has spent his career mired on early afternoon infomercial offenses for his entire career. The former Duke product is heading into his 8th year getting paid to play football, and should be looking for any opportunity to team up with an actual quarterback for the first time in his career (no, Kirk Cousins doesn’t count–Kirk Cousins sucks). Crowder would give Rodgers something he hasn’t had for several years—a legitimate threat in the slot. PFF had Crowder rated as a top 40 wide receiver from 2018-2020. Can’t blame him for having a bit of an off year last season—Jerry Rice wouldn’t have been able to put up numbers with godawful Zach Wilson throwing him the ball. And, the marriage may be beneficial for both parties–Crowder would spend a year being fed the ball from the reigning 2 time MVP, padding his stats while angling for a longer, more lucrative contract.
Bryce Callahan–Potential Contract: 2 Years–$4-5 Million Per Year
Look, I would love to keep Rasul Douglas. He was a revelation last year. Unfortunately for the Pack, Rasul’s performance may have played himself out of the Packers price range. With Jaire back, and Stokes steadily improving, Brian Gutekunst may be looking to add a slot corner. Enter Bryce Callahan. Callahan has ranked in the 96th percentile in the NFL while manning the slot over the last 4 years. He also happens to do his best work in the Vic Fangio system (a similar system to the one Joe Berry implemented last year). Callahan is coming off a bit of a down year, and just turned 30, but, could be an excellent fit for what the Packers are trying to do.
Ahkello Witherspoon–Potential Contract: 1 Year–$3-4 Million
Witherspoon has been excellent the last two season, years that were unfortunately ravaged by injury. Ahkello has only started 12 games in the last 2 seasons, and only played in 20 out of 39 games. That is concerning. When he has played, he has been very effective. Witherspoon offers an exciting blend of size and athleticism and would provide Green Bay an interesting opportunity to move Jaire inside. WItherspoon, who is 6’2”, would team with Eric Stokes to give the Packers one of the tallest corner tandems in the league.
The Packers front office surely has their work cut out for them over the next several weeks and months. And I have all the faith in the world that they are up to this task. It was just 10 short months ago that Brian Gutekunst signed DeVondre Campbell to a league minimum one year contract–that worked out pretty, pretty good. And, 6 months ago, how many of us had ever even heard the name Rasul Douglas? Gutekunst has proven time and time again that he has a nose for bargains. I think he and my wife would be great friends.
Timothy Preece has been a Packers fan since 1991 and currently lives in Utah because he makes bad decisions. You can follow him on twitter at @LegitimateTimP.