There’s only so much you can do when your offseason needs exceed the alotted cap space. As a GM or coach, not only are you working tirelessly to bring in, keep, or release the correct pieces of your team, but also hoping your closest rivals make the wrong moves. For that reason it’s important to always sleep with one eye open, even when it seems the free agency dust has settled. Last week, Zac Snyder looked at how we should grade the Lions on their off-season personnel endeavors, or lack thereof. In cases such as this, where the priority players were re-signed, less is sometimes more. Now let’s take a look at their divisional foes.
As reigning NFC North Champions, the Packers embarked upon a free agency period with a similar mindset to that of the Detroit Lions: don’t fix what isn’t broken. Certainly the Lions are not yet on the same level as the Pack; there are a few more holes to fill and the overall talent at certain key positions (mostly defensive) is inferior, but there isn’t a need for any kind of change that would be considered drastic.
C Scott Wells
In the last eight seasons, Wells has played in 100 totals games while starting 111 of those. Not quite as durable as Iron Man Jeff Backus, but a very respectable career all the same. Coming off a Pro Bowl season with Green Bay and an expiring contract, it was prime time to test the offensive line market. The St. Louis Rams bit and Wells will now try to be the same guy he was with Aaron Rodgers, to Sam Bradford. It’s a difficult decision to let a guy of this calibur walk away, but his price tag was a bit too high.
QB Matt Flynn
This was inevitable. As an unrestricted free agent that was given enough time to show that he has potential to be a
starting quarterback elsewhere, you have to let this guy walk. Flynn’s price tag shot up once he was given time late in the season to showcase his abilities. Remember Lions fans? He threw for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns. There was nothing the Packers could do here as Flynn gets a chance to prove himself in Seattle.
C Jeff Saturday
Rather than take a shot at a center in the 2012 draft to replace Wells, the Packers made a two year deal with the veteran Saturday. It only makes sense, as Rodgers is the top priority of the team, which means protecting him from the opposing defenses is crucial. Saturday brings years of leadership and experience from the Indianapolis Colts, where he snapped to and blocked for Peyton Manning for several seasons. He’s getting on in years at 36, but he definitely still has a couple seasons left. In my opinion, Saturday is a very slight upgrade from Scott Wells until his contract runs out. Ideally, the Packers could have signed Wells to a long-term contract without emptying the vault, but this is how the free agent market works when a particular position is in high demand. In my opinion, Saturday is a very slight upgrade to Wells, especially considering how difficult it was going to be to replace him through free agency or the draft.
TE Jermichael Finley
Finley signed a 2-year $14 million contract back in mid-February. Finley, one of the more versatile receiving tight ends in the NFL, is 25 years old and was having difficulty coming up with a long-term agreement with the Pack. Kudos to the organization who solved the problem in the short term just a couple weeks before they would have had to franchise tag him. Finley is an incredible talent (again, as Lions fans know) that would have been tough to let walk.
RB Ryan Grant (UFA)
Grant is still relatively young at 29, but won’t be garnering any kind of lucrative deal from the Packers due in part to his injuries and decline in numbers. He’s been behind James Starks on the depth chart and the Packers have been projected in many drafts to take a running back with their first round selection, perhaps David Wilson out of Virginia Tech. Grant has made it public that he hopes to return to Green Bay, but is still testing the market. There’s still a little bit of kick left in his game and I think the Packers would be wise to lock him up for another three years, while still going after a solid RB in the draft.
Overall Rating: A-
A very similar offseason to that of the Lions; the Packers are in a position where they haven’t lost much talent, but will still be able to improve via the draft. Did you expect anything less from Ted Thompson and one of the most intelligently run franchises in the league?