Free agent priority list

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It’s hard to realistically prioritize which free agents are worth pursuing. I agree with many of you who are more concerned right now with getting Jennings and Collins re-signed first. (I might throw Tauscher in there too). Those are things that should happen asap so that we have a better idea for how much cap room we will really have going into this off-season. Anyway here is the most comprehensive list of 2009 free agents I have come across. Below is my attempt to prioritize:

  1. Shane Lechler – it is a rare, rare opportunity to be able to sign one of the best punters in NFL history. I say take it. We all saw Mike Scifres almost win the San Diego/Indy game by himself. Lechler is even better and his ability to give opposing teams worse field position could significantly help the defense succeed.
  2. Julius Peppers – I share some of the concerns about Peppers’ attitude, and his vanishing act in 2007 can’t be forgotten. But his 5 forced fumbles and 14.5 sacks in 2008 can’t be ignored either – not to mention his overall ability to make offenses have to game-plan around him. I think Peppers may have a bit of Randy Moss syndrome – taking plays off etc. But both are just so talented – I think he’s at least worth pursuing. (There are new rumors out there that indicate because Carolina fired their D-Line coach and may can their d-coordinator, they are trying desperately to do whatever they can to keep Peppers.)
  3. James Farrior ILB, Pitt – Farrior is one of the unsung studs in the Pitt LB group. He is very solid, very smart and a sure tackler (had 133 tackles in 2008 regular season). As an older veteran, he likely would not demand the huge contract others will, he could bring some veteran leadership and he would know the 3-4 inside and out.
  4. Terrell Suggs OLB/DE, Balt – Suggs is a great pass rusher and an instinctive player. His addition would add instant credibility to our defense. Think for a moment if somehow the Pack could field a defense including Suggs, Peppers, Kampman and Jenkins – opposing QBs would be terrified.
  5. OJ Atogwe, FS, Rams – Atogwe is likely going to get the franchise tag because he’s that good. While Bigby may have potential, Atogwe is already an elite safety and having a secondary of Collins, Woodson, Atogwe and Harris would make passing against the Pack brutally difficult.
  6. Matt Birk – Birk has been a leader for the Vikings for years and is still one of the better centers in the NFL. He would be an upgrade over Wells, allow Spitz to focus on being a guard and help Rodgers develop as an offensive leader.
  7. Karlos Dansby, ILB Cards – Dansby is a good player, not great yet, but still good. But he is young, plays in a 3-4 and there are some who believe it’s just a matter of time before he becomes a Pro Bowler.
  8. Ray Lewis – rumors are that Balt is close to re-signing him and keeping him there to end his career. If they don’t sign him, Ray Lewis remains one of the best LBs in football and his leadership could really be useful for this team.
  9. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Tenn – I put Haynesworth and Lewis down at the bottom here because “my source” (what I read 10 minutes ago in a public source everyone has access to) indicates that both are likely to re-sign with their present teams. If either ends up being available, I do think we ought to consider signing one of them.

Generally speaking (or generally writing I suppose is more approrpiate), going into this off-season I think it’s very important that the Pack acquire at least one free agent LB who has experience in the 3-4. I also think bringing in a strong D-lineman ought to be a priority – though we may need to look to the draft more for this as the pool of free agent d-linemen is a bit thin outside of Peppers/Haynesworth. I also wouldn’t be opposed to looking specifically at USC LB Ray Maualuga as reader Pmenadue advocates. The guy is a stud. (A decent 2nd or 3rd round pick if he’s still available would be James Laurinaitis from Ohio State – I know many Packer fans may be reluctant to try another OSU LB, but I think this guy will be better than Hawk).

One early draft fear I do have is that TT will stubbornly stick to his “best player available” philosophy when we so clearly need help at certain positions (o-line, d-line, lb, possibly secondary). We need to draft for need this year.

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16 Responses to “Free agent priority list”

  1. Ron La Canne Says:

    Good list! Defense must be the focus and more specifically the front seven. Tell me I’m paranoid! I have this recurring nightmare that TT trades the first round pick down for two 2nd round WR’s.

  2. 56Coop Says:

    Thanks Ron, for making me laugh so hard. I really needed that today

  3. aBerceau Says:

    Great list, but you left off somebody very important that could help the packers next year. Chris Canty, DE, Dallas Cowboys, is an unrestricted free agent and he has the size (6’7″ 300 pounds), experience (played in a 3-4), and youth (26 years old) to vastly improve our front seven. Think of a D-line with him and Jenkins on the ends and Pickett at NT, then throw Kampman at one of the outside linebacker spots and we could be on to something special here. Best part is that he seems like a low risk prospect which is something TT goes after and this could happen.

  4. awhayes Says:

    aberceau – great point. Canty is a guy I don’t know a whole lot about but his size alone seems to be perfect (same 6’7″ that separates Peppers, but 20 pounds heavier). He does seem like the kind of lower-profile guy that TT would go after.

  5. Ron La Canne Says:

    Off Topic

    Turgovic (sp) just digned on as Packer D-Line coach. He turned sown Panthers offer to stay on as their DC. Now that tells me that thing are happening under the surface at the Lambeau offices.

  6. The Six-Pack l Packers Lounge Says:

    […] Breaking down the Packer’s free-agent […]

  7. dreampipe Says:

    PEPPERS, PEPPERS, PEPPERS, and maybe farrior?

  8. 56Coop Says:

    Ron–Help out my feeble mind–by hiring Trogvac as DL Coach-what does that make you think is going on? I can see problems at Carolilna since a guy turns down their DC job but hires on as a DL Coach at another team. Outside of the fact that he’s coming froma 4-3 defense at Carolina I think this might be a pretty good hire. I’m actually kind of surprised at McCarthy’s hiring of an ex head coach and a guy who may well be his way to becoming one considering his own head may be on the lilne next season.
    Just curious about your line of thinking–

  9. 56Coop Says:

    dreampipe, Trogvac leaving Carolina may have nailed the coffin shut on any chance of Peppers coming to Green Bay (Which was remote at best). If they hire a new DC that runs a 3-4 he may decide to stay. Even if that doesn’t happen I just don’t think TT will spend what it will take to get him.

  10. Ron La Canne Says:

    56, Admittedly I’m making a leap of faith. I feel good that someone of Capers caliber joined the tean and shortly afterward got a good assistant to commit. Here’s the leap of faith – I feel good coaches would want to do it their way and MM has let Capers have his head. Don’t have a lot of facts to back it up – just a gut feel. And being a Packer fan since my first game at Marquette Stadium in Milwaukee (1954)

  11. 56Coop Says:

    Oh, I gotta bad read from your post Ron. I thought you were being negative. I’m sure you read the transcript at Packers.com of Capers first conference with the press. I’m in agreement with you that MM has to let Caper’s lead the defense–and I’m pretty sure he will. I’m hoping 2009 shows that tthe 2008 season was the fluke, and the 2007 is going to be more of the norm for the Pack. Considering you’ve been a Pack fan 2 years longer than I’ve been alive I’ll trust your “gut” feelings. I jumped on the Packer bandwagon the year of the first Superbowl (which also happens to be the first year I played football) and have stuck with them ever since. I’ve seen 2 games at Lambeau –Thanksgiving Sundays in 96 & 97. I’ve been lucky enough to see them play live about 14 times in various stadiums. Always a thrill

  12. DaveK Says:

    Darren Sharper is a free agent! PFT says the Saints have interest. Hee Hee.

  13. Ron La Canne Says:

    Dave, Did you say Sharper is a FA, or his agent said Sharper is free?

  14. DaveK Says:

    Hmmm…I think both might apply.

  15. Ron La Canne Says:

    Kevin Green signed as GB Linebacker Coach. Formerly with Steelers and Panthers.

  16. Nick Says:

    Aber, hey not that I don’t like your idea. However, I think there’s a better and a cheaper way around what you’re stating and that is the 2009 NFL Draft. I’d suspect with us moving to a 3-4 Defense signing BJ Raji who stands at 6’2 and 334 pounds and said to be the most impressive linemen in the draft would be a better way to go that’s IF he’s still around by the 9th pick.

    Now, I’m almost on the same fence line as all of you but we can’t forget about our Running game – for the first 8 weeks for the past 2 years it’s practically been non existant. With 1 for sure Unrestricted FA in Sproles (SD) and the possibility of LT being cut lose – I’m thinking looking at SD for a running back wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    Hear me out first, most good run teams have a dual RB system – if we were to pick up LT or even Sproles (Who I see SD signing to a LT Contract) – It would establish the Packers run game early and keep it kicking through out the season giving Rodgers the ability to rake in yards through the Air.

    With that said, Packers as of right now stand in one of the leagues better cap positions. If that remains to be the case after extending Rodgers and Jennings we’ll see but if we have room to make a move for a defensive Free Agent. I’m thinking Julius Peppers is the sure way to go.

    The Big Picture:

    Dline: Jenkins, Peppers, Kampan
    Offensive Unit: LT/Ryan Grant – Rodgers to Jennings, Driver, Nelson

    Now if they don’t go after Raji, I’d prefer to see the Pack go after Malcolm Jenkins in the draft. With Harris and Woodson getting older a 3rd CB could bring the spark to our secondary that we’re looking for.

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