Which Free Agents Will Stick Around?

For this post, it would be most effective if you cued up The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” while you read. Let’s look at the Pack’s ten unrestricted free agents (I threw out Bret Goode, because long snapper).

As you know, this represents about 85% of the Pack’s activity during free agency season. Thompson will always focus on resigning the guys he wants to keep. Mike McCarthy was in lockstep as he talked about how badly he wants to see Lang, Perry and Lacy return. Thompson’s level of success in bringing back the guys he wants will determine how active he is, once the funny money starts flying around.

Here’s the order I would prioritize the ten free agents from least important to most, and what I think Ted will do.

10. Christine Michael: There’s a reason he’s bounced around the league in his brief career. He shows you a nice burst every now and then but lacks the patience and vision to be consistent. He was a nice stop-gap pickup midseason, but the Pack will find his replacement in the draft. I doubt Ted brings him back, even if Lacy moves on.

9. Julius Peppers: The only way he returns, in my mind, is on a one-year incentive laden contract. The dude’s a Hall of Fame and he gave the Pack much more than we could have expected since Thompson shocked the world and signed an aging legend. He’s 37, just a baby compared to the Steelers’ James Harrison, who just inked a new two-year deal. Outside linebacker is a position in flux for this team, and having him as a situational guy on passing downs would be a nice luxury. My guy tells me that Thompson addresses this position in the first two days of the draft and looks for a younger, cheaper alternative.

8. JC Tretter: He’s a goner. His market value projects to an insane six-year $52 million contract (via spotrac.com). Someone is going to pay him like a top ten starting center and it won’t be the Packers. When healthy, he is deserving of being looked at as an upper echelon center. But he hasn’t stayed healthy and the Packers have Linsley as the starter. It would be great to have Tretter as a possible Lang replacement and backup center, but some team is going to roll the dice and pay him big bucks–it won’t be the Pack.

7. Don Barclay: I can’t imagine there’s going to be much of a market for Barclay, who has shown that he’s not a tackle, but could be a serviceable guard. If the market is dry for him, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Green Bay resign him on a modest deal.

6. Eddie Lacy: This is another situation that will be dictated by the market. If one team falls in love–he has more upside than any other running back out there–he could be on his way out the door (wouldn’t be surprised to see the Giants offer him a 3-4 year deal at about $5 million per). Thompson and his staff are likely hoping that they can bring him back on a one year ‘show me’ deal. I’m guessing one team steps up and Lacy and his appetite move on.

5. Datone Jones: He’s shown some life with his position change to outside linebacker and I don’t expect there to be a big market for him if he were to hit the open market. With Peppers likely moving on and Clay Matthews likely spending at least some of the time inside, the Pack needs bodies at outside linebacker. My guess is he signs a one to two year deal to return to the Pack, sometime in late March.

4. Micah Hyde: It’s hard to know how coveted the Pack’s Swiss army knife defensive back will be. With the question marks on the Pack’s roster at that spot, it’s hard to believe they’d let him get away. His pick against the Cowboys may have been the most impressive defensive play of the season. He’s proven to be a guy that can play all over the secondary, but he’s really a safety. The Packers have Clinton-Dix, Burnett and Brice at that spot and may feel like Hyde is a luxury they can’t afford. On the other hand, he proved he can be an effective slot corner and Green Bay is woefully thin at that spot. I think Thompson swallows hard and pays Hyde a little more than he wants to to keep him around.

3. TJ Lang: This is the guy most of Packers nation is gnashing their teeth about. You want Lang back. I want Lang back. The question is: will Thompson be willing to bring him back at $8 million a year? Because you can take it to the bank that Lang will get a deal at least that rich from either the Vikings or the Broncos. He’s 29 and coming off a serious foot injury and hip surgery. One year ago at this time it was unthinkable that the Pack would cut Josh Sitton and now most Packer fans feel the same way about the veteran leader of the offensive line. Thompson is very careful when it comes to offering a third contract to a player. His market value suggests a 4-year $33 million deal. I would pay him; I don’t think Thompson will. If Lang moves on, look for Spriggs to move in either at guard or at right tackle, with Bulaga moving inside.

2. Jared Cook: I’m guessing this is a deal that will get done before free agency opens. Cook was effusive in his thoughts on his 2016 season. Playing with Rodgers was a revelation for him and the Pack’s offense was at another level when he was healthy. Rodgers’ on the record stance when it comes to Cook’s future make this an easy call. Look for Cook and the Pack to agree to a deal somewhere in the four-year $15 million range and we will all hope he’s on the field for all 16 games next season.

1. Nick Perry: It took him a while to play like the first round pick he was, but he took his game to a different level in 2016, before a hand injury slowed him down. And that’s the thing with Perry–he can’t seem to stay on the field. Again, there’s a lot of uncertainty at this position and it might be where Thompson looks in the first round. McCarthy was vocal about wanting Perry back, but if the two sides don’t come to terms before free agency, he’ll likely be gone. I’d roll the dice and pay him more than I may want to. His market value is in the $8 million a year range. I think the Pack will offer him somewhere in that range. If he hits the open market that number could climb.

So my guess on who returns: Cook, Hyde, Jones and Barclay. Lacy and Lang are 50-50 propositions.

When the dust clears and the new NFL season opens for business,  if the Packers lose out on guys like Lang, Perry and Lacy, they need to look long and hard at the top tier corners out there and consider getting in on the action. Even if Randall and Rollins bounce back in year three, the team needs a steadying veteran presence back there–something they’ve lost without Shields and Hayward. A guy like Stephon Gilmore is likely to get a 5-year $73 million deal. I can’t see Thompson stepping into those waters. But Rodgers is 33 and vocal about wanting to go all-in. A splash signing like Gilmore or A.J. Bouye would be a startling step in that direction.

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13 Responses to Which Free Agents Will Stick Around?

  1. Pack Man says:

    TJ Lang is a goner and so is JC Tretter. Our OL is in serious trouble.

  2. Cane says:

    You think a team will offer Lacy $4-5 million per year? LMAO. Have you seen his obese ass the last 2 seasons? Horrible 2nd round bust for TT yet again. And getting Cook back for under $4 million a year is an absolute pipe dream. Vance McDonald just got $7 million a year for Christ sake. Do a little research. I would laugh really hard if they were so desperate that they brought Peppers back again.

  3. cheese is horrible says:

    Lacy has more upside than any RB out there? WTH? Maybe if you own a restaurant.

  4. Voice says:

    As far as who stays, my best guesses are Cook, Lang, Hyde, Jones, and Lacy. Perry could go either way, depending how the market shakes out. Everyone else is gone. And I would never try to get into TT’s head regarding which outside FA’s to sign, but it’s pretty much a guarantee it won’t be you-know-who from the purple.

  5. Jim from www.thefantasygreek.com says:

    I have a gut feeling Perry moves on. He bet on himself with a one year deal and I truly thinks he wants to play in a 4-3. I think there is a good chance Peppers returns on a 1 year deal, just a gut feeling. Jones might return as well, making it a necessity for them to draft an OLB in the first two rounds. I would love to see Lang back, but Thompson doesn’t like re-signing aging veterans. I like Hyde, but isn’t DB a weakness right now? He was a part of that. I have defended Ted’s draft and develop theory, but he has to sign outside help, especially at CB.

  6. Packerlifer says:

    Keeping in mind the famous Einstein definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result; it seems to me the Packers should be doing a lot differently on defense if they are going to break the streak of non-Super Bowl seasons. How much should they be paying for any of their free agents on a 22nd ranked defense, 21st scoring defense, and 31st pass defense? I personally hoped the Packers would jettison the 3-4 and go to a 4-3 with a new coordinator but that’s obviously not going to happen. Jared Cook is the only one they really need to keep. The rest are going to give what they usually have and the Pack will again get what they’ve always gotten. They need new blood, a lot of it in both the draft and free agency.

  7. lynndickeyfan says:

    There is no guarantee that by going all we will win anything. It’s just as likely that no only will we not win it all , but that we will have hurt our future chances in a fool hearty gambit. It is easy for Rodgers to want to go all in. If it doesn’t work, he’ll either have to try to carry the team even more, or see the writing on the wall and move on himself. Cook should resign. You can say he should get more, but I think he understands the privilege of playing with Rodgers. I agree with wanting to sign a veteran corner. It could make all the difference. This team could definitely use to get a little older. Even saying that, I don’t really care if Peppers comes back or not. He did well, but his roll is so limited. All that said, this feels like it would be a good year to try to get fewer high quality players and a whole bunch of mid and late draft picks. I would love to see Lacy back, but like most of you, I kind doubt it will happen. Still Ty is a better fit for this offense. It just feels like that would have been a nice 1-2 punch with a late round draft pick/ free agent to fill out the roster. I really wanted Ripkowski to be special. So far, mixed results there. I’m rambling. Go Pack.

  8. larry says:

    finally talking football again. THC, I hope they do not get Gilmore, he is so overrated, all he wants is the money. I watched him get burned a lot last year. I would rather get Trumane Johnson from the rams, less money and like him in man to man.we will see how much pull #12 has with TT, he wants Lang bad,I have this feeling vikes will go after him or Tretter , Tretter not as center, but play left tackle for them if they can’t sign kalil. he may end up with his brother in carolina. it wouldn’t bother me if Jones and Perry were gone, just wish Elliott could stay healthy , he would be better then either of them.It sure would be fun to get 28 from vikes and get to super bowl , OH how the purple rubes would love that playing in there stadium. I think he will end up in seattle, colts, or back with purple. would like to get cb House back cheap, he knows capers system and any veteran would help. would love to get TE, O.J. Howard, with 1st rd pick, I know we need d, but he will be a game changer, even if we sign Cook. or maybe Engram from Ol Miss in 2nd rd.he ran 4.45 at 240#’s. BUT, there is only one move I want TT to do, GO get Hightower MLB, I wanted him in draft, all he is done is win 2 super bowls with Pats.we need some leadership there. were way to young there. we have the money, if they don’t sign Lang or Perry. Please get RB Kamara from tennessee in 2nd rd, he will be gone by 3rd. then defense the last picks. let the fun begin next week, Go Packers.

  9. NFL fan first says:

    Dave, from the outside looking in, seems like the Lions are out classing both the Packers and the Vikings in this FA season, what the heck? both teams are becoming a farm team for other squads on the 2nd tier players.

  10. OLD SOUTH SIDE GUY says:

    My good friend Voice….You were zero for five on your picks who stays. I am still in the camp that TT must go. As of this writing we are a weaker team than the one that ended the season against Atlanta. GO Pack Go !!

  11. Voice says:

    Yes, OSSG, I totally messed that one up, didn’t I? And yes, we’re a weaker team now. That being said, it’s only March 20th, and there are no games scheduled for about 6 months, so I’m not going to worry about it. After all (to quote a certain head coach), “It’s a process.” So let the process play itself out. :-)

  12. Lynndickeyfann says:

    Yeah, It’s all craziness. One game short of the Superbowl and the team’s crap. I know , I know, high expectations. I’m totally going to freak out when/if they take a running back in the first round. (My head will explode if they sign AP. I’ll be seriously in need of help.) The draft is going to need to be filled with defensive players. It feels like they are going to to be inviting a lot of smaller conference corners in to see if anyone can stick.

  13. larry says:

    well, I guess 12 has no more pull with Packers then anyone else does, said he wanted to go all in. we all know that means signing some free agents to help. he lost his friend and guard Lang, and Tretter. they did get him 2 TE’s. Since I should know by now , no one will pat me on the back, I will again, I was the 1st one to say bring back House cb , b4 he was even released, they did, told them to sign Elliott, they did, said Kalil would go to Carolina, he did. Now, if only TT would have went after Hightower, I just wonder if he made him an offer at all..he went back to Pats.Just look at the money the vikes have wasted on 28 the last 3 years,12 ml in 2014 15ml in 2015 16 ml last year, (injured), in his last contract , of 42, ml 20 ml was guaranteed. next closet rb was making 11 ml a year. now he can’t get a job, I wish he worked better with Packers but he doesn’t since he can’t catch or protect 12. he still may end up with colts. now the draft, need olb, DL Ol, and 2 cb’s along with my man Kamara RB for Tn. were getting close OSSG for the draft picks. Go Packers

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