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Offline LMG

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Breaking Down the Packers' Depth Chart After...By Bob Fox
« on: March 26, 2013, 12:19:08 PM »
    Hi-res-7045814_crop_650x440 height=440 
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

    ...the Peak of Free Agency



Since free agency officially started on March 12 in the NFL, general manager Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers has acted like he normally does, which means he's been pretty quiet overall.


Since 2005, when Thompson first took over in the Green Bay front office, the team has rarely dabbled in free agency. Thompson prefers to build his team through the draft. He will also sign a number of "street" free agents, but rarely will he sign players such as Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett like he did in 2006.


When it comes to free agency, Thompson's first preference is to take care of the players on his own roster. That is why the Packers offered a second-round tender to restricted free-agent cornerback Sam Shields, and a low tender to restricted free-agent center Evan Dietrich-Smith.


The Packers did not offer any tenders to the other restricted free agents...tight end Tom Crabtree, linebacker Robert Francois and linebacker Frank Zombo. Crabtree ended up signing with the Tampa Bay Bucs, while the Packers were able to re-sign Francois. The Packers don't seem to be interested in Zombo at this point, due to his injury history.


The Packers also had a number of unrestricted free agents as well. This group included running back Cedric Benson, wide receiver Greg Jennings, linebacker Erik Walden and linebacker Brad Jones.


Walden quickly signed with the Indianapolis Colts, while Jennings signed with the Minnesota Vikings, after it appeared he might re-sign with the Pack for awhile. Jones did re-sign with the Packers last week, while the Packers are still mulling their options with Benson.


The Packers are currently around $15 million under the salary cap according to the Green Bay Press Gazette, and much of that was done through the strategy the Packers used with their restricted and unrestricted free-agents.


Plus, the Packers were able to save cap space by restructuring linebacker A.J. Hawk's contract, which cut his pay $7.25 million over three years, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.


In addition, the Packers also re-did newly reinstated defensive lineman Johnny Jolly's deal to save some money.


The Packers are being very cautious with their salary cap because the team realizes that a sizable amount will go to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, when he signs his new deal, which could happen soon, according to ProFootballTalk.com.


The Packers also want to do new deals with outside linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive lineman B.J. Raji.


The Packers have not been completely mute in free agency, as the tender offers to Shields and Dietrich-Smith suggest, as well as the new deals with Jones and Francois.


They also brought in defensive end Chris Canty for a visit, before he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. The Packers also reportedly brought in running back Peyton Hillis, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, via Pro Football Talk.com.


The Packers also were one of the teams vying for running back Steven Jackson's services, before he signed with the Atlanta Falcons.


So, what does this all mean to the depth chart of the Packers currently? Let's take a look.


   Quarterback

   Hi-res-159378753_display_image
 Harry How/Getty Images

   The current depth chart at quarterback:


Aaron Rodgers

Graham Harrell

B.J. Coleman

The only thing going at the quarterback position is the distinct possibility of a new deal for Aaron Rodgers. If the Packers do decide to add another quarterback, it will either be done by drafting one, or by signing an undrafted quarterback.
That will most likely be the case, as the Packers usually like to have four quarterbacks available for OTAs (organized team activities), minicamps and the early portion of training camp.


   Running Back

   Hi-res-159367902_display_image
 Harry How/Getty Images

   The current depth chart at running back:


DuJuan Harris

James Starks

Alex Green

Brandon Saine

Cedric Benson

The Packers were interesting in Steven Jackson in free agency, but not at the price he ended up getting with the Falcons. The Packers are also reportedly interested in Ahmad Bradshaw, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, via ProFootballTalk.com.


Bottom line, don't expect the Packers to sign any running back in free agency. This would include Cedric Benson, who currently is an unrestricted free agent.


Expect the Packers to draft a running back fairly high in this year's draft to team with DuJuan Harris, who head coach Mike McCarthy will give an opportunity to start in 2013, based on the way Harris played down the stretch for the Packers in 2012.

  Fullback

   Hi-res-159013977_display_image
 Andy Lyons/Getty Images

   The current depth chart at fullback:


John Kuhn

Currently, John Kuhn is the only fullback on the roster for the Pack. The issue with Kuhn is his contract currently. According to spotrac, Kuhn will make over $2.5 million this year. That is why the Packers have been flirting with Peyton Hillis.


There is no doubt that Kuhn is sort of a folk hero in Green Bay now, but that might change if the Packers can get Hillis at a more reasonable price than's Kuhn's current deal. That would mean cutting Kuhn perhaps, or asking him to restructure his deal in 2013.

  Tight End

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 Leon Halip/Getty Images

   The current depth chart at tight end:


Jermichael Finley

D.J. Williams

Andrew Quarless

Ryan Taylor

Brandon Bostick

The Packers lost Tom Crabtree to free agency to the Tampa Bay Bucs. There has also been talk that starting tight end Jermichael Finley may have to restructure his deal this year, but so far that has not happened. It also looks like he will remain with the Packers at that price, according to NFL.com.


Don't expect any additions at tight end in free agency, either. The Packers may draft a tight end perhaps, but the Packers seem to be satisfied with the talent of the depth chart, especially if Finley stays with the Pack in 2013.


Update: According to report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday, the Packers are uncomfortable with Finley's $8.25 million salary this year. In addition, Finley is due a $3 million bonus on Tuesday. Bottom line, Monday could be decision day for the Packers on whether or not Finley will remain on the team.

  Wide Receiver

   Hi-res-159370127_display_image
 Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

   The current depth chart at wide receiver:


Jordy Nelson

James Jones

Randall Cobb

Jarrett Boykin

Jeremy Ross

The Packers lost Greg Jennings to free agency, which was expected. What really hurt was that Jennings signed with the Vikings.


Don't expect the Packers to use free agency to get the replacement for Jennings, either.


Ted Thompson has used the draft for the most part to get the talent the Packers have at wide receiver. Four times, Thompson has drafted a receiver in the second round, and once in the third round.


Keep that in mind as you watch the 2013 NFL draft.


   Offensive Line

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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

   The depth chart for the offensive line:


Bryan Bulaga- tackle

T.J. Lang- guard/tackle

Evan Dietrich-Smith- center/guard

Josh Sitton- guard

Don Barclay- tackle/guard

Marshall Newhouse- tackle

Derek Sherrod- tackle

Andrew Datko- tackle

Greg Van Roten- guard/center

Garth Gerhart- center

Joe Gibbs- guard

Kevin Hughes- guard

The Packers sure have a lot of bodies on the depth chart for their offensive line. Whether there is some real talent there remains to be seen, especially for the reserves. The Packers hope that their two No. 1 draft picks from the recent past, Bryan Bulaga (hip) in 2010 and Derek Sherrod (leg) in 2011, will be able to play effectively for the team at tackle in 2013.


The only question the Packers have regarding free agency on their offensive line is the status of restricted free agent Evan Dietrich-Smith. The Packers gave Dietrich-Smith a low tender offer, which means any team can sign the current starting center for the Packers without giving up a draft pick to the Pack, since Dietrich-Smith wasn't drafted.


The Packers do have the right to match any offer, however.



Don't expect any signings in free agency for the offensive line. Expect Ted Thompson do to what he always does: add to the talent on the line through the draft.

  Defensive Line

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 Andy Lyons/Getty Images

   The depth chart for the defensive line:


Ryan Pickett

Mike Neal

Mike Daniel

B.J. Raji

Jordan Miller

Johnny Jolly

C.J. Wilson

Jerel Worthy

Except for the visit of Chris Canty, the Packers didn't really show interest in any defensive linemen in free agency. That may change as free agency continues and the price point of the players drops.


Ted Thompson signed three defensive linemen in free agency in 2012, but all were signed after the first wave of free agency.


For the most part, expect Thompson to add to the talent of the defensive line through the draft, and maybe in the next stages of free agency.

  Inside Linebacker

   Hi-res-158707720_display_image
 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

   The depth chart for inside linebacker:


A.J. Hawk

Desmond Bishop

Brad Jones

D.J. Smith

Terrell Manning

Robert Francois

Jamari Lattimore

The Packers appear to be set at inside linebacker now, with the re-signing of Brad Jones, and the restructured deal for A.J. Hawk. The Packers also were able to re-sign Robert Francois, who is a big special-teams contributor.


The Packers hope to have back both Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and D.J. Smith (knee) in 2012, too.


The Packers also have high hopes for second-year linebacker Terrell Manning, who suffered through illness and injury issues his rookie year in 2012.


The Packers also like Jamari Lattimore, who like Francois, is a key piece on special teams.

  Outside Linebacker

   Hi-res-159119245_display_image
 Andy Lyons/Getty Images

   The depth chart for outside linebacker:


Clay Matthews

Nick Perry

Dezman Moses

Micah Johnson

Frank Zombo

At outside linebacker, expect the Packers to get a new deal done with Clay Matthews sooner, rather than later. Probably after the new deal with Aaron Rodgers is done. Rodgers and Matthews share the same agent...David Dunn.


Frank Zombo is a restricted free agent, but the Packers do not seem to be interested in bringing him back due to his cloudy injury history. When healthy, Zombo was pretty effective, but that rarely was the case.


The Packers also have high hopes for both Nick Perry and Dezman Moses, at the left outside linebacker opposite Matthews.


Expect the Packers to add to the depth at outside linebacker through the draft.


   Safety

   Hi-res-137124149_display_image
 Jamie Squire/Getty Images

   The depth chart at safety:


Morgan Burnett

M.D. Jennings

Jerron McMillian

Sean Richardson

Chaz Powell

So far the Packers don't appear to be looking at any help at safety in free agency. The player the Packers released a while back...Charles Woodson...hasn't been able to find work yet in free agency, even after a visit to the San Francisco 49ers.


Once again, expect the Packers to use the draft to add to the quality depth at the safety position.
                   
  Cornerback

   Hi-res-153627607_display_image
 Andy Lyons/Getty Images

   The depth chart at cornerback:


Tramon Williams

Davon House

Sam Shields

Casey Hayward

Jarrett Bush

James Nixon

The big news in free agency for the Packers at the cornerback position, was the second-round tender offer to restricted free agent Sam Shields.


That means that the Packers will get a second-round pick if another team signs Shields and the Packers decide not to match the offer.


Meanwhile, the Packers will continue to add to the talent at the cornerback position either through the draft, or by the "street" free-agent method, which is how they acquired Tramon Williams in 2006.

  Special Teams

   Hi-res-158481968_display_image
 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

   The depth chart on special teams:


Mason Crosby - kicker

Tim Masthay - punter/holder

Brett Goode- long snapper

Randall Cobb- returner

Jeremy Ross- returner

Don't expect any major changes here. The Packers will probably bring in a kicker to compete with Mason Crosby in training camp, but that will most likely be either by the draft or by the "street" free-agent variety.


Jeremy Ross will be given another opportunity to take over the returning job from Randall Cobb in 2013, as Cobb will most likely focus on having another big year at the wide-receiver position, like he had in 2012.


Everything else looks good, as Masthay and Goode are among the best in the NFL at punter and long snapper, respectively.


    ****************************************************************************************

Bob Fox always had the itch to return to the media, and he became a writer at a Packer website called ThaPack for a couple of years, before he joined Packer Report, where he was for several years, before joining Wisconsin Sports Online (PackerChatters) writing about the Packers, Badgers and Brewers.  Bob also occasionally writes for JoeBucsFan.com which covers the Tampa Bay Bucs, and also used to write for JoeBoltsFan.com which covers the Tampa Bay Lightning when the site was operational.

Bob also has an article in the 2012 Green Bay Packers Yearbook that profiles the 2012 draft class for the Packers.

Bob is also a Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report.   
If you are not the lead dog the view never changes.

Offline bbayley

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Re: Breaking Down the Packers' Depth Chart After...By Bob Fox
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 03:38:13 PM »
Nice article and a good summary of the current situation.  I hadn't really stepped back and looked at the whole picture like that in a while and all I can say is thank god we have Rodgers b/c that roster is far from impressive in my opinion.  Outside of QB the only two units that look like they might present an advantage from week to week would be WR and CB.  And even with that we just lost a key piece of the WR core and the CB group has a ton of potential with equally as many question marks.

Looking through the rest of it, I like Harris but our group of RB's has to be one of the worst in the league.  Kuhn is a good FB but we use him 7 times a year.  I thought Crabtree was our second best TE and wouldn't have minded keeping him over Finley and using the money elsewhere, but not even considering that I'd say we're at best middle of the road with Finley and Williams/Quarless/Taylor.  OL has a couple decent players but we're still banking on the fact that we see some production from previously injured players and obviously that hasn't worked out over the last couple seasons at all.  DL, really had one good push as a unit during the SB run and I can't say I've ever been impressed with anyone since other than Mike Neal who is hurt more than he's healthy.  Lets hope Jolly can get back in form quickly although I know that's a long shot.  In terms of LB's I really like a lot the of the players individually, but they never get the job done as a unit.  Matthews is a beast, Bishop is an above average player when healthy and hopefully Perry comes along this year.  Outside of that I consider it a stretch to say anyone else in the unit is better than decent.  Safety should be alright this year, as I'm hoping the Corners play really well and help the cause.  I think Burnett is serviceable and he's still young so I don't mind him playing but I would love to see us bring in a veteran like Huff for $3-4 million a year over a few years to play alongside Burnett.

I've got my fingers crossed that TT hits it out of the park on the draft this year, we could really use it