By Jon Meerdink
Of the 13 potential free agents we previewed before last season even began, only 11 remain. Derek Sherrod and Ryan Taylor have been involuntarily moved on to greener pastures. Well, I really can’t speak to the color of the grass where Sherrod and Taylor are, but assuming there is grass, I hope it’s green.
Anyhow, there are just 11 remaining free agents, and you could make a compelling case for keeping most of them around, if not all of them. Some need to be prioritized, so let’s take a look at each of them, tiered for your convenience.
Tier 1 – Big Bucks, But Worth It?
Randall Cobb – He’s no doubt the cream of the Packers free agent crop, and as such, he’s going to be expensive. I tried to handicap the market for cobb before the season, but the numbers may have close to doubled since then. I’d be inclined to pay him almost whatever he’d ask. Cobb has such terrific chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. His loss would be a tremendous blow to the Packers’ offense.
Bryan Bulaga – The former first round pick finally seems to have shaken the injury bug that’s bothered him the last couple seasons, but he always seems like he’s one bad step away from missing another game or two. Still, this year’s offensive line was by far the best in recent memory, and Bulaga’s steady play was a big reason for that. He was Pro Football Focus’s fifth ranked right tackle this season, and Fox Sports’ Paul Imig provides a good estimate as to what he could be worth.
Tier 2 – The Twins
B.J. Raji/Letroy Guion – The first pair of teammates hitting the free agent market is an interesting case, and one where I don’t think the Packers have a downside. The Packers could keep both, either, or neither and make a good case for any one of them. B.J. Raji was primed for a “prove it” year before he was sidelined with a torn bicep, and Guion, on a one year contract, was in a similar situation. Guion had a career year, but his career year wasn’t elite by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s likely that Raji returns on a deal averaging slightly less than he’d have been paid this year and Guion gets slightly less than that.
Tramon Williams/Davon House - Here’s a good case for “older but limited” vs. “potential but injured.” We know exactly what Tramon Williams is at this point in his career: a decent cover corner who will make between two and seven completely inexplicable bad plays a year, like the dunderheaded tackling job on Dallas’ short pass that turned into a touchdown in the divisional round. And while his plays are bad, it’s fair to point out that cornerbacks, at least when we watch on TV, usually go unnoticed, so perhaps it’s just that his plays look worse than others. What’s all that worth, especially with Williams on the wrong side of 30? Hard to say, but I think the Packers look to bring back House first, if only because he’s younger. Injury concerns, though, would seem to drive down House’s value.
Matt Flynn/Scott Tolzien – Color me unimpressed by either Packers back-up. The Flynn mythos is well established, although crossing your fingers that he’ll put together yet another lightning in a bottle game seems like a wish and not a plan. Tolzien has the tools, but questions constantly abound about the way he throws the ball. Tom Silverstein covered the topic at some length in November, and the concerns go back even farther than that, at least five years from what some cursory Googling reveals. At this point, I’m fine with keeping one or neither, and it’s probably a safe bet that at least one of them will be around at least through training camp next year.
Tier 3 – Spare Parts
John Kuhn – The annual Kuhn debate returns with the same talking points, only a year older! He’s still a fullback, still a pal with Aaron Rodgers, and still probably valuable in some capacity as a lead blocker, not that it made any difference down near the goal line during a recent game whose outcome I can’t remember.
Jarrett Bush – The annual Bush debate returns with the same tal…oh sorry. Anyhow, Jarrett Bush. He does special teams better than most other guys but nothing else, aside from destroying tight ends named Tony Gonzalez and occasionally Jason Witten. If Demetri Goodson figures things out, Bush is gone.
Jamari Lattimore – Here’s a fact that you may have forgotten: Jamari Lattimore started not one but SEVERAL games for the Packers this year. The fact that I can’t remember one thing that he did, good or bad, doesn’t seem to bode well for a guy who started five games.