Ted Thompson‘s reticence to sign free agents is well known. So well known, in fact, that the actual title of this post (if you read the invisible fine print) is “Five Free Agents the Packers Could Actually Sign (But Almost Certainly Won’t)”.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing that the Packers won’t sign all of these guys, or maybe even any of these guys. There may be better fits out there. There may be younger or cheaper players available. Some of these guys could very well be signed by the time you read this post. But whether they’re signed or not, each of these guys could be the sort of player that’s useful to the Packers, beginning with…
1. Evan Dietrich-Smith – C – Green Bay Packers – Yep, I’m kicking things off with a cop-out. Aaron Rodgers says deal with it. The fact of the matter is, EDS remains the Packers’ best option at center for the 2014 season, if only because he’s an affordable known commodity. Compared with the other free agents, he’s relatively cheap, and compared with other options on the roster (like J.C. Tretter), he’s much more proven and established. He might be worth more to the Packers, at least in the short term, than he would be if he signed anywhere else.
2. Lamarr Houston OR Pat Sims – DE/DT – Oakland Raiders – A second suggestion, a second cop-out. The Packers may be interested in Oakland’s Lamarr Houston as a potential fit at defensive end, but they may also want to take a look at tackle Pat Sims. Both could be a fit for the Packers 3-4, but Green Bay is unlikely to sign both.
3. Arthur Jones – DE – Baltimore Ravens – Jones is very similar to Houston, and given his age and experience in the 3-4 scheme, he could also fit in quickly in Green Bay.
4. Perry Riley – ILB – Washington Redskins – Inside linebacker isn’t necessarily a huge position of need for the Packers, but more bodies would be helpful. Riley is young (25), experienced (32 starts over the last two years), and productive (70+ solo tackles the last two years, 6.5 total sacks). He could be an affordable addition in Green Bay, but the Packers could face some heat from Washington for his services. Running mate London Fletcher is retiring, and Washington would be hesitant to allow both of their starting inside linebackers to leave in one off-season.
5. Donte Whitner – S – San Francisco 49ers – You’re right, the Packers almost certainly will not sign him. He’s turning 29 in July, hits people illegally too often, and probably will cost a little too much. But maybe, just maybe, he’d also bring the kind of attitude the Packers secondary could use. With Whitner roaming near the line of scrimmage, the rest of the secondary may be free to actually, you know, cover somebody. It’s a long shot of a fever dream, but who knows?