Green Bay Packers moves in Free Agency: have they upgraded?

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Julius PeppersIn this episode of the “Red Light Sports Ramble; presented by the Red Light Sports Network, Evan and Troy discuss the Green Bay Packers moves in Free Agency.  It has been a busy week for many teams.  Some have broken the bank; others have filled holes, and some are just flat-out not getting it.

Green Bay Packer fans usually sit back and find something else to do for a few weeks when the Free Agency period begins.  However, this year fans were expecting a little bit more.  It may have come from the veterans in the locker room telling Ted Thompson that they need veteran leadership.  It could have also stemmed from and article by Ian Rapoport, stating that Ted Thompson was going to be more aggressive in the market.

The first line of business was taking care of the pieces that were already at Lambeau Field.  Sam Shields came off the market before Free Agency hit.  This was a sigh of relief for some, while others thought Ted Thompson overpaid for the young cornerback.   It was a slow start but things are moving along at the snail’s pace that Ted Thompson likes.  He took care of locking up Mike Neal for two more years.  Neal arguably had his best year as a professional last year and needs to continue to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  One option at tight end; Andrew Quarless was also resigned, to keep some veteran leadership at this position.  B.J. Raji shunned a one year “prove it” deal to test the market.  Then days later decided that he was best suited to come back to Green Bay.  With this one year deal, Green Bay Packers fans are hoping that he has a chip on his shoulder.  This chip is what will make him eat up two offensive lineman and allow others to roam free on defense.  Finally, James Starks realized that his role with the Green Bay Packers was pretty special.  He signed a two-year deal, which will allow him to spell Eddie Lacy and let the Green Bay Packers have another tough runner for a great 1-2 punch in the backfield.  Also, when his contract expires, he will only be 28 with a lot of tread left on the tires.  He may be able to cash in on his chance to be a starter with two more solid years in Green Bay.

Only a few loses from the list of 17 Free Agents.  The first being M.D. Jennings going to the rival Chicago Bears (no one has shed a tear over this), Evan Dietrich-Smith is headed to Tampa Bay (good player, and losing a key to the offensive line), and yesterday James Jones packed his bags for sunny Oakland (a very solid receiver that now leaves the WR position thin).

In typical Ted Thompson fashion, only two signings thus far, but one of the signings is the biggest in Green Bay since Charles Woodson.  Julius Peppers came up from the “Windy City” and inked a three-year deal to add much-needed athleticism and veteran leadership to the team.  Some will argue that at 34, the Green Bay Packers overpaid for him.  When you are a team that is a playoff contender year in and year out, you need to have defense that can help you win in the playoffs.  Julius Peppers is not the player that he was when he left Carolina and signed with Chicago.  He does allow Dom Capers to be more flexible in his defenseive schemes.  The Green Bay Packers defense was vanilla last year.  The played the same base defense with little to no wrinkles at all.  The addition of Peppers will allow Capers to be more creative because even if he has lost a step, teams will still have to account for him.  This will take pressure off the other lineman and the outside backers.  This also allows the Green Bay Packers to keep B.J. Raji inside where he hopefully regains that Super Bowl form.  If he does that, now the inside backers will not have to shed blockers nine times out of ten and make more plays against the run.  To add competitiveness to the roster, Ted Thompson went west over the border and inked another division rival, Letroy Guion.  He will come in and be a nice addition to the defensive line.  He most likely will be a player that rotates in and out to keep the linemen fresh.  This is something that did not happen last year.  The signing of Guion is a safety blanket on the defensive line.  With the health of Johnny Jolly still undetermined and Ryan Pickett still unsigned, Ted Thompson added some much-needed depth on the defensive line.

By no means is Free Agency over for the Green Bay Packers.  There are still 10 Free Agents left on the list, and Ted Thompson could pull the trigger on another Free Agent on the market.  With the moves that he has made so far, it raises a question about the draft.  Would Ted Thompson consider trading down at 21 to accumulate more draft picks?  He has done this in the past when the drafts are deep.  The 2014 draft is deep at a number of positions, and the Green Bay Packers philosophy is to build from the draft.

Listen to what the boys think about Ted Thompson possibly trading the 21st pick in the draft on this episode of the “Red Light Sports Ramble”.


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