In the third and final edition of this blog post grading the Green Bay Packers moves this offseason, I’ll take a look at free agents the Packers have signed from other teams. In part one, we discussed the free agents from last year’s team that won’t be returning to the squad in 2017 and part two chronicles the players that will be returning.
The Packers seem more active on the open market than in recent years, signing multiple veterans from other teams that will attempt to contribute immediately in 2017, as well as a familiar face and some young players looking to prove themselves.
Martellus Bennett – The “big splash” of Green Bay’s offseason has been the decision to swap out Jared Cook for Bennett. The move immediately drew comparisons to Packers GM Ted Thompson’s two most famous offseason additions – Charles Woodson in 2006 and Julius Peppers in 2014. While Peppers was older when he joined the Packers, Woodson and Bennett both joined the Packers in their age-30 seasons. Bennett is perhaps less agile than Cook in space, but he uses his bigger body (he’s three inches taller and 13 pounds heavier according to Pro Football Reference) more effectively and is a substantially better run-blocker. Bennett has potential to be a top-three tight end in this offense and is a major upgrade for this team. On his 3-year, $21 million contract (only $6.3 million guaranteed), this is a great move. A
Ego Ferguson –
The most recent addition to the 90-man roster, Ferguson’s $980,892 contract will count against the Packers’ cap space only if he makes the 53-man roster. Failed his physical. n/a
Derek Hart – A long-snapper. I don’t really see the point of this one, as Brett Goode has been nothing but reliable. Maybe they’ll still bring Goode Back and Hart is just competition. I’m not going to spend too much time evaluating the long-snapper competition. D
Davon House – A familiar name! After leaving for big Jaguars money two seasons ago, House returns to Green Bay and will be a key contributor to a young secondary that lacked consistency last season. House was an excellent press corner in his previous stint with the Packers and first year with the Jaguars, but struggled in a zone coverage system last season. A Packers draft pick returning to the club on a cheap contract – just $850,000 of his $2.8 million dollar deal is guaranteed – is possibly the most Thompsonian transaction there is. B
Ricky Jean-Francois – I love this move. Jean-Francois seems like the kind of player that will provide consistent, if unspectacular play. And on the cheap as well! The Packers interior D-line now looks like one of the teams great strengths: Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Letroy Guion after his 3-game suspension, Dean Lowry, Ricky Jean-Francois, and Christian Ringo. That’s an All-Pro level player with four other solid contributors rotating in and out. I like this very much. B+
Lance Kendricks – The Packers now have an elite TE1 (Bennett), an league average TE2 (Kendricks), and an elite third-stringer in Richard Rodgers. After Jared Cook showed what an athletic tight end could do for this offense last season, the team reallocated a large sum to the position. B
Justin McCray – McCray won’t likely fill in for departed Pro Bowler TJ Lang at right guard, but he’s a solid camp body. CONSPIRACY: The Packers signed McCray’s twin brother Jordan in 2014 and acquired Lerentee McCray (no relation, to my knowledge) last offseason. Does Ted Thompson believe a McCray is necessary to the team’s success? In 2015 a McCray-less Packers didn’t win the NFC North. There are no McCray’s in the 2017 NFL Draft, so Thompson decided to find one through other means. C-*
*If conspiracy theory is correct, it’s an A+
With the 2017 NFL Draft beginning next week, the Packers still have clear holes on their roster, but have shored up plenty of areas of concern going into the offseason – notably the tight end position and defensive line depth. Remaining areas to address include cornerback, EDGE rusher, and guard as well as some others. Hopefully, I’ll be able to provide some draft coverage before Thursday.