** Based off contracts as of 1/14/2013 and the estimated 121 million dollar projected 2013 cap.
Players Entering the 2013 year without Contracts:
Guys with Expiring Contracts after 2013
The Packers enter the 2013 with a cap of around $116 Million on the books in committed salaries. Two notable contracts that can be washed without a cap hit are Jeff Saturday (3.75M) and Charles Woodson (10M). Finley (8.75M) can be released with a modest hit of 500K. So we can make some room in a hurry if and when we choose to, however the only lock there to be released is Saturday, the contract he signed is basically shouting release prior to the March Bonus of 3.75M. Woodson I believe will be back on a reduced salary, a very reduced salary to return. All his future bonus monies are in the form of roster bonuses so it is a deal that can be reworked without much future effect. Finley, it really depends on the guy that steps on the field, but even at his best this year it can be argued that his 8.75M contract is too high. He is a matchup issue for defenses when he is on and dialed in, I believe he is kept but that is conditional on his relationships he has inside the locker room.
Of the guys with no deals, I realistically can’t see any of them past Sam Shields, Erik Walden, Brad Jones, Jarrett Boykins and Jeremy Ross resigned. Realistically. Of the guys entering their final years I think there are several realistic candidates to be extended beyond 2013. A lot of that really is going to hinge on how much Rodgers is going to get, I think this offseason is when the Packers get that done so they know how to set the table around him.
His cap number in 2013 is 10.25 million and 2014 it modestly goes up to 11.5 in 2014 when it is set to expire. The Packers need to know how much that number is going to expand past 2014 so they can make current decisions on the likes of Shields, Finley and Jennings. They also need to know that number to start to plan for Matthews and Raji’s second contracts. Jennings might be a bit miffed about not getting his deal redone to this point, but this is honestly the reason it hasn’t been done in my opinion. The Packers are going to want to get this one done before making decisions on Jennings and possibly Finley. If Rodgers deal is going to be in the Brady neighborhood (21.5 Million) it is basic economics that they cannot extend a player like Jennings who is going to consume between the Andre Johnson and Fitzgerald numbers.. 12 to 20 million. At least those are the numbers Jennings is likely going to want to approach. The economics of the game and other franchises overpaying for receiving talent has more than likely out priced a Jennings deal with Rodgers looming. Finley as well has pressure on the Jennings deal, if long term Finley is in the Packers plan.. Jennings realistically can’t be. James Jones deal expiring also places long term pressure on the Jennings deal.
Shields is going to be a restricted free agent so the Packers have some leverage to bring him back, the economics of that deal are going to be interesting but I would assume they will find a middle ground that works for both parties in a 2 to 4 year deal range. Shields had two strong years with one subpar year, so I don’t think he breaks the bank but it is going to cost us some cash.
The Driver ship has sailed, even on a veteran minimum deal, I just don’t see the Packers committing a roster spot to him in place of say a Boykins or Ross. If I am the Packers, I offer him a front office position and hope he takes it. Player relations for starters, a guy with his life experience and position to the Packers would probably prove very effective.
So removing Saturday and resigning the guys listed above with expiring deal, it brings us to 54 under contract with probably at least a couple of the practice squad players be signed to future contracts, like a BJ Coleman.
The Breakdown of players then looks like this. Offense today.. Defense to come later.
QB - 2
RB - 4 - Saine being a question mark.
FB - 1
WR - 5
TE - 4
C - 1
G - 3
T - 4
DE - 3
DT - 5
LB - 9
DB - 7
S - 3
P – 1
LS – 1
With that stated, let’ s talk about the individual positions and needs for the 2013 Season, whom stays, and whom goes in this offseason.
I believe this will be the Rodgers and Coleman show for 2013, with Coleman’s work ethic and arm talent, he beats out Harrell for the sole backup spot. The Packers will again dip into the lower ranks and college to find an understudy for the PS.
Brandon Saine – Injury recovery being the reason this is a question.
Harris gives the Packers a dimension we haven’t seen to date with the backs of the last couple years since maybe Grants early years in Green Bay. Always moving forward and has a different burst to him, seemed to come on in the passing game. Starks might be the odd man out if the Packers step into the college ranks for another option.
I see the 2013 year as Kuhn’s final in Green Bay, his health is becoming a factor and coupled with the Packers love of the TE/H back types.. I think the Packers look for a younger version of Kuhn moving past 2013.
Jeremy Ross – Special teams value here.
Greg Jennings – Although, he kept his touchdown late in the SF playoff game, I think he is gone to the biggest payday.
I think the Packers will draft another mid round gem type of a receiver to add to the stable, maybe two and bumping Boykins to the bubble. But the top level of that depth chart is set. If the Packers find a way to retain Jennings.. I still see them looking for the next generation with Jones and Nelson coming up. Jones earned himself a raise this season on his next deal. Packers will protect themselves a bit in case he tries to break the bank as well.
I think the Pack is set unless they cut ties with Finley for contract concerns, if they do that, I think Quarless moves up if he is healthy. If not, the Packers are going to have to find another vertical threat at the Tight End position. D.J Williams I anticipate becomes a larger part of the offense next season, but he lacks the size speed combo that the elite Tight Ends in the league do.
Derek Sherrod – Health concerns render him a unknown at this point.. stays but is a wildcard at best.
We could use a blue chip tackle on the left side or at least one side of this line to hold up against elite pass rushers to protect the Packers from committing more protection than just the 5 or 6 with the primary Tight End. The problem here is both sides of this line struggled against speed rushers.. and it greatly affected the offense to have to commit extra bodies to the protection to try and keep Rodgers clean. We can win with one side that needs extra help, if both sides struggle, if hampers the offense a great deal.
Greg Van Roten
With EDS moving to center, we are going to need at the minimum depth at this position. A Blue Chip Guard in the draft could bump Lang to a multiple position and valuable backup along the line.
This is not a known commodity at this point, personally I would love to see a Blue Chip Center drafted to anchor this line for the next decade. My opinion, this has been and will continue to be the biggest weakness on this offensive line until someone steps in and starts to anchor this line and start to really put the teeth into our run blocking which will impact all areas of this line.