Saturday, March 16, 2013

Packers Roster Update

Two months ago I analyzed where the Packers were with the cap situation and free agency.  Now that the first few days of free agency is left, let's go back and reevaluate the roster with some updated information made public and with the losses incurred so far.

First off, the coaching staff has remained entirely intact, which I once again think will be a huge strength for the team again this year. 

The actual cap increased from 120.6 to 123 million dollars this year, verifying reports that the cap was to remain flat.  There is talk that the cap will once again remain flat for the 2014-2015 season as well (which is opposite from what I heard before - time will tell I suppose; I'm not privy to the formula used to calculate salary caps or floors). 

A few trends:
First off, a massive number of veteran players with unfriendly salaries were jettisoned this year and many remain without work.  The NFL, in the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA), should revisit this problem.  Basically these bad cap contracts are great in years 1-2 and then get increasingly worse as the contract progresses.  Players initially like them because there is a large up-front signing bonus but then the grumbling begins when they get let go and are deemed too old to perform.

Second, nearly every position, with one exception (QB - no one thought Joe Flacco would make more than Manning, Brees, Brady, or Rodgers at 20.1 million per year) is showing a reduction in salary.  Wes Welker played as a franchise tag of about 12 million last year and signed with the Broncos for 12 million over TWO years (6 million per year), a whopping 50% salary reduction.  Pretty crazy for a guy with nearly identical numbers to the year before.  Further he's missed 3 games in the last eight years, so for a guy with incredible numbers working over the middle, he also has incredible durability.  Pretty crazy if you ask me.  Still some teams overpaid - Miami, Cleveland, Seattle, Minnesota, to get players to choose their team over another for whatever reason. 

Postion: (players on the roster)

QB: (3)
Notes:  Rodgers is set to be a free agent after the 2015 season.  He is greatly underpaid for his position and the Packers will likely look to double his salary at some point in the future.

RB:   (5)
Notes:  No clear starter and the Packers, sniffing around Steven Jackson are clearly still in the market for a proven commodity.  They won't break the bank though because they run the ball about as little as any team in the NFL.

WR: (3)
Notes:  This number is really 5 as they have exclusive rights to Jeremy Ross and Jarrett Boykin.  The loss of Jennings will likely be felt if they suffer any injuries here.  Driver's impact will be felt much less.  The biggest reason Jennings hurts as a loss is because he joined the Vikings; when a team in the division gets one of your key players, it's a two point swing instead of one.

TE: (4)
Notes:  People in the blogosphere wanted Finley to be traded/released/forced to take a paycut.  This after he posted 61 receptions for over 600 yards.  Certainly he could have scored more (2 TDs) and his drops were greatly reduced from last season.  The loss of Crabtree to the Buccaneers is not very important as the Packers expect Quarless to be back to full strength and he will take over for Crabtree's role.  Crabtree's loss will most likely be felt in twitter more than on the playing field.

OL: (8)
Notes:  Evan Dietrich-Smith was tendered a low tender (right to match).  So far there has been no interest from any team on any restricted free agent.  We'll see as the free agency period progresses. 

DL: (7)
Notes:  FOUR of the seven are free agents after this next season.  A lot of decisions need to be made here.

LB: (9)
Notes:  Walden left to the Colts via free agency and Francois re-signed likely for around $1 million for a single year.  AJ Hawk took a paycut.  Mathews is a free agent after this next season.  Bishop and Smith are both coming off season ending injuries

DB: (8)
Notes:  Burnett is a free agent after this season.  Woodson was released and Shields was tendered with a second round restricted free agency tender.  Chances are slim with teams' cap situations that they will make a run at shields and give up a second rounder at the same time. 

K/P/LS: (4)
Notes:  Packers signed some street free agent kicker to "compete" with Crosby in camp.  I'm guessing it's more along the lines of keeping Crosby's leg a little more fresh.  Fatigue can lead to bad mechanics, and we all saw what bad mechanics do to Crosby.

 Cap Space currently:  Around 20 million

Around the Division:
Relatively speaking the Packers have lost less than their division rivals.  Detroit has seemingly blown up their defense and signed Reggie Bush on offense.  The Bears have finally agreed that they are too old on defense and jettisoned Brian Urlacher, while once again providing no linemen to protect Cutler.  Minnesota has fared slightly better losing Winfield, Brinkley, and Harvin but re-signed Loadholt and went out and got Jennings.  They still have some serious holes to fill on that defense and at wide receiver though.