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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Packers able to spend big money in free agency


By on 2/16/2014 04:30:00 PM

In the wake of an injury-riddled 2013 season for the Green Bay Packers, new hope has risen in the wake of next month's free agency prospects.  According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the Packers are in prime condition to be very active during the massive 2014 free agent pool.


Free agency begins March 11, and it is not typical for the Packers to dip their toes into this market. General manager Ted Thompson traditionally shies away from free agency, instead focusing on signing "street free agents" or other rookie free agents. Thompson doesn't typically like to go for the big names often, except for the class of 2006, in which he signed five free agents, including defensive back Charles Woodson and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett.

As few and far between as the Packers usually are during free agency, this year will be different. They have an eye-popping number of nearly $30 million in cap space they could utilize on outside free agents. $30 million.  Just let that sink in for a minute.

Mike Morbeck via Wikimedia Commons
With so much money to play with, who will the Packers target? They ranked 25th in total defense and 24th in points per game, so the general assumption would be to improve their defensive areas.

According to Rapoport, the team is committed to rebuilding its defense in a way that best suits the philosophy of defensive coordinator Dom Capers. This potentially could mean revamping their defensive line to be more versatile, and to improve their ability to blitz and get after the quarterback. The Packers were tied for eighth in the league last year for sacks, finishing with 44.

If Green Bay decides to go after defensive linemen it could spell trouble for B.J. Raji, the six-year veteran defensive tackle who turned down $8 million to stay with the Packers last season. Capers has expressed that he wants defensive linemen that better resemble Datone Jones, who was last the Packers' first-round draft pick last year.  Raji weighs in over 330 pounds, and lacks the quickness and agility that Jones possesses.

Having roughly $30 million to use, the Packers have to option to re-sign some of their veterans, play around in free agency, and also focus on the 2014 draft.  They are able to pick and choose as they please, which undoubtedly is the envy of other franchises around the league.

With the Packers' general manager Thompson notoriously focusing on drafting and not free agency, it will be interesting to see how he will handle the luxury of having so much to play with. When asked about the Packers' current situation, Fox Sports NFL radio analyst and NFL scout Chris Landry sums up the importance of free agency.
"Let me tell you something. In free agency, you pay great money for good players, and obscene money for great players. You overpay in free agency. In the draft, you get the best value that you can. That's why the teams that win, draft the best and supplement with free agency. Free agency is all about supply and demand. Free agency is very important to supplement your roster. There has never been one team that's built their roster through free agency and been successful. Not one." 
Supplementing the Packers roster with free agency signings will be a walk in the park.  In a year where big names and true athletes are willingly joining the pool, the Packers will have the luxury to practically do whatever they please.



Follow me on Twitter for more NFL News: @alewnes7


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