NFL free agency is just around the corner and starting next week could signify which teams make a case to be a Super Bowl contender in 2014. Normally this time of year is a snooze fest for Packers fans due to GM Ted Thompson’s draft and develop philosophy, but according to NFL Networks Ian Rapport, this might be the year where the Packers make a splash in free agency.
Based on the $133 million salary cap in 2014, the Packers have $34.7 million available in cap space, which is the sixth most in the league. Although some of this money might go to retaining some key players and extending some contracts, the Packers should be able to pursue some big name free agents this year.
So what can the Packers do with all this money? Here are five free agent possibilities they should explore.
1. Jarius Byrd, S, Bills: Lucky for the Packers, the best available free agent this offseason is at their greatest need, safety. Arguably one of the top safeties in the NFL, his 22 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles since coming into the league in 2009 speak for themselves in showing his play making ability. The Packer’s defense lacks play makers and Byrd would be a significant upgrade at a position that generated 0 interceptions in 2013. However, a talent like this won’t come cheap. He is looking to become one of the highest paid at the safety position, but with the window getting smaller each season, the Packers can’t afford to be cheap.
2. Brandon Browner, CB, Seahawks: Although his play declined in 2013 I still believe that Brandon Browner can be an asset in the NFL. A 6’4” 220 pound beast, Browner was the best corner on Seattle not named Richard Sherman. Having won his case to be reinstated to the NFL come free agency, this corner would be a great pickup in a dominant passing league. He is also attractive because there is a good chance he will come cheap. According to Seahawk’s reporter Terry Blount, Browner will be suspended for the first 4 games of the 2014 season. This may make some teams shy away from him, but hopefully not the Packers. Playing in a division with big receivers like Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery, a 6’4” Browner can come in and help win key games.
3. Karlos Dansby, LB, Cardinals: You may remember this guy from the 51-45 wild-card shootout back in the 2009 playoffs, and his game-winning fumble recovery in overtime. Now we all know that terrible officiating cost the Packers that game, but since they were able to win the Super Bowl the following year, I have gotten over it, and would have no problem accepting this play making linebacker to our team. It’s hard to believe that a defense as dominant as Arizona’s could have been overlooked last year, but when you play in the same division as Seattle and San Francisco, that’s bound to happen. Arizona had the top ranked rush defense in 2013 and Dansby was a big part of it. The Packers were ranked 25th in rush defense in 2013 and adding a play maker like Dansby would be a great piece to add for improvement in the 2014 season.
4. Lamarr Houston, OLB, DE, DT, Raiders: Coming off a great season with 6 sacks, 69 tackles, and over 1,000 snaps played, Houston was arguably the best player on the Raider’s defense in 2013, and it is a mystery why Oakland hasn’t given him a long term contract. A versatile player, pointed out by MMQB’s Greg Bedard, Houston can play OLB, DE, and DT, which would be great in the Packers 3-4 defense. Combining Houston with Clay Matthews would be lethal, and if Matthews can stay healthy next season, these two players would be able to add consistent pressure to opposing QBs, something the Packers were not able to accomplish last season.
5. Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks: After mentioning four defensive players I wanted to finish off this list by adding at least one offensive player, and Sidney Rice would definitely be a good fit for the Packers. If the Packers loose James Jones to free agency, and it looks like they will, they would need to add another receiver to fill his spot. Rice could fill this void and would be a great choice if the Packers can get him cheap. A 6’4” 202 pound receiver, Rice could line up on the outside, and Cobb would be able to continue to play the slot where he is most effective. It would also give Rodgers a taller receiver that could catch some jump balls when he is escaping the pocket.
And with that, these are the players that I think would be a great help in getting the Packers back to the Super Bowl in 2014. Do you agree or disagree? Who do you think the Packers should pick up in free agency this year? Should they restrain from picking anyone and rebuild in the draft? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!