Packers May Target Patriots Free Agent

Free agency is almost upon us and the teams have plenty of players to re-sign to the roster, that is IF they want to. Green Bay is looking for offensive linemen, and one place they may find one is in New England.

Packers might lose Wells in free agency

   Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has gone to bat of late for friend Ryan Braun. Whether Rodgers has done the same for Packers teammate Scott Wells isn't known.

   Rodgers defended Braun, the exonerated Milwaukee Brewers outfielder, with a slew of messages on Twitter after Braun's 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball for a drug-related penalty was overturned. Rodgers then spent a day with Braun and Brewers teammates at their spring training in Arizona on Feb. 29.

   If Rodgers has gone out of his way to visit Wells in Tennessee and make a pitch for the Pro Bowl lineman to return to the Packers, nobody's saying - or tweeting.

   Wells, the Packers' trusted center, is at the center of attention in Green Bay with the March 13 start of free agency looming.

   Other than backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who's not expected to remain with the team, Wells is the marquee free-agent-to-be for the Packers this offseason. Team management knocked tight end Jermichael Finley from the top of and completely off that list when he signed a two-year, $14 million contract Feb. 23.

D.Koppen
Koppen started 120 of the 121 games he's played in since being Drafted in 2003. (Getty Images)
   The scuttlebutt at the recent NFL Scouting Combine is the Packers are preparing to move on without Wells, an overachieving seventh-round draft pick in 2004 who has been a full-time starter since '06 and played in his first Pro Bowl this year.

   "I'm very hopeful, confident that things can work out from a business standpoint with Scott," head coach Mike McCarthy said at the combine. "But, if it does not, then we have to move in another direction."

   McCarthy's agent, Brian Parker, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette he met with Packers negotiator Russ Ball during the combine. However, indications are the two sides aren't close on brokering a deal, which makes it more likely Green Bay allows Wells to reach free agency barring general manager Ted Thompson using his available franchise tag on the 31-year-old player.

   If Thompson does follow through with tagging one of his guys by the deadline Monday, the popular choice is Flynn, thereby enabling the Packers to get a something in return (i.e., a high draft pick this year) for Rodgers' intriguing understudy.

   Wells reportedly is angling for a contract that will pay him an average of more than $7 million per season and the Packers aren't willing to pick up such a huge tab. Never mind Wells comes in high regard by its coaches as Green Bay's top offensive lineman the last couple seasons.

   The writing may have been clearly on the wall at the combine in Indianapolis when a report of a meeting there between Green Bay's brass and Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for Houston Texans free-agent center Chris Myers, surfaced.

   This year's free-agent pool is expected to be flooded with several centers - among them the San Diego Chargers' Nick Hardwick and the New England Patriots' Dan Koppen.

   Yet, Thompson, who has been steadfastly reluctant to dip into free agency in recent years, may have his eye on replacing Wells in the long term with a top prospect in this year's draft. Wisconsin's Peter Konz and Georgia's Ben Jones stand out, though the Packers would probably have to improve their current draft position of No. 28 in the first round to land Konz.

   The short-term solution for the possible departure of Wells is plugging in capable young backup Evan Dietrich-Smith.

   "The beauty of that is we don't play any games for a while. So, we'll figure that out," McCarthy said. "Those are really projections and scenarios I hope we don't have to talk about."

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