No. 3 Bargain: Marshall Newhouse
Where would the Packers have been without Newhouse?
For the second-year minimum of $450,000 (and a signing bonus of less than $150,000 after being a fifth-round pick in 2010), Newhouse allowed the Packers' offense to function when veteran left tackle Chad Clifton sustained an injured hamstring and missed the next 10 games.
Statistically, Newhouse wasn't very good. Of the 43 offensive tackles (both left and right) who played in at least 75 percent of his team's snaps, Newhouse tied for 27th with eight sacks allowed, tied for 34th with eight quarterback hits and was 39th with 39 quarterback hits.
However, the Packers finished as the second-highest scoring team in NFL history, so it's not like coach Mike McCarthy had to dial back his plans.
Consistency, however, was the issue, which probably isn't surprising. Newhouse didn't play a single snap as a rookie. In 2011, he bounced all over the line in training camp and played two games at right tackle before settling in at left tackle. That consistency will come with time and just trusting his technique and footwork. His quick feet are his No. 1 asset, and he's intelligent and coachable.
"I think he's done a good job filling in," offensive line coach James Campen said late in the season. "You're exactly right: He has to be more consistent. He has to be consistent, flat-lined and play his game. With different types of rushers and different types of things that happen to him, he learns from those and responds to those very quickly. He's done a good job correcting his mistakes."
No. 3 Budget Buster: Chad Clifton
Clifton's cap number of $6.25 million was the fourth-highest on the team. He was superb in 2010, starting all 20 games and playing in 94.1 percent of the team's snaps. He allowed eight sacks but only one of those came during the Packers' six-game run to the championship.
Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
Clifton turns 36 in June and his cap number for 2012, his last season under contract, is $5.703 million. Because the three-year deal he signed in 2010 didn't include a signing bonus, there would be no cap hit for releasing him. He has a roster bonus of $249,975 due with the start of the league year on March 13. Will he return? Probably not, unless the Packers harbor concerns about Newhouse or last year's first-round pick, Derek Sherrod, whose rookie season ended with a broken leg.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.