Looking at Roster With Free-Agent Lens

Here is a look at the Green Bay Packers’ offseason roster, with an emphasis on the potential impact of free agency.

Quarterbacks

Under contract: Aaron Rodgers.

Free agents: Matt Flynn (unrestricted), Scott Tolzien (unrestricted).

Overview: Expect the Packers to re-sign at least one of the two and then take advantage of an incredibly deep draft class of mid-round quarterbacks.


Running backs

Under contract: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Rajion Neal (PS).

Free agents: John Kuhn (unrestricted), DuJuan Harris (exclusive rights)

Overview: The Packers retained the 32-year-old Kuhn last offseason with a one-year deal worth just more than $1 million. Expect a replay this offseason. Harris is a free agent in name only since the Packers have exclusive negotiating rights. He’s coming off a miserable season, so expect the Packers to add a back with some proven kickoff-return ability.


Wide receivers

Under contract: Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis (IR), Kevin Dorsey (IR), Myles White (PS).

Free agents: Randall Cobb (unrestricted), Jarrett Boykin (restricted).

Overview: In a star-studded free-agent class of receivers, Cobb almost certainly will return. The Packers are well-armed under the salary cap — OverTheCap.com projects about $25.5 million of space — and Cobb is exactly the type of player a draft-and-develop program needs to build around. Expect the Packers to use at least a midround draft pick on a receiver rather than hope Janis or Abbrederis are ready to be the difference-making No. 4 the team needs.


Tight ends

Under contract: Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers, Brandon Bostick, Justin Perillo.

Free agents: None.

Overview: The Packers need more here. Rodgers looks like a solid prospect but will he ever block at a high enough level or run after the catch well enough to be a front-line player? Playoff goat Bostick is under contract through 2015.


Offensive line

Under contract: David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, T.J. Lang, Lane Taylor, J.C. Tretter, Garth Gerhart, Aaron Adams (IR), Jeremy Vujnovich (PS), Joe Madsen (PS), Josh Walker (PS).

Free agents: Bryan Bulaga (unrestricted), Don Barclay (restricted; IR).

Overview: It will be interesting to see the approach with Bulaga. Considering he missed the second half of 2012 and all of 2013, how much can the Packers afford to invest? And how much interest will there be around the league? What is not in doubt is Bulaga is coming off a superb season. He is by far the best tackle headed to free agency. Barclay is a valuable role player; a role Tretter didn’t prove he was ready to handle.


Defensive line

Under contract: Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Bruce Gaston, Mike Pennel, Luther Robinson (IR), Khyri Thornton (IR).

Free agents: Letroy Guion (unrestricted), B.J. Raji (unrestricted; IR).

Overview: According to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, the Packers and Guion have talked about making their marriage more than a one-year deal. After using the first month of the season as his training camp, Guion played well. Last offseason, Raji found only tepid interest on the free-agent market and came back on a one-year, $4 million deal. If Raji couldn’t land a long-term deal then, it’s hard to believe he will this year after spending the year on injured reserve. So, it’s possible Raji returns on another one-year deal.


Outside linebackers

Under contract: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliott, Adrian Hubbard (PS), Nate Palmer (IR), Andy Mulumba (IR).

Free agents: None.

Overview: The major question here is what the Packers will do with Peppers, with his base salary soaring from $1 million in 2014 to $8.5 million in 2015. Peppers, who turned 35 on Jan. 18, picked his spots by necessity but had a monster season. The Packers probably need to use a premium pick at this position due to Peppers’ age and with Perry and Neal entering their final seasons under contract.


Inside linebackers

Under contract: Sam Barrington, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Carl Bradford, Joe Thomas (PS).

Free agents: Jamari Lattimore (unrestricted, IR).

Overview: Unless they think Matthews is the long-term answer — and unless Matthews is OK with being the long-term answer — the Packers need an extreme makeover. Hawk has a cap number of $5.1 million for 2015 and Jones has a cap number of $4.75 million. Both are coming off of horrible seasons. If the Packers part ways with both, they’ll save a combined $7.25 million of cap space. A high draft pick is practically a necessity.


Cornerbacks

Under contract: Sam Shields, Micah Hyde, Casey Hayward, Demetri Goodson, Tay Glover-Wright (PS).

Free agents: Tramon Williams (unrestricted), Davon House (unrestricted), Jarrett Bush (unrestricted).

Overview: There obviously are major questions here. Do the Packers re-sign Williams, who will turn 32 on March 16? Do they re-sign House, who has been dogged by injuries in three of his four seasons? Williams gave up eight touchdown passes but played well enough that the coaches didn’t feel inclined to give him much help. House has been a solid player when healthy but hasn’t shown he can be “The Guy” over the long haul. It’s possible the Packers go with Shields, Hyde and Hayward — not a bad trio — and hope Goodson is ready or they hit on a draft pick.


Safeties

Under contract: Morgan Burnett, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Chris Banjo, Jean Fanor (PS).

Free agents: Sean Richardson (restricted).

Overview: The Packers have their starting tandem with Burnett and Clinton-Dix. Richardson, a solid special-teams performer, forced his way into the lineup because of his combination of size and athletic ability.


Specialists

Under contract: Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode.

Free agents: None.

Overview: Masthay was outstanding in 2010 through 2013 but struggled in 2014. It’s possible the Packers bring in at least a token challenger.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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