Inside The Green Bay Packers

This has been an offseason of significant change for the Green Bay Packers. <br><br> Ted Thompson has returned to become the team's executive vice president, general manager and director of football operations.

Head coach Mike Sherman was rumored to have been close to resigning after being told he was losing his player personnel powers, but having his focus primarily on the team's on-field performance should prove to be beneficial.

Purging the roster of high-priced salary, Thompson now takes on the task of filling a roster that's lacking significant quality and depth. Replacing the ever-reliable guard tandem of Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle will be difficult. Their departures places an increased amount of pressure on quarterback Brett Favre , but the Packers have remained a very viable offensive team through change before and should be able to do so again in 2005.

With the 24th selection in the draft, the Packers must select a player that can come in and compete for a starting spot. Due to the state of the linebacker and safety positions, Green Bay could select one of the best prospects at either position and reasonably expect an immediate payoff. While the Packers will not pass on the obvious best player available in the first round, they may slightly alter this strategy if a need player/position remains on the board without a significant drop in talent.

As the draft is expected to provide the depth to retool the roster, the Packers are expected to hold their place, as Thompson has never traded up on draft day while running the process for the Seattle Seahawks . With three selections in the top 58 picks on draft day, the Packers should have the ability to improve their roster with quality talent.

TEAM NEEDS

Safety – Darren Sharper was released after refusing to take a contract restructuring that would have included a pay cut. The Packers were not enamored with his play the past two seasons anyway. Mark Roman did not play well last season and the Packers are looking to improve upon both safety spots. The team has absolutely no depth on the roster with the free-agent departures of Sharper, Bhawoh Jue and Michael Hawthorne .

Quarterback – Brett Favre will return for at least one last season, but behind him on the depth chart are the unproven Craig Nall and T.J. O'Sullivan. Veteran Doug Pederson hasn't retired at this time, but the Packers are not counting on his return. The time is coming quickly for the Packers to groom Favre's replacement.

Defensive line – Depth is a major issue for the Packers, who are susceptible behind starters Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Aaron Kampman at the end spots with Grady Jackson and Cletidus Hunt at defensive tackle. The Packers are very young and inexperienced behind the starters and with Jackson having offseason knee surgery, the Packers will need to address the future of this team on the defensive side of the ball.

Linebacker – Behind starters Nick Barnett and Na'il Diggs, the Packers don't have quality and depth at the position. They have no other option but to address the issue with the draft and/or re-sign Hannibal Navies .

Offensive guard – Having lost Mike Wahle to Carolina and Marco Rivera to Dallas in the offseason, the Packers are in a precarious position. With minimal depth, they have signed oft-injured Adrian Klemm and Matt O'Dwyer in free agency. Both players could be serviceable acquisitions, but the team needs to look for additional quality and depth along the line.

FREE AGENCY AND OFFSEASON

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: TE Bubba Franks .

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: P Brian Barker, WR Shockmain Davis , LB Torrance Marshall , LB Hannibal Navies.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OT Kevin Barry , DE Aaron Kampman, QB Craig Nall, QB J.T. O'Sullivan .

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: T/G Brad Bedell , WR/KR Antonio Chatman , RB Najeh Davenport , RB Tony Fisher , CB Jason Horton , DT Cullen Jenkins , TE David Martin , C/G Grey Ruegamer , TE Ben Steele , DE R-Kal Truluck .

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: S Todd Franz (Redskins), OG Adrian Klemm (Patriots), OG Matt O'Dwyer (Buccaneers).

PLAYERS LOST: CB Michael Hawthorne (released), S Bhawoh Jue (Chargers), OG Marco Rivera (Cowboys), S Darren Sharper (released), OG Mike Wahle (released).


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