Quick hits on the first week of free agency

News is breaking fast and furious out of 1265 Lombardi Ave. Here are some quick thoughts on the biggest headlines.

Vinatieri for Longwell?
When the Green Bay Packers let Ryan Longwell depart for the purpler pastures of nemesis Minnesota, the immediate thought was "good riddance." His act of blaming everyone but himself for a missed kick was growing old.

Now, if Green Bay can sign Adam Vinatieri away from the New England Patriots, then the Packers will have made a huge upgrade to their kicking game.

If Vinatieri isn't the greatest kicker in NFL history, someone will have to show me someone better. He's clutch. He can kick from long distances. He's used to kicking in bad weather.

Still, it would be a shock if Vinatieri uproots his family to come to Green Bay. Sure, the Packers can offer him a lot of money — they remain about $20 million under the salary cap — but with the Patriots, he is all but guaranteed to be in championship contention every season. He made $3 million last season for New England, so it's not as if the Patriots are opposed to paying a kicker.

Considering Packers GM Ted Thompson wouldn't pay Longwell $2 million per season, it's hard to imagine he'll pay a 33-year-old Vinatieri more than $3 million.

The guess here: Vinatieri is visiting Green Bay in hopes of getting a big offer he can take back to Foxboro for New England, or for the Dallas Cowboys, to match.

Pickett for Jackson?
The signing of defensive tackle Ryan Pickett seems like a nice move. He's not as dominant as a healthy and hungry (no pun intended ... really) Grady Jackson, but he's a lot younger and a whole lot more durable, having played all 16 games the last four seasons.

How did the St. Louis Rams view their 320-pound run-stuffer? They signed Dallas' La'Roi Glover at more than $5 million per season while letting Pickett depart for about $3.75 million per season. Glover will be 32 when the season starts; Pickett is just 26.

The difference? Glover is on the downslide in his career but he can still get to the passer. Pickett, like the 33-year-old Jackson, never will be a force in the pass rush. He has six sacks in five seasons.

Barry at guard?
One of the wisest moves Thompson has made this off-season was re-signing Kevin Barry. The U-71 tight end — a run-heavy package named after his No. 71 — will finally get a chance to crack the starting lineup, and judging by the lack of productivity at guard last season, Barry's a decent bet to win the job.

Competition is a good thing, and if he can light a fire under incumbent starter Will Whitticker, that would be a great thing.

Green Bay for Minnesota?
Thank goodness William Henderson has a little common sense. Henderson visited the Dark Side, but came back to the Green and Gold, choosing the Packers over the Vikings.

Loyalty is all but dead in professional sports. That's a two-way street, and not something that's entirely the players' fault. It's one thing for star players to leave — as did Longwell and Darren Sharper — but it's another when those players sign with the arch rival, as they did by joining the Vikings.

Hopefully, Henderson can finish his career on a strong note and retire as a Packer.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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