Free agency's best left: Packers analysis

Top unrestricted free agents on the market

The Green Bay Packers are about $20 million under this year's salary cap. Free agency is nearly three weeks old, and top players at each position have been gobbled up by various National Football League teams.

Here is a list of the best of the rest, and players that the Packers have, or should, consider signing:

Quarterback
Kerry Collins
Anthony Wright
Tommy Maddox
Jamie Martin
Jay Fiedler
Tony Banks
Shane Matthews

Analysis: A lot depends on Brett Favre. If Favre retires, the Packers obviously will need a veteran to take over if Aaron Rodgers struggles, or at least back up Rodgers. Collins is the best of the bunch.

Running Back
Anthony Thomas
Antowain Smith
Jonathan Wells
Lamar Gordon
Stephen Davis
Tony Hollings
Mike Cloud

Analysis: The Packers need fresh legs at this position. After re-signing Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport, they won't sign another veteran.

Fullback
Jerald Sowell
Jarrod Baxter
Daimon Shelton

Analysis: The Packers at one time drafted (7th round, 1997) Sowell, then released him in training camp. Once again, it will be the William Henderson/Vonta Leach show so the Packers won't be pursuing another veteran.

Wide Receiver
Peerless Price
Kevin Johnson
Dez White
Az-Zahir Hakim (PR)
Randy Hymes
David Boston
Johnnie Morton
Troy Edwards
Michael Lewis (KR/PR)
Troy Walters (PR)

Analysis: The Packers are seeking a return specialist, but it's doubtful that they will pursue Walters or Lewis. Lewis is coming off a torn ACL that caused him to miss 14 games last year, and Walters might be a little too small at 5-foot-7, 172 pounds. But Packers could use another veteran receiver, so signing either Price, Johnson or White makes sense.

Tight End
Boo Williams
Lamont Hall
Roland Williams

Analysis: The Packers won't sign any of these guys. They seem content with Bubba Franks, David Martin and Donald Lee.

Guard
Tutan Reyes
Ron Stone
Kendyl Jacox
Victor Riley (OT)
Fred Weary
Tom Nutten

Analysis: The Packers need help at guard, but are determined to re-inforce the position with their current group of linemen, plus a few more picks in the upcoming draft.

Offensive Tackle
Damion McIntosh
Brad Hopkins (LT)
Orlando Brown
Mike Pearson
Matt Stinchcomb
Todd Fordham
Ephraim Salaam
Todd Steussie

Analysis: If Green Bay was in position to make a Super Bowl run this season, they probably would pursue a veteran tackle. But the Packers are not expected to do much damage, if any, this season in the playoffs, so don't expect them to sign a veteran tackle.

Center
Jeff Mitchell
Trey Teague
Cory Raymer

Analysis: Veteran Mike Flanagan bolted for Houston, but the Packers have a long line of hopefuls to start at center, beginning with Scott Wells. He will be pushed by Chris White and veteran free agent Wayne Lucier.

Kicker
Todd Peterson
Paul Edinger

Analysis: Green Bay signed free agent Billy Cundiff earlier this week, leaving Peterson and Edinger out on the street.

Punter
Kyle Richardson
Tom Rouen
Tom Tupa
Sean Landeta

The Packers have high hopes for ex-CFL Jon Ryan, signed in early February. Ryan has a good chance of pushing B.J. Sander out of a job.

Defensive Tackle
Brenston Buckner
Sam Adams
Jason Fisk
Grady Jackson
James Reed
Lance Legree
Ed Jasper
Steve Martin

Analysis: After shelling out $14 million to UFA Ryan Pickett, the Packers will save their money to bolster other positions.

Defensive End Lance Johnstone
Duane Clemons
Gary Walker (DT in 4-3)
Adrian Dingle

Analysis: None of these guys can help the Packers, plus Green Bay gave veteran DE Aaron Kampman a four-year, $21 million contract earlier this month.

Inside Linebacker
Rocky Calmus
Nick Griesen (WLB)
Earl Holmes
Chris Claiborne
Brad Kassell
Saleem Rasheed

Analysis: The Packers have Nick Barnett in the middle and probably will keep him there. Green Bay also likes Roy Manning, who will be entering his second season, at the strong-side, or middle linebacker position.

Outside Linebacker
LaVar Arrington (WLB)
Na'il Diggs (WLB/SLB)
Jamie Sharper (WLB/SLB)
Tommy Polley (WLB)
Chad Brown (SLB/WLB)
Jamie Winborn (SLB)
Peter Boulware (SLB)
Keith Newman (SLB)
Barrett Green (WLB)
Brandon Short (SLB, WLB)
Junior Seau (WLB)
Nate Wayne (WLB)
Warrick Holdman (WLB)
Keith Adams (WLB)

Analysis: By signing Arrington, the Packers would silence all of their critics who say they aren't making a big enough splash in free agency. Plus, the defense would gain a legitimate playmaker at a position that absolutely needs one.

Cornerback
Charles Woodson
Ahmed Plummer
Eric Warfield
Ty Law
Dexter McCleon
Ray Mickens
Willie Williams
Jamar Fletcher
Michael Lehan
DeWayne Washington
Willie Middlebrooks

Analysis: The Packers are planning to meet with Woodson this week. They also should consider Law. The defense desperately needs a veteran cornerback to take over for Ahmad Carroll.

Safety
Antuan Edwards
Marcus Coleman
Tebucky Jones
Brent Alexander
Lance Schulters
Keion Carpenter
Deke Cooper
Ronnie Heard
Earl Little
Jerry Wilson
Ifeanyi Ohalete
Bracy Walker
Mel Mitchell
Mike Logan
John Howell


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