Re-sign or release? Tracy White

PackerReport.com's Todd Korth continues his "Re-sign or release?" series by explaining why it is important for the Packers to retain linebacker Tracy White.

Tracy White is a borderline player who has had to earn every game check in his four-year NFL career often by doing the dirty work - playing on special teams.

White will often sacrifice his body for the sake of the team on kickoff coverages by "busting" a wedge, literally launching himself into three or four linked blockers so others can make a tackle. Or he will race downfield on punt coverages, shedding blockers along the way, to run down a shifty returner. White, a strongside linebacker, has been taking on these thankless jobs since then-Seahawks general manager Ted Thompson signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 2003. After two seasons in Seattle and another in Jacksonville, White was signed as a free agent last March by Thompson.

White wound up making the 53-man roster and leading special teams in tackles with 17 after he was placed on waivers in late September, then re-signed in early October.

Of the five Packers linebackers last season, White, obviously, was No. 5, which requires him to play well on special teams. He did, and because of his ability on the kamikaze units, the Packers should re-sign him for the 2007 season, and for more than the league minimum with no bonus. White has the potential to be to the Packers what linebacker Larry Izzo is to the New England Patriots. Izzo has been a special teams demon for the Pats since he signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2001. Before that, he led the Miami Dolphins annually in special teams tackles. The Packers would be wise to lock up White to a two or three-year deal, including a respectible bonus.

Playing well on special teams is essential to winning in today's NFL. It's no secret that the Packers need to improve in all areas of special teams, so to allow a good special teams player to sign with another team doesn't make sense for the Packers. Thompson should do all he can to retain White, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on March 2.

Though White, who earned $555,720 last season, got off to a slow start, he came on like an angry bull toward the end of the season. White made eight of his 17 special teams tackles in the final four games, meaning he likely got more comfortable in the special teams schemes and better realized his role.

"He had a lot of impact tackles on special teams," said Winston Moss, the team's linebackers coach and new asst. head coach/defense. "If he decides to come back, he'll have an opportunity to get in there and see if he can play linebacker, also. He has some speed, he has some quickness. He's strong at the point of attack. If he can get comfortable in the scheme, we'll try to get him in the mix at that Sam linebacker position, or wherever. We'll see what happens, but he finished the season very strong."

Hopefully, White will be able to pick up where he left off with the Packers.


Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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