Before we look at who really can help this team we have to be certain on what it needs. Here are the Packers' needs as I see it:
They need a safety because Marquand Manuel didn't cut it, and I don't see any upside. It would be different if he was a rookie just learning how to play in the National Football League. I would have given him the learning curve, but he wasn't he was supposed to fill the void and be an upgrade from Mark Roman? He wasn't. He was a bust and needs to be replaced. It's that simple. They don't have to cut him because he was paid, but they need to go get a legit safety to play next to Nick Collins. The question is who?
At this time there are basically five or six safeties available with others maybe getting released, but the those available now are Seattle's Ken Hamlin, who came back from an injury. Then again Seattle's defense wasn't that great against the passing game and put no fear into anyone. Then you have Michael Lewis of Philly, who in my opinion was just a guy and the other guy I'm not thrilled about is Terrance Holt of Detroit. Need I say more? But I do like Deon Grant of Jacksonville because he is a hitter and comes from a defense whose philosophy is to be as physical as possible. At this point in time he is the best of the safeties that are free agents.
The other question is: Do the Packers believe that they have to go get a safety this way, or do they have one in college that they envision drafting? Maybe they do, but to take two safeties in three years in the draft would be surprising to me. I'm not saying they won't but this position for the most part is hard for a rookie to play unless he is a very special player. If they can fill this void with another veteran the defense could take off right where it left off last year. It wouldn't have to wait for a youngster to get it and catch up. But is that guy out there? In the next couple of weeks those things will get sorted out because the draft lists and predictions will flood in.
Besides safety the next position I feel that needs to be addressed is at the receiver position, which is real interesting because it could be a big-time receiver who could stretch the field, or a tight end that could do the same thing. It's one of those crazy marriages. A good tight end makes the receivers better because he takes the underneath coverage away and makes the safeties have to pay attention which can only make the play action and run game better as well. Don't get me wrong, I still am a Bubba Franks fan, but for whatever reason he didn't get it done last year and I couldn't count on any other tight end to be reliable.
So is it tight end or another receiver that this offense needs more? As my wife would say, "it's a horse a piece," which until I moved to Green Bay I had no clue what that meant (by the way it means the same). You all know that I would love to see Randy Moss in a Packer uniform, but that would only happen in a trade scenario, so as I look at the receivers in free agency I must admit that at this time none of them make me say this team would be better with them on it. Those out there include Donte Stallworth of Philly but he can't stay healthy. I wonder why is Philly letting him go? Then there is Drew Bennett of Tennessee, and I say to myself, ‘Is he better now than what Carlyle Holiday could be next year? Or a clean and sober Koren Robinson? Unless he is very cheap I'd say ‘Thanks, but no thanks.' If the Packers could get their hands on Randy Moss in a trade I'm all for it.
Tight end is where things just might have to heat up. I know Bubba Franks just signed a nice contract two years ago, but he didn't live up to it. Depending on how much his contract affects the salary cap I would make him restructure it to get someone at this position. Business is business and the Packers can't throw too much money into that spot. As I look at the tight end spot my eyes light up because there are three players that could be exactly what the Packers need:
We have New England's Daniel Graham, who can do everything the Packers need. He can stretch the field with the best of them. He can also block defensive ends. Ask Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Aaron Kampman. He also is a heck of a pass route runner. He would be a perfect fit hands down.
Not far behind him is Jerramy Stevens of Seattle, who has all the same skills as Graham but the knock on him is that he will drop the ball at different times, but I would still get him if I can.
Then there is Eric Johnson who Mike McCarthy worked with while they were both at San Francisco, so he would have all the in's and out's on him.
I know just because the Packers might want to sign a free agent there are other things involved such as money and whether or not they see the Packers having an opportunity to get in the playoffs. This team is in better position than most teams in the NFC to be attractive for guys that want to get paid and help a team get to the promised land. As I see it, wouldn't it be nice to see Brett Favre, the gunslinger, going out with his guns blazing, having Donald Driver on one side with Randy Moss on the other as Daniel Graham lines up in the middle. All Ted and Mike have to do is GO GET THE HELP.
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at email@example.com.