Worthy to play in Green Bay

PackerReport.com's Doug Ritchay pinpoints five free agents that the Green Bay Packers should consider signing:

The NFL free agency period kicked off today and it seems the Green Bay Packers don't plan on being major players.

For a team that finished 8-8 and may have Brett Favre for one more season, that's disappointing. The NFC isn't loaded with marquee teams, meaning if the Packers make a couple noteworthy additions, maybe a Super Bowl run is possible.

Some may shake their head at that claim, but with plenty of room beneath the salary cap ($21.2 million), why shouldn't the Packers look to address a couple spots in free agency?

Last year, they overspent to sign cornerback Charles Woodson ($39 million, seven years), who actually rediscovered his Pro Bowl form prior to suffering countless injuries in Oakland. Add another player or two like Woodson, and who knows?

With that in mind, I've targeted five players the Packers should talk to about coming to Green Bay. I'm not asking the team to sign these five guys, but at least contact them.

1. Adalius Thomas, LB, Baltimore. Probably the premier linebacker in free agency, who will command Woodson-like money. The Packers can afford it, and imagine adding Thomas (83 tackles, 11 sacks in 2006) to current linebackers A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett. That would give Packers opponents headaches.

Fourteen years ago, the Packers inked quite a defensive player in Reggie White, who led the Packers to two Super Bowls and one title. This addition could have a similar impact.

2. Patrick Crayton, WR, Dallas. Crayton is stuck behind Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn in Dallas, so maybe he would prefer a new place to play. Crayton will be 28, and has displayed good potential, but the Cowboys haven't allowed him to become a starter. Add him to Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, and Favre would be smiling ear-to-ear.

Also, this gives the Packers an option if they are gun-shy about acquiring Randy Moss in a trade. This would be much less controversial and cheaper.

3. Dominic Rhodes, RB, Indianapolis. Rhodes rushed for more than 100 yards in the Super Bowl, and a couple weeks later was arrested for driving under the influence. With Koren Robinson already suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, the Packers may ignore Rhodes.

However, Rhodes hasn't been a problem like Robinson, making one think this is an isolated event. Rhodes could be paired with Vernand Morency and give the Packers a running back tandem arguably better than Ahman Green-Morency, if Green re-signs.

Also, with Joseph Addai likely taking over full-time with the Colts, Rhodes' chances to remain a contributor in Indy are likely done. In Green Bay, he could play a similar role he did with the Colts.

Packers GM Ted Thompson was asked at the Scouting Combine about bringing in a player who recently was charged with a DUI.

"I won't speak about Dominic specifically, but in general you look at any player you bring in, whether it be a free agent, a draft choice, a rookie free agent, a trade, you try to take into consideration the character and the makeup of that individual, and we think it's very, very important for the chemistry of the Green Bay Packers, in specific terms, that they have to be the kind of player that's going to fit in our locker room and get along with the way life is in Green Bay," Thompson said. "It's a good life and I think our players enjoy it, but there are certain players who probably wouldn't fit in."

4. Jermaine Wiggins, TE, Minnesota. Cut this week, Wiggins caught 46 passes last season. He's a legitimate receiving threat and the Packers don't have one at tight end. Bubba Franks is a shadow of who he was five years ago; David Martin's games-played streak can never get past four because of injuries; and Donald Lee is just "a guy."

Adding Wiggins would give the Packers a threat in the middle of the field, something they have lacked in recent seasons.

5. Roderick Hood, CB, Philadelphia. The Packers are set with Woodson and Al Harris at cornerback, but the depth behind them is thin. Will Blackmon is an unknown with his foot problem, so what happens if the Packers suffer an injury to one of their starters?

Hood isn't a starter, but has experience playing for a good defense. And even if Blackmon is healthy this coming season, he has no experience. It would be good to have some experience at the nickel back, in case he becomes a starter, even for a short period.

Doug Ritchay

Doug Ritchay is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at dritchay@sbcglobal.net.

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