The Packers had an interesting season to say the least. They lost many of their most important players due to injury for various amounts of time but still managed to win the division. They are heading into an interesting offseason with a number of fan favorites hitting free agency. It has been reported that for the first time in years the Packers plan on being active in free agency.
Even with everyone healthy, it seems like the Packers have fallen behind the elite teams of the NFC like Seattle and San Francisco. The roster is bound to change between now and next season, but it’s good to see what Green Bay has at this point to see where the Packers most need to improve.
– Player markers are colored per class on a five-step ‘Poor’ to ‘High Quality’ scale based on their overall performance and the league’s elite are marked separately in blue.
– Colored outlines suggest a potential change in class.
– Underlined players will be 30+ years old for the 2014 season.
– Red player names suggest injury risks.
– Click on the image to enlarge.
– At one point tight end was viewed as one of the deepest positions on the Packers roster. They often have kept five on the roster despite using two tight end sets less often than the average team. At this point it now looks like one of the weakest positions on the roster. Their current projected starter is Ryan Taylor who has just 43 career receiving yards on 91 career pass routes. It is the only position group where the Packers don’t have at least one solid starter.
– Even though the Packers lost Greg Jennings and Donald Driver last year and could lose James Jones this year, they still have one of the best trios of receivers in the league with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin.
– Few teams look to be as reliant as their 2013 draft class as the Packers. Eddie Lacy and David Bakhtiari were both starters last year. Due to potential free agent losses, the Packers could also be starting J.C. Tretter at center as well as Datone Jones and Josh Boyd on the defensive line. Johnathan Franklin should have a larger role this year as a backup, and there is certainly a chance Casey Heyward plays more outside CB allowing Micah Hyde to play in the slot.
– Most teams are filled with adequate starters, with each team having an average of six. Green Bay is one of just three teams to have two or fewer.
2014 Cap Situation
Per overthecap.com, the Packers have $28.5 million of cap space available to spend this offseason which is sixth most. The Packers as always are one of the youngest teams so a high portion of their roster are on their rookie deals. Only eight players are scheduled to make over $4 million. That should be enough money to either re-sign some of their own free agents, bring in some players from other teams, or some combination of the two.
One cut that could be surprising but might make sense is cornerback Tramon Williams. He signed a four year deal after an excellent 2010 season, but in the first three years of the contract failed to match the same level of play. Cutting him would add an additional $7.5 million in cap space. He will be celebrating his 31st birthday in a month, and the Packers have a lot of young players at the position that already have experience.
At inside linebacker neither A.J. Hawk nor Brad Jones has lived up to their contracts. Cutting either would add just under $2 million in cap space, and an in-house replacement already exists in Jamari Lattimore. Cornerback Jarrett Bush has been kept around just for his special teams, but had a -2.0 special teams grade last year and is scheduled to make more money than half the starters on the team.
Opportunities from the Roster
The biggest opportunity is for the Packers young defensive linemen. All three starters in Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji and Johnny Jolly as well as backup C.J. Wilson are free agents and might not be re-signed. This should mean a lot more playing time for two recent high draft picks Datone Jones and Jerel Worthy. Josh Boyd also saw more playing time as the season went on, and that playing time could continue to increase. Even if the Packers re-sign one of their own or bring in someone from another team, all three players will have more snaps in 2014 than 2013.
Projected lineups by team:
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