Packers stick to quiet offseason plan, earn B- grade from PFF

Mike Renner breaks down Green Bay's offseason performance, including a detailed look at free agency and the NFL draft.

| 4 months ago
(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Packers stick to quiet offseason plan, earn B- grade from PFF


It’s been another solid, if unexciting, offseason for the Green Bay Packers under general manager Ted Thompson. The signing of a middle-level tight end like Jared Cook is about as active as Green Bay will ever be in free agency, yet it’s a move that could provide a serious impact in 2016.

Below is a compilation of the Packers’ 2016 offseason transactions, including free-agency moves and draft picks:

Offseason grade: B- 

Free agency and trades 

New arrivals: Lerentee McCray; Jared Cook

Re-signings: Nick Perry; Letroy Guion; Lane Taylor; Mason Crosby; James Starks; Don Barclay

Departures: Casey Hayward; Andy Mulumba; Scott Tolzien; B.J. Raji; Nate Palmer; James Jones; John Kuhn; Brett Goode; Andrew Quarless; Sean Richardson; Mike Neal

Outside of Casey Hayward and Jared Cook, most of the Packers’ free agent news revolved around re-signing their own backups. Still, letting Hayward — arguably the top slot cornerback in the NFL and the Packers’ highest-graded cornerback last season — walk for such an affordable deal in free agency doesn’t quite fit in with the Packers draft-and-develop strategy. Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall had promising rookie seasons, but with how much the Packers play nickel/dime they are one injury away from being in a tight spot at the position. It’s obviously not a devastating loss for the Packers, though.

The Cook signing is intriguing given how gifted he is athletically compared to the current options on the Packers roster. He’s had only three positively-graded seasons as a receiver in his seven year career, but the best quarterback in that time he saw significant snaps with was Sam Bradford. Cook’s 10 drops on 49 catchable passes last year — easily the worst rate among tight ends — are obviously concerning though, especially considering Aaron Rodgers had 9.6 percent of his catchable passes dropped last year — the eighth-highest rate of any quarterback.

2016 NFL draft 

1-27 Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
2-48 Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
3-88 Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State
4-131 Blake Martinez, ILB, Stanford
4-137 Dean Lowry, DT, Northwestern
5-163 Trevor Davis, WR, California
6-200 Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford

There’s not much we can complain about in Green Bay’s draft besides the fact that they didn’t select anyone who finished higher than 46th on our draft board (Jason Spriggs). Still the Packers managed five players in the top-100 of our draft board (Spriggs, Clark, Fackrell, Lowry, Murphy) and never went reaching for a need. The multiple offensive line picks are certainly a long term investment considering T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton, David Bakhtiari, and J.C. Tretter are all set to hit free agency next offseason.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for the Packers to “win” the offseason, it won’t happen anytime soon. They’ll be relying on development from young players and return from injury to push them over the hump from the divisional round to the Super Bowl this year. If Jordy Nelson is fully healthy and one of Jared Cook, Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederris, Ty Montgomery, or Jeff Janis can take a legitimate step forward next season, the offense should return to it’s 2014 form. Then the question becomes: are the four defensive backs in the secondary on their rookie contracts that will see significant snaps in the secondary ready to transform Green Bay into a Super Bowl-caliber defense?

GBD

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • pydsigner

    Can someone explain to me why Peppers is penciled in here as a 4-3 DT and Matthews as a DE?

    • Ben Holden

      Dime package, Peppers can blow up the guards because they are slow.

      • pydsigner

        Ah thanks, would have been nice if they had labeled the image with the package it represents.

    • Rafael Lopes

      Nascar defensive package

  • AJ

    Barrington should be in there with an N/A there is no way Thomas will be starting over him when the season starts. Otherwise the entire defense looks solid

  • Ben Holden

    What is with Mathews low ranking?

    • ShaneMacG

      Bed solely on his play when he was out of position at ILB (where he is not a solid run defender – 46.8 score) in 2015. Also, being out of position hurt his pass rushing stats thus being tied for 40th overall for all LBs.

      • hotbari

        Matthews grade wasn’t any worse than the other linebackers. The backfield is still a weakness on the team.

  • sandbun

    So if they lost a valuable player (not to mention Raji) and only gained an interesting player but with a major red flag, and had a pretty standard draft, how do they get an above average grade? I get they don’t particularly need a good offseason as long as they have Rodgers, but if you’re going to grade their offseason, grade their offseason.

    • Roland

      Because its the Packers. Article also says they didn’t reach for a need in the draft, yet they took a player in the 1st that this site had ranked as a low 2nd rounder. Of course the Packers may have valued him higher than PFF did, but going by your own rankings, taking a player 30 spots early is the definition of “reaching for a need”.

    • enai D

      Evidently, watching/grading NFL film doesn’t guarantee competence at some basic logic or common sense.

    • crosseyedlemon

      A team can get an above average grade by not over reacting to negative media hype and sticking with a plan that has served them well in the past. That is the case here. The Packers are essentially the same team that most sportsbooks had listed as a top 5 choice to win the Super Bowl a year ago. If the stay healthy they have to be considered one of the favorites to win the NFC again.

      • sandbun

        What negative media hype? I’m sure you can find a few examples to the contrary, but 90% plus of all Packers offseason reviews talk about how wise Thompson is. Not a few of them even flat out say “Well, this seems questionable, but it’s Thompson, so I’m going to trust him on this.” It’s not hard to fail to overreact when everyone is saying how great your plan it. I mean, I get it, the Packers are a SB contender year in and year out. He deserves his fair share of that credit. But that doesn’t mean this was an above average offseason for an NFL team, no matter how you choose to grade that.

    • Wil Lefebvre

      Hmmm I guess that Jordy Nelson’s return from injury, along with Sam Barrington at ILB. And Raji??? REALLY!?!? Do you even watch the Packers??? Mike Daniel’s is the heart and soul of that D line and Guion has out played Raji since he’s been there. Raji was a one year wonder.

  • ShaneMacG

    I agree with Renner’s draft assessment. I would have taken Reggie Ragland ILB with their 1st pick as there were plenty of highly rated DL still in the draft. They need a presence in the middle. They must be relying on a full recovery for Sam Barrington. We are going to miss Casey Hayward.

    • Linda1414

      just as Hazel answered I’m taken by surprise that you can get paid $4145 in four weeks on the computer . try this out http://clck.ru/9vGvY

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    • Miss Columbia

      Barrington is back, but aside from Matthews, their backers are slow. I agree on Hayward. He wasn’t flashy and didn’t get many picks, but he was reliable. Cook’s hands will make Jermichael Finley look like the venus fly-trap.