One year later, the Packers get their man and sign free agent linebacker Armegis Spearman. Spearman was expected to fill the either the middle or weakside linebacker position in 2003, however Cincinnati matched the Packers offer to the restricted free agent but then surprisingly cut Spearman during the preseason. Ironically, Spearman's best season was his rookie season 2000 and his stats in 2000 (73 tackles, 1 sack, 3 pass defenses) are similar to the 2003 season for Hannibal Navies (86 tackles, 1 sack, 2 pass defenses) who is the free agent linebacker the Packers signed to play the weakside after missing out on Spearman. Both Navies and Spearman have had injury problems in prior seasons, although 2003 was the first season that Navies had stayed injury free. Its unlikely Spearman has a shot to replace Nick Barnett, Na'il Diggs or Navies at starting linebacker, but he appears to have the size and speed to be able to play any linebacker position. He could be the top backup because none of the other backup linebackers (Steve Josue, Paris Lenon, Torrance Marshall, or Marcus Wilkins) are guaranteed a spot on the Packers roster, but if all of them are healthy during the preseason it will be a fierce competition.
The Packers missed out on the opportunity to sign restricted free agent defensive end Bryce Fisher. The opportunity is not a big loss, because the Packers can find a player like Fisher in the middle rounds of the draft, if it is a priority.
The other restricted free agent news is that tight end David Martin, cornerback Bhawoh Jue, and linebacker Marshall all come back for next season. Martin does not seem to be anything more than a third tight end, but it is possible that Marshall gets his act together, avoids banned substances, and becomes a starting linebacker. Jue overcame injuries in 2002 to come back in 2003 and play horrible. He was burned badly on a few plays in 2003 and contributed mightly to the home loss versus Kansas City and the playoff loss to Philadelphia. Once a cornerback loses his confidence, sometimes it never comes back. Jue has the ability to start, so here's to hoping he overcomes his poor 2003 season, regains any confidence he lost in 2003, and gets his career back on track.