Thursday, April 29, 2004

One interesting note is that DE Jamal Reynolds is participating in mini camp, according to Usually when a player is going to be cut after June 1, like DE Joe Johnson or QB Tim Couch in Cleveland, the team will not invite the player to mini camp and will not let him use their practice facilities. The Packers have not added a defensive end this offseason, although they have drafted and resigned a number of defensive tackles, and if Reynolds is bulking up in order to be effective on running plays, as it was indicated that he was according to, then he might find himself on the 2004 roster. Right now, he is as good a candidate to play on 3rd downs, when the Packers need a pass rushing defensive end opposite KGB, as any defensive lineman or linebacker on the roster. It would be something to find out that he still has a place with the Packers, and it would be remarkable if he actually contributes in 2004.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

So far the Packers have signed about a dozen rookie free agents that were not drafted. The Packers are unlikely to sign any rookie free agent that has an impact or even makes the team, but that is how the Packers acquired RB Tony Fisher.

The only rookie free agent signed so far that I have heard of is southpaw QB Scott McBride. McBride is currently the 4th QB on the roster and due to receive a lot of practice and playing time this preseason, because I wouldn't expect Doug Pederson or Brett Favre to practice too much or play in that many preseason games. I would expect Craig Nall to receive the bulk of playing and practice time, with McBride playing and practicing as much as Pederson and Favre.

Many of the other rookie free agents didn't even start at college according to Two other rookie free agents do merit some attention. LB Maurice Jones was a three-year starter at South Florida according to The Packers have a number of candidates for backup linebackers, but none of them are locks to make the team. If Jones outperforms everyone short of the starting linebackers and plays well on special teams, he will make the team. The Packers only have two tight ends on the roster, so TE Keith Willis has a great opportunity to make the team. According to, Willis is your typical athlete with all the size and skill (6'5", 260 lbs. 4.76 in the 40 yard dash) to play in the NFL, but he is an underachiever. TE David Martin did not improve last season, so a great preseason by Willis could make him the number two tight end.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The draft for the rest of the NFC North.

Detroit. Detroit's offense and defense needed a lot of help, and the offense got it with two first round draft choices. WR Roy Williams and RB Kevin Jones were arguably the two best players at their positions in the entire draft. Both positions badly needed an upgrade, so this can only help Detroit immediately. Jones was a peculiar pick for Steve Mariucci's offense, because Jones is not regarded as a good receiver, so its unlikely he will remain on the field for all three downs. Detroit's offensive line allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL in 2003 and added expensive free agent Damian Woody at guard, so it can only be better. All this is irrelevant on offense if Joey Harrington doesn't improve in 2004, which is not a given. Detroit drafted two linebackers, Teddy Lehman and Alex Lewis, who could help in 2004, but did nothing to improve an aging defensive line who lost starter Luther Elliss.

Chicago. In Lovie Smith's 3 years in St. Louis as defensive coordinator, St. Louis had 5 first round picks, all 5 picks were defensive players, and 3 of them were athletic and fast defensive tackles. So it was no surprise that in his first year in Chicago as head coach, Smith drafted a fast and athletic defensive tackle in Tommie Harris. Then Smith did it again in the 2nd round with Terry "Tank" Johnson. Chicago badly needed some depth at defensive tackle, so overall this is not a surprise. Last season in St. Louis, Smith coordinated one of the best defenses in the NFL with arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. St. Louis shut down Ahman Green in their matchup against him. Maybe in 2005, Chicago is a candidate for the best defense in the NFL.

Minnesota. Kenechi Udeze was expected to be drafted earlier, but injury concerns pushed him down to Minnesota. Udeze has elite pass rushing ability and the size to play every down. Udeze is unlikely to improve on 2003 defensive end Lance Johnstone's 9 sacks, but Minnesota should be better against the run. Linebacker Dontarrious Thomas was drafted in the 2nd round, and said he was coveted by the Packers because he is fast, and the Packers currently covet fast players. Thomas, along with Chris Claiborne and E.J. Henderson, might make a very good linebacker group starting in 2005.
This Packers draft was one of the most boring draft by any team in the NFL. That doesn't mean it was a bad draft, but the Packers didn't trade up in the first round, didn't give up future picks for picks in this year's draft, and didn't draft any big name college players in the latter rounds. That leads to a bad draft grade by some pundits.

The Packers were unlikely to have a great draft, because they were always drafting at the bottom of the round, and every player they drafted has a substantial negative attached to them. The only two positions where it was essential to add some depth was cornerback and defensive line. I expected them to draft at least one defensive end, instead drafting two defensive tackles that could play defensive end. It looks like they stayed true to their draft rankings, and drafted the best player available at their picks.

The trading was very peculiar. The Packers traded their 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 7th round picks for two extra 3rd round picks, while trading their own 3rd round pick to move up in the 3rd round and there own 6th round pick to move up in the 6th round. Not a bad strategy; trading a 4th and a 5th round pick to move up into the more lucrative 3rd round, while not giving up any future picks. It all depends on the picks you move up to draft.

Ahmad Carroll. He is really fast. reported that he has run as fast as 4.26 in the 40 yard dash. Wow. Fast seems to be the current theme for the Packers. This is the second draft in a row where the Packers have looked first at a player's 40 yard time, and then at all other football abilities. Corey Chavous was on ESPN's draft coverage, he said he worked with Carroll this spring, and said Carroll is very talented, a very hard worker, but needs to work on his footwork. Chris Berman (I believe) said Carroll's best game last year in college was against Eli Manning, however, the best college game of Jamal Reynolds's college career came against Michael Vick, and that was no true indication of his NFL ability. The two downgrades on Carroll are that he is not tall and he needs more practice time. Overall, it sounds like Carroll is unlikely to contribute in 2004. Maybe, if he doesn't hold out and he works hard to learn his position this preseason, then he can contribute in multiple cornerback alignments, but only later in the 2004 season. He sounds like a starter in 2005.

Joey Thomas. Another speedster cornerback with a 4.44 time in the 40 yard dash. Thomas is taller (6'0") than Carroll. If Thomas is taller than Carroll and almost as fast as Carroll, then what the heck is he doing in the 3rd round? Thomas played at Division I-AA Montana State which makes it really hard to evaluate him. He will certainly make the team on his speed alone, he is unlikely to contribute in 2004, but he is a possible starter in 2005.

Donnell Washington. He is a big man with the listed weight similar to Grady Jackson, although its unlikely Jackson is his listed weight of 330, and the height of Cletidus Hunt. He is probably expected to backup Jackson next season at nose tackle, a position at which the Packers desperately needed some depth. compared him to Packer defensive lineman James Lee, because Washington and Lee are almost exactly the same height and weight, but Washington started 26 games at Clemson, while Lee never was a full time starter at Oregon State. He has the size and physical ability to start at nose tackle in the NFL, so its all up to Washington to perform.

B.J. Sander. Just a wasted pick. I don't like drafting kickers, because they are too inconsistant and are easily cut after one bad season. It sounds like Sander only had one good season in college, last season with Ohio State, and it sounds like it was his only season as the full time punter. Plus, the Packers wasted picks on Josh Bidwell and Brett Conway in recent years, which should have taught them something. The Packers should have tried to bring someone like Sander in as a free agent, instead of using a top 100 pick to draft him.

Corey Williams. With the departures of Gilbert Brown and Rod Walker, and the eventual departures of Jamal Reynolds and Joe Johnson, the Packers need more depth on the defensive line, so Williams has a good chance to make the team. Larry Smith is the most likely player to backup Hunt, so Williams, Aaron Kampman, Chukie Nwokorie, and Kenny Peterson will probably battle it out in the preseason to start at defensive end opposite KGB. It sounds odd to mention a 6th round rookie as a possible defensive line starter, but the position battle at defensive end should be wide open. I read somewhere that the Packers were talking to free agent Tony Brackens at defensive end, but it appears that Brackens wants too much money, and he is too injury prone to deserve big money. Williams would have probably been drafted higher had he come out in his junior year, because he suffered from numerous injuries in his senior season.

Scott Wells. Wells is the only center on the roster besides Mike Flanagan, Rob Davis is a center in name but he is the long snapper only, so Wells has a good opportunity to make the team. If he can play some guard too, he probably is a lock to make the team. The Packers have done well in recent years with offensive lineman from Tennessee (Chad Clifton) and offensive lineman picked in the 7th round (Mark Tauscher).

Overall, the Packers needed to improve their depth in the defensive backfield and line, and they did both with fast players with good size. Not an exciting draft, but looking ahead to the 2005 season, it made the Packers a better team.

Friday, April 23, 2004

The Packers signed free agent cornerback Chris Watson, who missed all of 2003 with an injury, the day after missing out on free agent cornerback Terrence Shaw, who signed with Carolina. Watson provides more depth at cornerback for the Packers, although its unlikely he makes the team if Mike McKenzie works out his differences with the Packers. Still, Watson's signing removes some of the pressure to overreach for a cornerback tomorrow in the draft. Watson is a tremendous value signing if he is healthy. I'm going to compare him to cornerback Jason Webster, who signed a multi-year deal with Atlanta this offseason and was given a $7 million signing bonus.

Both players are 26 years old, and will turn 27 years old by the end of the 2004. Webster missed most of 2003, playing in only 5 games, while Watson missed all of 2003. Both players passed a physical to sign with their respective new teams, so I'm assuming that both players are now healthy. In 2002, Webster started in 16 games, had 85 tackles, 1 interception, and 11 pass defenses for San Francisco, while Watson started in 8 games, had 44 tackles, 1 interception and 7 pass defenses for Buffalo. Essentially both players had identical statistics in their last healthy season, when you consider that Webster had approximately twice as many opportunities as Watson had to make plays. Watson has one clear advantage over Webster, Watson is 6'1" to Webster 5'10", which is an advantage for the Packers because Minnesota (Randy Moss, Marcus Robinson), Chicago (David Terrell, Justin Gage), and Detroit (Charles Rogers, Tai Streets) all have multiple receivers over 6'2" that expect to see a lot of playing time in 2004 against the Packers. Everything else being equal between Watson and Webster, Watson's height advantage may make him the better player for the Packers, while signing him for $7 million less than Webster. Even if statistics just can't show that Webster is the superior player to Watson, then the Packers still have a player who is comparable to Webster for a fraction of the price.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The worst thing the Packers could do right now is overreact and trade Mike McKenzie before the draft. According to, the Packers are not making any attempts to trade him, which is the right thing to do. The Packers should have been looking to draft at least one cornerback anyway, because McKenzie is the only cornerback under contract past this season. Mike Sherman's comments reported by sounded like someone who is preparing to play without McKenzie, but is willing to discuss the problem and not to "keep my head in the sand". The Packers should make contigency plans, maybe signing free agent cornerback Terrance Shaw is an option, as reported that Shaw visited Green Bay last week, or looking at the free agent market after the June 1 cuts. Any free agent cornerback signed now is just providing depth behind the probable top three cornerbacks Al Harris, Michael Hawthorne and Bhawoh Jue. A holdout is historically unlikely, because the last big named player to sit out in the NFL was Sean Gilbert in 1997, and he wasn't under contract. I can't think of the last player, under a multi-year contract, who sat out for an entire season. Eventually, the failure to report fines end up costing the player too much money, and he eventually reports to work. reported that McKenzie is contemplating retirement instead of playing again for the Packers, but that is easy to say in April and much harder to do in September.

Torrence Marshall, Tony Fisher, and David Martin all signed their one year offers from the Packers. All three players may seen substantial playing time as the top backups at their respective position, or its possible all three players are cut in the preseason. There all on the edge of the roster. All three players need to stay healthy, continue to show improvement, and play well when given the opportunity.

The Packers waived punter Travis Hale, who apparently didn't outperform either prospective punter Travis Dorsch or Nathan Chapman in minicamp this April.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

So who are the Packers going to draft, assuming they don't draft a quarterback in the first round? As I said in previous posts, all the Tim Couch talk leads me to believe that the Packers have no intention of drafting a quarterback with the first pick. Unlike last year, when all three linebacker positions were unknown, except that Na'il Diggs would play one of the positions, there is no obvious need position for 2004.

Who might the Packers draft on defense? The defensive end position opposite Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila could be one need position, although Chukie Nwokorie and Aaron Kampman played well and someone like Marcus Wilkins might be used on passing downs, and the defensive ends likely to still be available at this point would be a reach. A defensive tackle is possible, although there are no obvious draft candidates, this draft is not loaded with quality defensive tackles like in 2003, and the starters are set with Grady Jackson and Cletidus Hunt. I can't see the Packers going linebacker for the second year in a row. Safeties are rarely drafted in the first round, and only Sean Taylor, who should be long gone by the Packers pick, has a first round grade. Maybe a cornerback, but that could be any one of a number of players including Dunta Robinson, Chris Gamble, Will Poole, etc. and none of these players are likely to start or even play 3rd cornerback ahead of Mike McKenzie, Al Harris and Michael Hawthorne, assuming that the Packers and McKenzie work out their disagreements.

Who might the Packers draft on offense? There are no obvious needs for 2004, but there might be for 2005. Offensive line is set for 2004, but Marco Rivera is a free agent next offseason. The player that really interests me is offensive guard/tackle Justin Smiley. Smiley is regarded as the second best offensive lineman in the draft, according to Pat Kirwan at, but what I really like about him was that he started 36 games at Alabama, and like fellow SEC offensive lineman Chad Clifton, he never allowed a quarterback sack. Never. The only reason Smiley falls down to the Packers pick is that he grades out as a likely guard, and guards aren't usually drafted in the first round (only 2 offensive guards have been drafted in the first round in the last 4 drafts). This is a deep draft for wide receiver, and although no wide receiver drafted by the Packers is likely to beat out Donald Driver, Javon Walker or Robert Ferguson, a very good wide receiver, such as Wisconsin's Lee Evans, might be available. This is not a deep draft for running backs, and the top two backs, Steven Jackson and Kevin Jones, should not be available for when the Packers anyway. The Packers only have two tight ends, Bubba Franks and David Martin, on the roster, and there is a really good tight end, Ben Troupe, who will likely be available. Troupe would be a luxury, but he and Franks could bring back memories of the Mark Chmura/Keith Jackson season of 1996.

Overall, although the defense could use the help, I really like Justin Smiley or my second choice would be Ben Troupe. However, major disclaimer, I was completely surprised by the Nick Barnett selection last season, and Barnett was a steal. Here is to hoping the Packers disagree with me and instead pick another great player.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Tom Silverstein wrote a very good article for the April 16th Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. The article said that the Packers look back at player evaluations from previous drafts. Any organization that isn't looking back at past drafts for successful trends, or for flawed reasoning, is not doing their job properly. It is great to read that the Packers are constantly self-evaluating their talent evaluation.

The Tim Couch talks continue to drag out. The fact that the Packers continue to talk with Couch makes me believe that they have no intention of drafting a quarterback in the first round. I think the Packers might draft a quarterback if one that Mike Sherman really likes falls to them at the right time, such as when Craig Nall, who Sherman really liked out of college, was still available in the 5th round. Nall's name was hardly mentioned at all pre-draft that year, so maybe Sherman was wrong about Nall, but Nall hasn't been given an opportunity in the NFL to prove Sherman wrong. As for Couch, he might as well ask for starter's money, but he will eventually sign for backup's money with incentives if he becomes the starter, just as the Packers have offered, whether its the Packers of some other team after he is cut by Cleveland on June 1st. It sounds like Couch has no interest in playing for the Packers, and he is only interested in being well paid for one year as a backup before some other team signs him to start in 2005.

Friday, April 16, 2004

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.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Strong safety Donovin Darius is expected to be traded from Jacksonville for a two fourth round picks (one in 2004 and one in 2005) on the second day of the NFL draft according to Darius could step right and be the starting strong safety for the Packers. Darius's play is similar to Marques Anderson (good run support, but questionable pass coverage), however, his play appears to be more consistant, and he appears to have the reputation as a ferocious hitter and a veteran leader, which are the sort of qualities that make some coaches weak in the knees. Apparently Jack Del Rio is not that type of coach. Darius is still playing at a high level and a scout speaking to thinks Darius is a steal for 2 fourth round draft choices. Darius is signed for the 2004 season, he signed the one year $4.113 million qualifing offer he received for being given the franchise label by Jacksonville, so Jacksonville isn't trading him because they can't agree to contract terms. Apparently Jacksonville is just trying to save some money and get value for the 28 year old safety before he reaches the wrong side of 30.

Darius is unlikely to be traded to the Packers, because the Packers do not have enough room under the salary cap to afford his $4.113 million 2004 contract and they recently signed Mark Roman and project him as their 2004 strong safety.

The most likely location is Detroit. Detroit cut 2003 starting safety Corey Harris and they are $9.36 million under the cap, plenty of room to trade for Darius and sign their draft choices. Further, reported that the trade would happen only if the other unnamed team doesn't acquire a safety in the first two rounds. Detroit has a high draft choice, 6th overall, which would be the spot some mock drafts believe safety Sean Taylor of Miami (FL) will be drafted. If Detroit misses out on Taylor at 6th overall, then Detroit would end up with a great player at that pick anyway, maybe defensive end Kenechi Udeze from USC, and a new pro bowl safety in Darius. With Udeze and Darius, Detroit's defense could be greatly improved in 2004. Detroit would be even better off drafting a defensive tackle after releasing veteran Luther Elliss, but there doesn't appear to be a concensus top 10 defensive tackle in this year's draft. The only other obvious team with salary cap room, a need at strong safety, and a top 10 pick to possibly select Taylor is Houston. Hopefully, Darius remains in the AFC with Houston and doesn't help Detroit's defense take a huge step forward in 2004.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Antuan Edwards accepted an offer for the veterans minimum of $535,000 to play for Miami next season according to and Its a bit of a risk for Edwards for two reasons. First, there is no guaranteed money in the Miami deal, although the Packers only guaranteed $100,000, so if Edwards is injured (again) during the preseason, then Miami can easily cut him and not worry about their salary cap. Second, if the competition is tight during the preseason between Edwards and another player, Miami has no established relationship with Edwards while Packers defensive coordinator Bob Slowik has worked with Edwards for the last four seasons. However, Miami has parted ways with two members of their 2003 secondary, Brock Marion (free safety) and Jamal Fletcher (ex-Badger third cornerback), while the Packers brought in Mark Roman to compete for the strong safety position Edwards had last season.

Mike McKenzie is unhappy with the Packers, according to the associated press. This brings the total to two pro bowl cornerbacks (Ty Law and McKenzie) that are upset with their contracts after watching second tier corners like Antoine Winfield receive eight figure signing bonuses this off season.

McKenzie is also upset with the way last season ended in Philadelphia and maybe it isn't such a bright idea to fire the defensive coordinator (Ed Donatell) and replace him with the defensive backs coach (Slowik) when the problem during the playoff game loss was the defensive pass coverage. reported that McKenzie's loyalty to assistant defensive backs coach Lionel Washington, who was bypassed for promotion to Slowik's old job when the Packers hired Kurt Shottenheimer, is another complaint for McKenzie. I am a fan of the hiring of Shottenheimer, who is very familiar with the NFC North as defensive coordinator with Detroit last season, but I can understand why McKenzie is upset that the Packers seemingly overlooked a qualified in house candidate in Washington.

There also appears to be some mixed signals, McKenzie thinking one thing and Sherman doing something else. Sherman appears to keep all football matters close to the vest and probably is not one of the top players coaches in the NFL. Sherman has seemed to have a way with working these matters out with the players, as he did with Nai'l Diggs during last offseason.

In the end, McKenzie would never had requested a trade if it weren't for the money, no matter what is said to the contrary. When Champ Bailey receives a signing bonus ($18 million) that is worth more than your entire 5 year contract (McKenzie signed for $17 million in 2002), although your 2003 stats outpassed him (McKenzie had 4 INT and 18 Pass Defends to Bailey's 2 INT and 9 PD), then you have a reason to complain. Those stats don't tell the whole story because offenses avoided throwing at Bailey which allowed McKenzie to have many more opportunities, however, the two remain comparable players and McKenzie appears to be a bargain for the next three seasons. I can't think of a single case where the Packers have renegotiated a contract for a player when it was not initiated by the Packers for salary cap relief, so any contract renegotiation for McKenzie seems unlikely.

In the end, this is a potential holdout situation. The Packers cannot replace McKenzie's preformance and contract value at cornerback, and a team thinking Super Bowl cannot trade its number one cornerback. Sherman will probably talk to McKenzie this week and hopefully the Packers can avoid McKenzie's potential holdout.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Antuan Edwards might be back with the Packers next season after all, according to Apparently teams are interested in Edwards, but only at the veteran's minimum, which isn't too surprising because the draft is approaching and Edwards has a history of injuries. Back in March, it seemed like Edwards would land with another team interested in his ability to play safety or cornerback because the Packers were tired of all his injuries. Edwards is solid in pass defense and is probably as physically talented as anyone in the Packers secondary, except for Darren Sharper. Edwards's return would only help the Packers secondary, and Edwards could end up winning the strong safety position for the third straight year out of camp or winning the third cornerback position.

Signing free agent Bryce Fisher looks more likely this week. St. Louis is tight against the salary cap, only $700,000 below, and might not be willing to match the Packers offer to Fisher. Fisher appears suitable to play the elephant position on the defensive line, taking the place of likely June 1 releasee Joe Johnson. St. Louis might be willing to let Fisher walk, Fisher is the type of player that can be replaced in the draft or by players cut after June 1. Ironically, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Packers sign Fisher now and St. Louis to sign St. Louis native Johnson to take his place in St. Louis after June 1.

At this point, Tim Couch might want to take whatever the Packers offer or face the prospect of not signing until week 1 of the 2004 season with a team whose quarterback is injured or had a horrific preseason.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Defensive end Bryce Fisher visited with the Packers last week according to The compensation to sign him is low, his signing would cost the Packers a 7th round draft choice, and he probably would be guaranteed no more than $500,000. thinks St. Louis wants to keep him as their defensive end on first downs opposite pass rusher Leonard Little, so presumably Fisher is good at stopping the run and his size (6'3", 272 lbs.) makes him appropriate for the run stopping end, or "elephant", on the Packers starting defensive line opposite KGB. He would take over for Joe Johnson, assuming Johnson is released after June 1.

Fisher has complied an interesting resume in his three years in the NFL, with 60 tackles and 5 sacks, in 33 games and only 3 starts. He was drafted in the 7th round by Buffalo in 1999, completed his 2 year obligation to the Air Force, and recorded 3 sacks in his rookie season of 2001. I would expect any team would be happy to get 3 sacks out of a backup defensive end, especially an end who is only a rookie, but Buffalo cut him after one year in order to sign veterans Chidi Ahanotu and Shawn Price, both of whom are no longer with Buffalo. St. Louis picked Fisher off waivers in 2002, and they have liked what they have seen so far to consider him their replacement for Grant Wistrom.

Fisher sounds like a player who would help the Packers in 2004, but reported that Fisher's agent told them that Fisher is loyal to St. Louis GM Charley Armey and he is unlikely to sign with anyone other than St. Louis. Additionally, St. Louis has already lost defensive linemen Wistrom and Brian Young, and probably would match any modest offer sheet Fisher would sign with the Packers in order to maintain their depth on the defensive line. Fisher's visit sounds like a typical agent prepared visit to boost the offer from his client's current team, ala Mike Logan who used the Packers interest in him at strong safety to resign with Pittsburgh last month.

Another Tim Couch story, as the Packers continue to wine and dine Cleveland's ex-quarterback. Why are the Packers wining and dining Couch without having any substantive talks about compensation with Cleveland and contract with Couch? Either Mike Sherman likes Couch more than any quarterback available in the draft or Sherman is just keeping his options open and his true intentions vague. If Couch is signed before the draft, then Sherman probably likes Couch better than Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, or Philip Rivers, however, maybe the Packers couldn't fit a 1st round quarterback under their salary cap but they can fit Couch. All in all, its just part of the time honored tradition by NFL head coaches; do not reveal your intended 1st round draft choice until you actually draft him. It wouldn't be surprising to hear that the Packers traded for Couch during the draft, but after the 1st round had been chosen, in order for Cleveland to get a pick in this year's draft while the Packers are able to hide their intentions as to their 1st round draft choice.

Friday, April 02, 2004

"[Ben Roethlisberger]'s probably going to be gone before we pick, but I always want to cover our bases in case something happens -- he falls or we move up," Sherman said. "I thought he had an excellent workout." That is what the Associated Press reported on March 26th. Then on March 30th, Tom Silverstein of reported that Sherman has attended "the personal workouts of at least seven of the quarterbacks expected to be taken in the college draft April 24 and 25."

Its a good sign that Sherman is looking at quarterbacks, because no NFL team can afford a stopgap (although exceptions can be pointed to such as Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens) at quarterback. A quarterback needs at least one or two seasons in the NFL on the sidelines and in practice before he can be expected to be an effective starter. If Brett Favre expects that 2004 or 2005 might be his last year, then the Packers need to draft/acquire his successor now, although Tom Rossely, offensive coordinator, has been quoted as hoping Favre plays a few more years (I second that motion), which is possible based on Favre's age. Although Favre hasn't missed any games in his career due to injury, he has come close in at least every season starting with 1999, and these injuries must be taking their toll on Favre. The timing in acquring Favre's replacement is difficult; he must be drafted/acquired a year or two in advance of Favre's retirement, but the Packers can't store him on the sidelines for years (ala Steve Young in San Francisco) because of the salary cap.

Silverstein's comment reminded me of Sherman's early statement, that maybe a quarterback falls or the Packers move up. Maybe a combination of both. Teams in the top 10 are nervous drafting and paying a large signing bonus for a quarterback after such famous flops of the past few years (Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Cade McKnown, and to a lesser extent Tim Couch). Almost every draft has a 1st round quarterback who flopped. Although San Diego and Arizona have shown no indication of drafting a quarterback in the top 10, no other team seems likely (Oakland, NY Giants, Washington, Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Houston) to draft one that high. Its unlikely that any of these teams will want to move down to the Packers 25th spot, but if one of these teams don't believe that there is a top 10 talent available for them at their pick and Eil Manning, Roethlisberger, or Philip Rivers are available at picks 8 through 10, maybe Atlanta, Jacksonville, or Houston might find that their best offer has come from the Packers.

If a quarterback is so good that Sherman wants to draft him with the Packers first round pick, that quarterback should be long gone by the Packers pick at 25st overall. It would be surprising if Sherman drafts a quarterback just to draft a quarterback at 25th overall, but depending on how the 1st round of the draft unfolds, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Packers move up.