Thursday, March 31, 2005 reported that former Kansas City LB Monty Beisel will visit the Packers. Although former starter LB Hannibal Navies was a bigger linebacker and LB Na'il Diggs was a good LB in pass coverage before 2004, the Packers would be better off with a LB who is good in coverage. Beisel is a former defensive end, so he probably isn't the fastest LB in the NFL, but DC Jim Bates seems to like Beisel's speed according to Of the linebackers still available in free agency, former St. Louis LB Tommy Polley had 4.5 tackles for loss and 6 pass defenses, would probably be the better fit. Unfortunately, Polley never looked too impressive when I saw St. Louis play, he probably realizes he is the best free agent LB still available, and has a big price tag. LB Anthony Simmons was an outstanding linebacker in Seattle before his career was derailed by injuries, however Simmons probably wants a lot of money too and who knows if he is healthy. There are a few middle linebacker types available (LB Rob Morris, LB Jay Foreman, LB Scott Fujita) but they are middle linebackers and Bates would want more speed than they would bring to the team. Overall, none of these players seem a good fit, but the Packers need more depth at linebacker.

Still no word on the Packers safety position. Maybe that is something better addressed at the end of free agency.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

There isn't much to say about the loss of FS Darren Sharper to Minnesota. Minnesota picked up a big play maker on defense and paid him about the same in a signing bonus as the Packers would have paid in a roster bonus ($4 million). Part of the problem was that Sharper's Packer base salary would have been higher than his Minnesota base salary. Sharper should be a good to great player over the next four seasons of the contract. It strengthens a division rival while weakening the Packers. The only good news this offseason in Minnesota is that the loss of WR Randy Moss can't be overcome by these other additions.

The Packers have been busy reconstructing their offensive line. Resigning OL Grey Ruegamer was a good start; he wanted to stay with the Packers and he was dirt cheap (around $540,000 with a "modest" signing bonus according to The Packers know what they are getting with Ruegamer, but if that was so great then the Packers wouldn't have cut him in the first place. OL Adrian Klemm probably is being paid too much, but a 2 year $2.6 million contract, according to, is pretty cheap for the modern NFL. Klemm should have been a minimum wage signing, but a number of teams were apparently interested in what Klemm could be. Klemm's only 27 years old and could be a useful starter. The real interesting thing about Klemm is that if he could have stayed healthy over the last five seasons, he would have started at left tackle for three Super Bowl teams in New England. The big downside with Klemm is that there is a lot of what he could have been in his career. OT/TE Kevin Barry resigned with the Packers. The Packers used to have dreams of Barry at right tackle and RT Mark Tauscher at guard, but those dreams have probably died over the last two seasons. Barry is still young, healthy, and familar with the offense; so the price was right. The final signing (so far) is OL Matt O'Dwyer. O'Dwyer missed all of last season in Tampa and had been known for having quite a temper. In 1999, O'Dwyer was arrested for felony assault at a bar along with two other New York Jets linemen, including current Jets LT Jason Fabini. Thirty-one (31!) officers were called to the scene because of the size of the three men. O'Dwyer allegedly kicked out the window of a police cruiser. O'Dwyer is not the teddy bear of the NFL, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in an offensive lineman, and he has been named the starter on every team he has played for in the NFL. If O'Dwyer is healthy, then he will probably be starting at one of the guard spots next season. At the veteran's minimum, it is a pretty good deal. The Packers are probably done in free agency at offensive line, but it would be very surprising if no offensive linemen are drafted next month.

Another harmless signing was TE David Martin. Martin has managed to regress (although injuries have played a part) every season in the NFL, so he probably has ran out of chances with the Packers. Except the pass catching TE is an endangered species on the current Packers roster, and because Martin can catch the ball some, he is getting another chance.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Multiple sites reported that QB Brett Favre will return for next season. The Packers best
chance next season is Favre, WR Javon Walker, RB Ahman Green, rebuild the offensive line,
let new defensive coordinator Jim Bates improve the defense, and win the NFC North again.
Still some work to do with the offensive line and defense, and the defense wasn't made any
easier by the release of FS Darren Sharper. Just a giant loss.

The only possible good side to Sharper's departure is that Jim Bates never had a top
safety while in Miami. He built the defense around great cornerbacks (it would be a
stretch to say CBs Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain = CBs Al Harris and Ahmad Carroll), a
great linebacker (LB Nick Barnett isn't LB Zack Thomas but not too far apart) and a great
defensive end (DE Jason Taylor is probably one of the top 5 defensive players in the NFL,
but DE KGB is underrated and one of the top 5 defensive ends in the NFL). Maybe Bates can
work around the fact that he is without a safety worthy of starting in the NFL on his

OG Marco Rivera had back surgery? One week after signing for giant bucks in Dallas he
injures his back on a tread mill. Unbelievable. Hopefully Rivera recovers quickly but
this is why the Packers shouldn't have matched that huge offer; Rivera is going to start
braking down at this point in his career.

The Packers quiet free agent season continues. reported that the Packers met
with the uninteresting trio of OG Cosey Coleman, OG Floyd Womack, and TE Freddie Jones.
Its unlikely that a majority of GMs in the NFL believe that any of these three players are
starters. Jones has a no block/good catch reputation but might have trouble beating out
TE Ben Steele or TE Sean McHugh on the roster. McHugh is a bit of a mystery; the Packers
were high on him after they claimed him from Tennessee at the start of the season, but he
saw no playing time. Womack would probably be preferred over Coleman, but both players
are the type that a team should develop from a low draft choice (OG Marco Rivera-6th
round, OT Mark Tauscher-7th round).

Minnesota continues its up and down offseason by signing CB Fred Smoot with a $10.8
million signing bonus. Minnesota's defense was awful last season, but adding someone like
Smoot isn't an automatic improvement. Signing CB Antonio Winfield last season, who played
very well against the Packers when his health permitted, didn't help much either.
Minnesota already has the players to make the defense work, its their coaching that is the

Chicago signed OT Fred Miller with a $6 million signing bonus. What a way to spend money.
Miller has played on some very good St. Louis and Tennessee teams over the last few
seasons. Maybe Chicago is hoping some of their wins will come with Miller from those

Detroit signed TE Marcus Pollard and SS Kenoy Kennedy. Kennedy only seems to make news
with illegal hits. Pollard is 33 and in the twilight of his career. Neither signing
seems a huge help.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

CB Michael Hawthorne was cut according to Not a big surprise since Hawthorne looked terrible as the starting cornerback last season when given an early opportunity. He didn't have the speed to keep up with NFL wide receivers, and that's the kiss of death for a cornerback. followed up on the really disappointing release of FS Darren Sharper. The Packers currently have a roster with no starting offensive guards or safeties (unless SS Mark Roman has somehow improved a better player over the last two months) and have the first real big holes in their roster that they have had in a while. The last two times they had such big openings on their roster was two seasons ago when they only had LB Na'il Diggs pencilled in at starting linebacker and in 1999 when they had to draft cornerbacks with their first three picks. also reported that OG Mike Wahle didn't receive as big a signing bonus ($8 million instead of $11.5). Not that the Packers had a realistic chance at fitting under the salary cap in either situation. It was pretty interesting that a bidding war began over OG Marco Rivera between Detroit and Dallas, and pushed Rivera's signing bonus over ($9 million) over Wahle's. Wahle should have gotten more (just as good if not better player plus younger, but Rivera has been to a couple of Pro Bowls) but the Packers didn't have a chance at matching the contract demands for either player.

Just a reminder, I only talk about signing bonuses for contracts because that is the only true and guaranteed portion of the contract. Much of the total contract value for many signings is only for show (big $$$ at the end of the contract that the team would never pay). reported that Cleveland LB Kevin Bentley would meet with the Packers. At 6'1" 240lbs and a former 4th round selection, he is similar to Diggs but not as tall. Bentley didn't start in 2004, but he was 3rd on Cleveland with 91 tackles in 2003 with 2 pass defenses and 1 interception. Not very impressive stats, but he is only 25 years old so he could still improve. Not very exciting free agent news, but with the Packers cap blues, Bentley is probably the typical free agent the Packers will talk to this offseason.

Friday, March 04, 2005

OG Marco Rivera signed with Dallas for a $9 million signing bonus according to AP. Wow. The Packers had no chance at matching that offer. To have matched that offer, the Packers would have to release at least the contracts of FS Darren Sharper and the contract offer to TE Bubba Franks, plus probably at least one other player. That would have been the end of the Packers offseason. Rivera won't be easily replaced, but the Packers had to let him go at that price.

OG Mike Wahle signed for an $11.5 million signing bonus to play in Carolina according to That is bigger than Rivera's signing bonus, but it was expected that Wahle would get that much money and play tackle. It is surprising that Carolina signed him to play right instead of left tackle, but they already have a good left tackle in OT Jordan Gross. The Packers never had a chance of fitting Wahle under the salary cap.

San Diego signed S Bhawoh Jue on the first day? Jue was quoted by AP "I can't tell you why a starting position never came my way." It was because Jue was beyond awful in 2003 and improved to almost average in 2004. Plus, playing next to an injured Sharper and struggling SS Mark Roman made his play look better. It would be surprising if Jue ever becomes a full time starter in San Diego.

At least the rest of the NFC North isn't looking much better in free agency, so far. Minnesota traded WR Randy Moss for LB Napoleon Harris and the #7 pick, while signing DT Pat Williams to plug up the middle ala NT Grady Jackson. Williams has been playing very well for the past few seasons in Buffalo, but he is on the wrong side of 30. Harris could be an upgrade over lost LB Chris Claiborne to St. Louis and who knows what they do with the #7 pick. Minnesota's offense was good without Moss last season, but that was only for a few weeks and not a good sample size. Minnesota has to be considered a big net loss so far without Moss. Chicago signed WR Muhsin Muhammad (while forgetting that Muhammad too is on the wrong side of 30 and was useless until he perked up in the 2003 playoffs and carried it forward for all of 2004). Muhammad can't throw the ball to himself, so this wasn't an inspired signing. Detroit hasn't done anything in free agency yet and doesn't seem rumored to do anything other than sign a veteran to backup (excuse me, push) mediocre QB Joey Harrington.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I didn't know about the lack of distinction between offensive guards/center/tackles for franchise tags. It probably explains why I can't remember a single guard or center ever being tagged. That doesn't make any sense because they are paid at greatly different levels, but I don't think anyone in the NFL has any interest in correcting that oversight.

I really have no idea what Ted Thompson will do with the offensive line. I've given up addressing it after Rivera and Wahle. Now Ruegamer is cut and Kevin Barry is given a low ball contract offer, leaving only Scott Wells for depth. I'm still not sure Mike Flanagan will come back from his injuries. He was out last season due to complications from the horrible leg injury he suffered in the mid-90s. Flanagan can play anywhere on the line so his return would be huge, but I'm not counting on it until I see it. Flanagan at guard and Wells at center makes a lot of sense too. The Packers were high on Steve Morley when they signed him, but I suspect they weren't high on him after they saw him in camp. There has been past talk about moving Tauscher to guard and start Barry at right tackle too. Right now, other than Clifton at left tackle, anything could happen.
Free agency is beginning...

After reading various articles on and, it doesn't seem likely that either OG Mike Wahle or OG Marco Rivera will be retained. Wahle is no surprise departure; his salary cap figure was insane high (>$11 million) and he deserves a big free agent contract to start at left
tackle for some other team. Rivera's age and history of injuries (to Rivera's huge credit, injuries
which he has usually played through) might make him lightly pursued in free agency. ESPN reported that Dallas might want Rivera, so that might end Rivera's career as a Packer.

The all restricted free agents were all given the lowest tender contract offers according to It seems unlikely that any team would hotly pursue QB Craig Nall or J.T. O'Sullivan. It wasn't good to see DE Aaron Kampman given the lowest tender offer. If some team wanted to sign Kampman, it would only cost them a 5th round pick. Kampman was solid again in 2004, he was the Packers best defensive player in the win at Minnesota that clinched the division championship, and it would be a step down at defensive end to replace him with anyone else currently on the roster. On the other hand, Kampman isn't the most gifted athlete and might not draw much interest. RB Najeh Davenport is probably going to sign somewhere else now that his new team would only have to surrender a 4th round pick to sign him. Davenport is a great talent and would be missed, but he has had problems staying healthy for years and isn't as young (27) as you would think.

Hopefully the Packers quit talking to FS Darren Sharper about a pay cut and rework his deal for the salary cap. He can't be replaced with anyone currently on the roster, and the depth chart at safety would be topped with two players (S Bhawoh Jue and S Mark Roman) who both could be cut. The only reason to keep either Jue or Roman is that they can play cornerback too and neither player costs much. Neither one of them should be starting next season. Sharper would draw interest as a free agent and probably would be lost.