The Packers made a couple more bargain signings to fill in the gaps. Before it was OG Adrian Klemm and OG Matt O'Dwyer to replace departed OG Marco Rivera and OG Mike Wahle. Now its S Earl Little and S Arturo Freeman. Both Little and Freeman were signed for the veterans minimum. Freeman had not been much of a playmaker in his career but he had 4 interceptions last season. Little had a forgetable 2004 season, but played well between 2001 and 2003. Both are free safeties and fill the void left by FS Darren Sharper's release, but neither is likely to challenge SS Mark Roman.
The Packers missed out on LB Monty Beisel in free agency, and Beisel instead signed with New England. Although it might not be such a miss. Aaron Schatz wrote about Beisel at footballoutsiders.com and he had no kind words for Beisel's run defense. When an opposing running back got past the line of scrimmage in Kansas City, Beisel's previous employer, last season, Schatz described it as "party time" for the running back. Beisel is probably better in coverage, but New England has zero depth at linebacker right now, so Beisel was needed. Its telling that in this weak free agent market for linebackers, former Packer LB Hannibal Navies is receiving no interest.
DE Aaron Kampman signed an offer sheet with Minnesota. The Packers could still match the one year offer Kampman received. Jsonline.com speculated that Minnesota was just trying to force the Packers to pay more for Kampman than they wanted, otherwise Minnesota would have offered Kampman more than one year because Kampman's signing would cost a 5th round selection. Kampman played great in some games last season but I suggested last week that the Packers improve that defensive end position by drafting Georgia DE Kevin Pollack. The Packers are better, Minnesota is better too, with Kampman starting at defensive end compared to both teams current in house solutions. It depends on what the Packers want to do with their remaining cap space. If there is no free agents remaining that the Packers want to use their cap space on, then they should resign Kampman. If there are some other players they are targeting, specifically at linebacker, then DE Corey Williams or DE Kenny Peterson might do just as well in 2005 as Kampman. Maybe the Packers could draft a useful defensive end with the 5th round selection they would receive for losing Kampman. At this point, I would lean towards letting Kampman sign with Minnesota.
So who are the Packers going to draft? Reading nfl.com's Pat Kirwan over the last couple of weeks, there doesn't appear to be a safety or linebacker worth drafting at the end of the first round. Kirwan does say this is a strong draft for cornerbacks. Its not the same need, but that would be an option. I'd mention names, but I've never heard of many of these players anyway. Better to read Mel Kiper at espn.com or someone else. None of the Packers current cornerbacks are well suited to switch to the needed strong safety and probably none of the top cornerback prospects are suited to it either. The top safety prospect remains Georgia S Thomas Davis, a former linebacker turned safety. Converting from linebacker to safety worked well last season in Seattle, where S Michael Boulware had a great rookie season, so maybe Davis should be the Packers first round selection. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds next weekend.