Football Outsiders had an article on upcoming free agents this offseason. Two players on their list caught my attention. If the Packers want to make an immediate improvement and make up for the free agent losses in 2005 on the offensive line, then they should target C LeCharles Bentley and/or G Steve Hutchinson.
Hutchinson has already been to a Pro Bowl and probably will be looking for a signing bonus between $8 and $10 million this spring. I don't know what Seattle's salary cap is looking like this season, but after spending big on LT Walter Jones, QB Matt Hasselbeck, and probably breaking the bank for RB Shaun Alexander this spring, it might be difficult to resign Hutchinson too. The biggest problem might be competition from other teams. If a playoff team is interested in Hutchinson, then why would Hutchinson want to play for a rebuilding Packer team if the money is the same?
Bentley might be a unique free agent. New Orleans should have plenty of cap room to resign Bentley, but will any free agent want to resign/sign with New Orleans? New Orleans should be a team without a home again in 2006. Losing team + living in a suitcase = worst situation in the NFL. Bentley may not want to resign under any circumstances and he might slip under the radar of some teams. He probably will not cost as much as Hutchinson and he might be just as good.
Another consideration is that both players should be free-free agents. It seems unlikely that either team would place a franchise tag on them. As I learned when LG Mike Wahle was a free agent last offseason, if the team places a franchise tag on a guard, the team has to pay him like a top 5 offensive lineman, including the high priced left tackles. It doesn't make sense for a team to pay any guard like a top 5 left tackle and this explains why guards are rarely (if ever) tagged as franchise players. Either player should be available at no compensation if the Packers sign them next March.