Few thought it was likely but it appears that "Bloody Thursday" will come to pass. I thought the Packers might do best to act fast, but Len Pasquarelli says "because of the quirks of the pending uncapped year in 2007, even those teams will have to move with great caution in crafting contracts." There are many teams with cap flexability and the Packers will have more competition for free agents then I expected.
The failed CBA extension will impact the Packers draft in April too. Pasquarelli points out that "without an extension to the CBA, teams will be able to amortize signing bonuses over just four seasons, instead of the maximum seven years." This is a problem if the Packers decide to draft a quarterback with the fifth overall selection. QB Vince Young is expecting a signing bonus and guaranteed money of around $20 million. The Packers can only spread the signing bonus over four seasons. The Packers have more salary cap room than most teams, but all teams have the same amount of rookie cap room, usually around $4 to $6 million. The Packers won't sign Young and leave themselves no room to sign any other draft choices, but it means that any team that drafts a quarterback this season is looking at a tough negotiation and a long holdout. If the Packers draft an offensive lineman or defensive player instead, that player won't command such a high signing bonus and the Packers probably won't have too much trouble with the rookie salary cap.
Scanning the list of names on ESPN.com's rumor central brings up a few references to the Packers. QB Brett Favre is mentioned, but that is pure speculation since Favre isn't talking to anyone about it. The Packers are rumored to be interested LB Derek Smith. Since Mike McCarthy was coaching last season in San Francisco, it makes sense that he would be familar with Smith. The Packers really need a linebacker who can stay healthy and help in coverage, two abilities Smith has shown over the last few seasons. The big problem with Smith is that he is over 30 years old, but he hasn't shown any signs of decline over the last couple of seasons. There is no need to break the bank for Smith, but he would be a welcome upgrade at outside linebacker. The Packers are rumored to be far apart in negotiations with DE Aaron Kampman. Kampman is coming off a career 2005 season and looking to cash in. If the Packers are really interested in DE Mario Williams with the fifth overall selection, then resigning Kampman isn't a priority. Otherwise the Packers need Kampman back and hopefully they don't lose him. K Ryan Longwell is a free agent but he is coming off the worst season of his career and he was one of the worst kickers in the NFL last season. I doubt many teams will show much interest in Longwell. Hopefully he comes back to the Packers and is given some real competition in training camp this season (but please don't draft a kicker!).