Friday, February 23, 2007

With all the franchise tags being placed now and the restricted free agent tenders due by March 1, the free agent season is almost upon us. The Packers have a few free agents and a couple important ones. With $28 million in cap room to work with there is enough room to resign everyone and still pursue others, if desired. Resigning DT Cullen Jenkins is important, but putting a 1st or 2nd round tender would probably persuade teams to look elsewhere. It would be a reasonable contract, between $1.3 and $1.85 million, and other teams could probably draft a player similar to him in the 1st or 2nd round anyway and hopefully lose interest. It would be surprising if any of the exclusive rights free agents weren't resigned. Resigning TE Donald Lee was a nice minimum wage signing, although Lee vanished in 2006 after a promising 2005 season.

Of the remaining unrestricted free agents, the only two that should be resigned, but not at any price, are RB Ahman Green and TE David Martin.

Green had a strong 2006 season, but his 4.0 yards/carry is a half-yard under his 2004 and career averages. Both RBs Noah Herron and Vernand Morency had a better average yards/carry than Green in 2006. Also, Green is only a season removed from major knee surgery and is about to turn 30. ESPN's Mel Kiper had his mock draft predictions scrolling at the bottom of ESPN and has the Packers selecting RB Marshawn Lynch, which is a possibility. With Green's strong return in 2006 and the weaker group of free agent running backs this offseason compared to last season's bonanza with RBs Edgerrin James and Shawn Alexander leading the way, it wouldn't be surprising to see some team overpay for Green. Green crossed the 400 carry mark during his outstanding 2003 season (including playoffs) and has never been as good since. Last season he resigned for a modest one year deal, but that won't happen this year. The Packers should let another team pay a premium price for his last few seasons.

If only Martin could stay healthy, then resigning him would be a priority. His 2006 stats look modest, but the offense played its best during the middle of the season when Martin was healthy and starting. They won 3 of 4 games in late October and early November by scoring 34 points at Miami and 31 against Arizona, with a TD pass to Martin in both games. They only scored 10 points at Buffalo, but turnovers ruined an otherwise great offensive day. Then Martin played his last healthy game in the win at Minnesota (against a great Minnesota defense) with 23 points scored. In the last seven games, the offense scored over 20 points (24 points at Seattle, but one TD scored by LB Abdul Hodge) in only two of them. They need Martin or another quality receiving TE like him. His past injury problems should keep contract offers modest so resigning him could be reasonable. Any free agent TE to replace him would have risks (such as Seattle's inconsistent TE Jerramy Stevens), so they should resign Martin but draft a TE to replace him in 2008 if he remains injury prone.

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