Saturday, March 09, 2013

Should The Packers Sign Defensive End Chris Canty?

Something new this offseason is that the NFL has opened the window for players' agents to begin talking to teams a couple days before players can conduct official visits. So right now, agents and teams are talking, but nothing official will happen until next Tuesday.

However, a few deals are happening now because players who have been released can sign elsewhere immediately. So the Chiefs can sign CB Dunta Robinson because the Falcons released him last week. Another player who was released last month had a two-day visit with the Packers:
Giants DE Chris Canty was pursued by the Packers in 2009, back when they were first making the switch to a 3-4 defense and they needed a bigger lineman like Canty to play defensive end.

Now it's four years later, and the Packers are taking a second look because they still need help at defensive end. My first thought was that this was an attempt to find a bargain lineman, someone who is like DE Anthony Hargrove or DE Phillip Merling were last year, that wouldn't make it out of training camp. I might be right, depending on the severity of the knee injury he suffered last season, but when he was healthy last season, Canty still was a very good player.

Ed Valentine discussed the value of Canty last month from a Giants' point of view and he came out looking as one of their best lineman in 2012. The issue was his knee injury and his huge $8.2 million cap hit for 2013 if the Giants had kept him. His release, while still a productive player, made sense for the Giants. He's not a sack artist, but if you add up his sacks, QB hits, hurries, and defensive stops from last season, you see a productive player who puts some pressure on the QB.

Other teams have seemed to notice that Canty played well, when healthy, last season, and he's also drawn interest from the Titans, Chiefs, and Jaguars. He won't sign another six-year, $42 million deal like he received back in 2009, but he should receive a multi-year deal with some guaranteed money, assuming he can pass a physical, which could be a problem as he recovers from knee surgery. But injuries might not be a major concern with him because, with the exception of a few games missed in 2009 and 2012, he's played every game throughout his 8 year career.

As is usual with free agents, I expect the Packers to lose out in the bidding because they don't offer enough dollars. Usually that's been a good thing, and maybe avoiding Canty's bad knee as he enters his mid-30s is for the best. But it does look like Canty still has something to offer and he would be a good fit for the Packers as an every down defensive lineman in 2013.

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