Thursday, April 21, 2016

Packers Sign Two Players: OL Don Barclay and LB Lerentee McCray

The Green Bay Packers do occasionally sign street free agents to minimum contracts (former Giants DB Kyle Sebetic was signed in 2015, and he spent the year bouncing on-and-off the Packers' roster). Sebetic wasn't a very interesting signing, it's not a good sign when the DB starved Giants let you walk, but this year is different.
While Barclay had some good moments pre-ACL injury, he was a disaster last season. He reportedly received zero guaranteed money, so it's worth taking a look at him this offseason to see if he looks better in his second season back, but I don't expect he'll make the team in 2016.

However McCray is an interesting signing. He was undrafted out of Florida in 2013, likely due to a shoulder injury he suffered his senior season, and he was signed by the Broncos. He wasn't tendered a contract in March as a restricted free agent and the Packers signed him for one-year and $800,000. The Broncos have a lot of talent at outside linebacker and McCray was at the bottom of their depth chart, so I can understand why the Broncos wouldn't tender him at around $1.7 million when he's unlikely to do more than play on special teams. But Bronco fans liked what they saw of him, in limited action:
Lerentee McCray is the guy in the unit that easily gets forgotten on the depth chart, but honestly I've been impressed with him as well. He's got that "playmaker" look to him when he's on the field and with a team as stacked as ours it is unfortunately hard to stand out enough.
We haven't seen enough of it, but I remember in earlier preseasons being pretty darn impressed with his pass rush speed. As a OLB he's got a role that really plays to his strengths.
As good as all of this sounds (a cheap, young playmaker who might have just gotten lost on the Broncos's deep depth chart) there is of course a reason why he's only signing now, on the eve of the draft, and he might have not received any offers from another team.

Injuries. He was hurt often in college, and he missed almost all of training camp last year with a groin injury. McCray didn't receive any guaranteed money, but he received $125,000 in bonuses if he makes the roster and stays on it all season. If he's healthy, he might have a very good shot of receiving those bonuses. If he has another injury, like his groin injury last year, I'd expect the Packers will make him one of the first players released out of camp, especially since there's no dead money involved.

I don't expect McCray's signing will effect their draft plans much, though they might feel less pressure now to draft an extra linebacker later in the draft for depth. McCray effectively slides into Mike Neal's old roster spot, for now, and the Packers still need at least one more inside LB and another outside LB to fill out their roster. And that's just for depth, they could still use a high draft choice on a linebacker to challenge Sam Barrington and/or Jake Ryan inside, and one outside to challenge Nick Perry.

McCray doesn't solve any major offseason problem at linebacker but he's an interesting prospect who could become a part of next season's linebacker rotation, if he can stay healthy.

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