Balancing the books: players the Green Bay Packers will cut in 2013
The bell tolls
The Green Bay Packers needs to free up some money to pay key players like quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews III, nose tackle B.J. Raji, wide receiver James Jones, and safety Morgan Burnett, all of whom will become unrestricted free agents in the next two years. They currently have approximately $6.9 million of salary cap space to work with — and would have a lot more if they weren’t still on the hook for a total of $7 million in dead money that they’re paying to right tackle Chad Clifton and safety Nick Collins, neither of whom is on the roster.
For this reason, it’s time for a few players to be let go. The top candidates to be released are safety Charles Woodson, cornerback Tramon Williams, tight end Jermichael Finley, linebacker A.J. Hawk, and of course, center Jeff Saturday. Most of these players have underperformed or are due big raises next season.
Here are some more specific numbers on the players likely to get the axe:
Woodson is due $6.5 million in salary and will represent a $10 million hit a giants the cap for the next two seasons. With his steady decline since 2010, not to mention repeated injuries to his collarbone, it is only a matter of time before they have to let this highly respected player go to make room for younger blood.
The once-heralded undrafted free agent is due a huge raise in base salary from $2.3 million to $5.9 million, while his cap hit rises from $6.3 million in 2012 to $7.4 million next year and $8.4 million the year after that. You do not pay someone that kind of money to disappear in the playoffs. This teams has great young talent in the secondary with cornerbacks Casey Hayward, Sam Shields, and Davon House. The only problem the Packers face is deciding which of those three to put on Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Detroit Lions superstar Calvin Johnson for four games each season.
The tight end’s performance was terrible the first 10 games of this season, but after Journal Sentinel columnist Bob McGinn released a piece stating that Green Bay had already decided to part ways with Finley, he changed. He only dropped a couple of passes the rest of the way, even making some difficult catches and important third-down plays. Finley’s jump in salary from $950,000 to $4.45 million with a cap hit of $8.75 million would be hard to swallow but justifiable if Finley assumes a bigger role in this offense after the probable departure of wide receiver Greg Jennings.
In comparison to the other four years of his contract, Hawk played admirably this season. He tackled very well, albeit sometimes while falling backward. He was the play caller of this defense and responsible for a lot of checks. The reality, however, is that he is not strong in either pass rush nor coverage, which makes his $4.9 million salary and $7 million cap hit a big blinking light, especially since they rise to $5.4 million in salary with a $8.05 million cap hit over the next three years.
The emergency of Brad Jones (an unrestricted free agent), Desmond Bishop, and D.J. Smith makes Hawk expendable. He will be traded or end up a cap casualty.
Cut . . . enough said. This saves $1.35 million in salary and a $3.75 million cap hit. His 2012 salary ($1.1 million) and cap hit ($4 million) were atrocious. Have fun in Hawai’i, Jeff.
Other notable players not likely to return: linebackers Erik Walden and Frank Zombo; running back James Starks, Ryan Grant, and Cedric Benson.
Between the cutting of these players and the expiration of the contracts of wide receivers Greg Jennings ($3.85 million salary, $7.32 million cap hit) and Donald Driver ($1.1 million salary, $2.3 million cap hit), the Packers can clear a significant amount of cap space — approximately $45 million. Now there is always a cap hit for releasing players, so let’s call it $35 million. Raji, wide receiver Jordy Nelson, Rodgers, and Finley are all due approximately $1 million raises next season, leaving about $28 million to play with.
Sam Shields, wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, and tight end Tom Crabtree, should all be back. Shields has admittedly been inconsistent, regressing after a solid 2010 campaign and being benched in 2011 due to poor tackling. Nevertheless, after he came back from injury this season, he and Hayward were hands down our best corners.
Linebackers Rob Francois and Frank Zombo are probably gone.
Center Evan Dietrich-Smith is likely to be the only survivor in this group.
Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant, Brad Jones, wide receiver Jeremy Ross, and Erik Walden will probably be cut.
As much as the Packers would probably love to keep Jones around, another team will probably offer him more money to be a starter after his admirable performance this year as a fill-in player.
Ross has great talent and the ability to break big returns, but he is unreliable. His muffed punt cost the team momentum against the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. He can’t do that in the biggest game of his career.
Francois is Hawk’s backup, but Bishop and Smith are the middle linebackers next year with second-year player Terrell Manning as the key backup. The fact that defensive coordinator Dom Capers replaced D.J. Smith with Jones, who had just been moved to MLB, and not with Francois shows just how little confidence they had in him — despite the fact he had filled in well for Hawk in two games last year. Bishop is a very good pass rusher and can cover, while Smith is much better in coverage.
Benson had his shot and was a solid asset but turns 31 next year. The emergence of running back DuJuan Harris means Benson will be axed for any back they draft this year.
Leftover after signing free agents: $18 to $20 million.
Between Rodgers, Matthews, and Raji, who gets the first raise? Matthews probably deserves it the most, as 2013 will be his first season in which he makes more than $1 million in salary, while Rodgers is pulling in $10 million and Raji $4 million.
Since Jennings returned from injury, he has been the Packers’ best receiver and Rodgers seemed most confident throwing to him. It would be nice if Green Bay were to franchise Jennings and keep him around another year; however, he has already said it would make him very upset if they did so. The last thing this team needs is the distraction of a camp holdout, especially since they’re already well stocked at the wide receiver position, so it’s not likely they’ll be champing at the bit to get him into camp.
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The Bears hired Testman....If he can get the ball to Forte more especially in the pass game then its a great move.
Charlie Garner under Trestman... I'd argue this is exactly what Forte needs!
He was a multi-talented running back and an excellent receiver. In the 2002-03 season with the Oakland Raiders, he was the team's leading rusher with 962 yards and seven touchdowns, while also leading all NFL running backs in receiving with 91 receptions for 941 yards and another four touchdowns
@adambballn Agree the main thing Forte needs is more touches in the pass game. I have said this for most of the season.
New tender amounts. Shields could be a little more costly if you have to give him the 2nd round tender or 1st round
@Nonstopdrivel Me. Just randomly through a kickball /flag football league haha. Best move I ever made
@LionskillPack Ah, so you weren't abroad. Damn. Here I thought it was going to be a really cool story. ;)
@LionskillPack I watched Super Bowl 45 in Groningen, Netherlands. It's a very different experience than watching it in the States!
@Nonstopdrivel Duh he went to the Bad guys from Taken and placed an order
Hey, Adam, I think you might find this comment from Windy City Gridiron interesting:
I could care less how long Trestman has been out of the NFL. I don’t want him. I don’t like his philosophy and he would kill Forte’s career. Looking at everywhere he’s been there been no balance between the run and pass. I’m not okay with hiring a hot shot college coach, especially either Kelly. If Harbaugh was still in college I’m not sure I’d want him either. Looking at his career at Stanford he only had 1 outstanding year, I’m chalking it up to having Luck as his QB.
"He took a shot in the most sensitive and painful area" - MIke Tirico
@Nonstopdrivel Hes talking out of his ass... The Raiders had a great running game with Charlie Garner... I had him in fantasy back then.
@adambballn I'd want the 49ers GM and the 49ers D Coordinator that come with Harbaugh. Pounding the rock is good though and the switch to Kaep and pistol was a great move
Clemens' body of work is unrivaled in baseball history. But in his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, he received just 37.6 percent of the vote, half of what's necessary to make it into Cooperstown. Clemens knows the accusations - never proven - that his body was changed by performance-enhancing drugs affected the results.
“I can't control that,” Clemens said. “The writers have a vote, and if they wanna take the word of one person (Clemens’ former personal trainer Brian McNamee, who testified he gave Clemens PEDs), I don't wish that on anybody... It's hurtful - one of the worst things you can do - terrible, passing judgment on something you know nothing about.
@Nonstopdrivel Well in Public opinion you are Guilty until Proven innocent but with all the Baseball Writers acting Holier than thou I think if they are gonna act like that then they should not elect any Writers or Broadcasters in the HOF either because they hid it as well and it would have still been hid until Jose Conseco whistle blowed
At least these guys were adults and had the ability to choose this for themselves. I would have a much bigger problem with it if they were children and someone else was imposing their notions of quality of life upon them.
To me, the problems run deeper than just scheme and execution. Look at our lines. Compare them with the lines of NYG or SF. Those teams control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball - impose their will. We can't pass block. We can't run block. Even if we could, we lack serviceable running backs. We can't stop the run. We need to completely retool the defense.
@adambballn How much you think Melton will be worth. He should get paid
@adambballn Do you bring Idonije back. I would love him on Detroit for his run defense. Not much pass rush but the run D would be worth it
Give Worthy some time. Pickett does a good job in run D. And Bishop and Perry back may help. Raji needs to get back to 2010 form
Packers LB coach regarding people who want Capers fired.
“It does ruffle me a little bit because the people that are asking for that, calling for that really don’t understand football,” Greene said. “They think they do but they really don’t. If you just look at things through a coach’s eye sometimes, you can really see the breakdowns of the defense. I’m not into pointing fingers and Coach Dom’s not into pointing fingers either. He’s into shouldering the load and he’s into doing the right thing, regardless of how the defense executed or didn’t execute the plan. He is ultimately shouldering that load, that heat.
@adambballn Well, it seems certain that Capers will be back. So it's time to move beyond those speculations to the more important question: Does Ted Thompson have what it takes to give Capers the personnel needed to succeed? Because the Packers and their apologists are certainly implying (and in some cases stating explicitly) that it's not the scheme, it's the players, which must make their players feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
@Nonstopdrivel @adambballn Well IMO they need a MLB that is active and is on every tackle like Seau, Ray Lewis, Zach Thomas, Urlacher and Willis was/are and I actually think there is a guy with that kinda ability in this draft........Alec Ogletree. But Ogletree is gonna be a top 15 pick and will the Packer make a move up the Draft board for him.
Didn't the Packers draft all defense last year?
@adambballn They definitely need a solid MLB and another DB would be nice, but in his defense, he did have some players go on IR. We lost Bishop before the season started.
@adambballn yes and it felt like all the major IRs happened on D early in the year. three linebackers. Perry, Smith, Bishop. thats three guys i'm sure they had all starting this year.
@Nonstopdrivel @adambballn But it was mostly defense... And I think everyone agreed that it was a pretty good draft. What more does he need? Maybe someone fast in the middle? (at LB)
@adambballn No, they did draft an OL and QB in the seventh round.
@adambballn What a load of senseless, meaningless codswollop. A bunch of words that say nothing. If you want him gone, you don't understand football because he's not into pointing fingers. There is a technical term for that. It's called a non sequitur. The two statements have no logical relationship.
If he wants to disagree with people, that's totally fine, but at least offer an argument to support your position instead of lashing out with an ad hominem attack.
@LionskillPack That's the thing that makes you want to slam your head against a wall. You don't know if it is lack of talent on the part of players or if they choose to ignore what they are taught and rely strictly on athleticism. And there is always the possibility they just have lapses. We all have those. But we don't all get paid many millions of dollars not to have them.
@LionskillPack That's their point.
Although I would think that part of a coach's job is teaching his scheme, too. It doesn't matter how great your scheme is if you aren't able to convey it and inculcate it.
@LionskillPack No, although Mike McCarthy has made it clear that he think the problem is execution, not scheme.
@adambballn what a dunce
@Miracle Man @adambballn
Asked by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel if Capers deserved to keep his job, Greene was adamant.
“Does a fat baby fart? Big time. Absolutely. No doubt about it,” Greene said. “He’s the same guy that took a defense from No. 24 to No. 5, or No. 2, then the Super Bowl year we’re No. 5. He’s the same guy. This is the same system. I mean, yeah, Dom is without a doubt the right guy. I think that’s about it there.”