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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Initial look at personnel needs for next year

by Mark Quarderer

Although things can certainly change in a hurry in the NFL, some clear areas of need are starting to make themselves known.

First, let's look at our own free agents......

On the defensive line, Grady Jackson, Colin Cole, Cullen Jenkins, and Aaron Kampman will all be free agents, although Cullen Jenkins will be a restricted rights free agent who can only negotiate with Green Bay essentially. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see all of the remaining guys attract interest in the free agent market. Kampman, according to footballoutsiders.com, is one of the more difficult DEs to run against in this league. He's smart, high energy, and has a great work ethic. Cole has limitations but he's pretty damn solid at the point of attack. And of course Grady.........I just think we're going to have to bite the bullet and sign him.

We'll also need to resign Ryan Longwell. These are the easy calls, and now some of the hard ones.......

Mike Flanagan and William Henderson should not be offered contracts. Neither should Najeh Davenport. If Ahman Green is able to come back from his injury we should try to make him our 3rd down back and offer him a contract commensurate with that role. If he accepts, it's the end of the line for Tony Fisher.....otherwise, Fisher might hang around another year. Clearly, we need a feature running back. I like what I've seen from Gado but I think he'd be better suited to a backup/change-of-pace role.

I don't think the Packers have any need at TE or WR, but at OT we're going to have to make a decision about Kevin Barry. He didn't attract much interest last year and so there's no reason to believe he will this year either. At this point, it looks as though his future in Green Bay is as a backup tackle, period. Adrien Klemm will backup the the LG and LT positions, Whitticker will start at one guard. Scott Wells will also start but we'll either need a new starting center or new starting guard. Reugamer could hang around another year as a backup. Junius Coston and Chris White are our two best bets for a starter next year.

Personally, I think the Packers are going to have to fill the hole in the interior of their offensive line with a free agent or Day One draft pick next year, and we've got some other holes to fill with those draft picks. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense to let Wahle leave in free agency and then get another guy in via free agency, but it looks to me like our best course of action

So that takes care of our free agents. Now let's look at the holes:

Our defensive line might well return quite a few of this year's guys, but it could really benefit from a quality 3 down defensive end who could replace KGB on run downs and compliment him on pass downs.

At linebacker.......Barnett is perhaps a little above average but the other guys aren't. Manning and Poppinga might help out, but if a playmaking LB like AJ Hawk is available he'd be a good acquisition for us and would help our team against both the run and pass.

But the biggest weakness on this team.....other than their inability to hang onto the ball.....is in the secondary, particularly at corner. Al Harris is our best guy and he's on the wrong side of 30. Carroll is a work in progress and isn't exactly inspiring confidence. Behind them is essentially nothing but projects.

This problem is amplified in the nickel and dime packages when we're putting minimum wage
FAs and Day Two rookies out there against some prety good WRs. So I would think that a substantial upgrade in that regard would be something that should take apriority in this year's offseason.

So that's the view from here. Not an insurmountable problem, but clearly the Packers' need to have a good draft and be a little more active in free agency than they were last year......and not just the bargain guys. We could use some upper echelon free agent type guys, too.

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