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Packers Still Need Help

Due to good coaching and also due to Detroit and Chicago not knowing how to seize opportunities, the Green Bay Packers finished the season as NFC North Champs. It was an accomplishment that was short lived as they found a first round exit in the playoffs.
The Packers find themselves in one of the more  competitive divisions in football, so its a place where no one should ever feel comfortable.

Offensively one would think they’ll be just fine considering Aaron Rodgers is under center accompanied by Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as his one and two wideouts. Lets also not forget offensive rookie of the year, running back Eddy Lacy as well. But how will this offense look moving forward ? James Jones will most likely hit the  free agent market  and Jermichael Finley  will most likely not be on this roster either. The needs definitely dont stop there. The Packers defense allowed 27 points and 250 passing yards a game. That’s difficult to overcome weekly, even if your offense is clicking on all cylinders.

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The Packers find themselves with a good amount of cap room giving them some flexibility in the free agent market. Consider James Jones gone to the highest bidder      (albeit I can see him being a victim of a very heavy receiver draft and not getting what he thinks he deserves). Defensive tackle BJ Raji had an offer pulled off the table earlier this year and the Packers just might chance it by letting him hit the market. One has to figure that John Kuhn and the Packers will come to an agreement at some point as well. The fullback position is one not fully embraced by a lot of teams in the league and Kuhn is like a folk hero in Green Bay, so I can’t see him wanting to go anywhere else. Being that they’re so much under the cap and as mentioned before in a tough division, I’d expect a bunch of free agents to get a look from the Packers.

Coach Mike McCarthy feels that this offensive line has great depth, although I don’t see it that way.  My guess would be they won’t be addressing this as a need in the off-season.  They also don’t want to miss a beat with this offense, so one would expect them to dive into free agency for a tight end and / or wide receiver.

Talk has already come around that maybe the Packers would entertain paying a high ransom for the Saints’ now franchised Jimmy Graham, but I always say, if you truly have a franchise quarterback, you shouldn’t have to spend big money on players for him to throw to.  Franchise QB’s, make it easier for teams to spread their money around.  Brandon Pettigrew may be lured to play for a team the Lions could never get the better of, but a dark-horse signing for me going to the Packers is Ed Dickson.  Dickson played behind Pitta in Baltimore, and when it comes to “lack of production” on the part of Dickson, I put the blame squarely on the overpaid shoulders of Joe Flacco.  Dickson, age 26, is an athletic 6’4″ 250 pound body who may find a new beginning working in the McCarthy and Rodgers offense. Once the draft is complete, Green Bay, as well as every other NFL team, can find decent receivers at bargain prices.  I predict the likes of Nate Burleson and Jason Avant to get looks from the Pack, because they are two veteran wide outs that came out of high octane offenses. They not only run good routes, but will also do the “dirty work” as most seasoned veterans due naturally.

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Defensively the Packers need to look all over the board.  Will they resign Sam Shields? A smart man would say yes. He’s 26 and has proven himself enough to get at least a 4 year deal from the Packers. The Bears fan in me says, let him walk.  He’s coming off a career year which included 61 tackles and 4 interceptions and considering this is a division where you have to play two high scoring, throwing offenses in the Lions and Bears, you’d think that would help add leverage to Shields’ case but as of now it seems the Packers may let him hit the free agent market as well.

Most mock drafts have the Packers going defense with their 21st overall pick.  If a deal with BJ Raji isn’t done, look for them to go after Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III.  WalterFootball.Com has Ra’Shede Hageman of Minnesota going to Green Bay in thoughts that Nix goes earlier.  He plays off of double teams well and when watching Minnesota this year, their defense as a whole was pretty impressive. It would just be nice to see a program like that be recognized with a first round pick.  Aside from that, maybe the Packers would want to go the Ohio State route once again for a line backer and take the athletic Ryan Shazier.  In a division where all three teams have viable running back options, the Packers may need someone to lock up the area beyond the hash marks.  Also as CBSSports.com points out, they’ve had problems with the likes of Colin Kaepernick’s mobility in the last three meetings, they need to do something to help put an end to that.

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If the Packers really want to make news, they can take a gamble on veteran Brandon Browner, who earlier tweeted that he’s been reinstated.  He will most likely have to sit out a few games at the start of the season, but he will be able to play this year. Another free agent who I think is undervalued is cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.  Ever since his days with South Carolina, I’ve been a fan of his.  He’s an every down corner that can slide into the nickel as well to lend flexibility to defensive schemes.  Depending where the market holds these two, I think Browner is one you can get for cheap and Munnerlyn is someone who’s talent speaks louder than his numbers and it can end up being a steal for whoever signs him.

The Packers can make a run for another division title, but this division is far from a cake-walk.  The Bears are in a similar conundrum of having an offense in place but needing to find answers on defense, the Lions have all the pieces in place and this year we will see if they have the direction – and of course the Vikings . . . well Christian Ponder is still on their roster so we’ll let that one go.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

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