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Ranking the Packers' restricted free agents

Feb. 18, 2013
 
Green Bay Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith (62) is one of five restricted free agents on the team. File/Press-Gazette Media
Green Bay Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith (62) is one of five restricted free agents on the team. File/Press-Gazette Media

The Packers have one of four options with their five restricted free agents:

♦ Extend a first-round tender which is worth nearly $2.9 million for the 2013 season. That means any team making an offer to that player would have to fork over a first-round draft choice to the Packers.

♦ Extend a second-round tender which is worth around $2 million and would cost another team a second-round draft choice.

♦ Extend a low tender which is worth approximately $1.3 million. Another team wanting to sign such a player would have to give up a draft pick in the round that player was drafted. If that player wasn’t drafted, no compensation would be required.

♦ Extend no tender, which means the player becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Packers could then re-sign that player.

In the first three cases, the Packers have the option to match any offer from another team.

Here is my ranking of the Packers’ five restricted free agents, based on their value in Green Bay.

1. Evan Dietrich-Smith, center

The only reason he’s ranked ahead of Sam Shields is that the Packers currently have no other player on the roster that is ready to step into the starting center role. That could garner EDS a first- or second-round tender.

2. Sam Shields, cornerback

Now that Charles Woodson is gone, Shields’ value goes up considerably, most likely to the tune of a first- or second-round tender. Cover cornerbacks are highly valued in the pass-happy NFL, and Shields showed significant improvement this past season.

3.Tom Crabtree, tight end

He doesn’t have the talent of Jermichael Finley but he makes plays and is a reliable blocker. The Packers could likely get by with offering him a low-round tender. Since Crabtree wasn’t drafted, another team could sign him for no compensation

4.Frank Zombo, linebacker

When healthy, Zombo has occasionally made some plays opposite Clay Matthews. But it’s possible the Packers won’t extend him a tender and then will attempt to re-sign him.

5. Robert Francois, linebacker

His greatest value to the Packers comes as a special teams player, which makes it likely he won’t be offered a tender but could still be brought back.

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Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

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