Packers General Manager Ted Thompson will be a busy man this offseason.
He has to decide which of the Packers’ 20 unrestricted free agents are worth keeping, if there are outside free agents worth pursuing, and what holes on his roster will be best filled through the draft.
With free agency looming next month and the draft set for May, today we offer the first of a 10-part position-by-position analysis of how the Packers should proceed.
UNDER CONTRACT: Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: Matt Flynn, Seneca Wallace
Where they stand
The Packers remain the envy of every NFL team, boasting in Aaron Rodgers the best quarterback in football. With apologies to Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady, no one is better than Rodgers, and as long as he stays healthy, the Packers will remain a solid playoff bet and bona fide Super Bowl contender. Rodgers should be fully healed from a broken collarbone that forced him to miss eight games last season.
Thompson cannot afford to commit the same blunder he made last year when he left the backup position vulnerable. The Packers mistakenly believed a combination of Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman was an adequate replacement plan behind Rodgers.
Harrell and Coleman were awful in training camp, and Thompson dawdled until the second week of August to sign veteran Vince Young. All three backups were cut by the end of camp and a desperate Thompson signed Wallace, who was out of football for a year, and the inexperienced Tolzien. Is it any wonder that when Rodgers went down with his injury, the Packers failed to win a game during the month of November when they started four different quarterbacks?
The arrival of Flynn, who was rejected by three teams after leaving the Packers in free agency two years ago, salvaged the season. Flynn led the Packers to a pair of comeback victories and a tie before Rodgers’ return in the regular-season finale.
The Packers should bring Flynn back to provide an adequate insurance policy behind Rodgers. Many teams don’t view Flynn as an every-week starter, so the assumption is the Packers could sign him for a reasonable price.
He was groomed under Mike McCarthy and knows the offense inside and out and gets along well with Rodgers. A backup must be capable of winning a game or two in a pinch, and Flynn proved worthy of doing that.
Tolzien is better than either Harrell or Coleman, should improve during offseason quarterback school, and could very well become the Packers’ No. 2 quarterback down the road. But as he showed during a two-game stint last season that included one touchdown pass and five interceptions, Tolzien isn’t quite ready to get thrown into the fire.
As for Wallace, his time in Green Bay and the NFL is up. If Flynn returns, that will make the drafting of a quarterback unnecessary this year.