Throughout the offseason, I’ll be answering reader questions in a weekly mailbag here at PackersNews.com. If you’d like to submit a question in the future, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s been slow going on the news front since the Packers cut James Starks and Sam Shields a few weeks ago, but things should start picking up next week at the NFL scouting combine. We should start to get a bit of an idea about whom the Packers are focusing on bringing back and whom they are planning on allowing to hit free agency.
Until then, I have a few lingering questions from Packers fans.
From Guilherme Dufflis:
Davante Adams had his best season so far. It's undeniable that he is developing into a great target, but we also have to remember that most of last season's production was done with Jordy Nelson on the field. With Jordy getting old and possibly moving to the slot, do you think Adams is our future No. 1 receiver? I know the staff has a plan to address the position, but is it focused on drafting someone else or developing guys like Trevor Davis?
Great question, Guilherme. Aaron Rodgers put it pretty simply earlier this year when asked about the Packers having a No. 1 wide receiver:
“No. 1 receivers, that's fantasy-football fodder. We throw to the open guy here. Whoever gets open the most is going to get the most targets his way. That No. 1 stuff is for fantasy football and contract negotiations."
Now, with that said, Rodgers also told Larry McCarren earlier in the year that the team was making Adams the first read in their passing progressions more and more because they saw him emerging as a big-play threat. The problem, of course, is that for all the advancement we saw from Adams last year, he always will be limited by his lack of true breakaway speed.
Now, don’t think for a second that if the board falls a certain way on draft day that the Packers won’t look to bring in another wide receiver. For all the damage the offense did during the team's eight-game winning streak, they wide receivers still struggled against man coverage for much of the year. McCarthy’s offense absolutely could use a fast, big-bodied guy out on the perimeter. And, to be clear, this doesn’t have to necessarily mean using a first-round pick on the position.
As for Davis and Geronimo Allison, I certainly would expect them to continue to develop, but neither are ever going to be what you would consider a traditional No. 1. Both have a chance to be big-time assets for the offense going forward. That jump from year one to year two is when we often see how guys are going to develop.
From Matt Kronzer:
Is a guard truly as expendable as has always been the train of thought? If so, another Pro Bowl-caliber guard at that? I truly think that the O-line & its strength & continuity get underrated overall & the Pack had a truly special unit.
I take it you’re referring to T.J. Lang here, Matt. And yes, that would be a big loss for the offensive line if he’s allowed to walk.
The thing I keep coming back to when it comes to Ted Thompson possibly allowing Lang to test the market is that he’s been down this road before. It’s fine to “devalue” certain positions, like guard or safety or whatever, but if you allow a guy to walk because of that perceived lack of positional value, you darn well better have a capable replacement on hand. The Packers had one when they cut Josh Sitton in Lane Taylor. Do they now, if Lang is allowed to leave? I don’t see him on the roster, unless they think Lucas Patrick is ready to make a huge jump.
Thompson has been caught in these situations before, whether it was when he allowed Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera to leave without capable replacements or whether it was cutting Charles Woodson and thinking M.D. Jennings could be a viable NFL starter. It’s all well and good to move on from high-priced older players whose play you think is ready to decline, but to do so without competent replacements only hurts your football team.
Am I the only one who hates all the speculation about free agency? Don’t we first have to wait and see who the Packers sign, who the other teams sign of their FA’s? It is a big wait-and-see game as some players fans think they want aren’t really available.
Players teams REALLY don’t want to let go will be signed, contracts extended, reworked or whatever before March 9.
I’m willing to wait and see what their plans are, instead of ranting and raving they won’t do anything. They could surprise us all by signing a corner or other defensive player from some team, I don’t think it is a stretch this year, or too much of an assumption!
Susie, I think we need to put you on staff. You seem to have the right temperament for the job.
When it comes to free-agency speculation, you are definitely in the minority. To be clear, I one thousand percent agree with you that it doesn’t make much sense to speculate when we know a great number of the “names” being talked about day in and day out are going to either be franchised or re-signed by their teams.
But fans love to speculate, to guess, to throw out their opinions, and really, where’s the harm in that? Sports have always served as a great conversation starter, and free agency is no different. Can it get tedious this time of year when the same questions are asked over and over? Sure. But I love the interest. I love the conversation. And yes, I love having a job. ;)
As for the Packers surprising us, the Julius Peppers signing is one of the more surprising things I can remember happening in free agency in the last 10 years or so. Ted could absolutely surprise us all again. That’s what makes it all so fascinating and why fans love guessing and talking about it non-stop during this slow part of the offseason. And I love it.