What scouts say: Evaluating Packers' free agents

Bob McGinn
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Several executives in personnel were asked this week to evaluate the Green Bay Packers’ unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and released players. The Packers have the exclusive right to re-sign any of their free agents until 3 p.m. Thursday, which is the start of the free-agent signing period.


T-G-C DON BARCLAY: “He’s OK. Just a depth player. He’ll get a deal a week or two into free agency and find a home as roster depth. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” … “He’ll have a mild market. Nothing extraordinary. Their guys will always have a mild market just because they’ve developed in a good system that people respect. No matter what, the San Franciscos of the world are going to be looking at Green Bay players. The (thin) draft doesn’t necessarily help Barclay. He’s a quality backup at this point in time.” … “Don’s always going to be a fill-in guy, just kind of a stopgap player.”

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TE JARED COOK: “I see him as a good No. 2 or a subpar No. 1. Lot of similarities to Julius Thomas. I think he’d get $4.5 to $5.5 (million per year in average compensation). The problem he’s going to run into is the tight-end draft class is awesome so it’s hard to get motivated for a (veteran). He lost a lot of leverage. If I were a GM I’d squeeze him. He should get some payment for services rendered (last year). He overproduced that deal.” … “Oh, yeah, he’ll have a market. He made a lot of plays this year when he was healthy. He’ll go up to between $5 and $6 (million). He and Martellus Bennett are about the best tight ends.” … “Early on in his career he was a guy who ran well and caught the ball. He fits a tight-end-by-committee system because he fits a role. He just has to be more consistent catching the ball.”

LS BRETT GOODE: “Those guys don’t move a lot. I don’t see him having a real big market. He’s not going anywhere, anyway.” … “You got me. I didn’t pore over the special-teams tape. Typically, if he’s really good, he’ll get a couple hundred thousand over MSB (minimum-salary benefit). But you’d like to get them at MSB.” … “Reliable. Solid. Not a great athlete in coverage but gets the ball back and is consistent. I wouldn’t say there’s a big market. It’s just a comfort level.”

CB-S MICAH HYDE: “The corners and safeties (in the draft) are good. Any leverage that he had, he lost it. He’s a hard one (to evaluate). I’d see him at $3 (million a year), or maybe more like a $2 (million). He did some good things this year. He’s kind of a ‘steady Eddie’ that can wear different hats.” … “He’ll have a big market because he plays a lot of different positions and he’s a returner. Like him (as a slot). He’s smart, physical. He doesn’t have great speed but he’s fast enough. He’s productive as a punt returner. I absolutely think he can get to $5 (million). You’re talking about a guy who can play nickel or safety, and if you need him in a pinch he can play corner. He also can be a good cover guy on special teams.” … “His versatility in that system gives him a little leverage. He can do a little bit of everything. You wouldn’t say he’s a great player but you would say he’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades.”

OLB-DE DATONE JONES: “I don’t think he’ll have much of a market. He’ll be in the 1’s ($1 million a year) somewhere just because he was a first-round pick. It’s a little bit of confirmation bias for me. I thought he was over-drafted. I thought he was a workout wonder that elevated that way. We had him in the mid-rounds. He is kind of who I thought he was. I just never felt him (this year). I know he’s had decent playing time but he was just kind of a guy to me.” … “He’ll have a good market because he does a lot of different things. His pass rush is the thing you like the most. He’s on the rise as far as his overall play goes.” … “This would be his time to shine. They drafted him with the idea that he’d be a pretty dominant player. It hasn’t always happened. Really, it’s in his best interests to do a short deal and Datone becomes the guy there. They thought they’d get more out of him.”

RB EDDIE LACY: “Could they possibly bring him back? He’s a bust. I get it if he has nothing going and they bring him back on the cheap. If they bring him back and pay him decent market money that would be an indictment of the state of the program. Overweight guys that continue to be overweight … what a surprise … you get hurt. Shocking! And now the team is left in the lurch. If you bring him back and you rely on him, he’s going to (let you down) again. First time, shame on you. Second time, shame on me. He’s never been that good. There’s a good (draft) class of running backs.” ... “I know he put out a video or something. If he’s ready to play then people will want to like him because when he’s healthy he’s done OK for them. He’s at a position that’s pretty crowded in the draft. It’s more about him and the doctors than talking to him. Not only was he hurt this year, he was hurt the year before. If he’s healthy he’ll have some feelers.” … “As long as you believe that at some point he’s going to get his weight issues and everything under control, it’d be nice to have a big back and complement him with a couple other pieces and have running back by committee. I like him but I’d have to feel comfortable his injuries have been resolved.”

G T.J. LANG: “I can’t answer the medical question. That’s the variable. But I still see him getting top guard money. I think that’s about $8.5 or $9 (million per year). Good player. He solidifies your entire offensive line. I know his character’s good. Guard is one of the better (positions) in free agency. You have (Kevin) Zeitler, Lang, (Ronald) Leary. There’s not a lot of depth but it’s good at the top.” … “I don’t know about his health. If he can’t do anything until training camp that hurts him going somewhere else unless it’s somewhere that he knows the coaches or the system. He’s smart and proven, which goes a long way as an offensive lineman. There’s not enough of those guys.” … “He’s steady and brings a little toughness. This is what, eight years in? There’s not a lot of guards on the market. The Chiefs sewed up (Laurent) Duvernay-Tardif ($7.1 million average, $20 million guaranteed), which I think will give this guy the chance to say, ‘I’ve been a starter for a long time and I bring (more) to the table than that guy.’ He has to feel pretty good about where he stands.”

RB CHRISTINE MICHAEL: “He might get signed in the summer. He’s been cut like four times (actually three). Did anyone do their background on him? Bounced around, he’s not that talented if you watch the tape. He doesn’t have vision.”… “There won’t be a big market but he’ll probably have some feelers. He played well when he got a chance to play and he played OK in Seattle when he got a chance. He’s definitely fast, and he’s quick. He’s more of an outside than an inside runner. He’s got decent hands. He can definitely play in that system.” … “On the negative side, it’s ball security and consistency (catching) out of the backfield. On the positive side, he’s got twitch and can run. He’s a good complement if not a featured back. He brings energy and quicks.”

OLB-DE JULIUS PEPPERS: “The aging warrior. It’s hard to say what those guys get. You’re probably looking at one year at $3 (million). I didn’t feel him as much this year, no. I thought you started to see a decline.” … “If he wants to play then I’m sure that’s where he’ll be playing. Because when he played he still played fairly well. He picked it up at the end of the year. He started off kind of slow.” … “He’s got to be on a (play) count. He’s a big, gifted athlete. He can certainly turn it on when he has to. I just don’t know if he can do it all the time.”

OLB-DE NICK PERRY: “I must have watched the wrong games. I don’t know how he got 11 sacks. The numbers tell me one thing but my eyes tell me another. It’s why I struggle with him. The agent will say he should get a similar deal to Brandon Graham, Ryan Kerrigan and Pernell McPhee. Kerrigan got $11.5 (million), McPhee got $8 (million) and Graham got $6.5 (million). They’re probably shooting for $8.5 (million). I just didn’t feel him but I know he’s had production so it had to come from somewhere. I know he had the (hand) injury. He’s probably sitting at the top of the market. What does that say? Is that because he’s awesome or it’s just a bad class? Melvin Ingram is much better. ‘JPP’ (Jason Pierre-Paul) is better. They’re off (the market). He’s starting, got production. This is a good defensive end (draft) class. I’d say $6.5 (million per year). Maybe he gets more than that. He played this year at one year, $5 million. That was a prove-it deal. He can say, ‘Hey, I had 11 sacks for you and played hurt with a club on my hand, so you guys better take care of me.’ He’s got a point. It’s hard to argue that. I imagine his agents are probably looking at $8, $9 (million). That’s a tough one.” … “He’s on the rise. Even with a club on his hand he was playing pretty well. He’s definitely improving. He is one of the top guys on the market. I guess he’ll probably be from $6.5 to $10 (million).” … “He did not live up to expectations early on. He had strengths but you just didn’t see the twitch. It’s almost seemed they were moving people around to accommodate him. You’ve got to figure out exactly what Nick Perry is. It almost seems like he’s a sub-package rusher more than an every-down outside linebacker.”

C JC TRETTER: “He may get more play than a lot of people think. Not that he’s going to get a big deal. He can play a couple different positions. He’s a solid player. He’s young (26). I think he gets somewhere in that $5 to $6.5 (million per year) range. Last year Ben Jones got $17.5 million (over four years) to sign (with Tennessee). JC Tretter is a much better player than Ben Jones. But how many teams actually need a center? That’s the key. Injuries are always a tough part of it. He’s a center and an insurance policy at guard. I like his tape. He’s from Cornell. He’s a smart guy. Tough, competitive. You like the fact he’s been on a winning team with a good offensive line.” … “He’s an up-and-comer. I guess he’s probably expendable because they have two pretty good centers. He played pretty well when he was out there. They like the other guy (Corey Linsley) better. A 26-year-old smart, veteran center has a lot of value. His strength is just OK. He’s probably in that $5 to $6.5 (million) range.” … “You want a center to be smart enough to make all the line calls, which he is. Durability has been a little bit of an issue. He’s not special by any means. But I think if he can just be (solid) teams that don’t have one would have some interest. He’s good enough to get you through but you’ll always be looking for a high-level center.”


OLB JAYRONE ELLIOTT: “With his special-teams value I can see him getting one. It won’t be a big offer sheet. Maybe in the $2 million range. Just see how much you like him. You may not get him but with the lower tender it tells you what their comfort level is to retain him. I’ve seen flashes from him. He could develop. He might be an occasional nickel (rusher) and special-teams player.” … “He could (get an offer sheet) but I wouldn’t say he lit the world on fire for someone to jump. Since there’s no compensation you might do it just because he is athletic. You can see if you could keep developing him. I liked him a little bit on special teams.”


CB SAM SHIELDS: “I don’t think he’s going to get any action. Concussions are a documented thing. You can’t fix those. That’s something where you can get totally burned. Not to mention that he’s older (29). You could bring him in for a medical visit and put him through some stuff but it’s not like a guy with a labrum tear. ‘Is it healed? Yes, it’s healed.’ You can see it on the MRI. With concussions, every guy is different. That is the scariest thing for a general manager.” … “That’s one of those medical deals all the way. I guess they (the Packers) will know that first and foremost. If he’s well they’ll probably get him back based upon them talking about bringing (Davon) House back. He’s definitely got some value when healthy.” … “You hate to see guys get injured. It’s a shame to lose someone like that. With concussions, sometimes you just have to move on.”

RB JAMES STARKS: “The NFI (non-football injury) part of that is kind of scary. You didn’t see burst. You didn’t see power running through tackles. He was just out there. I would say he’s done. That’d be something it’d be worth making a bet on. He’s a 31-year-old running back.” ... “Even before that (the concussion Dec. 12) he wasn’t playing at the same level. For whatever reason you could see a drop-off in his play. Somebody will probably give him a look. Again, when you hit 30, 31 and you’re a running back, and it’s a good year (in the draft) for running backs, it might take a while.” … “Once you start getting concussions they’re tough to avoid and things don’t get any better for you. He’s had a pretty good career as a role player and sometime starter.”

LB JORDAN TRIPP: “He’ll be league minimum. He’s athletic. He can do some things in coverage. He can run. He’s not a physical or a tough guy. He’s bounced around a little bit.” … “Someone will sign him for camp.”


RB JOHN CROCKETT: “Big runner. To me he’s just a free agent. He’ll bounce around. Play in preseason.” … “Somebody will definitely give him a look. He was playing OK before he got hurt.”

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