The Green Bay Packers have a big offseason ahead of them when it comes to overhauling a defense that has been a huge impediment to the team’s Super Bowl aspirations, as Aaron Rodgers and the offense have more than held up their end of the bargain. Sam Shields will likely be re-signed, but the Packers need to make a big upgrade at safety and re-tool their front seven, in addition to making changes in the secondary. If the Packers have a big offseason and effectively upgrade their defense, then they could be a powerhouse again. Ted Thompson doesn’t like spending big in free agency, but it’s become clear that he’ll have to become more flexible with that philosophy.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn, the Packers haven’t ruled out re-signing defensive linemen B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett, which contracts a report earlier this week from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Pickett is only getting older and could be let, but he’s still a quality run-stuffer and leader who still makes a positive impact at the age of 34. The Packers definitely want to get younger on defense and Pickett doesn’t fit that desire, but he’s still productive despite his age. If he is as cheap as I expect him to be, then I think the Packers should at least strongly consider keeping him.
That appears to be the case, as Mike McCarthy said, “We’re looking to sign those guys back but we’ll see what happens. Those decisions, a lot of those will be financial. That’s really not practical to keep them all.”
Raji is a tougher case, but he’s a younger and more productive player than Pickett. He’s theoretically better, but he’s also more inconsistent and struggled mightily last season. Conventional wisdom states that he’s someone who needs to go, because he could be upgrading and might not be a fit as a 3-4 nose. Plus, Raji wants too much money, and the only way that the Packers keep him is if he comes cheap. I don’t see that happening.
So while the Packers haven’t ruled out keeping either player, it’s extremely unlikely that they keep both. I also don’t expect them to keep either of them, but it is possible. And if I had to state which player is more likely to stay in Green Bay in 2014, then I would have to go with Pickett.