As NFL free agency approaches, the Green Bay Packers should keep their eye on the bargain bin rather than the overpriced top shelf free agents.
Many fans and pundits have advocated for the Green Bay Packers to go out on a limb and spend oodles and oodles of dollars this offseason on free agent pass rushers, safeties, wide receivers and offensive linemen. Players like Earl Thomas, Demarcus Lawrence, Rodger Saffold and more have been linked as possibilities.
But instead of overpaying for one or two marquee free agents, the Packers should only look toward ‘bargain buys’. With roughly $40 million in cap space, Green Bay has plenty of room to make a few splashes. But they shouldn’t. Here’s why.
When the new league year officially starts on March 13 at 4:00 p.m. ET, the Packers will be free to sign whomever they’d like. Of course, the above date is the official start of free agency, but teams can start contacting players’ representatives 48 hours ahead of time.
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As Jack Wepfer of the Packers Wire pointed out, 2020 might be a better time for the Packers to go all in on a free agency approach. That is, if Green Bay elects to roll over some of its cap space from this year to the following year.
In a nutshell, when teams don’t use all of their allotted cap space in a given year (the money used to pay players), the remaining figure ‘rolls over’ into the following year’s salary cap. In theory, this is how bad teams get better, by essentially saving money to use in the future on star free agents.
Although the Packers have the necessary means to sign some serious difference-makers in 2019 free agency, signing cheaper-but-still-viable options looks to be the smarter route. With 10 selections in the upcoming NFL Draft, Green Bay can build a solid foundation for next offseason, where their young contributors can be paired with veteran play makers in free agency.
Players on cheaper deals, such as those signed by Green Bay’s own Bashaud Breeland last year (one-year, $880,000 contract), can still be viable starters. Other examples of some bargain signings from last year’s free agency include Colts cornerback Pierre Desir (one-year, $1.75 mil), Patriots defensive end Adrian Clayborn (two-year, $10 mil), Colts guard Mark Glowinski (one-year, $1.4 mil) and Cardinals safety Tre Boston (one-year, $1.5 million).
Desir was ranked the 18th cornerback in 2018 by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Clayborn was the 50th edge rusher. Glowinski was the 17th guard. And Boston was the 24th safety. All players were rated in the green as “Above Average”, according to PFF’s grading scale.
Of course, there’s a reason some of these players are cheaper than their higher-paid counterparts. But at the same time, getting production out of certain positions comes more from the system in place than it does from the actual player.
The Packers don’t need to spend a lot to get what they need in free agency. By saving some cap space for next year, along with executing the right moves in the draft, Green Bay could be well on their way to rejuvenating their roster.