The celebration at Lambeau Field was cool. It’s also the last time the Super Bowl champion Packers will be together as presently constituted.
Like most teams in this strange offseason, the Packers have a number of key free agents if and when previous CBA rules are reinstated. (In that likely scenario, four years of service will be necessary to be an unrestricted free agent.)
Here’s how we’d break down Green Bay’s free agent priorities.
The big one: Defensive end Cullen Jenkins.
Jenkins seems to think he’s gone. We doubt the Packers will pay market value for such a productive lineman his age. With that said, Jenkins is such a big part of the Packers attack that the franchise tag makes a ton of sense.
The key ingredients: Wide receiver James Jones, kicker Mason Crosby, and guard Daryn Colledge.
The Packers would surely like to keep Jones because Donald Driver may not have much left in the tank. Jones could be tough to keep, though, if he hits the open market. Crosby figures to be brought back.
Colledge may be coming off his best year and wasn’t happy with his tender offer last year. He may be able to cash in elsewhere. He wouldn’t be the first serviceable guard to get overpaid as a free agent.
Role players: Running back John Kuhn, running back Brandon Jackson, and safety Charlie Peprah.
These players probably have more value to the Packers than other teams, so they may wind up returning.
Likely on the way out: Safety Atari Bigby and guard Jason Spitz.
These two probably won’t be back.
The Packers also have to figure out how to rework A.J. Hawk’s contract and decide whether linebacker Nick Barnett should return, but that’s a post for another day.