How Will the Packers Handle Their Free Agent Class?
Eleven members of the 2016 Packers are set to be unrestricted free agents in the near future, and a solid case could be made for why each one of them should return, except maybe for Christine Michael.
However, it’s also possible to argue against each of them, albeit to different degrees. Whether it’s age (Julius Peppers, T.J. Lang), underachieving tendencies (Datone Jones, Eddie Lacy), or a general low ceiling (Don Barclay, Micah Hyde), it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of the pending free agents depart.
If anyone on the list is a lock, it could be long snapper Brett Goode. He’s 32, but now more than a year removed from ACL surgery, he’s in fine form and showed no signs of slippage in 2016. The less one has to think about a long snapper, the better, and Goode certainly gives the Packers that luxury.
The hardest decision may be Eddie Lacy, and we’ll take a deeper look at his situation in the near future. When healthy (and fit), Lacy is a unique talent, but health and fitness have become increasingly bigger questions over the past couple seasons.
I don’t believe Lacy is a feature back any more, but I also don’t believe the Packers need one. They got more than enough mileage out of a committee of backs that it should shape their running back philosophy going forward. This team simply doesn’t need just one good running back.
Ultimately, the Packers will probably bring back just over half of this group. On this week’s episode of Blue 58, Gary suggested an over/under of 6.5, and I agree with that number wholeheartedly.
Factors outside the team’s control (age, injuries, or suspensions) may make some of these decisions easier than others, and as that develops, and ultimately I’m confident that the Packers will retain most of their key contributors.