Episode 22 - Free Agent Frenzy
Blue 58, powered by WTMJ Mobile, goes beyond the headlines to help you become a smarter fan of the Green Bay Packers. Hosted by former WTMJ newscaster Jon Meerdink and his friend Gary Zilavy, Blue 58 brings you a unique, upbeat perspective on your favorite NFL team, as long as that team is the Packers.
Hosts Jon Meerdink and Gary Zilavy analyze the latest Packers free agent signings and departures, including two athletic tight ends and a cornerback who started his career in Green Bay. Plus, what’s next for Ted Thompson and the front office in the offseason?
Here's what we covered on this week’s podcast:
Martellus Bennett is virtually the prototypical “big target” tight end favored by head coach Mike McCarthy. Bennett is truly an enormous target, and will be a great threat in the red zone: over half of his 30 career touchdowns have come from within 9 yards of the goal line.
He’s also the most unique talent Aaron Rodgers has had, both on and off the field. Bennett is a curious character who is never afraid to speak his mind.
In 2009, he was fined for posting an explicit rap song on YouTube. Then in 2014, he bodyslammed rookie first round pick Kyle Fuller during training camp and was suspended for five days by the Bears.
He was a model citizen with the Patriots, but has unique opinions that often draw headlines. Expect the same in Green Bay.
Kendricks is the spiritual successor of former tight end Andrew Quarless. He’s a solid blocker and has athletic gifts that can help Aaron Rodgers in a tight spot. Over the past five years, Kendricks has caught nine percent more of the targets thrown his way than Jared Cook has over the same span.
With the Rams, Kendricks lined up on the line, split out as a receiver or in the backfield. Expect the same with the Packers specifically in the backfield. Green Bay carried two fullbacks on their roster for a portion of the season.
Division rival Detroit fortified their leaky offensive line with the addition of Lang. He’s big, strong, occasionally foul-mouthed and stands up for his teammates on the field. A well-rounded guard, he’ll turn 30 in September and has dealt with various injuries throughout his career.
It’s unclear how many more years Lang has left at a high level, but the Lions are banking on him for the foreseeable future. Detroit gave the guard $19 million guaranteed, more than the Packers gave Nick Perry.
After the Packers declined Elliott’s one-year, $1.797 million restricted free agent tender, the outside linebacker returns to Green Bay on a similar deal. Elliott missed seven games, including the first two playoff contests, with a broken hand in 2016.
There’s signs Elliott could be more of a playmaker if given the opportunity. He recorded 3.5 “stuffs” last season, a stat that measures tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. Clay Matthews, Datone Jones and Julius Peppers all finished with fewer.
Lacy signed a one-year deal worth $5.55 million with $3 million guaranteed. When healthy, the running back is a great power runner, can contribute as a competent pass protector and is a pretty good receiver out of the backfield.
Injuries and conditioning concerns sidelined Lacy during his final two years with the Packers. He’s now at a career crossroads, as many pegged his as a “one contract guy” coming out of Alabama. It’s up to Lacy now to prove he can stick around in the league.
Two years ago, House left the Packers and signed a four-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After being asked to play press-man this past year, House struggled and was benched after a rough start to the season. Now, he has a new opportunity with his old team to help provide depth and special teams help.