Green Bay has 11 unrestricted free agents that will be able to sign with any other team when free agency officially begins on March 9.
The names range from Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang to sack-leader Nick Perry to versatile safety Micah Hyde. And though there has been some recent talk of negotiations starting to pick up, no deals appear imminent. But when he met with the media Wednesday morning at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, general manager Ted Thompson didn’t sound overly concerned.
“It’s a process,” Thompson said. “I stand on this podium, I think, every year and say the same thing. Our best intentions will be to sign as many of our own players as we can and keep it together.”
Having not re-signed any of their own guys at this point is not unusual for the Packers. Two years ago, just three days before free agency was set to start, the team came to an agreement with wide receiver Randall Cobb. Then, on the day free agency started, they got a deal done with right tackle Bryan Bulaga. A year earlier, cornerback Sam Shields got a long-term contract from the club a day before he would have been able to go out on the open market.
“You’ve watched the guys that we’ve signed,” Thompson told reporters. “Over the years, we’ve probably signed several right at the start of free agency. My guess is that’s what’s going to happen this year.”
Coach Mike McCarthy spoke later in the day and echoed much of what Thompson said in wanting to see as many of their guys as possible come back into the fold for 2017. That included Perry, who despite breaking his hand, led the Packers in sacks with a career-high 11 in 2016. And with several other top pass rushers having the franchise tag applied to them, namely the Los Angeles Chargers Melvin Ingram, Perry could be in a for a big pay day.
“I have a lot of love for Nick and what he’s gone through,” McCarthy said, noting injuries that limited him to just 17 games his first two years. “He’s hopefully someone we can get his contract worked out.
“Nick’s a hell of a football player.”
ESPN reported that negotiations between running back Eddie Lacy and the team have picked up, while Lang told ESPN Wisconsin this week that he’s had some talks with the team but intends to test the free agent market.
Green Bay’s unrestricted free agents: