The Green Bay Packers’ season came to another heartbreaking finish yesterday, when they lost to the Atlanta Falcons 44-21. This was the Packers’ second loss in the NFC Championship game in the last three years.
Everyone is already buzzing about how things need to change. If you are a Packers fan, you know Ted Thompson doesn’t like to sign outside free agents. However, he has signed a couple in the past few years that have worked out pretty well. He signed Julius Peppers in 2014 and Jared Cook before this year. This is rare for Thompson, though. He likes to look to the draft to fix problems they might have. For the most part, he only likes to sign his own free agents. Going into the offseason, the Packers have 12 free agent decisions to make. Here are the five they need to worry most about.
Top 5 Free Agents Green Bay Must Re-Sign
5. J.C. Tretter
J.C. Tretter proved to the Packers this year how important it is to have a good backup center on the team. The Packers starting center, Corey Linsley, missed the first seven games of the 2016 season due to a hamstring injury. Because of this, Tretter had to step-up and start those seven games. Tretter filled in during Linsley’s absence and played well, saving the Packers’ offensive line in those games. Green Bay’s offensive line was one of the best all year, and he had something to do with that.
4. Nick Perry
In the last two playoff games, Green Bay had a hard time getting their pass rush going. Green Bay only had two sacks over those two games. This was one big reason the defense struggled in the postseason. A pass rush is a big a big part of a good defense. In the regular season, Green Bay had 40 sacks as a team, and Nick Perry led the team with 11. With the low production from Clay Matthews, and Julius Peppers possibly retiring, it is important to keep someone of Perry’s talent.
3. Micah Hyde
Green Bay had the league’s second worst pass defense in the league this year. A big part of that was because of injuries. In the first game of the season, the Packers lost Shields for the rest of the season because of a concussion. From that point on, the defensive backs for Green Bay had a hard time staying healthy. Because of this, many players had to step-up this year and play in big roles to keep the Packers’ playoff hopes alive. Nobody did that better than Micah Hyde. He filled in for many injured players. Hyde ended up playing at every position in the defensive backfield this season. He definitely proved his worth this season, in a contract season no less.
2. Jared Cook
While Ted Thompson doesn’t sign many free agents, Cook was one who worked out well for Green Bay. He was signed on a one-year deal during last off-season. Cook missed six games during the year with a high ankle sprain, but when he returned, he showcased his talent. He was the big-threat tight end Aaron Rodgers had been missing since Jermichael Finley retired. Cook’s presence was definitely felt in the offense this year. He gained Rodgers’ trust throughout the year, and that really showed in the playoffs. Cook was one of Rodgers’ favorite targets in the postseason. Thompson needs to sign Cook to a longer deal this year.
1. T.J. Lang
Most Importantly, Thompson needs to keep Lang in the building. As mentioned, Green Bay had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL this year. A big reason was TJ Lang. Lang showed the team how valuable and tough he is this year. He picked a good year to do it, with this being a contract year. Lang played a lot of this season through injuries. He was injured almost all year, but only missed three games. He went on to earn a pro bowl bid after his phenomenal 2016 season. If Ted Thompson wants to keep his aging MVP quarterback upright next year, it starts with keeping TJ Lang around.
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