Print and Go Back Green Bay Packers [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Starter Pack: Must-sign free agents

By Rob Demovsky

A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers' beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Packers have a long list of free agents; we detailed them last week in two separate posts -- one with the offensive players and one with the defensive players.

In an ESPN Insider piece Insider, Mike Sando identified what he considered to be the top 25 “must sign” free agents. Among them were two Packers players -- defensive tackle B.J. Raji and cornerback Sam Shields.

Here's what Sando, a long-time NFL writer, said about each one along with where they ranked on his list:

11. Raji appears somewhat miscast in the Packers' 3-4 defense. It's not that Raji has performed poorly. It's more that the Packers have turned him into a two-down player to fit their scheme, one reason Raji has zero sacks in his last 37 regular-season games. Raji had 9.5 sacks over a 27-game span preceding his current drought. He has reportedly turned down an offer worth $8 million per year, an indication he might see himself as a better fit elsewhere. Do the Packers have enough talent on defense to let one of their better players get away?

15. Shields provides needed stability in the Green Bay secondary. He could even outrank Raji on this list, depending on what role the Packers have in mind for Raji.

Sando makes a good point about Raji. Even though he underachieved in 2013, he remains one of their most dynamic defensive players. It's not so much a question of if  they can afford him but rather can they afford to let him go? It's a moot point, however, if Raji would rather play in a different scheme.

As far as Shields goes, there appears to be little doubt that the Packers will get a deal done with him.

In case you missed it on Best of the rest: