Green Bay Packers: Bryan Bulaga

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When free agency began a month ago, the Green Bay Packers had the sixth-most salary-cap space among all NFL teams.

A month later, even after re-signing several of their own free agents and adding Julius Peppers, their salary-cap situation remains healthy.

They are currently $15,636,891 under their adjusted salary cap for the 2014 season. That ranks as the seventh-most cap space available, according to the latest figures from ESPN Stats & Information contract data.

The Packers will need about $5 million in cap space for their rookie salaries.

At this time of year, only the top 51 contracts count toward the salary-cap.

With that in mind, here's a position-by-position look at the Packers' salary-cap situation under the top 51 rule. Let's start with the offense:

Quarterbacks

Rodgers
Rodgers
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 14.26

Total cap charge: $18,195,000

NFL average: $11,667,289

Biggest cap hit: Aaron Rodgers, $17.55 million

Biggest bargain: Scott Tolzien, $645,000

Outlook: The Packers are expected to re-sign Matt Flynn but that won't change their salary-cap significantly because it's likely to be a low-cost contract. Last year, Flynn returned in midseason for the veteran's minimum. Although Rodgers is under contract through 2019, his cap number does not increase significantly. At its highest, it is $21.1 million in the final year but does not exceed $20 million until 2017.

Running backs

Starks
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 3.84

Total cap charge: $4,904,558

NFL average: $7,750,422

Biggest cap hit: James Starks, $1,370,313

Biggest bargain: Eddie Lacy, $771,003

Outlook: The situation at running back illustrates why it's so important to hit on draft picks. Lacy, a second-round pick last year, is the team's best running back and should be for the foreseeable future. His rookie contract keeps his cap figure low throughout. It doesn't exceed $1 million until its final year, 2016. That prevents the Packers from having to pay big money for a running back for a while. Other than Starks, fullback John Kuhn is the only other player at this position with a cap charge in excess of $1 million ($1.026 million).

Receiver

Nelson
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 6.45

Total cap charge: $8,230,391

NFL average: $13,535,504

Biggest cap hit: Jordy Nelson, $4,375,000

Biggest bargain: Randall Cobb, $1,021,179

Outlook: The majority of the remaining cap space likely will be spent on this position. Nelson and Cobb both are entering the final season of their current contracts and will be in line for extensions, perhaps as soon as the next few weeks or months. If Jarrett Boykin ends up being the No. 3 receiver and produces like he did last year, when he had 49 catches over the final 12 games, he will be a bargain with a cap number of just $570,000.

Tight end

Quarless
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 2.27

Total cap charge: $2,899,794

NFL average: $6,117,287

Biggest cap hit: Andrew Quarless, $1,250,000

Biggest bargain: Brandon Bostick, $495,000

Outlook: The Packers almost certainly aren't done adding players to this position. If they don't re-sign Jermichael Finley, who is awaiting medical clearance following last year's neck surgery, they likely will draft a tight end perhaps even in one of the early rounds. Quarless was a free agent but re-signed for the modest price of $3 million over two years. The Packers have high hopes for the athletic Bostick, who was originally an undrafted free agent.

Offensive line

Sitton
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 16.62

Total cap charge: $21,202,414

NFL average: $21,430,114

Biggest cap hit: Josh Sitton, $6,400,000

Biggest bargain: David Bakhtiari, $608,850

Outlook: While the Packers guards, Sitton and T.J. Lang, are signed through 2016, right tackle Bryan Bulaga ($3,839,000) is entering the final year of his rookie deal. The Packers will have to decide whether to extend Bulaga, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury and the second half of 2012 because of a hip injury. If JC Tretter ends up being the starting center, the second-year former fourth-round pick will be a bargain ($598,777).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- From the outside, the Green Bay Packers' list of needs in the upcoming draft seems obvious.

Safety, tight end and linebacker surely would be at the top of general manager Ted Thompson's wish list.

But sometimes GMs think a little differently.

That's something new ESPN Insider Mark Dominik knows as well as anyone. Dominik has nearly 20 years of experience as an NFL personnel man, including most recently as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-13, before joining ESPN last month.

So it was interesting to see that Dominik, in an ESPN Insider piece, identified the Packers as a team that might have what he called a "hidden need." And he wrote that need is offensive tackle.

"The Packers drafted offensive tackles in the first round of the 2010 [Bryan Bulaga] and 2011 [Derek Sherrod] drafts, but they are still hunting for that dependable long-term option at left tackle," Dominik said. "Even though the team has other, more pressing needs, I believe general manager Ted Thompson could target a tackle earlier than expected in this draft. Remember, Chad Clifton was a second-round selection back in 2000, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Packers look to find a player like him -- in roughly that same range -- in this year's draft."

Perhaps Dominik isn't convinced second-year pro David Bakhtiari is the long-term answer at left tackle. Coach Mike McCarthy said recently he plans to leave Bakhtiari there, where he started every game last season as a rookie after Bulaga blew out his knee two weeks into training camp, leaving Bulaga to return to right tackle.

Or perhaps Dominik was taking the contract and injury history of Bulaga and Sherrod into account. Bulaga missed all of last season because of a knee injury and the second half of 2012 because of a hip injury. Sherrod returned late last season from the broken leg he sustained on Dec. 18, 2011, an injury that sidelined him for all of 2012 and the first half of 2013.

Both likely will be free agents next offseason. Bulaga is entering the final year of his rookie contract, while the Packers have an option for 2015 on Sherrod's deal that they are unlikely to exercise.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With the bulk of the free-agent work done, it's a good time to recheck the Green Bay Packers' depth chart leading up to the May 8-10 NFL draft.

First up, the offense:

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien.

Analysis: Coach Mike McCarthy said at last week's NFL owners meetings that he not only hopes to bring back Matt Flynn but also would to take a fourth, developmental quarterback into training camp.

[+] EnlargeEddie Lacy
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsLed by Eddie Lacy, the running back position is expected to be a key strength for the Packers in 2014.
Running back: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris, Michael Hill, Orwin Smith, Ina Liaina (fullback).

Analysis: This could be the deepest backfield McCarthy has had in his nine seasons as head coach, and they still may re-sign fullback John Kuhn. Starks excelled in a backup role last season behind Lacy, while Franklin showed some signs during a 100-yard game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 before a neck injury ended his rookie season. Harris looks to bounce back after missing all of 2013 because of a knee injury. Hill spent time with both the Packers and Buccaneers last season. Smith was on the practice squad last year. Liaina was signed off the street early in the offseason.

Receiver: Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Myles White, Chris Harper, Kevin Dorsey, Sederrick Cunningham, Alex Gillett.

Analysis: Boykin is expected to take over as the No. 3 for James Jones, who signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent. White and Harper both spent time on the roster last season. White could be Cobb's backup as a slot receiver. Harper is an intriguing prospect. He was a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks last year and has good size. Dorsey, a seventh-round pick last season, and Cunningham spent all of 2013 on injured reserve. Gillett spent last season on the practice squad.

Tight ends: Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner, Raymond Webber.

Analysis: There's not an established big-time playmaker to replace Jermichael Finley, who remains on the free-agent market but has not been medically cleared following last season's neck injury. Quarless is the starter until someone beats him out. Bostick, a former small-college receiver, is raw but has some playmaking ability. Taylor and Stoneburner played mostly on special teams, while Webber was signed off the street early in the offseason.

Center: JC Tretter, Garth Gerhart, Don Barclay.

Analysis: Not one of those players has ever taken a regular-season snap at center. Only Barclay has played in the regular season, and that has been almost exclusively at tackle. But after losing Evan Dietrich-Smith to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, the Packers will see if Barclay can transition to center. There are high hopes for Tretter, a former college tackle who did not play last season as a rookie after sustaining an ankle injury. Gerhart only has practice squad experience.

Guard: Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Barclay, Lane Taylor, Andrew Tiller.

Analysis: The starters are set with Sitton on the left side and Lang on the right. Barclay also could be in the mix for a backup job. Taylor made the team as an undrafted free agent last season but played mostly on special teams. Tiller was on the practice squad last season.

Tackle: David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod, Barclay, Aaron Adams, Jeremy Vujnovich.

Analysis: Bakhtiari, who started every game at left tackle last season as a rookie, will stay in his spot even with the return of Bulaga from the knee injury that kept him out all of last season. Bulaga will go back to the right side. Sherrod returned late last season after missing all of 2012 following the broken leg he sustained on Dec. 18, 2011. He likely will compete with Bakhtiari on the left side. Barclay started all but two games last season at right tackle but the Packers want to upgrade. Adams was on the practice squad last season, while Vujnovich was signed as a street free agent early in the offseason.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's never too early to start looking ahead to the next class of free agents. That's part of what Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and vice president of player finance Russ Ball have been doing while also dealing with their more immediate concerns.

Although they're not done assembling their roster for 2014, for every move the Packers make now, they must also consider how it will impact their ability to re-sign their players who will be free agents next offseason.

It's not as lengthy a list as it was this offseason, when the Packers had 17 unrestricted free agents and two restricted free agents, but next year's group is no less important with receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson at the top of the list of players entering the final year of their contracts.

There's a good chance one or both of them will have their contracts extended before the start of this season. Thompson and Ball no doubt kept enough salary-cap space available -- $16,168,766 to be exact as of the beginning of this week, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- with that in mind.

Here's a look at the players entering the final season of their current contracts:

Offense
Defense

*Scheduled to be a restricted free agent

Also, it's likely tackle Derek Sherrod will be a free agent next offseason. He was part of the 2011 draft class in which all first-round picks signed four-year deals with a club option for a fifth year. It's unlikely the Packers will exercise that option, a decision they must make next month, given that the pay for that option year is expected to be around $9 million for offensive linemen.
Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then will deliver the answers over the weekend.
 
The day after the Green Bay Packers' season ended, Bryan Bulaga was asked whether it would be much of an adjustment if he had to move back to right tackle in 2014.

Bulaga chuckled and said: "I didn't even get a full year at left tackle, more like two months."

In terms of actual live practice, it was more like two weeks.

Bulaga
Bulaga injured his knee during the annual Family Night scrimmage on Aug. 3 and missed the entire 2013 season. Combine that with the fact that rookie David Bakhtiari was more than just OK in Bulaga's place at left tackle last season, and it made sense that Bulaga would move back to the right side, where he started from 2010-2012.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Tuesday confirmed that will be his plan heading into this season. He told WBAY-TV as much at the NFL annual meetings.

McCarthy said he informed Bulaga recently of his decision. Bulaga, a former first-round draft pick, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

A year ago, McCarthy moved Bulaga to left tackle as part of a massive offensive line overhaul that also included guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton switching sides.

"I think that's part of my game that I like; I feel like I can go back and forth," Bulaga said in January.

"I felt pretty comfortable [at left tackle] at the time I got hurt in the Family Night. I felt pretty good about where I was at."

With Bakhtiari set to stay at left tackle and Bulaga back on the right side, it leaves another former first-round pick, Derek Sherrod, as a possible swing tackle. That role had been occupied last season by Marshall Newhouse, who signed a free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Sherrod returned late last season from the broken leg he suffered in 2011. After missing all of the 2012 season, he was on the roster for the final seven games in 2013, but played only six snaps on offense.

The Packers also have Don Barclay, who started all but two games at right tackle last season. Barclay could end up moving inside to compete with JC Tretter for the starting center job. The Packers lost last season's starter, Evan Dietrich-Smith, who signed a free-agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFL Nation Buzz: Green Bay Packers

March, 5, 2014
Mar 5
12:00
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video
ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky discusses where the team will play tackle Bryan Bulaga as he comes back from injury in 2014.
Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then will deliver the answers over the weekend.
 
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- No matter where Bryan Bulaga plays, regardless of whether David Bakhtiari remains at left tackle and whoever ends up playing center, the Green Bay Packers have more stability on their offensive line than they did last offseason.

Bakhtiari
Bakhtiari
Bulaga
It was nearly a year ago that coach Mike McCarthy and offensive line coach James Campen revamped the line by changing positions for four of the five starters. Bulaga and Josh Sitton switched from right tackle and right guard, respectively, to the left side. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse was moved to the right side (where he failed to beat out Don Barclay), and left guard T.J. Lang moved to right guard.

Only center Evan Dietrich-Smith remained in his regular spot.

This season, perhaps only the center position is up in the air with Dietrich-Smith scheduled to be a free agent next month.

It all depends on where the Packers decide to play Bulaga, who missed all of last season after he sustained a knee injury last August in training camp.

Although McCarthy said last week at the NFL scouting combine that he had not finalized his plans for Bulaga, he later told the Green Bay Press-Gazette that Bakhtiari performed well enough last season as a rookie that the Packers appear to be set to keep him at left tackle.

“If you look at our depth chart right now this is the best group of offensive linemen from a depth standpoint that we’ve had in my time in Green Bay,” said McCarthy, who is entering his ninth season as head coach. “There’s a lot of good things to build off of with our offense.”

Moving Bulaga back to the right side would not be a major adjustment. He excelled at right tackle from 2010-12 and never even made it to his first preseason game as a left tackle. Bulaga spent most of the season rehabbing his knee in Florida but is expected to return to Green Bay for the offseason program in April.

“He’s on time and he’s hit his targets,” McCarthy said of Bulaga’s rehab. “But as I’ve told Bryan when he left in the exit interview [after the season], I’ll be in touch with him to let him know what our plan is whether it’s the left side or the right side.”

A potential change at center would not impact any of the other projected offensive line starters. Lang is not a candidate to move to center even though he filled in there for Dietrich-Smith for parts of two games last season.

The only other possible starting center on the Packers’ roster is JC Tretter, a fourth-round pick last year who did not play at all as a rookie after sustaining an ankle injury in the offseason.

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Exactly three years ago -- on Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, much has happened to the 53 players who were on the roster for that 31-25 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas.

Free agency, injuries, retirement and declining performance cause roster turnover.

Still, it’s eye-opening that from the group that suited up for the Packers’ last championship, only 12 players (just 22.6 percent) remain under contract with the team for 2014. Another 11 are still officially members of the Packers, but have contracts that expire next month. There are 13 players with other NFL teams, and 17 are out of football -- perhaps for good.

Here’s a look at the status of every player who was on the active roster three years ago today at Super Bowl XLV:

Under contract for 2014

  • [+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThree years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Packers.
    QB Aaron Rodgers: Threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to winning the Super Bowl XLV MVP, then won the NFL MVP award the next season. Signed a five-year, $110 million contract extension last April.
  • G Josh Sitton: Started Super Bowl XLV at right guard, but moved to left guard in 2013 and was a second-team, All-Pro selection. Signed a five-year contract extension on Sept. 2, 2011 that averages $6.75 million per season.
  • T Bryan Bulaga: Started at right tackle, but moved to left tackle last offseason. A training camp knee injury ended his 2013 season, and he now enters the final year of his rookie contract.
  • G: T.J. Lang: Served as a backup, but became the starting left guard the next season. Signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 14, 2012 that averages $5.2 million per season. Moved to right guard last season.
  • WR Jordy Nelson: Caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and went on to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons in two of the next three years. Entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
  • OLB Clay Matthews: Forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that the Packers recovered and turned into a touchdown to pad the lead. Four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension last April.
  • LB A.J. Hawk: Started and made seven tackles in the Super Bowl. Was released two months later, only to re-sign a more salary-cap friendly deal. Is under contract through 2015.
  • CB Tramon Williams: Broke up three passes in the Super Bowl, including the one that sealed the game on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 33-yard line in the final minute. Entering the final year of his contract. Scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2014, and could be a candidate to be released or restructured despite a strong finish to last season.
  • K Mason Crosby: Made a 23-yard field goal in the game and signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract on July 29, 2011. Struggled in 2012, but bounced back last year to post his best season.
  • P Tim Masthay: Capped his first season with the Packers by averaging 40.5 yards and allowing the Steelers just 5 yards on punt returns in the game. Signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract extension on July 26, 2012.
  • LS Brett Goode: Has been the long snapper since 2008 and signed a three-year, $2.715 million contract extension on Oct. 13, 2012.
  • CB Jarrett Bush: Special teams player who was pressed into defensive duty in the game after injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the second quarter. Signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 26, 2012.
Headed for free agency next month

  • RB James Starks: Started the Super Bowl and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Battled injuries most of his career, and might not be re-signed.
  • WR James Jones: Caught five passes for 50 yards in the game, and signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract on Aug. 2, 2011. Caught 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards in 2013, and could be a re-signed despite his age (will turn 30 next month).
  • DT Ryan Pickett: Started the game, made two tackles and was in on the play in which Matthews forced Rashard Mendehall's fourth-quarter fumble. Played in all 16 games last season with a base salary of $5.4 million, but might be at the age (34) where the Packers let him walk.
  • DT B.J. Raji: Capped a strong 2010 postseason with a pair of tackles in the game. Finished his rookie contract in 2013, and reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer last season.
  • DE C.J. Wilson: Started the game, but played only 14 snaps. Biggest impact came the night before the game, when he kept things loose in the team hotel by playing piano and leading a team sign-along. Finished his rookie contract in 2013.
  • FB John Kuhn: Played on both offense and special teams in the game. Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract on Aug. 1, 2011.
  • CB Sam Shields: Suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game. Had his best season in 2013 while playing under the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million. Will command a big contract either from the Packers or another team in free agency.
  • LB Robert Francois: Went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster throughout the 2010 season, and played on special teams in the game. Played last season under a one-year, $725,000 deal, but tore his Achilles tendon on Oct. 6.
  • TE Andrew Quarless: Caught one pass for 5 yards in the game. Suffered a major knee injury the next season and missed all of 2012. Returned last season to catch 32 passes for 312 yards (both career highs) in the final year of his rookie deal.
  • QB Matt Flynn: Served as Rodgers’ backup but did not play in the Super Bowl. Left after the 2011 season as a free agent, and after stints with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, he returned to the Packers last season for a one-year minimum deal and played in five games after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was inactive for the Super Bowl. Became a starter late in 2012 and for all of 2013, when he played under the restricted free agent tender of $1.323 million deal.
With other teams

  • [+] EnlargeMcCarthy
    Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike McCarthy and the Packers have seen a lot of roster turnover since winning Super Bowl XLV.
    WR Greg Jennings: Started and became just the third player in team history to catch multiple touchdowns in a Super Bowl by recording touchdowns of 21 and 8 yards. Signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings last March.
  • G Daryn Colledge: Started at left guard, but left in free agency a few months later to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Cardinals. Has started every game for the Cardinals since.
  • C Scott Wells: Started at center and remained with the Packers through the 2011 season before signing a four-year, $24 million contract with the Rams. Has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
  • LB Desmond Bishop: Became a starter earlier in 2010 after Nick Barnett's wrist injury and made nine tackles in the Super Bowl. Also recovered the fumble that Matthews forced. Signed a four-year, $19 million contract in 2011, but was released after missing the entire 2012 season because of a hamstring injury. Signed with the Vikings last offseason, but appeared in only four games.
  • OLB Frank Zombo: Started the game and had the Packers’ only sack of Roethlisberger but battled injuries the next two years and was released. Signed with the Chiefs last year and appeared in all 16 games.
  • CB Charles Woodson: Started at cornerback, but broke his collarbone late in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Played two more seasons with the Packers, who released him last year. Returned to his old team, the Raiders, and played in all 16 games last season.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins: Played 36 snaps and had a pair of quarterback pressures. Left in free agency the following year and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles, who released him after two years. Signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Giants last season.
  • TE Tom Crabtree: Played on both offense and special teams in the Super Bowl, catching one pass. Left last year to sign with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, but was limited to seven games because of injuries.
  • CB Josh Gordy: Was inactive for the game, and the next season was signed off the practice squad the by the Rams. Spent the past two seasons with the Colts.
  • G Nick McDonald: Was inactive for the game, like he was for every game that season. Was released in training camp the next year, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the Patriots. Did not play in 2013, but was recently signed by the Chargers.
  • OLB Erik Walden: Was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game. Played the next two seasons before signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Colts last year.
  • DE: Jarius Wynn: Was active but did not play. Played in Green Bay through 2011, and with the Titans and Chargers before landing with the Cowboys last season.
  • FB Quinn Johnson: Inactive for the game. Was traded to the Titans in 2011. Has played in 24 games for the Titans over the past three years.
Out of football

  • T Chad Clifton: Started at left tackle, but his long career with the Packers ended when they released him after he played in only six games in 2011. Was never signed by another team.
  • WR Donald Driver: Started the game and caught two passes for 28 yards before leaving with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Retired after the 2012 season as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
  • S Nick Collins: Started and made a key early play when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of 2011 and hasn’t played since.
  • DT Howard Green: Claimed off waivers earlier that season and started the game. His hit on Roethlisberger led to Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. Returned in 2011 and played in all 16 games, but has not played since.
  • WR Brett Swain: Posted a team-high four special teams tackles. Was released the following season and played briefly with the 49ers. Was cut in training camp last season by the Seahawks.
  • S Atari Bigby: Played on special teams. Signed with the Seahawks the following season and played in 15 games. Played in eight games with the Chargers in 2012, but did not play in 2013.
  • CB Pat Lee: Special teams player who saw action on defense after injuries to Woodson and Shields. Played one more season in Green Bay before splitting time in 2012 between the Lions and Raiders. Did not play in 2013.
  • RB Brandon Jackson: Played as the third-down back, but did not have any carries in the game. Caught one pass for 14 yards. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Browns in 2011, but missed all of that season and played in only two games in 2012.
  • FB Korey Hall: Caught one pass for 2 yards and made one special teams tackle in the game. He played in 13 games with the Saints in 2011, and retired after going to camp with the Cardinals in 2012.
  • S Charlie Peprah: Led the Packers with 10 tackles (including nine solo stops). Returned as a starter in 2011, when he had five interceptions, but was released shortly before training camp in 2012. Played in five games for the Cowboys in 2012.
  • LB Diyral Briggs: Made one special teams tackle in the game, but never played in another NFL game.
  • LB Matt Wilhelm: Made two special teams tackles, but seven-year career ended after that game.
  • G Jason Spitz: Played on special teams. Left in free agency the next year and signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract with the Jaguars, who released him in training camp last summer. He signed with the Seahawks, but was released on Oct. 12.
  • TE Donald Lee: Played in the game, but did not have a catch and was released two months later. Played in nine games for the Bengals in 2001.
  • QB Graham Harrell: Inactive for the game. Remained with the Packers until he was released in training camp last summer. Also spent time briefly with the Jets before being released.
  • RB Dimitri Nance: Inactive for the game. Was released by the Packers the following summer and never played in another NFL game.
  • CB Brandon Underwood: Inactive for the game. Was released in 2011. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2012 and Cowboys in 2013, but did not make either team.
Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then will deliver the answers over the weekend.
.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- We’re in the second week of our position-by-position look at what the Green Bay Packers have and what they need.

We can revisit this process before the draft based on what -- if anything -- general manager Ted Thompson does in free agency.

So far, we’ve looked at quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends, offensive tackles and centers/guards.

Next up, defensive line

2014 free agents: Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson.

Daniels
The good: Perhaps the Packers’ best defensive player in 2013 was second-year defensive tackle Mike Daniels. He played mostly in the sub packages as one of the two interior linemen and ranked second on the team with 6.5 sacks. Though he’s short (6-0), he bulked up and at 300 pounds might also be stout enough next year to play more as a base defensive end. Rookie fifth-round pick Josh Boyd showed some signs of being disruptive during his increased playing time late in the season. Pickett showed remarkable durability for his age (34), playing in every game for the second straight season, while Jolly’s comeback from a three-year NFL absence was both inspiring and important to the run defense until a late-season neck injury ended his year.

Raji
The bad: In the final year of his rookie contract, Raji did little to warrant the big-money deal the Packers reportedly offered (and he turned down) early in the season. His return is far from a guarantee, and it’s possible he will decide to hit the market and try to find a defensive system that gives him more freedom to jet up the field and rush the passer. First-round pick Datone Jones was supposed to be a three-down player who could both stop the run and pressure the quarterback. He did neither. He rarely played in the base 3-4 defense and his snaps in the sub packages dwindled as the season went along. His athleticism that showed up during offseason workouts and early in training camp never carried over. By the end of the season, he was playing less than Boyd.

The money: With four free agents, there’s not a lot of money committed to this position for 2014. Daniels, Jones and Boyd are all under their rookie deals, although Daniels (who counts just $645,146 against this year’s salary cap) might be in line for an extension at some point in 2014. Raji reportedly turned down an $8 million per year offer last year and after his so-so season, there’s reason to wonder whether anyone (including the Packers) would offer that kind of deal now.

Draft priority: The Packers hope Jones develops into the playmaker they thought he could be when they drafted him, but it’s not unprecedented to use a first-round pick on the same position for a second straight season. Thompson did so in 2010 and 2011, when he took offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod.
Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail, then will deliver the answers over the weekend.
.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Over the next two weeks, we’ll take a position-by-position

look at what the Green Bay Packers have and what they need.

We can revisit this process before the draft based on what – if anything – general manager Ted Thompson does in free agency.

So far, we’ve looked at quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and tight ends.

Next up, offensive tackles:

Bakhtiari
Bakhtiari
2014 free agents: Marshall Newhouse.

The good: For the first time in coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure, the Packers might have options at tackle thanks to the emergence of David Bakhtiari, who started every game at left tackle as a rookie. Bakhtiari, a fourth-round-pick, softened the blow of losing Bryan Bulaga to a season-ending knee injury less than two weeks into training camp. Save for a bad game here and there (both San Francisco games and the Thanksgiving loss to Detroit), Bakhtiari performed perhaps better than expected and gave the Packers a reason to consider leaving him at left tackle and moving Bulaga back to the right side, where Don Barclay played most of last season. Although Barclay struggled more in pass protection, he’s a strong finisher in the running game and appears to be an ascending player.

The bad: Nearly three years after using a first-round pick on Derek Sherrod, the Packers still don’t know whether he can play. After missing the entire 2012 season while recovering from the broken leg he suffered Dec. 18, 2011, Sherrod spent most of the 2013 season on the physically unable to perform list before being activated late on Nov. 5. Although he was active for the final seven games plus playoffs, Sherrod took only six snaps on offense (all at right tackle) and otherwise played only special teams. At 6-foot-5 and 321 pounds, Sherrod is an imposing figure but uncertainty remains about his ability.

The money: When you have a fourth-round pick start as a rookie at the premier position on the offensive line, it helps your bottom line and your salary cap. If the Packers decide to stick with Bakhtiari for the long term, it means they’re still years away from having to do a big-money contract for that spot. While Bulaga and Sherrod were both first-round picks, meaning they were more expensive, both remain under their original rookie contracts. Both of their deals expire after the 2014 season (when Bulaga has a $3.829 million salary-cap charge and Sherrod has a $2.1 million cap charge). The Packers will almost certainly let Newhouse walk. After starting two seasons at left tackle, he was a backup last season.

Draft priority: Thompson has drafted a tackle prospect in each of the past eight drafts. Some end up moving inside to play guard, but the Packers like to draft players who are used to blocking the best pass-rushers who typically play on the outside. While this might be the deepest group of tackles Thompson has had since he took over in 2005, don’t be surprised to see him grab another one at some point, but probably not in the early rounds.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On Monday, we began our rankings of the Green Bay Packers’ roster as it stood at season’s end.

The rankings are based on how the players performed this season – not on their overall importance to the team.

We started at the bottom of the roster and are working our way up.

Here are the previous installments:

Part 1 -- Nos. 51-64.

Part 2 -- Nos. 41-50.

Part 3 -- Nos. 31-40.

Part 4 -- Nos. 21-30.

Now, we look at Nos. 11-20, a group that includes eight offensive players, one defensive player and one specialist.

The top 10 will appear on Monday.

11. Randall Cobb, WR: Was the Packers’ leader in receptions when he sustained a fractured tibia in Week 6 against the Ravens. Spent the next 10 weeks on the injured reserve/designated to return list before coming back for the Week 17 game against the Bears. Showed his value to the offense as a speedy slot receiver by catching a pair of touchdowns, including the 48-yard game winner against the Bears. Dropped only one pass in 42 targets, after dropping 11 in 110 targets the previous season, according to Pro Football Focus.

12. James Jones, WR: Gritty veteran was on his way to his first 1,000-yard season until a knee injury cost him nearly three full games. Still managed to finish second on the team in both receptions (59) and yards (817), the latter of which was a career high. Dropped just three passes in 93 targets, according to PFF. Will turn 30 on March 31, a few weeks after he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Despite depth at wide receiver, he may be too valuable not to re-sign.

13. Jermichael Finley, TE: Like Cobb and Jones, was on track for a big season until his season ended on Oct. 20 because of a neck injury that left him momentarily motionless and required spinal fusion surgery. Before that, averaged 12.0 yards on 25 catches and had three touchdowns in parts of only six games in the final year of his contract. Still young enough -- he will turn 27 on March 26 -- to warrant another sizeable contract but only if the Packers have no reservations about his neck. Otherwise, they could let him walk.

14. David Bakhtiari, T: Rookie fourth-round pick started all 17 games at left tackle after Bryan Bulaga’s season ending knee injury in training camp. Though he allowed 10 sacks in 17 games, seven of them came in three games (including four in the two meetings with the 49ers). Had a stretch of seven straight games in which he didn’t allow a sack. Performed well in the running game. Could use a little more strength and bulk but his quickness and intelligence served him well. Needs to cut down on his penalties. Had a team-high 13, including nine holding.

15. John Kuhn, FB: Unsung hero who served as a third-down blocking back, a short-yardage ball carrier and a core special-teams player. Made perhaps the key block of the season, when he chipped Bears defensive end Julius Peppers just enough to allow Aaron Rodgers to hit Cobb for the game-winning touchdown in Week 17 that clinched the NFC North title. Scheduled to be a free agent, there’s a strong sentiment in the locker room and among the coaches to bring him back even though he will turn 32 the first week of the season.

16. A.J. Hawk, LB: Ranked second on the defensive side in playing time (94.9 percent of the snaps) and once again showed his dependability. Had his best season since 2010 and maybe of his career but still has the same limitations in the open field. Took over as the defensive signal-caller after an early season injury to Brad Jones. Led the team in tackles on the way to setting the franchise career tackle record. Had five sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

17. Jarrett Boykin, WR: Enter his second season as an unproven receiver but stepped into a larger role after the injuries to Cobb and Jones and performed like a veteran. Finished third on the team with 49 catches and 681 yards with three touchdowns despite not catching a single pass until Week 6. Dropped five passes in 76 targets. His emergence could make Jones expendable.

18. Tim Masthay, P: Broke his own franchise record for net punting average (39.0 yards) and landed 22 of his 64 punts inside the 20-yard line while having only five touchbacks.

19. Matt Flynn, QB: Re-signed on Nov. 12 and inserted in the third quarter against the Vikings 12 days later. Helped rally the Packers to a 24-24 tie in that game and then went 2-2 as a starter over the next four games before Rodgers returned from his broken collarbone. Completed 61.4 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Scheduled to be a free agent again, lack of arm strength may prevent him from getting another shot as a starter, so he could return as a backup.

20. Evan Dietrich-Smith, C: First full season as a starter and was an upgrade over Jeff Saturday from 2012 but still may not have done enough to be considered the long-term starter. Struggled at times in the running game but proved to be an effective pass protector, allowing five sacks according to PFF. Committed only three penalties (two holds and a false start).

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