Normally the Green Bay Packers are very quiet this time of year, as General Manager Ted Thompson prefers to build his team through the draft instead of on the free agent market. However, counting on a rookie or young player to step up and fill a need does not always go as planned, and a veteran is needed.
Thompson is normally not fond of signing free agents, yet this year, he's been much more active. So far, he's signed two free agents, center Jeff Saturday and defensive tackle Daniel Muir, both from the Colts. Yet, yesterday defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, who played with Seattle in 2011, announced on a twitter account believed to be his the he was becoming a member of the Packers. The account has not been officially verified and no official announcement has been made by the team.
And as far as Hargrove is concerned, there's still no official word. It's clear both sides have interest and it seems like a great fit, given defensive end Mike Neal is being suspended for the first four games of the season and was ineffective last season when given a chance to play anyways.
Hargrove could potentially compete for a starting position at defensive end in the base 3-4 defense and would definitely see time at defensive tackle in pass rush situations, which is his speciality.
In addition to Hargrove, two more free agents are scheduled to visit Green Bay this week, beginning with Buffalo left tackle Demetrius Bell. Bell is a former 7th-round pick, who has started the last two years at left tackle for the Bills and has been solid. The other is defensive end Dave Tollefson of the Giants.
Considering the Packers may cut Chad Clifton and Derrick Sherrod is coming off a serious injury, Bell would be a nice insurance policy. Bryan Bulaga is a sure-fire starter and so is Marshall Newhouse, as long as he takes the step forward the coaching staff expects him too with a full season in the off-season program, but Bell would provide tremendous depth as a swing tackle, taking the pressure off Sherrod to rush back from injury.
Tollefson was drafted by the Packers in the 7th-round in 2007 but was released and signed with the Giants. It's taken some time, but Tollefson turned into a pretty solid rotational player in New York, posting a career-high five sacks last season. The Packers view him as an outside linebacker in their defense, but he could potentially lineup on the defensive line in nickel situations. He has rushed as a defensive tackle before with the Giants, who move their ends around quite often.
If Thompson could somehow bring both Hargrove and Tollefson into the fold, it could really add some depth to the team's pass rush. These are two players that have been productive and shown a consistent ability to apply pressure to the quarterback as well as being versatile position-wise, something Dom Capers appreciates. On the other hand, neither player has ever been a full-time starter, so it's hard to imagine either coming in and holding down a starting job in Green Bay, at least not long-term.
Thompson will be seeking the long-term answers to the defensive line, outside linebacker, center and defensive back in the draft, if the opportunity arises. Generally, the Packers pick the best player available, regardless of position.
Yet, the team recognizes that this season, the draft will not be enough, even with the four additional compensatory picks, which were awarded yesterday, giving the Packers a total of 12 now, including three in the fourth round, for a total of six picks in the first four rounds.
Signing these free agents will not guarantee a super bowl championship next season, it's simply part of the team-building process. Ideally a team would never need to use any means other than the draft, the reality is far different and just about as many young players fail as succeed, which is why sometimes a veteran presence is in order.