Sounds like the Chiefs might be willing to trade Marcus Peters, I wonder if he might be of interest. He's a top cornerback.
No rumors on Clinton-Dix, and because of the reasons you cite I doubt his value on the trade market would be very high. That's one of many projects this offseason for Pettine, to get Clinton-Dix playing more like he did a couple years ago. That last game, he really mailed it in on a couple plays.
I think they need to pretty aggressive, not necessarily going after big-ticket guys, but for filling in some starting spots with solid guys, kind of in the Jahri Evans mold last year, or even more expensive than that. At tight end, for instance, even if they draft one high, that's a tough position to have much impact as a rookie. So it seems imperative they sign a decent TE in free agency. Maybe a potential starter for RT and even RG. A decent CB if not better. Pass rushers are hard to find on the open market, so don't know if they can get much help there, but they have to at least look hard. Lots of ways that free agency could make them a little better.
The coaches can't work with the players until the official offseason workout program starts in, I think it's late April or early May. But yeah, Pettine can work with his assistants all they want, and I'm sure he's been doing a lot of teaching with them the last couple weeks that will continue for a while.
They might not. The coaches don't like it, but it was a way for the owners to give up something in negotiations over the CBA without costing them money. So the owners don't have a lot of incentive to ask the players to spend more time in the offseason program, because the owners would have to give up something to get that.
Rankings on players will differ, sometimes greatly, among any two scouts or teams or scouting services. That's just part of evaluating players, it's still more art than science. If the Packers think Ridley is special and he's available at 15, then they should take him. But special is rare, and I don't know if he qualifies. That's up to them. If they think he's good but not special, and they have a defensive player rated similarly, then I'd say they should go with the defensive player.
It wasn't hard to Capers' firing coming, I think just about everyone who covers the team thought that was going to happen. You just knew something was going to change, and the defense just hadn't played well enough going back to 2011. Whether that was more because of Capers or talent it didn't really matter at that point, it just seemed likely there was going to be a change. I thought (and wrote) they should move on from Thompson, but I really didn't think Murphy would do it because he'd been so publicly supportive of him for several years. To Murphy's credit, he made the move. It was time.
Murphy has said the roster is Gutekunst's responsibility. How much say Gutekunst gives to McCarthy is another matter. I can't say I know how that will work out.
They did make mistakes there with Hayward and Hyde. But this is a tough call. You can't pay everybody, and if want to be active in free agency you need cap space. Burnett has had some injuries the past few years, and he just turned 29 last month. That's not young in this league. They also have a former first-round pick in Clinton-Dix and last year's second-rounder Jones to play that position. On the other hand, Burnett is a pro's pro, a student of the game, a really stable guy to have in the locker room. So it comes down to price. I really don't have much feel what kind of offers he'll get on the open market. Will it be $4 million a year? $6 million? $3 million? I really don't know.
I wrote about it a couple times after it happened. From what I heard it was more driven by the coaching staff than by Thompson, that after the team told him early in camp it wasn't going to extend his contract, the coaches felt like he became corrosive for the locker room. That's why they cut him -- they didn't know it was going to come to this in the offseason, when they might have been able to trade him. By the time they made the decision, teams knew they'd have to cut him so no one was willing to trade anything to get him. So I don't blame them for the move and for not getting anything, unless you want to argue that they should have known he'd become a problem when informed he wasn't getting a contract extension, and thus should have traded him in the offseason.
Pretty hard to argue with that. Basically, if there's, say, a WR they think could be outstanding available at No. 14, by all means take him. All things relatively equal, I'd go defense with that top pick. Agree completely that hitting big on one defensive pick -- getting a player, say, who's as good as Matthews was as a rookie -- would improve the defense noticeably. Look at what Lattimore did for New Orleans last year. So yeah, pretty much agree with what you see. Great players win games. You have to get them when you can, regardless of position, because they're relatively rare.
I'd ask Nelson for a pay cut, and last year he pretty much indicated he's open to the possibility. Mixed feelings on Cobb. He's a really tough guy and gets open on scramble plays and had good yards after the catch last year. But he's small so he's a small target and prone to getting injuries that slow him down some, that's what happens to smaller receivers. He's quick and fast but not exceptionally so. So he has his limitations too. I guess I'd probably only cut him if I signed a high-level WR in free agency
Seattle or New York Jets. Both are great cities in different ways.
I'm not sure New Orleans would be willing to trade Hill. I was talking to a Saints' reporter last season, and he said Payton seems to think Hill at least has a shot at being Brees' successor. If that's true, I doubt Payton would give him up. If he thinks the guy has even a chance of being his next starting QB, he's just too valuable to trade unless it's for a ransom. Agreed, I was surprised they cut Hill, he showed enough in the preseason to get a spot on the 53. That obviously was a mistake by Thompson. I don't know how much say McCarthy had on that.
I'm wondering that also, that's something we'll have to ask about next time we get to talk to him, or maybe from McCarthy at the scouting combine or owners meetings.
I'm guessing Pryor would be a little more expensive, he had the big season two years ago. They're worth looking into, but I wouldn't pay big money for either.
Soon, before the start of free agency, which I think is March 14.
Both are interesting, but big issues with both, as you say. Sefarian-Jenkins' substance-abuse (I think it's primarily alcohol) issues in the past have to worry you -- sounds like he's working at it, and he got through last season without issue. But it's a big concern because you count on a guy and then he relapses and you lose him. But I was just talking to a scout about him yesterday, and the scout said he's a really good athlete and good route runner and at least will give effort as a blocker. So yeah, definitely worth a hard look, though you'd want to hedge your bets there, you can't make too big a guaranteed investment. Eifert is all injury. Talented guy but he's missed so many games. If you sign him you can't just assume or think he's going to make it through the season. So you'd have to protect the team with the contract, and you'd have to sign another TE because you have to be ready for the likelihood that Eifert is going to get hurt.
I just don't see how they can justify drafting an OL in the first round with all their needs on defense and at WR/TE. You can't have everything in this league, and if I'm the Packers I'm looking for good enough at RT for this year. Maybe sign a fallback guy in free agency (kind of like Evans at guard last year), maybe draft a tackle in the fourth round, let them compete with everyone on hand (Murphy, Spriggs) for the starting job.
I'd think drafting Jackson at No. 14 is at least a possibility, CB is a huge need, though I'd put outside rusher slightly above it. Is Tramon Williams still playing at a high level? I don't know if he is or not. He turns 35 next month, ancient for his position, and an age where a guy can diminish even during the course of the season. He was an excellent athlete, so maybe he's got another year in him, and he played for Pettine in Cleveland so he knows the defense. Might be worth a look-see in camp just for depth purposes for one year, but the age is a big, big concern even for a guy who was as athletic and springy as he was.
OK, have to wrap it up here, have to write a column today. Thanks for taking the time to stop in and sharing what's on your mind. We'll do it again next week, an extended version, to talk about any news that comes out of the scouting combine. So be sure to come back next Thursday. From what I can tell the Packers are very involved in analytics -- I talked with their former analytics guy, Mike Eayrs, this week, and he said they're among the most progressive teams in the league in all aspects of analytics. I think McCarthy has one of the analytics guys near him on game day for consultation. It's a big part of the game now, and the Packers have a four-person analytics staff. Thanks again everyone, take care and we'll have a longer chat next week.