It’s true. After the wild and wacky first weekend of free agency and all the money that was thrown around, I needed a break. Besides that, after the first weekend, there wasn’t a lot of movement.
As we chronicled, the Packers lost out on Chris Canty to the New York Giants. Other than that, the sounds of silence coming out of Green Bay Packers headquarters were resounding.
That is, until the Packers signed former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Anthony Smith on Friday. The Packers were looking to bring in a safety with 3-4 experience and the 25-year-old Smith fits the bill. Smith will be the fallback option if Atari Bigby or Nick Collins fails to pick up the system.
You may remember Smith (Anthony who?) as the guy that guaranteed a win over the then unbeaten New England Patriots during the 2007 season and then went out and got burned for two touchdowns. Smith started 10 games for Pittsburgh in 2007, but played little during the 2008 campaign. While Smith is a big, physical safety, he obviously has some issues in coverage.
Smith was the second safety the Packers brought in last week – the Cleveland Browns Mike Adams was the first. Adams, another average-looking specimen, started five games as an injury replacement on Cleveland’s pathetic defense last season. Adams left town without an offer and eventually re-signed with Cleveland.
Meanwhile, a few players the Packers conceivably should have had some interest in were scooped up last week without the Packers making a peep.
Despite all of his posturing, Ray Lewis re-signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Lewis received $22 million over three years. Detractors say Lewis was too old for the Packers to sign, but his toughness and fire is something that the Packers clearly lacked last season. Others will point to the presence of A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett, but Barnett was having his worst professional season before he got injured last season and Hawk has regressed each season in the league. Despite that, it looks like Hawk and Barnett will be the Packers starting inside linebackers entering the 2009 season.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Igor Olshansky to replace Chris Canty on their defensive line. He received $18 million over four years. Olshansky was considered by many to be the second best 3-4 defensive end on the market. The former second-round pick has similar stats to the former Dallas defensive end, but came a lot cheaper than the 6-year, $42 million deal Canty and his potential received from the Giants.
The Arizona Cardinals signed cornerback Bryant McFadden to a two-year deal, yesterday. With consistent whispers about how the Packers want to get younger at the cornerback position, and how Al Harris’ skills do not fit the 3-4 system, McFadden was an obvious target for the Packers. He’s young and physical, plays well in space and was an integral part of the NFL’s No. 1 ranked defense this past season.
So, while I won’t go into a diatribe questioning the delicate genius of Ted Thompson, I will say that despite some questionable non-movement, Thompson hasn’t been sitting on his hands, entirely.
The Packers have shown consistent interest in Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Kevin Burnett. The linebacker has been in talks with Oakland, San Diego and Houston, but ProFootballWeekly claims the Packers interest is serious.
We hear the Packers have a serious interest in Cowboys free-agent LB Kevin Burnett as a possible candidate for the starting ROLB job, but that they have a lot of competition for his services. Word is the Raiders, Chargers and Texans are also very interested in Burnett, a former second-round pick who has been primarily a backup throughout his four years in Dallas.
The Packers have also shown interest in Miami Dolphins defensive end Kevin Carter. Carter possesses the perfect size for a defensive end in the 3-4, at 6-6, 305. However, he has been in the league for 14 years.
Here’s to hoping that Thompson is able to upgrade the defense somehow this offseason.