Looking back at my NFL season predictions I correctly predicted 5 of the 12 playoff teams. I missed both 1 seeds (Denver and Carolina) and obviously missed the Super Bowl, by miles. Cam Newton has shocked many and deserves the MVP, but he’s still not a good quarterback (in my opinion). He misses too many easy throws, by NFL standards, and relies on his athletic ability coupled with his strength and size to move the ball. It works for now until those skills diminish and he’s forced to make good, precise throws to guys that aren’t running wide open. He sure is fun to watch!
Moving on to the Packers’ offseason. There are tough decisions to be made. Whether to resign Casey Hayward (CB #29)? Not cut Julius Peppers? Keep Mike Neal AND Nick Perry (OLBs/DEs)? Which one? Neither? Extend David Bakhtiari (LT) before his price rises? Let’s break it down, shall we?
Hayward had an up and down year, mostly due to Capers misusing him and putting him in a position to fail. If the rookies Randall and Rollins continue to grow they could be cornerstone cornerback (??? Should I trademark that???), allowing the Packers to be in a position NOT to resign him. I’m torn so either decision I’ll be fine with, just don’t overpay him ($7M/yr. or more).
Peppers too had an up and down year. Sure he finished the campaign with 10.5 sacks, but did little outside of those plays. Yes some were game-changing but I believe Green Bay can get more consistent production from Jayrone Elliott and/or a rookie (oohhhh the draft…), or a combo of both.
Neal/Perry are considered essentially one starting player when combined due to their inconsistent play. Perry actually contributed in clutch situations with a solid pass rush and v. the run. It took 4 years to learn the OLB position in a 3-4 defense considering he’s a perfect run-stuffing DE in a 4-3 scheme (I’m happy to explain this in further detail if you’d like, just ask!). I’d consider bringing Perry back as the Packers will need depth at OLB (or LB in general) even if Matthews moves back to full-time b/c Peppers should be gone, but won’t.
Bakhtiari…ahh yes. We all found out how bad he really is this year…or good? Thanks Barclay for regressing so bad that you made Bakhtiari look GOOD!!!! It’s safe to say Barclay is gone (I initially liked him but he regressed a ton since 2012). I’d let Bakhtiari’s rookie contract play out before extending him. He may garner $7-8M/yr. and I believe a solution for LT could be found in the draft, and by solution I mean an upgrade!
So let’s recap – 50/50 on resigning Hayward, I’m good either way (remember just don’t overpay). Cut Peppers, an improvement can be made through the draft, plus it opens a spot for a kid to develop. Neal/Perry: Neal didn’t give much this year so HE GONE! and Perry I’d bring back because he showed 1. Availability and 2. Production at key times. Lastly, Bakhtiari…the Packers are in a position to afford to let his contract play out. If he performs to a top 10 LT then good news you have a top 10 LT…bad news! You have to PAY A TOP 10 LT!!!
Next week I’ll dive into the NFL draft and who (whom? I should know this as my parents were English teachers and I’m a grammar Nazi) to keep an eye on. I’ll also recap a little Bucks and preview the Brewers in coming weeks J Thanks for hanging in there!