General Manager Ted Thompson is making a run and one of the NFL's most accomplished runners. St. Louis Rams free agent Stephen Jackson and the Pack are reportedly in discussions about a three year contract. The price could hover at or above four million dollars a year based on free agent running back deals already signed. Reggie Bush will average four million over four years with the Detroit Lions and Arizona signed former Steeler Rashad Mendenhall for more than two million a season. Jackson will turn 30 before the 2013 season begins but he's been far and away the most productive back on the market, topping a thousand yards in each of the last eight seasons in St. Louis. The Packers had a carousel of backs last season and none of them were able to seize the role of lead back. Cedric Benson started the year and suffered the season ending foot injury in Indianapolis. Alex Green never got going, James Starks couldn't stay healthy, Ryan Grant was recalled without success and free agent DuJuan Harris had only fleeting moments. The Packers courted Jackson a couple of years ago in a trade that involved Grant and draft picks but it never materialized. The Atlanta Falcons are also in the market for a back after cutting Michael Turner which could drive the Jackson price tag up even higher. How desperate is Thompson for solidifying the running back position? We may know sooner rather than later.
Greg Jennings became a free agent and his hope was to land a contract in the neighborhood of 12 million dollars a year, which is what Mike Wallace got over his five year contract signed with Miami. Since that signing, the dollar amounts for receivers has been plummeting. Wes Welker left New England for Denver, signing a two year, 12 million dollar contract and Danny Amendola was snapped up by the Patriots on a deal averaging 6.2 million a season. Jennings made more than that last year with the Packers and now he might be willing to come back to Green Bay at a reduced rate. He plans on visiting the receiver-desparate Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.
If the Packers somehow wind up with both players, Thompson will be squeezed tight to the salary cap. It could force him to restructure expensive deals with the likes of A.J. Hawk and Jermichael Finley, possibly cutting one of them to gain space. That's why free agency is such a dicey proposition. If a high priced newcomer doesn't pan out, and a good majority of them don't, a team's salary structure can be altered so drastically it can lead to an erosion of a roster's so called "core players" at the expense of that big money free agent. Buyer beware.