Earlier Wednesday, the Green Bay Packers gave word that they had placed tenders on eight of their nine restricted free agents. They also tendered one of their exclusive rights free agents.
The deadline for doing so was Thursday, so this announcement wasn’t a major surprise or anything.
We don’t know everything yet, as far as who got what tender, but the fine folks at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - man, those guys are good – were able to get most of the details.
Here’s what we know (and, as always, here’s what I think):
- Free safety Nick Collins received the highest tender (a first-and-third round pick). No surprise there. Of course, I’m also pretty sure there’s NO way he’ll sign that tender. He wants a new deal. A $3.35 million salary for next season just won’t cut it.
- Strong safety Atari Bigby received a second round tender. Again, no surprise. Bigby did JUST enough to earn one more shot. At a price of $1.759 million, he’s worth one more year. And he will be back. No one’s giving up a two for Bigby, trust me.
- Center/guard Jason Spitz was also tendered at the second round level ($1.759 million). A mild surprise as that’s one notch higher than I thought he’d get. I had him pegged for a “right of first refusal” tender. In that scenario, Green Bay would get a third rounder if he signed somewhere else. Spitz is similar to Bigby in that he’s done enough to earn one more look. And, again, he will be back, because his back is still an issue until he shows he’s fully healthy.
- Corner/return specialist Will Blackmon and fullback John Kuhn received “right of first refusal” tenders. Each will make $1.176 million this season and the team can still match any contract they sign elsewhere. If the Packers do not match, they will receive a fourth round pick for Blackmon. They get nothing for Kuhn, though, as he was an undrafted free agent. I wouldn’t have brought Blackmon back. He’s got potential, yes, but he’s also always hurt. Still, at that price, I’m not outraged. I thought Kuhn was an unrestricted free agent, so my bad on getting that information wrong, guys. Again, I would not have brought him back as there are already two other fullbacks on the roster. But, since Korey Hall has had some injury troubles and Quinn Johnson is still largely an unknown, I can see why they did it. As is the case with Blackmon, I’m not outraged.
- Tight end Spencer Havner, an exclusive rights free agent, received a tender, although it is unknown what, exactly (the Journal Sentinel estimates $470,000). Good call bringing Havner back. He’s got some upside.
- Punter Jeremy Kapinos (exclusive rights) and running back DeShawn Wynn (restricted) did not receive tenders, automatically making them free agents. Kapinos, as I’ve said seemingly dozens of times by now, was terrible and needed to be let go. Wynn has some potential, but is always, always hurt. No point bringing him back. I like both these moves.
What is unknown, as of now, are the level of tenders placed on guard Daryn Colledge, corner Tramon Williams and defensive end Johnny Jolly, although the team announced all three were given tenders. The Journal Sentinel – again, man those guys are good – is guessing second rounder tenders for Jolly and Colledge and a first or second for Williams. I’d agree on the Jolly tender and it’s no real surprise. If his legal issues weren’t still pending (seriously, can we just get this thing over with?), I’d be a bit worried that another team would come after him at that level. But they are still pending, so he’ll be back.
What’s puzzling is why Colledge was brought back at a second round tender. Couldn’t the team have just put a “right of first refusal” tag on him? It’d get the same compensation if he left and save itself roughly $600,000 as Colledge was a second round pick. Am I wrong? I have some thoughts on Colledge coming back for one more year, as well, and I’ll share them soon enough.
Finally, I’d hope the team placed a first-round tender on Williams. He’s only 26 and has a bright future as a starter ahead of him. Plus, he’s the only corner not named “Charles Woodson” or “Al Harris” that the Packers can really trust. If I’m an opposing GM and I only have to give up a two for a proven player like Williams, I make that move every time. Green Bay can’t allow that to happen.
As for what these tenders will cost the Packers collectively, the Journal Sentinel – have I mentioned that I think those guys are really good? – estimates it will be somewhere between $14.89 and $15.6 million, depending on how Williams is tendered.
I did the math on this – which was tough for me because I suck at math – and the nine restricted players made roughly $11.2 million last season, meaning it will cost the Packers, as of now, roughly $4 million more to bring all of them back. When you think about the size of the group and some of the key players in it, an extra $4 million isn’t that bad.
Plus, the team saves about $800,000 by not bringing Kapinos or Wynn back…so that’s good.
(Update, Friday morning, 12:34 a.m.: The Journal Sentinel is now reporting that Williams was bumped up to a first-and-third round tender and Jolly was boosted to a first-round tender. Good move on both parts as these two – Williams in particular – could very well have been targeted by other teams before. Now, though, it’s basically a lock that the two return to Green Bay. Whew. The upgrades tack on roughly another $1.5 million, meaning it will now cost the team about $5.5 million in additional money to tender the nine players. Still, not an outrageous total at all.)