And with that, the off-season begins. This might be Ted Thompson's most eventful off-season since taking over as the Green Bay Packers' general manager in 2005. Questions abound on both sides of the ball. Last year, he ironed out long-term deals with his two best players — Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. This spring, he'll need to identify which starters are worth keeping. Among the unrestricted free agents in March are Sam Shields, B.J. Raji, Jermichael Finley, James Jones, John Kuhn, Ryan Pickett, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Mike Neal, James Starks and Andrew Quarless. Here's an early look at the questions Thompson must ponder. Should the Packers start over on the defensive line? Any 3-4 defense is rooted in wide bodies up front. Four of the Packers wide bodies — Raji, Pickett, Johnny Jolly and C.J. Wilson — are all free agents. Green Bay could easily start over up front. Raji wasn't around Monday when the locker room was open to reporters but has said he enjoys Green Bay. Snaps reduced, he had a career-low 17 tackles in 2013 and recorded zero sacks the last two seasons. While he has been accountable for his gap, according to coaches, it might be difficult for the Packers to justify a bank-busting contract on someone who wasn't a true impact player this season. Age might be a factor with Pickett (34). He has now played in 199 career games, not easy for any 338-pound man. After Green Bay's loss to San Francisco, Pickett said he wants to stay in Green Bay. And he also said he still has a lot of game left. "I have a lot. I have a lot to give," Pickett said. "I feel great. This is probably the healthiest I've been all year tonight. So I feel pretty good. I can still play." Jolly's career was resurrected from the dead this season. After three years away from the game, Jolly overcame his addiction problems, got himself in shape to make the team and then, remarkably, was a factor against the run with 21 tackles. Jolly wasn't the same player in December he was in September, though.
Starters kick off Packers' off-season to-do list
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Jan 7