GREEN BAY—Call it a poor man’s guide to value in free agency. Here are five affordable free agents (excluding Packers free agents) that would address need for the Packers. This list is according to availability at the time of publication.
1. Devin Hester, KR—How has he tortured the Packers through the years? Wouldn’t it be nice to torture the Bears with him? Hester could become solid value as free agency wears on without him signing a contract. What would he cost? His base salary was less than $2 million last year. What are you willing to spend on a man who returns both kicks and punts? Yeah, he might be on the down side, but he might have a year or two left in him. How many bad punts and kicks does he force because he puts a premium on direction? What could Shawn Slocum and Ron Zook do with Hester? What could Mike McCarthy do with Hester as a wide receiver? What would Hester mean to Randall Cobb’s longevity? Hester might be the best value left in free agency.
2. Ryan Wendell, C—Minimum-wage player who started 32 games over the last two seasons for the Patriots, after beating out Dan Koppen for the job. At 28, Wendell is in the prime of his career at a position that defies age. He’s been schooled well after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots in 2008. The Patriots want to keep him, but they’ve got cap limitations that make them vulnerable to a team with a little more to offer.
3. Tarell Brown, CB—At this point, the 49ers might be the competition for Brown, and the 49ers have to be careful with their cap room as they consider their next move with Colin Kaepernick. Brown’s availability is likely the result of a loaded cornerback market that has been shaken by recent developments. What’s he worth? At 29, he’s at the edge of his prime and he was paid just under $1 million in salary last season. He knows how to play and he’s dependable.
4. Letroy Guion, DT—Guion underperformed last season and that made him vulnerable to being cut with new coach Mike Zimmer bent on a makeover of the Vikings defense. Guion is 26 and in the prime of his career, knows how to play the run and might be motivated to resurrect what appeared to be a good-looking career a few years ago. Maybe it’s time for the Vikings’ door to swing in the other direction.
5. Jim Leonhard, S—Veteran, journeyman safety who knows how to play the ball and the game, and no doubt would enjoy capping a successful career back home in Wisconsin. He’s a minimum-wage, one-year patch, but he would provide insurance at an unsettled position.