Thursday, March 16, 2006

Packers Look to Build a Pickett Fence

The Packers have signed free agent defensive tackle Ryan Pickett away from the St. Louis Rams, where he was a first round draft pick out of Ohio State in 2001. The Pack had been looking for a possible replacement for the stout but aging Grady Jackson. At 26, Pickett is said to be a younger, faster and more durable Grady. As that football maven, Martha Stewart, might say, "That's a good thing."

Pickett had offers from the Rams as well as the Bills. In the end, a visit with the Packers and a multi-year offer reported to be in the $3.75 million range plus a signing bonus was enough to sway Pickett. The Packers now have a number of young but unproven defensive tackles on the roster, including Colin Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Kenny Peterson and Corey Williams. Cole and Jenkins showed some flashes near the end of last season, as did Peterson. So perhaps this is a defensive line that could be effective this next season, particularly if the Pack can add DE Mario Williams with their #5 pick in the draft. Along with some much-needed additions to the linebacking corps -- perhaps A. J. Hawk if Williams is gone -- this defense might be transformed into something to contend with.

The Pack also resigned WR Rod Gardner, who at 6-2 gives Coach Mike McCarthy the type of big receiver he prefers for his offense. OL Kevin Barry also signed a two-year deal to stay with the Packers. While his natural position is right tackle, the Packers have indicated to Barry that they would like to try him out at guard. If he is one of the best five linemen, he will be in a starting spot.