The Packers should dump Ryan Grant. There I wrote it, and believe me, it wasn’t easy. The veteran running back is one of my favorite players. He’s a high-character person, a tough and dependable football player, and most importantly, a Jersey boy. But with the team tight against the newly re-instituted salary cap, there’s simply no good reason to pay the former Notre Dame star almost $6 million.
Green Bay won the Super Bowl without Grant. And that was with the pedestrian Brandon Jackson and the even more pedestrian John Kuhn splitting carries during the regular season and rookie James Starks, who wasn’t even on the active roster until late November, getting the bulk of the opportunities in the playoffs. Even minus Grant, the Packers figure to be in better shape at running back entering 2011. Starks should be much improved after going through his first training camp and third-round draft choice Alex Green has a chance to be a very effective change-of-pace back. Plus, with the money saved by getting rid of Grant, the team could re-sign Jackson. This would give the offense a veteran safety net just in case.
Not only would the offense survive without Grant, it could be significantly better if general manager Ted Thompson takes some of that money and puts it toward re-signing wide receiver James Jones. Look, the Packers have been and always will be a passing offense as long as Mike McCarthy is calling the plays. Sure you have to hand the ball off occasionally to keep a defense honest, but if any team doesn’t need to be spending big money at the running back position, it’s the Packers. When Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback and Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and potentially Jones are your receivers, you’re doing the defense a favor every time you choose not to throw.
Grant won’t have much value to other teams because he’s coming off a season-ending injury, he’s getting old for a running back and he’s making a lot of money. Ironically, those are my strongest arguments for why his current team shouldn’t want him either. If there wasn’t a cap, I’d be all for hanging on to Grant for one more season. He’s a quality player and the type of person you’d want around young and impressionable backs like Starks and Green. But the cap is a reality and it forces teams to make difficult but necessary decisions. This would be one of those difficult but necessary decisions.