The Green Bay Packers have lost a key cog to their record-setting offense.
Pro Bowl center Scott Wells signed a free-agent contract with the St. Louis Rams, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Friday evening. Wells’ departure was not a surprise. As Packer Report reported in the hours before the start of free agency on Tuesday, the Packers were prepared for Wells’ departure and had been kicking the tires on a couple free agents and had started extensive study of the draft’s top centers.
According to the Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas, Wells’ four-year contract is worth $24 million, including $13 million guaranteed. The contract will keep Wells in St. Louis through his 35th birthday.
Just who will start at center is now the $24 million question for the Packers.
One option is off the table, with the Houston Texans re-signing Chris Myers on Friday night. Wells and Myers were considered the top centers on the market. The Packers had talked with Myers’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, at the Scouting Combine, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn reported last month. Myers received a Wells-like deal: four years, $25 million with $14 million guaranteed.
Another option would be the player Wells is replacing in St. Louis. Jason Brown, who the Rams made the highest-paid center in the league when they signed him away from Baltimore in 2009, was released by the Rams on Monday. The Packers showed immediate interest in Brown in formulating their Plan B, we reported on Tuesday. Brown will turn 29 in May.
Brown, however, is not in the same ballpark as Myers and Wells. According to rankings by Pro Football Focus, Myers was the NFL’s best center last season and Wells ranked fourth. Brown, on the other hand, was 22nd.
Based on Scout.com’s free-agent rankings, Wells was the No. 1 center on the market with Myers No. 2, followed by San Diego’s Nick Hardwick, New England’s Dan Koppen, Baltimore’s Matt Birk, Oakland’s Samson Satele and Indianapolis’ Jeff Saturday. Myers, Hardwick and Birk re-signed with their teams. That leaves Koppen, who missed almost all of last season with a broken ankle, the chronically inconsistent Satele and the 36-year-old Saturday. Satele is the youngest of the bunch, having completed his fifth season, with Koppen having finished his ninth season and Saturday his 13th. Another free agent, Atlanta’s Todd McClure, also has played 13 seasons.
The No. 1 center in the draft is Wisconsin’s Peter Konz. Packer Report was told following the Senior Bowl that he was on their first-round short list. They also had a formal Scouting Combine interview with Michigan’s David Molk, as we reported on Thursday.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.