Packers Annual Checkup: LB Robert Francois

Today is the 14th day of FOX Sports Wisconsin Packers writer Paul Imig’s offseason evaluations of every player on Green Bay’s roster. Click here for all of Paul’s previous evaluations and come back every day through mid-March for Paul’s in-depth film and statistical analysis. Coming up soon:

Today: LB Robert Francois
Monday, Feb. 11: RB Ryan Grant
Tuesday, Feb. 12: RB Alex Green
Wednesday, Feb. 13:
QB Graham Harrell
Thursday, Feb. 14: RB DuJuan Harris
Friday, Feb. 15: ILB A.J. Hawk
Saturday, Feb. 16: CB Casey Hayward


Season stats: zero snaps on defense; nine special teams tackles, zero special teams missed tackles, one special teams penalty committed

Best game: Week 15 win at Chicago (two special teams tackles; 1.0 PFF special teams rating)

Worst game: Week 3 loss at Seattle (zero special teams tackles; one 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty committed; minus-1.0 PFF special teams rating) season rating: 1.5 (the best among all Packers special teams coverage players)

Expectations at the start of the season: Low

Expectations were … Met

Looking live: Francois got an opportunity to play on defense in 2011, even stepping into a starting role for two games late that season when both Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk were injured. In total, Francois played 169 snaps on defense in 2011 at inside linebacker. However, coming into the 2012 season, Francois was low on the defensive depth chart. With Bishop missing the entire season and his backup, D.J. Smith, going down for the year soon after, it was clearly revealed just how far back Francois was in the competition for snaps on defense. Once Bishop and Smith were out, the Packers turned to Brad Jones, who had just been converted from an outside linebacker to an inside linebacker. That kept Francois, who was released by the Vikings in 2009 when Minnesota signed Brett Favre, in a special teams role all season.

Upon further review: When Francois got on the field on defense in 2011, he made several big plays. Francois had two interceptions, three passes defensed and a forced fumble. His setback, though, was that he missed four tackles in his two starts. On special teams this season, Francois was one of Green Bay’s best. He was second among that group in tackles (trailing only Jarrett Bush), didn’t miss a tackle and graded out well in that area.

Overall 2012 grade: C-

Status for 2013: 20 percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster in Week 1 next season. Francois will 28 years old when the 2013 season begins. For a player whose ceiling is very clearly defined as ‘special teams only,’ it’s difficult to see his future in Green Bay for much longer. Plus, he’s a restricted free agent, which only adds to the possibility that he won’t be back. Though Francois has proven to be valuable on special teams, the Packers would more than likely rather use his roster spot on a young player who the team hopes will develop into a bigger role. There are two young inside linebackers on the roster already, Jamari Lattimore and Terrell Manning, whom Green Bay is invested in developing. All of this adds up to Francois probably being one of the odd men out as the Packers’ roster has its annual turnover.

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