Free Agency is upon us and for the first time in 13 years, the Packers are led by a new GM and feel like players in the market. GM Brian Gutekunst has vowed to be more aggressive this offseason, and with moves already being made, the Packers will be intriguing to watch over the next few weeks as we look forward to the 2018 edition of the Green Bay Packers.
But Fans are divided. What do we need? Who can we get? Cap Space? Draft and Stash? We’ve been trained under Ted Thompson to let the draft solve our problems, but with a hope that we might make a splash in the player pool, the temptation to peek is too great to pass up. So, let’s assess the state of the Cheeseheads as the Off-season gets ramped up.
First: The Assets. The Packers have about $20.5 Million in Cap Space to sign Free-Agents and sign rookies. Along with this, the Packers currently have 12 Picks in the 2018 Draft.
Round 1 – 14
Round 2 – 45
Round 3 – 76
Round 4 – 101
Round 4 – 133
Round 5 – 138
Round 5 – 172
Round 5 – 174
Round 6 – 186
Round 6 – 207
Round 7 – 232
Round 7 – 239
Now, let’s look at each position on the Defense and see where the Packers could go should they decide Free Agency is the solution.
Defensive Line –
Who We Have: Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Montravius Adams, Dean Lowry, Reggie Gilbert, Quinton Dial (UFA)
Who We Could Get: Muhammad Wilkerson
New Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine has run a 3-4 defense in the past but has said he will run a more “flexible” scheme this season. How he decides he wants the Packers to line up will determine who he wants to rush the passer from the three-point stance. Muhammad Wilkerson is the big fish to get, and Packers fans have been chewing at the pit to get an in with him. The Packers should grab him to add a force besides Mike Daniels. He has visited the Packers, he has experience with Pettine in New York to make him a Pro-Bowler in 2015 and the incentive to win must be intriguing. The other option is Quinton Dial, who could be a cheap re-up, even if he only eats up blockers and is a filler when Clark and Daniels. A Wilkerson signing will not come cheap, but if his production is like it was in 2013 and 2014, we have a defensive line as competitive as any. Is he inconsistent? Is he a problem in the locker room? Potentially, but in this case, I like his risk. If the Packers make a splash, I like it here or in the Secondary.
Who We Have: Nick Perry, Clay Matthews, Joe Thomas (RFA), Kyle Fackrell, Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez, Chris Odom, Vince Beigel, Reggie Gilbert, Ahmad Thomas (UFA)
Who We Could Get: Trent Murphy, Barkevious Mingo
With Blake Martinez making big steps in his sophomore season, there is not a real reason to add an inside linebacker other than to add depth for injuries, which are bound to happen with this team. Any addition to the inside would probably be for the veteran’s minimum. Outside Linebacker is a different story entirely. Question marks surround the contracts and production of free-agent prize Nick Perry and Shampoo Diety Clay Matthews. Vince Biegel, a Badger product, has wowed in his limited playing time and if he keeps improving, then the position seems filled. If the Packers don’t trust that progression, the free agent pool has veterans that are impactful. Trent Murphy is the name thrown around. He’s got an ACL concern, but he was productive in the previous season recording nine sacks. At a reasonable price, he is a good third rush option. I could see Barkevious Mingo being a potential veteran’s minimum option for the Packers if they want a presence.
What We Have: Kevin King, Quinton Rollins, Kentrell Brice, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Marwin Evans, Davon House (UFA), Josh Jones, Josh Hawkins, Demitri Goodson, Lenzy Pipkens, Morgan Burnett (UFA), Jermaine Whitehead (ERFA), Herb Waters (ERFA), Donatello Brown (ERFA)
Who We Could Get: Eric Reid, Mike Mitchell, Trumaine Johnson, Prince Amukamara, Malcolm Butler, Rashaan Melvin, Tramon Williams, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
This is probably why you clicked on the article. At points the previous two seasons, it seemed like as long as you had football pads, you could play Defensive Back for the Green and Gold, and trading Demarious Randall to the Browns made our situation murkier. Improvements must be made, and expect the Packers to be active in this quadrant of the market. Morgan Burnett is probably the highest priority on this side of the ball. A $10-Million cap hit will be difficult to swallow, but watching the team when he was off the field was almost certain points for the opponent. Burnett is a priority. Greg Rosenthal from NFL Network called Eric Reid a “fun fit” for the Packers with his versatility to play linebacker and safety, and being 26 and potentially being a little under the radar, Reid, at the right price, might be the better option than Burnett. Mike Mitchell, surprisingly cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers late last week, would be an intriguing option to consider also if Burnett’s cost proves too high.
With the news of Richard Sherman signing with the 49ers, probably the biggest name the Packers could’ve acquired is off the board, but The Pack still have options outside of Sherman. We missed on Aqib Talib (wisely) and have been linked to Trumaine Johnson of the Rams in trade talks as well. Expect the Packers to look harder at him in the coming days. Prince Amukamara is a reasonably priced veteran who is an upgrade if we decide to dip into free agency. Malcolm Butler, if he is available, would be tempting, but his age (27) and perceived “loss of a step” are red flags. Rashaan Melvin is an under the radar corner from the Colts who had a good season and would be an upgrade to our fleet of backs. Tramon Williams is always an option to consider bringing back just to be a stop-gap. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was just released after not taking a pay cut with the Giants. He’s a 2-Time Pro Bowler in his 10-year career and could serve as a veteran with real ability to shore up a battered secondary.
Of course, the Draft will plug some of the holes, but with a new mindset behind our GM, it’s nice to dream about what could be, right?
For more on the Offense, check out the Free Agency Primer on the Offense.