Free Agency is upon us and for the first time in 13 years, the Packers are led by a new General Manager 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 Offseason gets ramped up.
First: The Assets. Green Bay has 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 and see where the Packers could go for on the Offensive Side should they decide Free Agency is the solution.
What We Have: Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley, Deshone Kizer, Joe Callahan
Who Could We Get: N/A
The thing with the Packers is that they have the greatest blessing a football team could want: a once in a generation talent who has a few years left in his prime. The only concern the team has is if the worst-case scenario is unleashed like last season, with Rodger’s going down for more than half the season. The Cleveland Browns sent ripples throughout the National Football League when they traded for a plethora of players, and the Packers were involved when they acquired QB Deshone Kizer for CB Demarious Randall and swapped picks in the 4th and 5th rounds. The Packers were interested in Kizer in last year’s draft, and this trade affirms the fact that they are not sold in Brett Hundley as the backup. With the Packers free-agency, Aaron Rodger’s likely contract extension is the driving factor behind how far they can go to improve the team and who they can get. Expect that news to drop soon after Kirk Cousin’s decision on where he wants to play, and expect a battle during training camp for the backup role or to see either Hundley or Kizer moved.
What We Have: Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, Devante Mays, Ty Montgomery
Who Could We Get: Jerick McKinnon, Rex Burkhead, Carlos Hyde
Ty Montgomery took the brunt of the carries last season, but Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones proved serviceable when Montgomery went down with an injury last season. It seems likely that the Packers will roll with who they have lined up with Rodgers in the backfield. Dreaming of a Pro Bowl talent is out of play this year, however, some options are available. Jerick McKinnon would provide a boost both in the run game and with his pass catching abilities he could make for a good screen weapon in the Packer’s playbook. With an asking price of around $4 Million a year and only being 26, his contract would seem favorable. For a jack-of-all-trades, does everything well type of back, Rex Burkhead is a strong option. Carlos Hyde is a powerful runner but requires heavy usage, but if the Packers want to have a convincing running game, investing in him and his usage might prove more beneficial than anything else.
Who We Have: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Jeff Janis (UFA), Trevor Davis, DeAngelo Yancey, Michael Clark (ERFA), Jake Kumerow, Colby Pearson
Who We Could Get: Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews, John Brown, Brandon Marshall, Taylor Gabriel
One of the biggest decisions that the Packers face this season is where to go with or without Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. As fan favorites and strong careers with the Packers, it’s hard to imagine an 11-man set without 87 or 18 on the field. But, that is the reality as both have bigger contracts than their production would suggest, and Nelson’s age is a concern and retirement is a real option. I’d expect them to look to attempt to restructure one or both those deals to make them more team friendly. If that goes south, the pool of players is special this year. Sammy Watkins immediately jumps to the top. He has “Boom or Bust” written all over him, but when you hit, you hit big. Watkins could be that deep threat option that Jordy couldn’t totally provide this year. Jordan Matthews is young and showed promise in Philadelphia with Carson Wentz and with the Buffalo Bills last season. He is young and the Packers probably want a younger receiving core. John Brown is probably done in Arizona and is looking for a new place to call home, and his fit in the Packers offense would like a Cobb role, but with the deep threat chance. I keep being drawn to Brandon Marshall’s name. He’s older, but he’s a talent that could help Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison. For a team that needs to win a Super Bowl now, is it worth it to bring in someone like that? Taylor Gabriel is a cheap option as well.
Who We Have: Richard Rodgers (UFA), Lance Kendricks, Emmanuel Byrd
Who We Could Get: Trey Burton, Ed Dickson, Tyler Eifert, Austin Seferian-Jenkins
The problem with our cap space is that we need to spend wisely, and Tight End might be a position that we don’t throw money into. Everyone wants Trey Burton. He’s young, explosive, can throw touchdown’s in the Super Bowl and has been the third-fiddle in Philadelphia. If he wants a change of scenery and championship culture again, Green Bay can provide that. Ed Dickson could be a savvy, non-high profile pick up that the Packers seem to thrive on. Tyler Eifert is an interesting take because when healthy, he is a Top-Tier Tight End. In his career though, he has never proven to be healthy, and with a team like the Packers who can’t afford injuries like we’ve had, he might not be worth the chance. A popular name is Austin Seferian-Jenkins – He has favorable market value ($4 Million) and has a 6-6 frame that could prove beneficial in red-zone situations.
Offensive Line –
Who We Have: David Bakhtiari, Jason Spriggs, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, Justin McCray, Jahri Evans (UFA), Lucas Patrick, Brian Bulaga, Kyle Murphy, Dillon Day, Kofi Amichia, Ulrick John (UFA)
Who We Could Get: Jack Mewhort, Josh Kline, Justin Pugh, Brandon Fusco
Mewhort has a history of leg injuries, but our line is not immune to these types of injuries either. With Jahri Evans turning 35 and Mewhort being 27, he could be a good pickup on the open market. Josh Kline allowed one sack and two penalties with the Titans last season starting all 16 games, and with the Evans decision looming larger, he is a Guard to keep an eye on. Justin Pugh has experience on both sides of the line and adding him to solidify the right side if Sitton or Evans aren’t the answers are tempting. Fusco is inexpensive but serviceable.
Check back later for a preview of what changes could be coming on the Defense, and check back often for updates on the Pack.