This March, the Packers will have 15 players that will become unrestricted free agents. General Manger Brian Gutekunst will have some tough decisions to make in regards to who comes back and who doesn’t.
Kicker Mason Crosby is coming off a terrific season in which he only missed a total of three field goals (including extra points). We all know that reliable kickers are very hard to come by. There is constant turnover at the kicker position throughout the entire NFL every year. Mason is 35, but we’ve seen guys kick into there 40’s, so his age isn’t really a factor. Crosby is definite must return.
The other player that the Packers 100% need to bring back is right tackle Bryan Bulaga. We all know his well-documented injury history and it isn’t good. He’s also no spring chicken anymore; he will be 31when the 2020 season starts. He was able to start in 17 of the Packers 18 games in 2019. The Packers have one of the best tackle tandems in the NFL, and it would be foolish for a team that was 60 minutes from the Super Bowl to break that up.
The Packers have a handful of free agents that they should bring back, but not necessarily need to like the previous two guys mentioned. The veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis has already said he wants to return to Green Bay next season. His blocking and locker room presence alone make him worth bringing back in 2020.
Defensive back Tramon Williams had a very solid season as the Packers slot corner. He will be 37 when the 2020 season starts, but that shouldn’t stop the Packers from trying to bring him back on a one-year deal.
Running back Tyler Ervin sparked the Packers return game immediately upon his arrival. They were historically bad at returning punts before he got to Green Bay in December. The Packers should bring him back in 2020 to avoid the revolving door at the special teams return position.
Danny Vitale never really lived up to the hype in 2019. We heard how big of an impact he was going to have in the pass and the run game but it never came to fruition. With that being said, I would like to see what he could do with another year in LaFluer’s system.
Offensive tackle Jared Valdheer came out of retirement in 2019 to join the Packers, so it is not known yet if he even wants to play in 2020. If he does want to play in 2020, the Packers should try and bring him back as their backup tackle. We all saw what happened when Alex Light had to play significant snaps, and no one needs to see that again. Valdheer would add solid depth to the Packers offensive line.
Defensive back Will Redmond did next to nothing on defense last year, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t valuable to the Packers. He was a rock solid special teams player last year and should be brought back to do the same in 2020.
The last guy the Packers should consider bringing back is DB Ibraheim Campbell. He is by no means a great player, but he was serviceable. Odds are the Packers won’t be as healthy as they were in 2019, and quality depth is vital for success.
Now we’ve reached the players that Packers should move on from and let walk. Lets start with linebacker BJ Goodson. The Packers need a complete overhaul at inside linebacker, and that starts with moving on from Goodson. He’s not a terrible player, but if the Packers have Super Bowl aspirations for 2020, they need to drastically improve at ILB.
The overhaul at ILB continues with letting leading tackler Blake Martinez walk. Martinez is a solid player that had a pretty good run in Green Bay, but he is limited. When he is running north and south he is a tackling machine, but get him running east and west and in pass coverage it is a different story. Some team is probably going to give him a nice payday this spring, let’s hope it is not Green Bay. The Packers desperately need to get faster and more athletic at ILB.
Outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell had a strong 2018 season with 10.5 sacks. Obviously the acquisition of the Smith’ and drafting Rashaun Gary in the first round limited his playing time in 2019. He is probably going to look for an opportunity for more playing time this spring.
Wide receiver is another position that the Packers really need to address this offseason. Geronimo Allison showed promise at the beginning of the 2018 season, but injuries derailed that season for him. A lot of people had high hopes for him in 2019 and it just did not work out. He struggled in every aspect of the game, and it is time for the Packers to find his replacement. The same goes for WR Ryan Grant. When the Packers signed him, I thought he would see some snaps almost immediately. He never cracked the game day roster.
The last unrestricted free agent the Packers need to move on from is offensive tackle Jason Spriggs. He was been a draft bust since the Packers traded up for him in the second round of the 2016 draft.
The Packers have their work cut out for them this offseason. With a good draft and more aggression in free agency, the Packers can remain Super Bowl contenders in 2020. Brian Gutekunst knows the window with Aaron Rodgers only has a few good years left, so look for him to be aggressive in both the draft and free agency. They are not building for the future; they are playing for right now.