The Packers transformation over this past offseason has been overdue. Their defense has new faces in Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrion Amos and two first rounders in Darnell savage and Rashan Gary. Their offensive personnel will not look different besides Billy Turner and maybe rookie Elgton Jenkins, but the play calling and system is completely new under first time head coach Matt LaFleur. Even with the additions to the team, there still are some clear needs that have to be addressed. The Packers, like many years in the past, have been hit with the injury bug this preseason. They have had injuries at running back, cornerback, inside linebacker and defensive line that could have lasting effects on the team. The Packers starting unit, for the most part, is intact but the Packers should consider adding these players.
As mentioned earlier, the Packers have had multiple injuries to their team already this season. One position that has been hit harder than the rest is inside linebacker. The Packers came into training camp with ILB as one of their weakest positions, being hit with injuries to starter Oren Burks, and backups Curtis Bolton and Ty Summers still needing time to develop has left them with a desperate need at ILB. Adding a veteran player like Kiko Alonso will immediately improve the Packers defense.
Kiko Alonso had a tough start to his career. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills but after two seasons, one being missed with injury, he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. The injury problems did not stop there. He only appeared in 11 games with just one start in 2015. After the 2015 season he was traded to the Dolphins where he has only missed two games in the last three seasons. He has been a productive player for their defense. He recorded 354 tackles and five interceptions. He would be the perfect partner for Blake Martinez who recorded 351 tackles and two interceptions over the past three seasons. Alonso would give Pettine another veteran player to use in his defensive scheme. Pettine loves to use different player packages and could get the most out of a player like Kiko Alonso if given the chance.
The Dolphins have made it known that some of their top veteran players are on the trade block. They are in the middle of a rebuild, and have made it a priority to give their younger players more opportunities to play and develop. Since Kiko Alonso is still under contract for two seasons, the Dolphins will look to trade him rather than release him and eat the dead money. The Packers could wait and hope he is released from the team, but if they want to ensure they get him, they could probably get a mid-round pick out of Alonso.
The Packers General Manager has been open about being in the market for a running back. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have both been battling hamstring injuries this training camp, and everyone knows those injuries can linger all season. The Packers depth at running back is questionable. The Packers used a 5th round pick on Dexter Williams, who has shown that he has the talent but has been inconsistent at best. Tra Carson has been the opposite. He is a smart vetertan who will make the right decisions but lacks the raw talent of Dexter Williams. The Packers clearly are not happy with the depth at running back, so adding a veteran in Jay Ajayi could help them feel more comfortable incase of an injury. Ajayi will not come to Green Bay as the starter, but he has the talent and experience to be a valuable asset. Ajayi is only 26 years old and ran for over 1,200 yards in 2016. He is a talented back who has not found his best fit yet.
The Packers should be able to sign Ajayi to a cheap contract. He has yet to sign with a team and is coming off of an ACL tear that will lower his price. ACL injuries are serious, but we have had players come back and show that they have not missed a step. Jay Ajayi would be a low risk signing for the Packers.
Philadelphia Eagles Running backs :
The Eagles are a talented team. They have depth at almost every position on their offense and defense. One of the positions that has possibly the most depth is at running back. Right now the Eagles have multiple running backs who have started for their team in the past or other teams. Miles Sanders is a second round rookie, Jordan Howard started 44 games, Darren Sproles started 30 games but appeared in 177, Corey Clement has zero starts but appeared in 27 games for the Eagles and Wendell Smallwood, who started 12 games for the Eagles. The two running backs who are on the bubble are Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood. Both of these running backs are threats in the passing game and would give Matt Lafleur another weapon in his offense. The Packers should keep a close eye on who the Eagles release and consider picking them up.
Continuing with an earlier theme, the Packers need help at inside linebacker. They already have young talent in Oren Burks, Ty Summersand Curtis Bolton, but they are missing another veteran to go alongside Blake Martinez. Mason Foster is an experienced starter who can come in and bolster our linebacker core. This preseason has shown the Packers that they need depth at this position and Mason Foster would provide cheap depth for them. He started all 16 games last season for the Washington Redskins with Packers free agent signee Preston Smith. Last season he recorded the 7th most tackles in the NFL with 133, had one sack and pulled in two interceptions. Pairing together Blake Martinez and Mason Foster will give the Packers one of the better inside linebacker pairs they have had in awhile.
Antonio Morrison played for the Packers last season after they traded for him from the Indianapolis Colts. The Packers should consider resigning Morrison because he is someone who knows the system and could provide instant depth at inside linebacker. The Packers would not sign him to be a difference maker but rather has a band aid until Bolton or Burks returns. He played in all 16 games for the Packers last season and even started eight of them. He was a below average starter, but he is a player you can plug and play in certain packages or due to injury. Antonio Morrison is worth the look from the Green Bay Packers.
BONUS PLAYER: TJ Yeldon
TJ Yeldon is in a very similar situation as the running backs on the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bills have a lot of running backs and most are quality starters. The Bills signed the immortal Frank Gore and TJ Yeldon, still have LeSean McCoy under contract and drafted Singletary. Reports have come out that TJ Yeldon might be the odd man out when it comes time to finalize the 53-man roster. If the Bills decide to release Yeldon, the Packers should be the first team claiming him. He was one of the better backups behind Leonard Fournette and is a great receiving back who had 55 receptions last season. He would have led the Packers backfield last season in receptions. He is a talented running back who could make an immediate impact in the passing game.