The Green Bay Packers defensive line in 2018 was one of the worst in the NFL. The lack of quarterback pressure by the defensive line allowed opposing teams to take advantage of the Packers’ young secondary. The Packers front office made this their top priority this offseason by signing two young, talented defensive ends in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith who came on board to replace long time Packers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. The Packers also drafted two defensive linemen Rashan Gary (Edge Rusher) and Kingsley Keke (Defensive Tackle). The Packers seem to be set for this upcoming season, but after Gerald McCoy was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Packers have a great opportunity to let the rich get richer by adding McCoy to their already strong defensive line.
The Packers have spent big this offseason signing the Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos. Also, releasing Nick Perry has stuck the Packers with $11 million in dead money for this coming season. Putting all of these things together, the Packers are left with $8.9 million dollars left for this coming season. They are yet to sign their 3rd round pick Jace Sternberger, and they want to leave cap room available for roster cuts later this offseason. Using that $8.9 million to sign Gerald McCoy is not the best choice for the Packers, so they would need to be roster adjustments to make this work.
One player who has been rumored to be on the chopping block this offseason is Mike Daniels. He has been a productive player for the Packers in the past, but this past season he was injured and had one of the worst years of his career. Mike Daniels has had productive years for the Packers especially in 2015, but with the new signees leave Mike Daniels as the odd man out. Releasing Mike Daniels would be a hit to the defense, but if you use the money you save on an impact defender it may be worth it. Mike Daniels is due $10 million this coming season, but if he is released it would only cost the Packers $2 million in dead money. That saves the Packers $8 million dollars to use for the rest of the offseason. Losing Mike Daniels is without a doubt a hit for the Packers’ defense. He is one of vocal leaders for the team, and a rare veteran presence on this young defensive core. Even though it would be a lost for the Packers, does the impact that Gerald McCoy could make outweigh the loss? Here are what the stats tell us:
Gerald McCoy came into the league in 2010 going head to head with Suh as the top defensive player in the draft. Suh won that battle and went number two overall, and McCoy went 3rd overall to the Buccaneers. McCoy struggled his rookie year and only played three games his second year in the league, but since his third year in the NFL McCoy has been one of the top defensive linemen in the league. Since 2012 McCoy has earned at least 5.0 sacks in each season and even recorded 8.5 or higher in 2013-2015. When you compare that to Mike Daniels, the most sacks he recorded came in 2013 when he got to the quarterback for 6.5 sacks. Mike Daniels role in 2013 was not as a starter, but rather as a situational rusher. With the additional defensive pieces the Packers have acquired, Daniels is most likely going to be used more situationally than he has in years past. Looking at stats alone, Gerald McCoy has shown to get to the quarterback and act as a force that the offense needs to account for.
Another reason the Packers could prefer McCoy over Daniels, is the new type of defensive player that General Manager Gutekunst prefers. GM Gutekunst has signed and drafted long, athletic defensive linemen Za’Darius Smith who is 6’4” and 272 pounds, Preston Smith who is 6’5” and 265 pounds, and newest draft pick Rashan Gary who measures 6’5” and weighs 277 pounds. Mike Daniels is the opposite of tall and long. He weighs 300 pounds and only measures 6’ tall. Mike Daniels still is an explosive defensive linemen, but does not fit the mold that Gutekunst has preferred since taking over as General Manager. Gerald McCoy, on the other hand, seems to fit what they are looking for on the defensive line. McCoy is 6’4” and weighs 300 pounds. He has the long frame that the defense is looking for. Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine had great success with defensive linemen with body types like Gerald McCoy. When Pettine was DC of the New York Jets, Muhammad Wilkerson who measures 6’5” and 315 pounds, had the best seasons of his career. Combine Gerald McCoy’s physical stature, the success he has had throughout his career, and Pettine’s defensive schemes, he seems to be a perfect fit.
A few other options the Packers have to save money would be to release Josh Jones who wants out of Green Bay. That move would save them around $500,000. They would also save the same amount by releasing Tim Boyle’s from the team. He is one of four quarterbacks on the Packers’ roster, and could be an easy release for the team. Another under the radar release could be veteran cornerback Tramon Williams. Releasing Tramon would save the Packers close to $4 million, but would take away their most experience veteran in an otherwise young secondary.
The ideal signing for McCoy would follow the Suh signing. A one year prove it deal around $7 million. Signing McCoy to the Packers is a low risk, high reward situation that could turn the Packers’ defensive line into the dominating line in the NFL.