What Do I Know: Free Agency Week 2

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Welcome back to what is the second edition of What Do I Know. It’s been a few weeks and there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to all things Packers. As with last time, agree, disagree? Let us know what and why. Without further ado, let’s jump on in.

1. Welcome back, Tramon

Cornerback Tramon Williams breaks up a pass while with the Cardinals.
The newest addition to the team is an old face, Tramon Williams. Williams wasn’t without flaw during his time with Green Bay, but he was one of the team’s most reliable corners and made himself a Green Bay legend with his play en route to the 2010 Super Bowl. At 35 years old, it’s unclear how much he has left in the tank. He played in a majority of the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive snaps last year, recording 41 tackles, 12 passes defensed, and two interceptions while with the Cards. He should add a quality veteran presence to the defensive backfield.

2. We Still Need Help… lots of it
The Packers made some moves early on in free agency, but there are still some monster holes on the roster, particularly on defense. The defensive line is strong but there are question marks at linebacker, cornerback, and safety. The Packers going into the season with the defense as it sits is a scary thought, and the addition of Williams did little to change that. All that being said, it would be quite the surprise if no other significant pieces were added between now and then, don’t be surprised if and when more news breaks.

3. Replacing Morgan Burnett

Former Packers Safety Morgan Burnett
The most upsetting development of the past two weeks may well be the loss of Morgan Burnett. The eight year veteran was signed by the Steelers, leaving the Packers with a hole at safety next to Haha Clinton-Dix. Many have pushed for the team to sign Eric Reid or Kenny Vaccaro, the top two safeties currently on the free agent market, but it appears as though the team is happy to let Josh Jones take over as starter. Jones, a second-round pick in 2017, made a name for himself in training camp as a rookie, earning high praise from the likes of Mike McCarthy and Mike Daniels. He went on to record an impressive 71 tackles, two sacks, five passes defensed, and one interception while playing as a safety/linebacker/cornerback hybrid. There’s little reason to think he can’t step into a larger role and take over as a starting safety in 2018.

4. Free Agency Isn’t Over
As has been strongly alluded to, there are plenty of players who remain unsigned. The team has been linked to receiver Jordan Matthews and should consider other receivers who are on the market, such as Jeremy Maclin and Eric Decker. On the defensive side of the ball there are several available players at every position, though none of them are stars, admittedly. Cornerbacks Davon House, Bashaud Breeland, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are all capable veterans who remain unsigned. There are also a few inside and outside linebackers on the open market who could provide much needed depth to the roster.

5. Long Snapper Woes
For the third straight offseason the Packers are without a long snapper. It’s unclear if they’ll sign someone soon, draft somebody late, or rely on an undrafted rookie. They’ve had more than a few snappers mess up, costing the team points on what is typically an afterthought of a play. It’s an underappreciated task when it’s going well and a scapegoat position when things fall apart. Regardless of what happens, the only thing they can’t do is nothing, somebody has to step in.

6. 12 Draft Picks Doesn’t Mean 12 Draft Picks
Green Bay owns a league high 12 picks in next month’s draft, but I for one would be shocked to see them use all 12 picks as they currently sit. The plethora of picks gives them the ability to either trade up in the draft or trade directly for a player. There is no chance that 12 drafted rookies would make the roster, and it therefore seems to make little sense that the team would feel required to use all 12 selections. Ted Thompson was known for trading up and down and the draft, but he seldom traded up in the first round, only doing so one time (Traded up to take Clay Matthews in 2009). Nobody knows how Brian Gutekunst will operate, but putting the team in “win now mode” would entail pulling the trigger on a few trades.

7. First Round Hopes and Dreams
Speaking of trades, NFL Network reporter Ben Fennell brought up the possibility of the Packers moving up for a second first round selection or a top second round pick.

For reference, the four players mentioned by Fennell are all linebackers or cornerbacks and are all considered potential top-15 picks. Getting two of the four would radically alter the defense, and the team may have the firepower to make it happen. While we’re on the topic, a few other names the team could move up for: Leighton Vander Esch (LB), Arden Key (OLB), Mike Hughes (CB), Carlton Davis (CB).

8. Story of the Draft

UCF’s Shaquem Griffen after a sack.
Most of the attention for the NFL draft goes to the first two days (rounds 1-3), but most of the selections are made on day three (rounds 4-7). A day-three player to watch is Shaquem Griffin. He’s gotten considerable media attention and has had a phenomenal offseason, but he’s still seen as a fourth or fifth round pick. He’s a one-handed, one-man wrecking crew on defense and has the combination of size and speed to play outside linebacker, inside linebacker, or even safety, while also contributing on special teams. He’s a late round player who can contribute the moment he steps foot on the field. I’ll be praying he ends up wearing green and gold.

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