The Packers 2019 season ended in a heartbreak not everyone expected to happen. However, nobody expected them to make the playoffs under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur. LaFleur was the only first-year head coach to make the playoffs since Jim Harbaugh did it with the 49ers in 2011. The Packers surely had their ups and downs throughout the season. But after the NFC Championship game, let alone the entire year, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has some work to do this offseason. The Packers have $34 million to spend, potentially $40 million if they adjust their 53-man roster before week 1 next season, and they will have to spend that money wisely.
Find Another WR
Allen Lazard was the only receiver that stood out beyond Davante Adams this season. There was a lot of hype on Marquez Valdez-Scantling coming into this season after learning he was working with former NFL legend Randy Moss during the offseason. However, he did not live up to his expectations at all. Both Geronimo Allison and Jake Kumerow are set to become free agents and Green Bay will most likely look at other options at the position.
The one name that stands out is Robby Anderson, who is also hitting the market this offseason. This would give Aaron Rodgers another experienced target to throw to. At just 26-years-old, Anderson has missed only two games out of his four-year playing career. The Packers have struggled to keep guys healthy on the offensive side of the ball and Robby Anderson is a guy that you can rely on for the majority of the season.
2020 NFL Draft
Robby Anderson is reportedly seeking $10 million/year, and if the Packers choose to veer away from that idea, this year’s wide receiver draft class is too impressive to pass up on one. One great fit would be Justin Jefferson from LSU. Jefferson played in arguably the toughest conference in college football and the one most similar to the NFL. He had over 1,500 receiving yards this season catching passes from the best quarterback in college football in Joe Burrow. Jefferson brings to the table young talent and speed behind Davante Adams.
Another great prospect is Tyler Johnson from Minnesota. The Big Ten is the second toughest conference in college football and Johnson eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards the past two seasons. Like Jefferson, Johnson has tremendous hands and is another guy the Packers would really benefit from drafting, even in the first round.
Address the Linebacker Position
The Packers are losing Blake Martinez this offseason, and it would not be a surprising move if Gutekunst decides to let him walk. However, Martinez is certainly replaceable.
The first guy that would be a great replacement for Blake Martinez is Joe Schobert. There were reports during the second half of the season that the Browns were looking to move Joe Schobert. Now, he is hitting the market and would return home to Wisconsin where he started his playing career. Blake Martinez struggled at times in coverage and Joe Schobert would be a nice replacement that is efficient at that if the Packers choose to let Martinez walk.
Another nice replacement would be Cory Littleton, who is also set to become a free agent. The Pro Bowl linebacker is just what the Packers need and is efficient in almost everything the Packers lack. Littleton should be one of the top guys at his position hitting the market this offseason.
2020 NFL Draft
Drafting a linebacker would also be a smart move for the Packers. Depending on how the offseason goes, it would make sense to select a linebacker early, even in the first round. Who might that player be? Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma. The Big 12 conference is not known for having elite defenses, but Murray is one of the top prospects at his position. At 6’2 235 ibs., Kenneth Murray has the perfect build for an NFL linebacker and fits the defensive scheme that Green Bay runs. If the Packers sign a linebacker in free agency, drafting one early for depth would also be an ideal move, as guys like Kyler Fackrell are also free agents this offseason.
The Tight End Position
The Packers have struggled to find their key tight end in recent years. Jace Sternberger has shown sparks throughout his rookie season, but Robert Tonyan and Mercedes Lewis are both free agents this summer and the Packers have a big decision to make at that position. Jimmy Graham has not lived up to his potential this season. He is under contract until next year, but his name will definitely pop up throughout training camp this summer if he makes the final roster cuts. If the Packers bring back either Tonyan or Lewis, there are a few talented tight ends out there on the market this offseason.
The first one is Eric Ebron. Ebron started his career off with the Lions as the last tight end picked in the top ten before TJ Hockenson. After joining the Colts last season, Ebron has made a name for himself and is one of the top tight ends on the market. Ebron is a powerful force with exceptional hands. He would be a nice addition to Jace Sternberger and either Tonyan or Lewis if they decide to bring one of them back.
The next guy is Austin Hooper from the Atlanta Falcons. Hooper screams consistency, and that is something the Packers have struggled to find with a free agent tight end. Hooper and Sternberger would be a nice duo that LaFleur could utilize, seeing as he is not only known for having a run-heavy offense but also using tight ends to their potential like he did with the Titans with Delanie Walker.
Interior Defensive Line
The last major offseason move the Packers must do is upgrade the interior defensive line. Outside of Kenny Clark, there is not much consistency. Dean Lowry has been exceptional, but has not lived up to his extension so far. Tyler Lancaster is hitting the free agent market this offseason and that leaves them with 2019 6th round pick Kingsley Keke and Montravius Adams. The Packers struggled in the run game for most of the season. So they will need to upgrade and get more depth on the defensive line if they want to improve their run game efficiency.
The one guy that should be near the top of the Packers’ free agent list is Chiefs DT Chris Jones. Clark, Jones and Lowry would be an absolute force in the run game and would be one of the Packers’ winning moves of the offseason. Jones is entering the prime years of his career and his size and explosiveness is just what the Packers need. The Green Bay Packers gave up an average of 112.1 rushing yards this season, and with the Chris Jones signing, they could see themselves at the top half of the run defense rankings next season.
2020 NFL Draft
Chris Jones would be a massive signing for the Green Bay Packers, but they also need to look at building depth on that defensive line in the draft.
One nice early draft pick would be Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina. Kinlaw brings to the table size and explosiveness. He is one of the best prospects in this draft at his position.
Another great pick would be Raekwon Davis from Alabama. He is built like a force and has the potential to make an instant impact for the Packers struggling defensive line. Davis’ body frame helps him cruise past guys with ease and would be a nice addition for the Packers.
The Green Bay Packers are coming off an impressive season, but we also saw some struggles at certain positions. This offseason is looking to be another busy one for Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, and there are several talented players out there, whether it be free agents or 2020 draft prospects.