GM Ted Thompson rarely dabbles in free agency but let’s take a look at possible matches for Green Bay with their needs.
High Priority Starters
OLBs, Work horse RB, RG and CB 1, TE
Green Bay needs a number 1 CB badly. Damarius Randall and Quentin Rollins failed in that role in 2016 in their second year in the league. Injury was a factor for Randall. Sam Shields is permanently hurt (concussions) and was cut early this offseason after years of being Green Bay’s top corner. Green Bay must add a top cornerback in free agency or the draft. A rookie may not be ready for the number 1 role in 2017. A veteran like Stephon Gilmore or AJ Bouye could fit the bill for the Packers. Thompson doesn’t shell out big bucks in free agency, especially for unrestricted players but a change must be made to fix the defense.
TJ Lang is a free agent along with backup JC Tretter (G/C). Green Bay either needs to re-sign one or both of them or add a new guard. Kevin Zeitler, Ron Leary, Chance Warmack and Larry Warford are other options for Green Bay. Lang said he would allow the Packers to match any offers from other teams.
The Packers don’t have a work horse running back. Eddie Lacy was injured after five games and needs to be re-signed. If Lacy is not re-signed, Green Bay will need to add a top back. Thompson most likely would look to the draft to add a cheaper talented running back. LeGarette Blount, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson would be very intriguing veteran options though for the Packers. They are older and have injury histories but they could be good backs with the right blocking in front of them.
Nick Perry, Julius Peppers and Datone Jones are all free agents. Green Bay needs to sign two of them back to join Clay Matthews and Kyle Fackrell at OLB. Perry had a big year in 2016 with 11 sacks and consistent pressure. Perry will cost a lot of money but Green Bay needs a pass rusher other than Matthews. Chandler Jones and Melvin Ingram were franchised. Jarvis Jones and John Simon are decent options at OLB. Erik Walden is an old friend to the Packers in free agency. Barkevious Mingo and Paul Kruger are both failed Browns players that may fit better in Dom Capers defense. Perry seems to be the best option for Green Bay.
Jared Cook is a free agent again. He came on strong at the end of 2016 and playoffs for the Packers. He is a high priority weapon for Rodgers to keep in his arsenal. We’ll see how much Thompson pays him this offseason.
DE and ILB
Green Bay has some spots where they could upgrade over the current starter. One defensive end spot over Letroy Guion (age) and Dean Lowry could be upgraded by the Packers. Calais Campbell would be a great choice and provide a menacing defensive line for the Packers paired with Mike Daniels and second year player Kenny Clark.
The Packers could also upgrade at ILB over Jake Ryan. Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan were solid as rookies but backup Joe Thomas is a free agent. Green Bay could add a veteran or take a day 2 or day 3 prospect in the draft. Donta’ Hightower would be a huge upgrade in the middle for the Packers though over Ryan. We’ll see if Thompson wants to finally open up his wallet.
Perry, Lacy, Lang, Hyde, Peppers and Jones are the current players we covered that need to be re-signed by the Packers. Jacob Schum was already re-signed at punter.
Morgan Burnett, Lane Taylor and Davante Adams are in the last years of their current deals. They could all be re-signed by Green Bay early. Ha Ha Clinton Dix will be given the 5th year option for 2018. The Packers could give Dix a big contract early as well for free safety.
Clay Matthews has a huge cap number and production that does not match. Green Bay could look to rework his deal or make him take a pay cut.
Green Bay has many needs due to impending free agents. They must re-sign their RB, RG, and OLBs and find a stud number 1 CB. They could upgrade at one DE spot and ILB this offseason to finally advance their defense into the top 10. Most likely Thompson will re-sign a few of his own players and then get some much needed rest in his crept.