Following yesterday’s look at some potential roster cuts for the Packers this offseason, I’ll now explore the options available in free agency. I expect the front office to add some depth via free agency and don’t expect many, if any, major additions. Any free agency business will of course be impacted by the decision of Aaron Rodgers and whether or not Adams is re-signed. With that in mind, I’ve decided to take a look at options for a 2022 season with and without Rodgers. If Rodgers decides to leave, I still expect some cap magic to help reload the roster and give Jordon Love, or whoever it may be, the best possible chance to succeed.
Rodgers moving on would make Campbell, Douglas, Adams and even Za’Darius a lot easier to bring back, but nonetheless more quality is needed. For me a legitimate number two receiver is a must and the D-line will need some boosting, although I suspect this will be done via the draft. So lets take a look at who’s in the shop window this off season.
If Adams comes back, I still believe a second stud receiver is needed. Just look at the last two Super Bowl champions as evidence of this. With no Rodgers, someone like Chris Godwin could be a possibility. His injury status could mean his value drops, but make no mistake: a fully healthy Godwin would be a major addition to this side of the ball. An Adams /Godwin duo would give any QB a great chance to settle in to a new offence. I would expect a receiver to be part of any possible trade for Rodgers, so this is another avenue to explore when looking for that allusive number two.
Will Fuller could be an interesting option. His average of 13.5 yards per reception looks good on paper, but only 24 career touchdowns in 6 seasons could be seen as reason enough not to splash the cash on this Dolphin. Coming off an injury hit season, his demands may just be low enough to justify a punt, but is he better than what we already have?
In the event of a Rodgers return, a move for an old favorite of his may offer some depth. Jake Kumerow is a free agent and Rodgers is a known fan. His release previously was a bone of contention and a reunion on a cheap deal could soften the blow for Rodgers should Cobb be released.
Another position where a top target is needed. Tonyan is coming off an ACL and likely back for a low cap hit. Deguara and Davis are not a pair I’d be pinning Super Bowl hopes on either, so a tight end is badly needed. I’m hopeful that Jeremy Ruckert may fall Green Bay’s way in the draft, but proven talent in the form of Zach Ertz or Rob Gronkowski boost both the ground and air attack and with Rodgers and others moved on, the money should be available.
Should a cheaper option be needed then maybe Dalton Schultz offers a solution. The fourth round pick from Stanford could certainly prove useful, however with 78 receptions for 808 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2021, he might not even hit the market, or be as cheap as I’d hope.
Depth at O-line was never as tested as it was this season and the backups performed admirably. Yosh Nijman proved more than capable and Lucas Patrick was his solid, consistent self. The draft is the likely route to cheap depth here but some options on the open market include Morgan Moses, Josh Wells and Austin Blyth. All offer depth, experience and are cheap. In the event of Turner and Kelly moving on, a trip to the bargain bin could be the way to go.
It goes without saying that Campbell is a must keep, but were he to move on, an in-house replacement just doesn’t exist. A mid-season gamble on Jaylon Smith didn’t pay off, but did show a further willingness to try the free market for this position. Dont’a Hightower brings winning experience, but also a winners price tag. Jarrad Davis is a potential target, but again it would all depend on price. A left field selection could be Bears ILB, Alec Ogletree. Experience and value could be what Green Bay end up looking for and he would tick both boxes.
Depending on who comes back, this room may end up being the strongest on the roster. However, it’s difficult to see King, Douglas, and Sullivan all joining Alexander and Stokes back at training camp. Shemar Jean-Charles is a young fifth rounder. Expecting him to make the jump to regular contributor in year two is a big ask. A dip into this pool may not be needed, but someone like Casey Hayward would be a solid investment. If splashing the cash is possible, I see no reason to look beyond Douglas, so I’m not going to name any other options at corner.
I again expect the draft to add depth here and wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a first round pick used on this positional need. Clarke, Slaton, and Heflin will certainly have a part to play but free agents Efe Obada, Ifeadi Odenigbo and Marquis Haynes all offer cheap, if not spectacular, options along the line. In recent seasons both the Rams and the Bucs showed how valuable a bad ass D-line can be, so hopefully the Packers don’t neglect this area of the field.
You’re only as strong as your weakest link and Green Bay’s weakest link finally scuttled the Super Bowl ship. A long snapper and possibly a kicker should be added. Some actual special teams players would also help new coordinator Rich Bisaccia bring this much maligned unit up to a respectable standard.
There are a plethora of scenarios that may play out this off season. The loss of Rodgers, Adams, a Smith, and one or two more players mean money becomes readily available. Along with some restructuring and the Packers become a big player in the free agency window. Brian Gutekunst has already shown is ability to spot talent and his willingness to open the check book, so should it be necessary, I fully expect him to do so.
Should both Rodgers and Adams stay, then the job is a little trickier, but by no means impossible. A championship caliber roster is still very much a possibility although we can expect to see some new faces and say goodbye to old friends. Either way, I’m hopeful of another run in 2022 and who knows, maybe a name mentioned above plays a part in a run to Arizona in February of 2023.
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