Green Bay Packers: Which Free Agents should Stay & which should Go?

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 05: Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears rushes against Bryan Bulaga #75 of the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on September 05, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 05: Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears rushes against Bryan Bulaga #75 of the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on September 05, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

It is officially the offseason for the Green Bay Packers and with 21 pending free agents of their own, they have some difficult decisions to make. So who should stay and who should go?

Although the 2019 season came to an ugly end, overall I think most would consider this a successful season under first year head coach Matt LaFleur. As you will all remember, the Green Bay Packers had missed the playoffs the previous two seasons and a big reason was because they were void of talent at a number of key positions.

In order to remedy this, GM Brian Gutekunst made four big free agent signings, along with some aggressive moves in the draft. But given the gap between them and the San Francisco 49ers, being active in free agency once again may not be a bad idea.

However, before we begin looking at free agents on other teams, the Packers have 21 of their own that they need to make decisions on.

So as we begin to look ahead to some of the offseason moves that Gutekunst has to make, I’ve broken their pending free agents up into four categories. The first is who must be re-signed. The second is if they are back, that’s great but it has to be at the right price. Then I have give them the contract minimum, and lastly, let them walk.

Must Re-sign

Mason Crosby

Last season was a rough one for Mason Crosby, especially in the first half of the season, but he bounced-back tremendously in 2019 and I don’t think he’s gotten enough credit for it. In total he finished 22/24 on field goal attempts, including two game winners, and 40/41 on extra point attempts.

Just look around the NFL and ask our neighbors to the south in Chicago how difficult it is to find a reliable kicker. To me, this is a no-brainer.

Bryan Bulaga

Bryan Bulaga has caught a lot of flack over the years for the time he’s missed but for the most part when he’s been healthy he’s been fantastic and that was very true this season as well. In his 612 pass-blocking snaps in 2019, Bulaga would allow just four sacks and four quarterback hits. And keep in mind, he went up against some of the best edge-rushers the NFL has to offer, including Khalil Mack, Nick Bosa, Von Miller, and more.

Tackle is a premier position in this league and right now I don’t believe that they have Bulaga’s replacement on the roster. Sure they could draft one, but if Bulaga is gone, they better be spending their first round pick on a tackle and even then it is a difficult transition to make.

At just 30-years-old and given the season he just had, there’s no reason not to make re-signing him a priority. I’ll take 12 games of Bulaga over 16 from most tackles in this league.

Bring back at the right price

Tramon Williams

Although he’s nearing 37-years-old, Tramon Williams is coming off of a very nice season as the Green Bay Packers’ primary slot corner. In fact, he was Pro Football Focus’ seventh highest graded cover corner at a mark of 82.2.

While it is a valid question wondering if he can keep this level of play up, to me there is a bit of unknown surrounding the CB position moving forward. Jaire Alexander is turning into a shutdown corner and Kevin King had a breakout season, however, they clearly don’t trust Josh Jackson, Tony Brown was cut, and Ka’dar Hollman was just a rookie. The Packers need more reliable options.

Having Williams back at the right price makes sense just to have him around as once again the potential slot corner if he continues playing well. But also as a safety net in case more development is needed by the younger players or for whoever they bring in.

Jared Veldheer

I mean, who wouldn’t want Jared Veldheer back just for depth at the tackle position? But if he doesn’t want to retire, he could possibly get a bigger contract elsewhere given his play against Detroit and Seattle.

Tyler Ervin

It was Tyer Ervin who saved this Green Bay Packers’ punt return team and became a gadget player on offense. Giving him a full season with the team and under LaFleur could do wonders for him and the offense.

Danny Vitale

I was shocked at how little he was used this season but he is a solid pass-catcher and has the potential to be a real weapon in this offense. However, if he is only going to play 16 percent of the offensive snaps moving forward, then there is no reason to get into a bidding war. But I really hope that wouldn’t be the case.

Ibraheim Campbell

I love the physical nature he brings as well as the fact that he is just a solid tackler. With that said, while he adds great depth to the secondary, given that they have Raven Greene, there’s no reason to over spend.

Bring back on contract minimums

Now, everyone in this group is classified as an Exclusive Rights Free Agent. And for those not as familiar with the term, it is a player with two or fewer years of NFL experience who can only be given a contract from their current team.

Meaning, the Green Bay Packers aren’t going to have to outbid any other team to keep these players and with their contracts falling at relatively cheap prices – usually from $500,000 – $700,000 – why not bring them back? Not to mention that a number of these players played significant roles on this year’s team.

  • Robert Tonyan
  • Chandon Sullivan
  • Will Redmond
  • Allen Lazard
  • Jake Kumerow
  • John Leglue

Let them walk

Blake Martinez

For the last few years now, Blake Martinez has been the quarterback of this defense, one of the NFL’s top tacklers, and has rarely missed any snaps. But as we all know he comes with his limitations as well. Many of those tackles happen five or six yards downfield and coverage isn’t a strong suit.

Yet even so, there’s the very real possibility that Martinez could earn $10 million per year out on the open market. Now, I don’t think Green Bay would or should pay him that amount which is why he ends up in this category. I mean, if he’s open to playing here for half of that, then sure bring him back, but that’s just not realistic.

Finding a new ILB needs to be at or near the top of the to-do list this offseason.

B.J. Goodson

Last offseason we saw Gutekunst overhaul the edge-rusher and safety positions, this year ILB needs a similar treatment.

Geronimo Allison

Geronimo Allison was one of the more disappointing players this season with penalties, drops, fumbles and he’s just not that dynamic in open space. I’m anticipating there to be an infusion of young talent at wide receiver and there is just no reason to bring him back.

Marcedes Lewis

An excellent blocker over his career but he’s about at the end of it. In Green Bay it is now the Jace Sternberger and Robert Tonyan show at tight end.

Ryan Grant

Even with all the issues the Green Bay Packers had at receiver, Ryan Grant never saw the field.

Kyler Fackrell

We saw Kyler Fackrell post 10.5 sacks last season but in a reduced role, naturally those numbers fell off. He has his moments but he’s a limited player. And given that he will be the fourth option at edge-rusher for the Packers moving forward, that money can be spent better elsewhere.

Malcolm Johnson

I mean, they already struggle to find time for Danny Vitale as I pointed out earlier. Green Bay just doesn’t need a second fullback.

Jason Spriggs

In case you forgot, Jason Spriggs ended up on the Packers’ injured reserve list after he was waived and then cleared waivers prior to the beginning of the season. There’s no reason to bring him back.

Next. 2020 Mock Draft Roundup & Big Takeaways 4.0. dark

Deciding how they will handle their own free agents is really the first step in the offseason process for Gutekunst and the Green Bay Packers. While they came a long ways in just one year, as we saw against San Francisco, they still have a ways to go if they want to be true Super Bowl Contenders. Another crucial offseason lies ahead.