Green Bay Packers: Free Agents to Know at Positions of Need

Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst talks on the phone during practice on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packerspractice 091218 Abw158
Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst talks on the phone during practice on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packerspractice 091218 Abw158 /

Friday was a busy day for the Green Bay Packers as they work their way closer to being under the $182.5 million salary cap. They saved a little by releasing John Lovett. Green Bay gained a little more cap space — $750,000 to be exact — by restructuring Adrian Amos’ deal. And most notably, Preston Smith took an incentive-laden pay cut to stay with the team.

The Packers began Friday about $9.6 million over the cap and ended at just $2.35 million over, according to Over the Cap.

Next Wednesday, the new league year begins, and free agency opens — although deals will be done before then with the legal tampering period beginning on Monday — and Green Bay will have to be under the salary cap by that point while also having some room to make an addition or two.

Due to these cap restraints that the Green Bay Packers — along with most other NFL teams — find themselves under, when it comes to any free agency additions, much of the attention this offseason has been on what they can’t do, instead of what they can do—and understandably so.

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However, the Green Bay Packers are going to make some additions; the question is will it be one player? Two players? And how big will those signings be?

When speaking with reporters last week, GM Brian Gutekunst was asked about free agency and didn’t shut the door on Green Bay making a big addition if it is for the right player:

"“I do think we’ll be able to do that if the right player is there,” Gutekunst said via The Athletic. “I think a lot of that will be determined over the next few weeks as we kind of figure out this puzzle and decide on some of our own guys, which is always kind of the first step. But I do think if the right particular player is out there and we think it’s the best thing for the Green Bay Packers; then we’ll be able to do it. We won’t be able to do a lot, and there’ll certainly be some restrictions, but if the right guy’s there, I think we’d be able to do what we need to do.”"

With many teams being under a cap crunch along with the number of impact free agents being available, it’s all going to have a great effect on the contracts handed out in free agency this year. The top-tier players will still get their pay days, but many others will have to settle for shorter and cheaper deals than what they would in a normal offseason.

This is how the Green Bay Packers will be able to make some signings, even if things are a little tight when it comes to cap space.

Now with that said, do I expect the Packers to make a flashy signing as Gutey alluded to? I don’t. But I do expect them to add some veteran players at positions of need who can provide some stability.

Green Bay has a number of positions that theyll have to address this offseason, whether it be in free agency or in the draft. While, of course, Gutey may go a completely different direction in free agency and surprise us all, these are my top-5 needs to take care of at some point this offseason, along with some notable free agents that are available at those positions.

Interior Defensive Line

After not addressing this need in 2020, this still remains a big one for the Green Bay Packers. We saw flashes from Kingsley Keke, but overall, Kenny Clark still needs consistent help inside. Adding another reliable player to the rotation, reducing Dean Lowry’s snap count, which could very well lead to a bigger impact, and seeing Keke take a step forward in Year 3 will go a long way in helping this defensive front.

On top of that, they just don’t have much depth either. Behind those three players on the depth chart currently are Anthony Rush and Willington Previlon. With this year’s draft class being very thin at the interior defensive line position, addressing the need in free agency makes a world of sense.

Some free agent names to know:

Dalvin Tomlinson, Mike Pennel, Kawann Short, Jurrell Casey, Ndamukong Suh, DaQuan Jones, Quinton Jefferson, Malcolm Brown, Lawrence Guy, Shelby Harris, Sheldon Rankins, Steve McLendon, Christian Covington, Henry Anderson, and Adam Butler.


This position, along with an interior defensive lineman, is another need that I feel should be addressed in free agency. Cornerback is arguably the biggest need on the team and while it is a deep draft class this year, waiting until then to address the position comes with many risks considering we have no clue how the board will fall.

As it currently stands, the only boundary cornerbacks on the roster other than Jaire Alexander include Josh Jackson, Stanford Samuels, Ka’dar Hollman, and KeiVarae Russell. Meanwhile, Chandon Sullivan doesn’t have much competition in the slot.

Some free agent names to know:

Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, AJ Bouye, Malcolm Butler, Justin Coleman, Janoris Jenkins, Brian Poole, Mackensie Alexander, Desmond King, Xavier Rhodes, Quinton Dunbar, Shaquill Griffin, William Jackson, Troy Hill, DJ Hayden, Jason McCourty, Kevin Johnson, Mike Hilton, Ronald Darby, and Bashaud Breeland.

Wide Receiver

Truthfully, this is a need that I feel can be addressed in the draft, given that the Green Bay Packers are returning their top-3 receivers from 2020. But the free-agent market this offseason is loaded at the receiver position with high-end talent, and adding another weapon for Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers is never a bad thing.

Ideally, any signing would be to a multi-year deal because, as of now, the Green Bay Packers don’t have any receivers under contract beyond 2021.

Some free agent names to know:

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller, TY Hilton, Marvin Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, Adam Humphries, John Brown, Corey Davis, Golden Tate, Sammy Watkins, Keelan Cole, Curtis Samuel, Nelson Agholor, Rashard Higgins, Breshad Perriman, and Phillip Dorsett.

Offensive Tackle

The Green Bay Packers need help at this position both in the short-term with added depth as David Bakhtiari works his way back from his ACL injury. But they also need to find their right tackle of the future with Billy Turner’s status in 2022 unknown. This is a very good draft class to find that right tackle of the future, but free agency is a good place to find some added depth and immediate help.

Some free agent names to know:

Trent Williams, Alejandro Villanueva, Daryl Williams, Matt Feiler, Russell Okung, Eric Fisher, Riley Reiff, Rick Wagner, Ty Nsekhe, Jason Peters, Cameron Fleming, Cameron Erving, Joe Haeg, Cedric Ogbuehi, Demar Dotson, Kelvin Beachum, Mike Remmers, Zach Banner, and David Sharpe.

Running back

All signs point to Aaron Jones heading elsewhere, and we still don’t know what the future holds for Jamaal Williams. AJ Dillon is set to take over as RB1 in Green Bay, but they need to find a complimentary back this offseason. Like offensive tackle and receiver, I believe this can be done in the draft, but there are some intriguing free agent names that could fill the RB2 role this season.

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Some free agent names to know:

Chris Carson, Jamaal Williams, Kenyan Drake, James Conner, James White, Todd Gurley, Mike Davis, Marlon Mack, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Carlos Hyde, TJ Yeldon, Malcolm Brown, Dion Lewis, Carlos Hyde, Brian Hill, and Duke Johnson.