Green Bay Packers Remaining Free Agents & Will they be Back?

Nov 15, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Tyler Ervin (32) runs the football against Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Myles Jack (44) during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 15, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Tyler Ervin (32) runs the football against Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Myles Jack (44) during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

With limited salary cap space this offseason, it’s quite clear that the Green Bay Packers feel that their best chance to reach and hopefully win a Super Bowl in 2021 is to simply run it back. Now, I know that’s not very exciting, but this team was plenty good enough to have won a Super Bowl last season; they just didn’t–both things can be true.

The only outside addition that has been made is the signing of long-snapper Joe Fortunato, and at this time, the only substantial losses are Jamaal Williams and Corey Linsley. Otherwise, Brian Gutekunst and Co. have made a strong push to bring back many of last year’s contributors–including Aaron Jones, Marcedes Lewis, Kevin King, Chandon Sullivan, Robert Tonyan, Tyler Lancaster, and Will Redmond. Green Bay also chose to hang on to Preston Smith.

With free agency now at a crawl, I don’t expect the Green Bay Packers to make any signings before the draft. I imagine they’ll see how that plays out and then fill in any gaps that remain with low-cost veteran contracts. And if they do decide to go this route, based on what we’ve seen so far, the player(s) that they do bring in could very well have been on the team this past season.

So let’s take a look at which 2020 Green Bay Packers are still available in free agency and whether or not there’s any chance that they could be re-signed.

Green Bay Packers Unrestricted Free Agents

WR/PR Tavon Austin

The Green Bay Packers signed Tavon Austin late last season when Tyler Ervin went down to provide some stability on special teams with his return ability but also to play that gadget receiver that Matt LaFleur wants in this offense to be utilized pre-snap as well as on quick passes and screens.

Austin caught all five of his targets but for only 20 yards but was a non-factor on offense during the playoffs. As a punt returner, he had three attempts for 14 yards. These are two roles that the Green Bay Packers still need to fill — gadget receiver and return man — but it won’t be by Austin in 2021. He was a last-minute insurance policy this past season.

Verdict: No

ILB James Burgess

Burgess was signed in October of last season as depth at the linebacker position. In 2019 he was a full-time starter with the New York Jets, tallying seven pressures and 77 tackles, before finding his way to Atlanta and then Green Bay. With the Packers, Burgess saw little action, and it was only on special teams.

I won’t be surprised if Green Bay tries to bolster their linebacker depth in the draft, given that Oren Burks and Ty Summers are primarily special teams players, but I also believe they’re comfortable beginning the season with Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes as their top-2 linebackers.

Verdict: No

IDL Damon Harrison

Harrison appeared in three games with the Green Bay Packers, including both playoff games, and was on the field for 30 total snaps, according to PFF ($$). He logged two tackles and no pressures, but Harrison’s presence is felt in other ways by commanding double-teams and clogging up the middle of the field, forcing running backs to reroute.

Whether Harrison wants to play a full season in the Green Bay cold remains to be seen, but in the new Joe Barry defense, having a good nose tackle is a must. With Harrison in the middle, it would allow Kenny Clark to move to the 3 or 4-tech. As of now, Clark would likely have to be the one lining up over the center, but he can make a lot more noise from the outside. Harrison’s skill-set can certainly add some needed value to this new defense.

Verdict: Maybe

WR/RB Tyler Ervin

As I mentioned when discussing Tavon Austin, Tyler Ervin plays an important role in the Matt LaFleur offense as the do-it-all receiver who can line up all over the formation, be used as a decoy pre-snap, and someone who can make plays with the ball in his hands. On top of that, he provides some much-needed stability to the Green Bay Packers’ return units.

This is a role that still has to be filled and perhaps is done in the draft as there are quite a few receivers who fit this build. We will have to wait and see how that plays out.

Verdict: Maybe

OG Lane Taylor

Taylor has missed a majority of the last two seasons with injuries; however, there is plenty of value in bringing him back. While we never truly know how a veteran player will bounce back from an injury, Taylor was a starter Week 1 of last season along what ended up being the best offensive line unit in football.

With Elgton Jenkins potentially starting the season at tackle, I believe Taylor could once again earn a starting spot this season, or at the very least provided some experienced depth inside–something that the Green Bay Packers are lacking.

With that said, I don’t expect Green Bay to bring him back. Taylor is reportedly already drawing interest from San Francisco and Houston, and my guess is that the Packers won’t want to pay him much more than a veteran minimum deal. His recent injury history could be a deterrent as well.

Verdict: No

OT Jared Veldheer

Again, I don’t think that this is the worst idea given the lack of depth at the tackle position. With Bakhtiari out, the only players on the roster with tackle experience are Jenkins, Billy Turner, and Yosh Nijman. With that said, if the Green Bay Packers didn’t bring back Veldheer last offseason, I don’t see them doing it this offseason either. Fortunately, it’s a deep tackle class; hopefully, they take advantage.

Verdict: No

IDL Billy Winn

Winn was a rotational player with the Green Bay Packers last season, seeing 41 snaps in six games, none of which came in the playoffs. However, while yes, it was a small sample size, he was solid. Green Bay still needs to get Clark some additional help, and they also lack depth. While Winn could provide that needed depth, at nearly 32-years-old, my guess is that the Packers will look for someone younger, whether that be through the draft — which is admittedly a weak class — or free agency.

Verdict: No

Green Bay Packers Non-Tendered Restricted Free Agents

S Raven Greene

Greene played the all-important hybrid linebacker role in the Mike Pettine system, but he, unfortunately, was unable to stay healthy during his time in Green Bay, playing in only 20 total games over three seasons. On top of that, the hybrid linebacker position really isn’t a role in Joe Barry’s defense.

Verdict: No

CB Parry Nickerson

Nickerson was claimed off waivers last August and played in just one game before ending up on IR. While he won’t contribute on defense, with his blazing 4.32 speed, he could end up being a special teams contributor–especially with Josh Jackson and Ka’dar Hollman being healthy scratches at the end up last season because of their inability on special teams.

Next. Packers Mock Draft Battle 2.0. dark

So as the Green Bay Packers try to revamp their special teams unit, having this speed really helps. With that said, we only saw Nickerson for half a game, so I’ll err on the side of caution.

Verdict: No