Packers Draft Likely Dictates Any Other Free Agent Moves

Mar 1, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Green Bay Packers have made only one outside addition to the roster at this point in the offseason in signing Jarran Reed, but they’ve still been active, re-signing De’Vondre Campbell, Rasul Douglas, and Robert Tonyan while bringing back six of their exclusive rights free agents and tendering Allen Lazard.

However, as one would expect, there are still holes on this roster to fill. And although the Green Bay Packers don’t have a ton of wiggle room with the cap space, it’s not as if they can’t do anything either.

As I discussed in a recent article, Over the Cap has the Packers with $14.99 million in cap space, but when you take into account other unaccounted for expenses such as the incoming draft class and the practice squad, what they actually have to spend is closer to zero.

With that said, there are other cap-creating moves that can be made, such as an extension for Jaire Alexander, adding voided years to Lazard’s tender, or reworking the deals of Dean Lowry and Mason Crosby. So while Green Bay has to remain cap conscious, they don’t have to sit on the sidelines either.

Some positions of need that they still have to fill include finding a more reliable third edge rusher, with Whitney Mercilus still being a free agent option. Bolstering the offensive tackle depth just as they have done the past two years with Rick Wagner and Dennis Kelly should still be on the to-do list. And, of course, adding to the wide receiver room, among other positions such as safety.

However, even with needs to be filled and some available cap space, I don’t expect the Green Bay Packers to make any more free agent moves until they see how the draft plays out first.

This is a deep edge rusher class, and if Green Bay is able to land one of those high-upside prospects within the first two rounds, for example, the need to bring back Mercilus, while still valuable, is decreased. The safety position is in a similar situation; if the Packers leave the draft with a player who is expected to contribute right away, then the need to find that third option in free agency isn’t nearly as strong.

The same can be said for offensive tackle if the Packers select someone who can compete right away. Although depth is a concern at the moment, a capable rookie with David Bakhtiari, Yosh Nijman, and an eventually healthy Elgton Jenkins becomes a formidable group.

Basically, pick just about any position of need, and this same principle applies–although, admittedly, receiver is a bit different, but I still believe Green Bay sees how the draft unfolds.

When it comes to receiver, unlike the other positions mentioned, there isn’t much of a core that the Packers have to lean on at the moment–they have to build that core this offseason. So while, yes, Green Bay needs a receiver, they specifically need a vertical threat, someone who can create after the catch, and a go-to option for Aaron Rodgers.

There are different players in free agency who could potentially check those boxes, but as I’ve said before, each option comes with a but.

Odell Beckham would be the best option, but when will he be available? Will Fuller would provide the vertical threat, but can he stay on the field? Julio Jones, even past his prime, can be the guy in this offense, but he has played in only 19 games the past two seasons. Jarvis Landry can still be productive, but the Packers don’t necessarily need another slot receiver–not to mention that he may be out of their price range.

You get the idea, which is why I believe Green Bay will prioritize the draft when it comes to addressing this need at receiver. Perhaps they leave the draft with George Pickens and Treylon Burks, for example. Pickens can be the go-to option while Burks provides the YAC, which could lead to Green Bay signing a player like Fuller to a prove-it deal to be the downfield option. Whatever specific need does not get addressed in the draft could be filled via free agency afterward.

There is also the possibility of a trade taking place. If this happens before or during the draft, I won’t be all that surprised because there is a ton of value in having a veteran option on the roster. While this player will still have to adjust to a new offense and playing with Rodgers, their overall experience should lead to a quicker impact and someone else for Rodgers to rely on early on in the season.

Whether via a trade or a free agent addition, I do believe that the Green Bay Packers will add another veteran to this roster for the reasons just mentioned, but again, if it’s through free agency, it won’t be until after the draft.

Ultimately, because there are so few major holes on this roster, the Green Bay Packers have the ability to address many of their depth needs in the draft, which in the end, is why I am not expecting any free agent moves in the coming weeks.

As just discussed, receiver isn’t quite of the same ilk, but with the possibility of landing a higher impact player via a trade and there being several different needs at this one position, Green Bay can try to address those issues with long-term options — the draft or a trade — and fill in any gaps through free agency — a likely short-term solution — once it’s all said and done.

This is an important factor in all of this as well, as the need at receiver goes beyond just 2022, and any free agent option — and this includes other positions — is likely signing a short-term deal while the draft can provide long-term stability. Again, this is just another reason that Green Bay will look towards the draft first.

Next. 3 Packers 2-Round Mock Draft Scenarios. dark

Equipped with 11 draft picks overall, including seven in the first four rounds, along with Brian Gutekunst’s history of making trades early on in the draft, the Green Bay Packers are in a position to be very aggressive in this year’s draft, as one way or another, they look to address the major need at wide receiver–which is why they will go this route first before free agency.