5 veterans the Packers should add for depth on defense

Oct 11, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates after sacking Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates after sacking Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Green Bay Packers have certainly bolstered the defensive side of the ball over the past few off-seasons and it has set them up to be an exciting group to watch in 2022.

Last years additions of De’Vondre Campbell in free agency and signing Rasul Douglas off of the Arizona Cardinals practice squad turned out to be game-changing as they each received All-Pro and Pro-Bowl honors respectively.

Green Bay has also used their three first-round picks over the past two seasons on three former Georgia Bulldogs in cornerback Eric Stokes in last years draft and linebacker Quay Walker and defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt coming in this years class.

All of the free agency focus for the Packers this offseason has been spent on the offensive side of the ball, so here are five veterans to add on defense

Kevin King, Cornerback

Kevin King is a very polarizing figure for Packers fans everywhere. King has spent all of his career playing in Green Bay, mainly as the number two corner behind superstar Jaire Alexander.

He has had plenty of issues for the Packers whether it be consistency, health, or the 2020 NFC Championship game. But even with all of that, the Packers are lacking in cornerback depth.

Their starting three corners may be the very best trio in the league with Alexander, Douglas, and Stokes. But after that it is a whole lot of unknown.

The other six corners on the roster at the moment have a total of three combined starts, with one of those starts coming from Rico Gafford at wide receiver for the Raiders two years ago. King on the other hand has 42 starts over his 5-year career in Green Bay.

King is not the sexiest option at cornerback on the free agent market with names like Jackrabbit Jenkins and Joe Haden still out there, but King knows the system and will not be too expensive.

Darian Thompson, Safety

Adding more depth to the secondary is a must for Green Bay, and maybe more so at safety than at cornerback.

Adrian Amos’ contract is up at the end of this season and he just had his contract restructured back in March. Meanwhile, Darnell Savage is coming off of a less than awesome season in 2021. They added Tariq Carpenter in the seventh-round of this years draft but could still use more depth.

Thompson has spent his entire career in the NFC East with the New York Giants and for the past four years the Dallas Cowboys. He racked up 28 career starts over his career with most coming in 2017 when he started all 16 games and had 75 total tackles for New York. A veteran depth piece at safety to back up Savage and Amos is exactly what the Packers need.

Anthony Hitchens, Linebacker

Of these five players, Hitchens is the least realistic for the Packers to go out and get because of the re-signing of De’Vondre Campbell, the selection of Quay Walker this offseason, and the fact that Hitchens is a starting caliber linebacker in this league.

However, having Hitchens would be a dream scenario for the Packers.

They could have a three linebacker rotation to keep everyone fresh and that allows them a backup plan in the event that Campbell does not back up his 2021 performance or Walker needs a bit more time to get acclimated to the NFL.

With over 100 career starts and almost 700 career tackles, Hitchens would give the Packers plenty of flexibility at linebacker.

Juston Houston, Edge

On paper last year the Packers had a monster pass rush. Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Rashan Gary and the mid-season addition of Whitney Mercilus.

While P. Smith rebounded after a disappointing 2020 season while tallying 9 sacks and Gary continued his growth as he put up 9.5 sacks, injuries took their toll on Mercilus and Z. Smith.

Z. Smith missed almost the entirety of 2021 with a back issue, only playing in the season opener and the Packers only playoff game. Mercilus injured his bicep in the Packers Week 10 win over the Seahawks. Mercilus has since retired, and Za’Darius has been released and signed a deal with the Minnesota Vikings.

Green Bay was middle of the pack last year in terms of sacks only getting 39 sacks.

Signing Justin Houston, who’s 102 career sacks speak for themselves, would be a great depth move for Green Bay. Pairing him along side Smith and Gary and also allowing him to help develop and mentor rookie Kingsley Enagbare would be a win and could prove to be helpful in making up for production of Mercilus.

Takkarist McKinley, Edge

Five seasons ago, Tak McKinley was a first round pick by the Atlanta Falcons, now he just finished playing on a one- year deal with the Cleveland Browns.

McKinley has been less than productive in the past two NFL seasons with only 3.5 sacks. But he is only 26 years old and still could have a lot of football ahead of him.

He has struggled with injury issues throughout his NFL career but he racked up 13 sacks over his first two NFL seasons and is worth kicking the tires on for Green Bay.