Last off-season, the Green Bay Packers made a big splash in free agency. 2019’s offseason brought the Packers Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Billy Turner, and Adrian Amos. This off-season, the moves Brian Gutekunst made didn’t grab nearly the headlines that his 2019 moves did. For some Packers fans, the signings of Devin Funchess, Rick Wagner, and Christian Kirksey didn’t bring much excitement. In fact, some believe that it wasn’t enough to upgrade the current Packers roster’s talent. But there is still time to bring in talent. There are possible available free agents that Gutekunst could target this summer.
Possible Available Free Agents for the Green Bay Packers
Bringing in Funchess, Wagner, and Kirksey as free agent signings do provide some depth at positions the Packers were in need of. Still, if you take a look at the Packers roster, they still are in need of experienced help. Gutekunst might say that the Packers roster looks deep, but the numbers, and talent, say otherwise.
Lucky for the Packers and Gutekunst, there are still free agents on the market that could help bolster the Packers roster. Taking a look at the Packers roster, there are multiple positions that could need some veteran help. Interior defensive line, tight end, wide receiver, offensive tackle, and cornerback are all positions the Packers could, and really should be looking for depth at.
Here are some possible targets that Gutekunst could look to this summer to bring in.
Delanie Walker, Tight End
All indications are that the Packers are going to rely on second-year player Jace Sternberger as their top pass-catching tight end. It is hard to fault Gutekunst for making this decision. Since the early retirement of Jermichael Finley, the Packers have tried to fill the position with veteran free agents. However, Gutekunst could be playing with fire.
Sternberger was limited to just six regular games last season because of injuries. He never caught a pass in the regular season. His only catches for the season came in the playoffs. The injuries and lack of production don’t necessarily show that Sternberger is ready for the number one pass-catching tight end position. The Packers do have veteran Marcedes Lewis. But his days of producing in the passing game look to be over. Behind him is Robert Tonyan. While Tonyan has potential, he has been bitten by the injury bug. It isn’t a given he will even make the roster in 2020. They did reach in this year’s draft by selecting Josiah Deguara in the third round. But he looks to be more of an h-back or possibly even a fullback.
Out of the tight end free agents still available, there is one that makes sense. Delanie Walker is a very capable receiving tight end. At 35 years old, he isn’t going to be an every-down player. Especially since he has dealt with injuries the past two seasons (he has only played in just eight games the past two seasons). If the Packers are looking for a tight end they can utilize just on passing downs, Walker would be a good fit.
Jason Peters, Offensive Tackle
Last season, the Packers picked up free agent offensive tackle Jared Veldheer. It turned out to be quite a pick up for Gutekunst and his personnel staff. When Bryan Bulaga wasn’t able to go in several key games last season, Veldheer stepped in. Not only did he step in, but he played solidly.
Veldheer is a free agent and he hasn’t indicated if he wants to play another season. Gutekunst did sign Wagner, but he will be asked to step in as the starting right tackle for the now departed and oft-injured Bulaga. The depth behind Wagner and starting left tackle David Bakhtiari is razor-thin. To go along with that, Wagner hasn’t played a full 16 games regular season schedule since 2015.
As of right now, the top backups at tackle would be either Alex Light and Yosh Nijman. Light played in several games last season but struggled. He is still young and could develop, but gambling on him protecting Aaron Rodgers is quite a gamble. Nijman is a former undrafted free agent and has yet to play a down in the NFL.
The Packers could look for a veteran free agent tackle to back up Bakhtiari and Wagner. One player who is a part of the free agents still available is Jason Peters. While Peters doesn’t have enough gas in the tank to be an every game starter, he could be a valuable backup. Peters has started 195 games in the NFL.
Taylor Gabriel, Wide Receiver
Okay, Gutekunst appears higher on the Packers wide receivers than most. His only wide receiver signing was Funchess and he bypassed the position altogether in this year’s draft. Still, there are some major questions in regard to the depth behind star wide receiver Davante Adams.
If you were to bet on if Gutekunst would bring in a free agent to help at wide receiver, it wouldn’t be a good bet. But if he does, one player that would make sense is Taylor Gabriel. The current group of wide receivers consists of players who are tall and fit better on the outside. Gabriel is built to play the slot, shorter and more shifty.
Gabriel hasn’t put up big numbers throughout his six-year career, but he has contributed to offenses. Head coach Matt LaFleur, good or bad, is shifting to a more run dominated offense. But the Packers will still need receivers who can get open, something Gabriel can do. Plus, for the Packers fans that are obsessed with finding someone to run the “jet sweep”, he could do that as well.
Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle
When talking possible free agents who play defensive tackle, Packers fans immediately bring up Damon Harrison. While Harrison would be an upgrade to fill the other interior defensive line spot opposite Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, there is another name to keep in mind.
Marcell Dareus is a former number third overall pick by the Buffalo Bills. Dareus has played ten seasons, with the Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars. While his best season was all the way back in 2014, 10 sacks and being All-Pro first team, he still could help out the Packers defense.
The Packers struggled against the run last season. Dareus could help improve that part of the Packers defense and would be inexpensive.
Trumaine Johnson, Cornerback
Much has been written about the lack of moves for the wide receiver position for the Packers. But the depth at cornerback for the Packers has been neglected just as much.
Jaire Alexander and Kevin King are a strong starting NFL cornerback tandem. Alexander looks like he is going to be a playmaker at the position for a long time. King was able to stay healthy for the first time in his career last season. With being healthy, he was able to show he is a capable starting cornerback in the NFL.
The depth behind Alexander and King is very suspect. Gutekunst, so far, has chosen not to re-sign veteran Tramon Williams. If he chooses not to sign another cornerback, the Packers would be left with Chandon Sullivan, Josh Jackson, and Ka’dar Hollman battling for the number three cornerback position. Sullivan played well last season and seems like the favorite. Jackson is a former second-round pick, of Gutekunst, and will be given opportunities, most likely because they invested a second-round pick in him. Hollman was drafted in the sixth round in 2019 and has good size for the position.
Just like with offensive tackle, it would be quite a gamble depending on those three options if Alexander or King were to go down. One of the free agents still available that would be a good free agent pickup is Trumaine Johnson. Johnson signed a big free-agent contract with the New York Jets prior to the 2018 season. Unfortunately for the Jets and Johnson, he underperformed. That led to him being released this past March.
Johnson has great size for the position, 6’2″. While he is limited to the boundary cornerback position, the Packers could still make it work. Alexander has the ability to shift to cover the slot receiver, which would permit defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to place Johnson at the spot opposite King.
Out of all the positions the Packers could benefit from signing a free agent at, cornerback seems to be at the top of that list.
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