There has been a lot of buzz about a Khalil Mack trade to the Green Bay Packers over the past week, but there are other moves the Packers could consider if the asking price proves to be too high or if the Raiders aren’t willing to make a trade. The potential for an All-Pro and former Defensive Player of the Year joining the green and gold caused an explosion on Twitter, but is that a realistic move for a team that needs to pay their franchise quarterback?
In short, Mack could make sense for the Packers. The foundation of the trade would be getting a long-term deal done with Mack. Reports have emerged Aaron Donald is nearing an extension worth an average of $24 million per year, and Khalil Mack would not settle for anything less than that figure. Green Bay can absolutely afford that number, especially with all the money coming off the books at the end of the season, but they would be dedicating a huge percentage of their cap to one offensive and one defensive player. That would likely prevent the Packers from re-signing some of their own free agents short-term, such as Muhammad Wilkerson, Randall Cobb, or Bryan Bulaga, and a player or two long-term, like Kenny Clark.
It would also be more difficult to replace those players because of the draft compensation they would have to give up. The Raiders are likely to start by asking for both 1st round picks in 2019. This certainly represents tremendous value for Green Bay: they’d essentially turn their 2018 and 2019 first round picks into Jaire Alexander and Khalil Mack. However, the Packers would have a thinner roster and have less cheap young talent coming in to replace them.
In short, Mack is a generational pass rusher who would make every single player on the Packers defense better. Therefore, despite the considerable risk, he would be worth the price of the trade. However, there are five other potential trades that could help the Packers if the Raiders aren’t willing to deal Mack.
S – Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Thomas is another elite defensive player who is holding out. He’ll want to get paid as the top safety in the NFL, and he is aging, but many safeties have shown an ability to play well into their 30s. He comes with less draft pick demand than Mack (a 1st or 2nd should get it done), and would fill in a major need for Green Bay on the backend of their defense.
EDGE – Dante Fowler Jr, Jaguars
Fowler is the former third overall pick in the draft. He’s largely disappointed after losing his rookie year to injury, and he’s coming into a week long suspension for fighting with his teammate. He’s still an incredibly explosive athlete who can get to the quarterback (he had 8 sacks in 2017). The Jaguars would probably only ask for a 5th round pick, and he’d be playing this season for his next contract. However, he comes with the potential to cause locker room problems. Would he be worth it to help improve a pretty bland pass rush?
S – Eric Reid, Free Agent
Reid is a player who should be on a NFL roster. Think what you want about the anthem protests, but Reid would be a starting safety on the majority of teams in the NFL. He’d provide the Packers depth on the back end, but is also the ideal nickel and dime hybrid linebacker.
DB – Jimmie Ward, 49ers
Ward is a swiss army knife defender who can be used as a slot corner, free safety, and even on the outside. He’s got a huge price tag for 2018, but that means the Packers wouldn’t have to give up much to get him (perhaps a conditional 6th or 7th rounder). He could fill in the role Micah Hyde had playing all over the field.
OL – Chaz Green, Cowboys
Green has played both tackle and guard and after the moves the Cowboys made this offseason would be expendable. He did struggle in 2017, but if Byron Bell can’t demonstrate anything on Thursday, the Packers may need to address their depth on the o-line. Green could be had for a conditional 7th round pick, and the former 3rd rounder has the athletic makeup to be worth a very minimal gamble for the remainder of camp.
Brian Gutekunst has set himself up with the resources to make an acquisition of two to improve the roster. The Packers are more likely to see how the roster shakes out and look at cuts in a few weeks then to make a splashy trade, but it does seem that “Gute” is more likely to be aggressive in all areas of player acquisition.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig