Signing big-name players during free agency is a lot like ordering Taco Bell at 1 am. It might look great, it might be easy to talk yourself into it, but there is a very real chance you’ll regret it down the road. But sometimes that player, or that chili cheese burrito, can be exactly what is needed.
As free agency starts this week, a balance between caution and optimism is paramount. The Green Bay Packers have plenty of roster needs, and Brian Gutekunst has promised to be in every conversation of player acquisition. Ultimately, Green Bay will need to take a few calculated risks to bring this team back into the postseason. There is an abundance of big name players at positions of need, including Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, Trey Flowers, and Rodger Saffold.
While the Packers shouldn’t throw money at big name players and hope something sticks, there are plenty of smart options they can make to acquire impact players. Here is this couch GM’s wish list of free agent targets.
LB, Minnesota Vikings
This option would leave many Packers fans unhappy, but the upside can’t be ignored. At worst, Green Bay would get a Pro Bowl linebacker and take a star player from a division rival. But, ideally, Barr gets more opportunities to rush the passer in Green Bay, something he’s wanted to do more of since his UCLA days. Smarter analysts than I have made the case that because the Vikings haven’t used Barr as a primary pass rusher, his market will be less expensive than names like Trey Flowers and Dante Fowler.
The Green Bay Packers need help at edge rusher and singing Barr would be a cost-effective gamble to address that need. And again, at worst Barr would still be a massive upgrade at inside linebacker and Mike Pettine would absolutely find ways to maximize his impact.
FS, Seattle Seahawks
This is such an easy take its almost low effort, but it doesn’t matter. Adding Earl Thomas to the Green Bay Packers would add a truly elite player at a position of need. He is the best player in the NFL at his position. Signing Thomas would have a splash on the entire defense and make life easier for everyone involved. Despite getting older, he looked stellar before his season-ending injury last year.
The only questions for Thomas are his price and his health. While the free agent safety market is loaded, Earl Thomas is the best of the bunch. He won’t be cheap, but for the right price the Packers can make it work. I’ve cautioned against throwing money at players, but, in this case, the price may be right. Thomas also has had concerning injuries the last few seasons, landing on IR in 2016 and 2018. However, Thomas is so incredibly impactful on the field its hard not gamble on the upside.
G, Tennesse Titans
Matt LaFleur is adjusting the offensive line to his zone scheme and has a deficit at right guard. What better way to get a player used to his scheme than to bring in someone he coached last year? Spain is just 27, familiar with LaFleur, and isn’t Byron Bell. He isn’t an elite name, but he is a solid player that could come in at a reasonable price and start immediately for Green Bay.
TE, Baltimore Ravens
Compared to the other moves suggested, this signing would be a whisper. Williams isn’t a big name and wouldn’t start for the Packers. But with Matt LaFleur the Packers will need good blocking from their tight ends, and Williams would be an important depth piece. PFF’s 7th highest run blocking tight end can give Green Bay help in the play-action game and compliment Jimmy Graham, Robert Tonyan, and T. J. Hockenson/Noah Fant (Gutenkunst willing).
Note: the legal tampering period made a fool out of me this year. The Packers had a busy Tuesday morning. I still hope you’ll enjoy my thought process and (wrong) guesses.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.