This was quite an offseason for the Green Bay Packers. After missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season, a number of changes needed to be made. Over the course of the last few months, General Manager Brian Gutekunst would overhaul the coaching staff and continue to transform this roster.
With the main free agency period completed and the draft now over, most NFL rosters are taking shape, including the Green Bay Packers. However, amongst all of there offseason additions, there are still a number of free agents on the market that could come in and make an impact in the upcoming season.
Even with four big free agent signings, the Packers still have just under $10 million in cap space available, and that includes the contracts of first-round picks Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage. So adding a veteran to the roster for a few million dollars should be on the table.
Gutekunst has done a fine job of making some much-needed additions through free agency and the draft and this roster is in much better shape than what it was in just two offseasons ago. With that said, there are still areas that could be addressed and these three free agent options could do the trick.
Michael Crabtree – WR
After letting Randall Cobb walk, many thought that the Green Bay Packers would spend an early round pick on the receiver position. Even with players like D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown available at pick 44, Green Bay went in a different direction.
Outside of Davante Adams, this wide receiver unit is unproven and we saw how their inexperience in 2018 negatively impacted the offense. Now, I’m expecting a big jump in 2019 from all three of the second year receivers as well as Geronimo Allison, but being the number two or three option is a big step.
And while it isn’t fun to think about, realistically we are a Davante Adams injury away from potentially being in a world of hurt if we don’t see the development that we expect from the other receivers.
This is where Michael Crabtree enters the equation, at 31 years old, he would provide this Green Bay Packers receiving core with experience and some stability at the position.
In 2018, Crabtree would haul in 54 receptions, totaling 607 yards, with three touchdowns in a very run-heavy Baltimore Ravens offense. He would also provide the Packers with a reliable option that they know will likely be available just about every Sunday. In four of the last five seasons, Crabtree has played in all 16 games and the one season he did not, he still appeared in 14 of them.
The goal of adding Crabtree isn’t to take away major snaps from the trio of young receivers, but rather to add depth and give him a specialized role, such as a red zone target, where he has had plenty of success in the past.
Morris Claiborne – CB
Outside of Tramon Williams, this is a very young cornerback room in Green Bay, where Kevin King in year three is the next most experienced player at the position.
On paper, I really do love this unit that Gutekunst has put together but development is still needed and I do have injury concerns.
Last year, Josh Jackson led the team in penalties with eight as he could get grabby at times when he was beaten in coverage and while Tony Brown was a nice surprise, he did tend to give up the big play.
As far as health goes, King has played in just 15 total games over his first two seasons, and Jaire Alexander missed three games last year but we can’t forget that he played in only six games during his final season at Louisville. Hopefully, that is more of a coincidence than a trend developing.
Given these concerns, adding another veteran to the mix may not be a bad idea. Claiborne was a late bloomer in his career after he struggled early on with Dallas. However, over the last two years with the New York Jets, he put together some solid seasons.
Claiborne has played in 15 games each of the last two seasons and has totaled 22 pass deflections, three interceptions, and 100 tackles.
Over the years we have seen this Green Bay Packers secondary be decimated with injuries, so adding a veteran for depth as well as an option when the younger players are struggling should be on Gutekunst’s radar.
Jamie Collins – LB
At this point we know what we have in the reliable Blake Martinez, but after him, there are some unknowns.
Oren Burks suffered an injury early on that limited his playing time and when he did see the field he struggled with coverage assignments. Then last year’s rookie James Crawford was a star on special teams, but likely isn’t ready to be an option defensively at this point, and the same holds true for 2019 seventh-round pick Ty Summers.
Although with the additions of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage to the safety position we will likely see more Josh Jones as a box defender, bringing in a free agent off-ball linebacker is something to consider.
Enter Jamie Collins who was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2015 before cashing in with the Cleveland Browns where he has spent the last two full seasons.
In 2018, Collins would play in all 16 games and record one interception, four pass deflections, four sacks, and 104 total tackles. At 30 years old, he still has the athletic ability to be a solid off-ball linebacker in this league and to be an immediate contributor on this Packers defense.
Given the room that Green Bay still has in cap space, signing one of these veterans to a cheap, one year prove it deal could be a low risk, high reward situation for them. From the moves they have already made, it is clear that the Packers are in win-now mode as they should be and adding one of these players would help that cause.