The Packers have been busy during the legal tampering period that started Monday. First news dropped that Preston Smith had a new contract extension, which keeps the talented pass rusher a Packer the next 5 seasons. Next were the unfortunate, but necessary cost cutting release of both Za’darius Smith and Billy Turner. Later that afternoon, news broke that all pro linebacker De’vondre Campbell signed a new contract worth $50 million over five years. Finally, the biggest news broke Tuesday morning: Aaron Rodger’s new contract, making him the highest paid player in the NFL. Now the Packers must get playmakers to build up their potent offense in 2022.
With Rodgers back in the fold, the next logical question is who will be catching his passes. Beyond the need for Green Bay to figure out a long-term extension for Davante Adams, there are more questions than answers when it comes to the overall receiver room. One small piece of the puzzle was put into place Tuesday when restricted free agent Allen Lazard reportedly received a 2nd round tender, meaning he’s most likely back in 2022. However, Marquez Valdez-Scantling looks to have a market far out of reach for Green Bay.
Good options in the free agency market are Demarcus Robinson or Ray-Ray McCloud. Both have the skillsets that mold well into the offense and could contribute immediately in a variety of ways. They add additional layers to the offense and have speed that the Packers need to add. Additionally, they would also immediately upgrade the special teams as returners, which is in the process of a complete rebuild.
Additionally, rumors are abound that Jacksonville has put former second round pick Laviska Shenault Jr. on the trade block. Just two years ago, they thought enough of him to make him the 42nd overall pick in the draft. While he has failed expectations thus far, it’s easy to argue that he has been a part of a dysfunctional franchise. He is a perfect fit for everything that Matt LaFleur wants to do on offense, so the Packers should definitely do their due diligence.
Beyond wide receiver, Green Bay has a lot of work to do in the tight end room. Even if they bring back Robert Tonyan, it’s unlikely that he will be ready mid-season. Combined with the fact that most rookie tight ends have a tough transition to the pros, and the lack of overall depth on the roster means that the position is prime for additions.
One player that has popped up in the rumors is Rob Gronkowski. However, with the return of Tom Brady from retirement, it seems unlikely that he doesn’t sign anywhere besides Tampa Bay. If he does decide to go elsewhere, he would be clearly be a fantastic fit. Another former Buccaneer would be a great target: O.J. Howard. He has the size and speed combination that would stretch defenses and is a willing blocker. However, he hasn’t shown the ability to take over games like he did at Alabama in college, but he has also been buried behind two excellent players in Tampa. He’s a player who could emerge as the bargain of this offseason.
While the draft will be another place where the Packers can acquire playmakers, often rookies need time. The Packers are in a position to make a championship run now and will not be able to rely on quick contributions from young players. The combination of rookies and veteran acquisitions is the best way for Green Bay to build a lethal offense for the upcoming season.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.