As last season showed, the Green Bay Packers’ roster is not yet set in stone following the NFL Draft. After last year’s draft, general manager Brian Gutekunst turned his attention to outside help in players such as De’Vondre Campbell, Randall Cobb, Dennis Kelly, and Rasul Douglas. All of them turned out to be star contributors for the Packers during the season.
With this year’s draft now in the rear window, Packers fans should expect to see the same type of late roster additions made yet again. Let’s take a look at some potential free agents the Packers should consider targeting before training camp begins.
With rookie minicamp beginning this weekend in Green Bay, the Packers will get their first look at their newly drafted batch of wide receivers that includes Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure. However, even with the new additions, Green Bay shouldn’t shy away from looking at the current free-agent wide receivers on the market.
One of those options is Julio Jones. Yes, the same Julio Jones who broke the heart of all Packers fans with his 180-yard, two-touchdown performance during the 2017 NFC Championship Game.
After being released from the Tennessee Titans, Jones is currently the hottest name still quietly on the open market. Last season was far from a productive year for Jones after recording just 31 receptions, 434 yards, and one touchdown while dealing with a nagging hamstring injury all season.
The injury concern that comes with Jones will be something to consider, but there’s no secret he could become the best wideout on the roster once in Green Bay. With correct management, the Packers would be able to keep Jones fresh and ready to be unleashed come playoff time.
The Packers were able to add an edge rusher in the fifth round of the draft this past weekend in Kingsley Enagbare but they should still be interested in adding another horse to the stable.
Adding one more pass rusher to the fold will also give outside linebacker coach Jason Rebrovich his fourth legit player on the rotation and a veteran free agent at the position could go a long way towards making another playoff run. Bringing in a late free agent off the edge will also follow what the Packers attempted to do last season by signing Whitney Mercilus toward the midseason mark.
One veteran option the Packers could consider adding would be Justin Houston. However, the Packers are on a ticking clock to make a move for him. As ESPN’s Field Yates reported, the Baltimore Ravens have placed an unrestricted free agent tender on Houston giving the Ravens exclusive negotiating rights unless he’s signed by another team by July 22.
The 33-year-old recorded 34 tackles, 17 quarterback hits, and 4.5 sacks for the Ravens last season, proving he still has some juice left in the tank if the Packers wish to make a move.
Another option the Packers could pursue to round out their wide receiver room would be Jarvis Landry, who was released from the Cleveland Browns back in March.
Landry was expected to have plenty of potential suitors before the NFL Draft, but now that the dust has settled and following an early run on wide receivers, that number has surely dropped.
In his final season in Cleveland, Landry recorded 52 receptions for 570 yards and two touchdowns. It was far from an ideal season for not only the 29-year-old but also the Browns’ offense as a whole.
With the Packers, Landry could provide Aaron Rodgers with a reliable security blanket to target in the offense while helping move the chains or improvising when a play becomes busted. A deal to secure Landry would require a hefty contract given the current cap space but could be one worth making.
The Packers already added one veteran free agent to the wide receiver room in Sammy Watkins. Whether it’ll be Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, or someone else, it’s likely the Packers add one more guy at the position before the season begins.
Former Bills’ defensive end Jerry Hughes is another pass rusher Gutekunst should have his eyes on leading up to training camp. Similar to Landry, Hughes is starting to get some post-draft buzz on the open market, meaning Green Bay will have to make a move soon if they want to snag him.
This past season, Hughes posted his lowest sack total and snap count since arriving in Buffalo and should come at a discount for the Packers. While he’s no longer the double-digit sack type of player he once was anymore, Hughes could still be used as a veteran presence off the edge in a limited snap role.
Hughes more likely will fill the same duties in Green Bay left by Mercilus from last season by being used as a guy that can put pressure on the pocket at a consistent level when his number is called upon. It might not be the shiniest move, but it’ll be one that could make a massive impact for the Packers locker room and the defensive front.——————
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.