The draft, and all related drama, has come and gone. That means it’s time to get excited about free agents who the team will never sign for the next ten months. Who are the best Packer free agent prospects? Let’s go over a few while also ranking which positions need a signing the most.
Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage both have pro-bowl level play potential, but the roster is a pretty big black hole after them. Draft pick Tariq Carpenter will play linebacker, so the team has officially not added a single new player to this room during the offseason.
Quay Walker, and his potential to allow the team to replace many of last years dime packages with nickel, reduces the need for a good third safety by a bit, but it’s still the position with the worst depth on the roster.
A veteran like Jaquiski Tartt or Tashaun Gipson could bring a good presence to the locker room and fill in if Walker or one of the safeties gets hurt.
You could easily argue that tight end is a more important need. Tonyan could start the year on the PUP. Marcedes Lewis is 75 years old and wasn’t a plus pass catcher when he was young. Deguara is an h-back. Dafney and Tyler Davis are both unproven.
Bringing in a veteran to play tight end gives Rodgers another option on third down and may help boost the run game. Someone like Kyle Rudolph, Eric Ebron, or even a Jared Cook reunion could improve the team with a cheap deal.
Gutey has done a pretty good job already at beefing up the d-line, both on the inside and on the edge. The fifth round Enagbare pick is widely heralded as one of the best values in the draft. And two rookies and veteran Jarran Reed were added to the interior.
I still think one more vet is needed. Drafting Jonathan Ford may signal that the team wants to move Kenny Clark around a little more. I doubt Ford will be a suitable backup nose for TJ Slaton (assuming Slaton makes the sophomore year jump) so Eddie Goldman or Danny Shelton could be a cheap rotational piece.
On the edge, it’s fine to hope that Randy Ramsey can make an impact coming off an injury that cost him a full season, but it’s not great planning. Melvin Ingram, Anthony Barr, and Jerry Hughes are all still on the market, possibly waiting for a chance to chase a super bowl.
I deliberately saved wide receiver for last. I don’t think it’s much of a need. As @JuMosq is fond of saying on Twitter, James Jones in a hoodie led the league in touchdowns with Aaron Rodgers as his QB.
Rodgers will improve whoever is playing wide receiver and LaFleur finally has his basketball team. Sammy Watkins is the deep crosser runner. Allen Lazard is the proto tight end run blocking receiver. Randall Cobb is the possession slot receiver. Christian Watkins is the downfield threat and the jet sweep guy. Romeo Doubs, Amari Rodgers, and Samori Touri all have the potential to develop into one or more of those slots as well.
Additionally, each of those pieces has some level of interchangeability. Watkins can be the downfield threat or jet sweep guy. Lazard can be useful downfield off play action. Cobb can motion inside to block on duo. According to some members of Packers twitter, Watson can feed thousands with a few fish and a loaf of bread.
All of that said, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Packers signed Julio Jones or Odell Beckham. I would be surprised, and I think it’s far more likely that they go into the season with the current squad and try to trade for someone if it falls flat.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.