The Packers are in a terrible salary cap situation. After the inevitable Aaron Rodgers trade, they’ll have just $9 million to sign draft picks and maneuver during the season. They can extend Rashan Gary to open up a little more cap space, but there are very few moves left after that. Unfortunately, the team has less depth at positions like wide receiver, safety, tight end, and interior defensive line than it’s had in years and needs to use free agency to bolster those positions. Let’s go over which extremely cheap veteran free agents could be options for the Packers.
Gutekunst and LaFleur have mentioned their desire to sign a veteran receiver to bolster the room, but the cupboard has been picked pretty bare at this point. The team could shoot for the stars with 34-year-old Julio Jones, guarantee more yelling in team meetings with Jarvis Landry, or bring in savvy veteran slot receiver Rashard Higgins. After them, it’s choose your flavor of JAG.
The tight end room is even more worrisome than the receiver room. Tyler Davis is the number one true tight end and Josiah Deguara, used more as a full back, is the only other tight end on the roster. The options here are a little better. Adam Shaheen, Maxx Williams, and Jesse James have all underperformed their draft spots, but would bring a strong veteran presence to the room. And don’t forget, the big dog is still available.
Adrian Amos brought pro-bowl level play to the team for a few years but that means he’s almost certainly priced out of any future with the team. A good young replacement might be John Johnson or Nasir Adderley and an older veteran option could be LaMarcus Joyner. Each of these players would improve the team’s defense, but they’ll also probably cost too much after the draft when other safety needy teams miss out on the one or two top-60-pick worthy safeties in the draft are gone before they pick.
The interior d-line market is full of options: Shelby Harris, Matt Ioannidis, A’Shawn Robinson, Michael Brockers, Akiem Hicks, Al Woods, Poona Ford, Chris Wormley, Linval Joseph, and Justin Ellis would all bolster the room. Don’t be surprised if Green Bay actually does end up signing one or two of these guys on a minimum deal.
I expect at least a few veteran signings to bridge the gap following the draft, but I think we’re in for the youngest Packers roster in a while. Some Packers experts have suggested trading the team’s high priced vets and I won’t go that far, but I think a lot more young players than normal will get significant playing time and a lot of guys who joined the team in the last two years need to step up.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.
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