In an unexpected turn of events, the Green Bay Packers fell one full game and one complete fourth quarter from making it to the Super Bowl in Jordan Love’s first year as the starter. The 2023-24 season was just another sign that the Packers are never out of it, and their upcoming offseason will reflect that.
Armed with a new defensive coaching staff, another shot at a franchise quarterback, and some financial wiggle room, this Packers team seems to be a few moves away from permanently putting themselves back into the Super Bowl conversation.
The development of Jordan Love and Matt LaFleur have done wonders for the spirit of this team, helping keep this incredibly young roster focused on the prize that most outsiders thought they had no chance of even sniffing. With an eye towards keeping their competitive window open while trying to open it even more, here are a few storylines to follow this offseason.
Jordan Love’s contract extension
There will be a new contract extension handed to Love this offseason, with all signs pointing to Love joining the ranks of the highly-paid signal callers in the league. While expecting him to get the type of deal that the likes of Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, and Jalen Hurts have recently received isn’t realistic, it is entirely possible Love joins the second tier of QBs with this contract, which would be a huge investment by Green Bay.
Fresh off a dominant first season at the helm, Love proved the Packers front office right yet again in their draft and development strategy. Having endured a bit of a rough stretch to start the season, Love was able to flip a switch halfway through the season and put up incredible numbers that rivaled the best QBs in the NFL.
With cap guru Russ Ball already likely knee-deep in unique contract structuring, Love’s deal probably won’t be standard, which will help Green Bay in the long run. Still reeling somewhat from their ‘kicking the can’ mantra dating back to the Aaron Rodgers days, this team certainly can afford a new deal for Love, but it likely will be more back-loaded and with less up-front guaranteed money.
Expect a four-year deal that comes in around $30-35M AAV, with performance-based incentives raising the total high-water mark for this deal to be in the ballpark of $150M. Could that be a lot of money for a QB that has only had one year to prove himself – absolutely. But with how he ended this past season, this deal could be cheap.
Retooling the defense
With Joe Barry out and Jeff Hafley in, the Green Bay defense will take on a much different look moving forward. With Hafley’s history involving aggressive press man coverage from his cornerbacks, multiple fronts/schemes, and a safety that can be trusted to be on his own, the current defensive personnel will need to change.
The front seven is probably the safest group of the bunch, as there are plenty of strong pass rushers already in the fold. The potential to have both Rashan Gary and Lukas Van Ness get back to putting their hands in the dirt should excite fans, especially since they were the most dominant dating back to their college days when they were able to do this.
Moving on from De’Vondre Campbell may be in the cards this offseason, as he gravely regressed from his All-Pro selection just a few seasons back. Quay Walker and Isaiah McDuffie looked like a solid 1-2 punch this season, but adding a mid-round LB could be the way Hafley chooses to round out this group.
The defensive secondary will likely see the most changes, especially at safety. The cornerback depth was severely tested yet again this season, as injuries took any depth that this group had and threw it out the window.
With Jaire Alexander back in the fold, pairing him with upstart youngster Carrington Valentine likely will be the top 1-2 pairing for this CB, with Eric Stokes and his checkered injury past limiting where you can pencil him in. it wouldn’t be surprising to see Green Bay draft another one or two corners in April.
At safety, it is a mess, to put it lightly. Darnell Savage is a free agent again and could benefit from a new scheme in Green Bay, but it isn’t a guarantee that he returns. Rudy Ford, Jonathan Owens, and Anthony Johnson Jr. all are good depth pieces, but the Week 1 starting lineup should not see any of these three options starting.
There are endless possibilities for the Packers to go in the 2024 NFL Draft, especially with how much Brian Gutekunst loves to move around the board. Armed with 11 picks, the Packers likely will come out of the draft with a double-digit amount of rookies to add to their already-young roster.
Defense has been the theme early and often for this team in the draft, and there are plenty of directions that the Packers can go that would continue that trend. Safety and cornerback would be the likeliest positions for Green Bay to target in the first round at 25th overall, with the likes of Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama), Nate Wiggins (Clemson), Cooper DeJean (Iowa), and Kamren Kinchens (Miami) all potential targets.
Offensively, how will the current wide receiver depth chart look after the draft? Having hit home runs on both Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks last season, having paired those two options with incumbents Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs leaves little work left for another pick. But Gutekunst understands value and drafts options even when they aren’t pressing needs, so if there is an offensive playmaker that falls, we could easily see Green Bay add another option after the first round.
Both the offensive and defensive line units are pretty strong, but you know there will be additions made to each group. It is a rare occurrence for any draft for Green Bay to not leave with two-plus lineman, regardless of which side of the ball.
Could more draft capital be invested into the special teams room? Rookie kicker Anders Carlson is on thin ice, especially after his missed kick against San Francisco contributed to Green Bay’s playoff loss. Having already added a kicker this offseason for competition, it seems that Carlson could be the first missed chance at replacing Mason Crosby.
While adding another rookie kicker may not sit well with the fan base, if Gutekunst doesn’t like the crop of free agents at this position, he could decide to bring in another Day 3 pick to compete with Carlson and Jack Podlesny, although there may not be a winning situation here if that is the path taken.
This offseason will be a fun one to follow for Green Bay, and it looks like they will do everything they can to make sure that this unexpected window of competition stays open as long as it possibly can.