Because of the Packers salary cap limitations and place in the standings, the period before free agency officially started involved more players being released or restructuring deals to free up badly needed cap space. The team was able to keep Aaron Rodgers and sign De’Vondre Campbell to a new deal, but it lost several starters from last season including Billy Turner, Lucas Patrick and former Pro Bowl linebacker Za’Darius Smith.
Now, with the legal tampering period over and the time to sign free agents in full swing, here is a look at the Packers biggest areas of need. While the Packers will likely be looking more towards the second or third wave of free agency rather than the first, here are the areas the team needs to fill between now and the start of training camp whether it’s via free agency, a trade or the draft.
The teams needs are mostly depth-related as there are talented starters throughout the Packers lineup on both sides of the ball. Needs are based on where the team is now and can obviously change with the signing of one or more players.
- Tight End
There is uncertainty at the tight end position for the Packers. Last year’s starter, Robert Tonyan, missed the second half of the season with a knee injury and is an unrestricted free agent. If Tonyan returns and is healthy enough to start the season, this group is fine and tight end becomes a lower priority.
Will Marcedes Lewis be back for another year at the age of 38? Will Josiah Deguara take another step forward? How much can the Packers get from Dominique Dafney and Tyler Davis on offense?
Even if Tonyan returns on a one-year, prove-it deal, the Packers may look to draft his successor. The Pack has already spent two third-round picks on tight ends in the last three years but may do so again this year depending on who is back and who leaves town.
The Packers have their two starters set in Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes but you need more than two good corners in the NFL so the Packers need to add some depth. Will the Pack be able to re-sign Rasul Douglas? Will Chandon Sullivan be back as the slot corner/dime back? How much can the Pack expect from Shemar Jean-Charles on defense after he played almost exclusively on special teams as a rookie? It’s highly unlikely Kevin King will return to Green Bay so the Pack could look to add an experienced backup.
Cornerback is a high-priority position for the Packers and most teams in the league and there is little doubt GM Brian Gutekunst will address it during the offseason.
- Edge Rusher
The Packers were able to sign Preston Smith to a new contract to keep him in Green Bay but they released Za’Darius Smith who quickly signed with the Baltimore Ravens. That leaves Preston Smith and Rashan Gary as the only two experience and reliable edge rushers on the roster right now.
Could the Packers re-sign Whitney Mercilus on an inexpensive one-year deal? Perhaps. But even if they do, more reinforcements are needed at this position. The Packers will almost certainly use a high draft pick at this position and may look for a bargain free agent to give them some veteran leadership at edge while players like Jonathan Garvin and Tipa Galeai continue their development.
Like cornerback, edge rusher is considered a premium position by the Packers and they will not ignore it this offseason.
- Wide Receiver
This position moves up to number one if the Packers are unable to sign Davante Adams to a new deal. Adams has told the Packers he will not play on the franchise tag so the team has until July 15th to sign him to an extension or trade him.
The Packers also offered a second-round tender to Allen Lazard which means he is likely to return and Randall Cobb took a pay cut to stay with the team and cleared up cap space.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling is likely going to get more money to sign elsewhere so the Packers will have to add a speed receiver either in the draft or via free agency.
Julio Jones was released by the Titans but it is unlikely the Packers would spend enough money to sign Jones or any other highly-priced receiver.
Still, the team needs depth at receiver and to add a player who can stretch the field deep. If Adams is traded, the Packers may get a starting caliber wide receiver back as part of the deal, but that remains to be seen.
- Offensive Line
The Packers lost two players who started a combined 26 games last season in Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick. They are also relying on David Bakhtiari to start at left tackle after he missed nearly all of 2021 because of a knee injury and the Packers know it is unlikely Elgton Jenkins will be ready to start the 2022 season on time because of the knee injury he suffered in November.
Injuries hit the Packers offensive line hard last season with center Josh Myers missing significant time in addition to Jenkins and Bakhtiari and Turner missing four games late in the season as well.
The Packers will likely start training camp with a first string line of Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan Jr., Myers, Royce Newman and Yosh Nijman. Depth is thin with veteran Dennis Kelly also now an unrestricted free agent.
The Packers may add another experienced swing tackle like they did with Kelly in 2021 and Rick Wagner in 2020. They will also almost certainly address both the tackle and interior offensive line positions in the draft.
These are the Packers areas of biggest need as of right now although obviously they can change at any time. The interesting offseason continues for a Packers team that is trying to remain contenders while the Aaron Rodgers window remains open.
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