The Green Bay Packers have already made important decisions in free agency. Green Bay re-signed edge rusher Preston Smith, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and cornerback Rasul Douglas while letting go Lucas Patrick, Corey Bojorquez and Za’Darius Smith.
But the team still has several other players who are now free agents who they could consider bringing back despite their limited cap space.
Here is an analysis of the Packers remaining unrestricted free agents and what the Packers may and should do regarding each of them and what their chances are of remaining in Green Bay in 2022:
CB Chandon Sullivan
Sullivan served as the Packers slot corner for the past two seasons after being the dime back in 2019. The former Georgia State star intercepted three passes for the Packers last season and broke up four passes while making 31 total tackles.
Sullivan would be a worthwhile player to bring back if the Packers don’t have to overpay. He knows the system and his teammates and has been a reliable depth piece for the Packers over the last three seasons.
GM Brian Gutekunst is likely going to give Sullivan a chance to see what the market has to offer and if he doesn’t get a deal with a hefty raise elsewhere, the Packers could offer Sullivan a reasonably-priced deal to return.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
The Packers have an interesting dilemma with Valdes-Scantling. Green Bay lacks a number one receiver after the departure of Davante Adams. MVS is not a number one receiver. Because of his lack of consistency, he is best suited to be a number three or possibly a number two if he gets things together a bit more.
Last season, Valdes-Scantling caught 26 passes in 11 games for 430 yards and three touchdowns. In 2020, he led the league (among qualified receivers) with a 20.9-yard average. His catch percentage, according to pro-football-reference.com, was 47.3 percent in 2021 and 49.8 percent for his career. He can stretch the field with his speed but is not consistent underneath and over the middle.
Some estimates of the cost of signing MVS have been $9-10 million. That would be far too expensive for the Packers who still must either draft, trade for or sign a new number one receiver and have limited cap space.
Valdes-Scantling will be free to explore the market. The Packers could use MVS back but cannot come close to signing him for the high price mentioned by spotrac.com and other sites.
It remains possible that Valdes-Scantling can return to the Packers but only if he can’t find a better deal elsewhere.
OLB Whitney Mercilus
The Packers signed Mercilus midseason after Za’Darius Smith was placed on the IR with a back injury. He played four games for the Packers and did well as a situational pass rusher, recording one sack and several pressures.
Mercilus was injured midseason but surprised a lot of people by returning for the playoff game against San Francisco.
The former Illinois star will be 32 in July but still could have some value as a situational pass rusher. The Packers need depth on the edge and Mercilus has a good attitude and could be a reasonably-priced addition if he’s willing to play at or near the veteran minimum.
DL Tyler Lancaster
The odds of Lancaster returning went down on Tuesday when the Packers signed veteran DL Jarran Reed.
Lancaster is a replacement level, all-effort type player who helps a bit against the run but provides precious little pressure against opposing quarterbacks. Lancaster had no sacks in 2020 and none in 2021.
He is unlikely to be back as the Packers will likely spend some day three picks to add depth to their defensive line at a lower price.
OT Dennis Kelly
The Packers signed Kelly last year to be the team’s swing tackle to replace Rick Wagner. Kelly played 10 games for the Packers last season and started four when Billy Turner was injured.
The Packers could use some veteran depth at tackle considering the injuries that hit the team at that position last year and the departure of Turner.
Kelly could return if he’s willing to play on a reasonable contract although the Packers could look elsewhere for a veteran swing man if Kelly asks for too much.
CB Kevin King
King is doubtful to be back now that Rasul Douglas re-signed. The Packers surprised a lot of people last year by bringing back King as an insurance policy, but the emergence of Eric Stokes, the surprisingly good play of Douglas and the return to health of Jaire Alexander doesn’t leave a lot of room for King.
The former second-round pick out of Washington is still capable of playing well in spurts and has good size at 6’3” and 200 but he’s inconsistent and more importantly, struggles to stay in the lineup. King missed seven games last year and five the season before.
His chances of returning to Green Bay next year are very slim.
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