The Green Bay Packers have a challenging offseason upcoming with several key players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents and precious little cap room to re-sign them.
As the offseason gets under way, here’s a look at the areas the Packers need to address most before the start of the 2021 campaign. Keep in mind these areas can change if unexpected arrivals or departures take place. The Packers can address these positions via trades, free agent signings or re-signing potential free agents.
Here are the Packers biggest areas of need heading into this offseason:
- Defensive Line
The Packers have one Pro Bowl caliber defensive lineman in Kenny Clark but after that, they need reinforcements here. Kingsley Keke showed promise when he was healthy but still needs to get more consistent. Tyler Lancaster and Dean Lowry are run stuffers who provide minimal pass rush ability.
The Packers need to add some depth and preferably another defensive lineman who can get some pressure on the passer and penetration on running plays.
Traditionally, this position has not been a high priority for the Packers although that may change depending on who replaces defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. His successor could have a different priority and may also require a different skill set from the team’s defensive linemen.
More depth and talent is needed at this position.
- Wide Receiver
We know Davante Adams is the team’s top receiver and he’s one of the best in the league today. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a proven deep threat who needs to be more consistent at catching the football. Allen Lazard is a great run blocker and a steady pass catcher in the middle of the field. He is an exclusive rights free agent and should be back. Equanimeous St. Brown dropped too many passes and struggled to overcome injuries. He will be in camp next year but needs to take a step forward if he hopes to show he can be a steady contributor in the NFL.
The Packers still need to upgrade this position, although they had the number one scoring offense with the current crew. A more consistent and dangerous receiver to start opposite Adams would make this offense even more lethal.
- Running Back
So much of this depends on what happens in free agency. Both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are unrestricted free agents. There is little chance both are back given the Packers salary cap restraints and their salary demands. It is likely the Packers will try to bring back one of them if they can.
That leaves A.J. Dillon as the only experienced running back returning to the roster. The league is not placing a high value on this position these days so the Packers will probably try to add a running back in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.
- Offensive Line
This unit did a great job of overcoming injuries and the versatility of the line was a big reason for this unit’s success. But the Packers need to fortify this area especially if Corey Linsley leaves in free agency.
All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari’s status for the start of the 2021 season is uncertain as he recovers from a torn ACL. Elgton Jenkins can play anywhere along the offensive line and may have to move from left guard depending on Linsley’s potential departure and Bakhtiari’s health. Lucas Patrick may also move to center or stay at right guard. Billy Turner was a valuable contributor and played both tackle and guard for the Pack. Rick Wagner filled in admirably and will probably be back to compete at right tackle. Lane Taylor could be back in the mix at guard if the Packers opt to re-sign him.
The Packers drafted three players in the final two rounds of the 2020 draft but only Jon Runyan Jr. saw playing time and he did well when called upon. Whether Jake Hanson is ready to take over at center or the Pack can get quality contributions from Runyan or Simon Stepaniak remains to be seen.
If the Packers lose a starter or two from this unit, reinforcements are needed. The franchise has done an excellent job of finding gems in the middle to late rounds of the draft and may look to do that again this year depending on need.
The Packers have Pro Bowl corner Jaire Alexander as one starter and he is now a bona fide shutdown corner.
The other starter was Kevin King who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and is unlikely to return. King is big and has a long reach but he’s too inconsistent and too often injured for the Packers to give him a lucrative new deal to stay in Green Bay.
Chandon Sullivan will likely be back as the nickel or dime corner. He struggled at times in his new responsibility as slot corner but has the talent and work ethic to grow into the position.
The Packers don’t seem to have any trust in Josh Jackson who took only three defensive snaps in the final six regular season games and wasn’t active for either postseason contest.
Ka’Dar Hollman will get a chance to show what he can do in training camp but the Packers still need to replace the loss of one of their two starters and it is unlikely that player is on the current roster right now.
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