Interesting free agent fits and possibilities left for Packers

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Zach Kruse
·5 min read
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The Green Bay Packers continue to be quiet in free agency. The team signed competition at long snapper, and several in-house free agents are back, but general manager Brian Gutekunst hasn’t added a free agent from another team so far.

Some bargains might start to be available as the second wave of free agency begins.

Here are some interesting free agent fits and possibilities still left for the Packers:

LB K.J. Wright

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The Packers might like second-year linebackers Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes, but neither player should prevent Green Bay from adding to the position, especially if a quality veteran like Wright eventually makes sense financially. He might turn 32 in July, but he's been a consistent and dependable player with three-down abilities in the middle of the Seahawks defense for years, and he could help take some pressure off the young guys at linebacker in Green Bay in 2021. Going from Christian Kirksey to Wright would be a substantial upgrade for new defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who has a long history of coaching the inside linebacker position.

S Xavier Woods

Woods struggled within the Cowboys' disastrous defense in 2020, but last year's issues could make the young safety a bargain for the Packers. He was a solid player during his first three NFL seasons. The Packers defense doesn't necessarily need a safety, but entertain this idea: Sign Woods, let him take over Will Redmond's role as the backup deep safety, and allow Darnell Savage to play more of the "star" role in the nickel. Savage impressed covering the slot over limited snaps in 2020. Could he be even better with more opportunities in the nickel? Or should the Packers leave him be? Savage could be a true chess piece for Joe Barry, especially if Woods provides a reliable No. 3 safety.

C/G Austin Blythe

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The Packers have been poking around the interior offensive line market, likely in response to losing All-Pro center Corey Linsley. The team has internal replacement options, such as Lucas Patrick, but signing a veteran like Blythe could provide another starting possibility at center or guard and keep the depth on the inside of the offensive line. Blythe has started 47 out of a possible 48 games for the Rams offense over the last three seasons. Having him around could be especially important as the Packers attempt to put the puzzle pieces together early next season while David Bakhtiari recovers from an ACL injury.

WR Sammy Watkins

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This possibility assumes Watkins doesn't find a strong market and is willing to settle for a cheap, one-year deal. The Packers were interested in Watkins during free agency in 2018, and he worked with Matt LaFleur for one year in Los Angeles in 2017. That combination of team interest and experience with a coach can be important for finding free-agent fits. Watkins has a lengthy injury history, so the availability risk factor could be a deal-breaker for the Packers. But when healthy, he's an explosive player who can win vertically. You want more weapons for Aaron Rodgers? Watkins can be one.

OT Dennis Kelly

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The Packers found an important piece of the offensive line puzzle when they signed veteran Rick Wagner last March. Could Kelly be Wagner 2.0? He has played a lot of snaps at right tackle and has a history of strong play as a pass-blocker. He also played nearly 400 snaps as a swing tackle for Matt LaFleur's Titans offense in 2018. At the right price, he could help replace Wagner to start 2021 and give the Packers a quality swing tackle candidate once David Bakhtiari is healed.

DL Damon Harrison

Green Bay Packers Damon Harrison (98) looks to get a call against the Chicago Berars during their football game Sunday, January 3, 2021, at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

This would obviously be a re-signing instead of an outside addition. But Harrison played some quality snaps as an interior defender for the Packers to end last season, and he could be the run-stuffing lineman the Packers still need to help Kenny Clark in 2021. Give him a full offseason in Green Bay and a well-defined role and he could be a quality role player for Joe Barry. Throw in the right draft pick, and more development from Kingsley Keke, and the Packers defensive line could take a step forward this year.

G Lane Taylor

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Another re-signing. While Taylor has suffered season-ending injuries during each of the last two years, he's a long-time starter at guard and could provide an interesting possibility for constructing the offensive line. Remember, Taylor won the right guard job to start 2020. If he could do it again, the Packers could move Lucas Patrick to center, a position he looks best suited to play long-term. The offensive line wouldn't lose any experience while also keeping some continuity despite losing Corey Linsley. And bringing back Taylor would provide opportunities for Elgton Jenkins to potentially play offensive tackle, especially if Jon Runyan Jr. is ready for a bigger role in 2021.

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