Packers need veteran free agent additions at a few positions
Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has often addressed a position of need by signing a veteran in free agency and then also adding to that position group somewhat early on in the draft. Wide receiver, tight end, and safety are three positions entering the 2023 offseason where that veteran-rookie approach makes sense.
A few past examples of this include in 2018, when Gutekunst signed Tramon Williams and Davon House to then draft Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. In 2019, Green Bay added edge rushers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, Billy Turner, and Adrian Amos. Then a month later, in the draft, the Packers’ first three picks were Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, and Elgton Jenkins. Last offseason, Gutekunst signed Sammy Watkins before adding Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs in the draft. You get the idea.
While Watson, especially, but also Doubs, appear to have promising futures, Green Bay still needs to add more talent to the wide receiver room. But in addition to talent, a veteran presence and some stability would go a long way in what is a very young position group. Currently, Watson, Doubs, Samori Toure, and Bo Melton are all 2022 draft picks, while Jeff Cotton was a UDFA in 2020 with minimal experience.
At tight end, only Josiah Deguara, Nick Guggemos and Austin Allen (Guggemos and Allen are practice squad players) are under contract at the moment. This is a position that absolutely needs more playmaking in 2023, and the good news is that this is a talented incoming draft class. However, historically, most tight ends, even first-round picks, don’t make a big impact as a rookie because of the difficulty of the position, where they have to block and know technique like a lineman while also being an effective route runner and pass catcher like a receiver. This is why having a veteran to lean on would be valuable.
Safety, meanwhile, may already have a veteran on the team in Darnell Savage, but as we saw from his play in 2022, relying on him to provide that reliability at the position comes with some risks. The only other safeties on the team as of now are Tariq Carpenter and James Wiggins. One other position group to throw out there could be the interior defensive line, with Devonte Wyatt only entering Year 2 and having little experience, along with TJ Slaton entering Year 3 and being a primary run-stuffing defender.
With the limited cap space that the Packers are going to have this offseason, no one should be expecting a flashy signing. Rather, the purpose of this addition would be to add some stability to positions either lacking depth or with a lot of young players – not to mention that having a veteran presence in the locker room and on the practice field within a position group is quite valuable. As good as the Packers 2022 draft class was overall, major swings in play and a lack of consistency are often a part of most rookie seasons.
Any addition in free agency at these positions also shouldn’t affect how the Packers go about the draft. Adding high-end talent early on in the draft at these four needs should still be on Gutekunst’s to-do list.
Again, given the Packers’ salary cap situation, they likely won’t be able to address all four of these positions in free agency, but as we pontificate about which position groups Gutekunst could address, I would start here.
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