Another Aaron Rodgers MVP season, but unfortunately another NFC Championship game loss. Since 2014, the Green Bay Packers have been eliminated at that stage. While Rodgers continues to play at a high-level, the team has holes that prevent them from winning another Super Bowl let alone get to one.
Green Bay is projected to be $11,451,306 above the salary cap next season. This puts the front office in quite a bind, as difficult decisions need to be made in who stays or leaves. Usually, the Packers do not make big splashes in free agency and rely heavily on the draft.
With that said, here are two free agents the Packers should stay away from.
Richard Sherman, CB
The Packers found their cornerback of the future in Jaire Alexander. In just his third year as a professional at 24-years old, Alexander made an All-Pro selection. He finished the regular season with 13 passes defended and one pick. These numbers are even made more impressive when you realize he has the unenviable task of mirroring the best receiver of their opponent. The man playing opposite him, however, is a different story. Kevin King regularly got burned in coverage. It’s almost as if he balances out Alexander’s dominance. Finding a corner to complement Alexander is a priority.
What a story it would be if one of the players responsible for Rodgers not having as many trips to the Super Bowl would suit up for Green Bay. Sherman was integral to the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers squads that eliminated the packers in two NFC Championship Games.
At his prime, Sherman was an elite defensive back, who did his best work in zone coverage. Many opposing quarterbacks would opt to not even test his side of the field. He had an ideal blend of size, length, physicality, and intelligence to make life difficult for the receivers he was matched up against. Ironically, King and Sherman have a similar build.
Even in his younger years, Sherman was not known for his speed and athleticism. This serves as an advantage, as his game aged better than most. However, all those long seasons and injuries have started to catch up with Sherman. At this point in his career, his name exceeds his on-field production. That’s not to say he is washed-up, but he has to play in the right scheme under the right contract.
He’s already won a Super Bowl and has a storied career, so he doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a desperate ring-chaser willing to take a minimum salary. The fit isn’t perfect between Sherman and Green Bay.
AJ Green, WR
Even before last season started, the drama was brewing. There was a call for Rodgers to have more weapons in the passing game, but instead, the Packers moved up in the draft to select quarterback Jordan Love. The next pick was used on a running back and all in all, no wide receivers were picked. This didn’t matter as Rodgers ran the table all season long. He and wideout Davante Adams arguably have the best chemistry in the league between a quarterback and a receiver. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both had solid seasons and rounded out the passing attack.
An NFL season is brutal and there’s not much depth after the three aforementioned pass-catchers. As great as Rodgers is, the man still needs reliable targets at all times. AJ Green. Green Bay Packers. Green. It just makes sense. Seriously though, there was a time when Green and 1,000-receiving yard seasons were as sure as the sun rising. He has multiple All-Pro selections and Pro-Bowls to his name. Green was a freak athlete and effortlessly torched secondaries, despite not having the best quarterback play.
Those years feel so long ago. Last season, he played in 16 games and finished with just 523 receiving yards, the lowest mark in his impressive career. The 2019 season does not count, as he was injured the whole time. It didn’t help that the Cincinnati Bengals have two, promising receivers in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.
Teams will view Green as a low-risk, high-upside signing. They will offer a minimum contract full of incentives. With the way, Green’s play has declined along with his injury history, such a move may not have the ceiling teams expect. With his name recognition and past production, his asking price may scare some teams away.
What the Packers receiver corps needs is a sure thing when one of its members goes down or is having a rough night. Sadly, Green is no longer that sure thing.