The Green Bay Packers were one of the favorites to land JJ Watt this offseason. Watt fits a position of need and could bolster a defensive line that looked suspect at times. Plus, Watt suiting up for the Packers would be a homecoming for him, as he was born in Wisconsin and played college football there. Winning a Super Bowl there would have been a perfect, story ending for the future Hall of Famer.
Alas, he opted to take his talents to Arizona. The Packers have a stud, nose tackle in Kenny Clark and while the position usually just calls for occupying double teams, he can do so much more and pressure the quarterback. The Smiths, Preston and Za’Darius, not the band are a reliable and disruptive outside linebacker duo. The positions in between Clark and the Smiths can use an upgrade and consistency.
Green Bay is projected to be $11,451,306 over the salary cap. Here are three options for the team.
3. Dalvin Tomlinson, DT
As long as league MVP is under center, the Packers will have a Super Bowl window open. However, it would also be good if the team gets pieces for the present and future. Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, sources said the Packers attempted to trade for the then-26-year old Tomlinson, but to no avail.
Tomlinson is more of a force against the run compared to passing plays, but he still has more upside than anyone playing the position on the Packers roster. His pass rush has been improving year to year. He is versatile and can line up all over the defensive line and even sub in for Clark should he need to miss time.
The New York Giants will work hard to re-sign Tomlinson, but if the Packers can give a competitive offer and with the allure of playing for a contender these might just be enough to get Tomlinson.
2. Shelby Harris, DE
The Packers know that Harris has been quietly one of the better defensive linemen in the league with the Denver Broncos. He has the quickness to blow up plays in the backfield and get to the signal-caller. Harris excels against the run and performs admirably during passing downs.
In just 11 games last season, he had 29 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and seven passes defended. The last one was not a fluke as he had nine the previous year. Those 16 passes defended in two seasons look closer to numbers a cornerback would produce. The Packers could pounce on this particular opportunity to boost their pass rush.
1. Ndamukong Suh, DE
Suh is probably one of the most disliked players by the Packers organization and Cheeseheads. After all, he was an NFC North rival for the longest time and he literally stepped on Rodgers during one of their many matchups.
He is already 34-years old and is no longer the same game-wrecker he was that struck fear in the hearts of opposing offenses. Despite all of these, he can improve most defensive lines in the league. The Packers would be no exception. He is ridiculously strong and can demand double teams, which gives his teammates the openings needed to make plays. Suh had 49 combined tackles and six sacks last season. Also, he is an iron man and played in 16 games in 10 of his 11 seasons.
Chances are that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers bring him back on another one-year deal, but Suh has shown a willingness to be a sort of gun for hire, so you never know if he decides to go to another team — such as the Packers — with a better offer.
Of course, before the front office even thinks of talking to Suh the Packers will need a green light from Rodgers.