For the Green Bay Packers, their season is over. There is hope, though. The NFL has been dubbed as a “league of hope” and the Chicago Bears, this year’s NFC North winner, are proof of that. Chicago took an aggressive 2018 off-season and turned their 2017 last place division finish into a first place one in 2018. The Packers have the ammo to do just the same in 2019.
Analysts who say that the Packers aren’t talented have not been watching this team. The team’s failure this year was not due to a lack of talent, but a lack of execution. This is only part of the reason for the departure of 13-year head coach Mike McCarthy. However, it seems as though complacency has swept over this team like the plague.
A change is needed and not only at head coach. It is important for the roster to fully understand that nobody is untouchable. A sense of urgency needs to be re-instilled in these Packers players. A good way to start doing that is to bring in meaningful, veteran competition. I have long said that a key to a successful football team is by creating competition throughout the roster. Players who feel like they have earned a spot will play harder to keep their position rather than those who feel like they have nothing to lose.
The Packers will be in a significant position to add some quality players this off season, via both free agency and the draft. Per Spotrac.com, Green Bay is slotted to have about $40 million in cap space and they could have even more by the time free agency rolls around. This should allow general manager Brian Gutekunst to be fairly active in March.
Once a head coach is selected and it is determined what type of schemes will be ran, the pictures will become more clear. However, we are still a few weeks away from that point. There are a number of players who could hit the market this year and would be certain targets for Gutekunst: linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Earl Thomas, safety Landon Collins, and linebacker C.J. Mosley just to name a few. There is a good chance that these names will all either be re-signed or too rich for the Packers’ taste. However, Green Bay will definitely need to add players this off season so I have selected a few “under the radar” guys which the Packers could pursue.
Wide Receiver Tyrell Williams
Williams may be the unfortunate casualty in a crowded Los Angeles Chargers receiver room. He will be an unrestricted free agent and will be looking to cash in. However, I don’t view Williams as a true number one and I am not certain there is an NFL team who does. That isn’t to say he doesn’t provide a valuable skill set, because he does.
Williams has been a viable deep threat all year. On 38 receptions through this point in the season, Williams has 618 yards (that’s 16.3/reception) for 5 touchdowns.
The Packers have been in search of a viable deep threat since they lost Greg Jennings some years ago. Jordy Nelson did an admirable job to fulfill that role, but he also is no longer with the team. Williams could be that guy that the Packers need to stretch out the defense and open things up for Aaron Rodgers and company. The only concern is that Williams’ price tag might be a little rich for Green Bay.
Safety Tre Boston
Boston has taken the league by storm over the past couple seasons. Since the beginning of the 2017 season, he has accumulated 8 interceptions.
The Packers have been searching for a deep threat on the defensive side of the ball as well. Green Bay needs someone who can make plays on the back end of the defense and who can take away the deep ball. Boston is just that.
Arizona’s passing defense is much better than their rushing defense and Boston (plus All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson) has been a big part of that. He’s tallied 3 interceptions thus far this year, which is more than any player currently on the Packers roster.
Boston would be an instant upgrade at the safety position and would provide some veteran leadership at a position that is sure to see an influx of talent and youth this off season. Of all the positions on the Packers roster, this one is the most volatile moving forward. Packers fans could see an entirely new group of safeties entering the 2019 season and Boston would be a fine player to lead that movement.
Outside Linebacker Shane Ray
Ray was at the center of some trade winds earlier this year. The former first round pick has failed to live up to those lofty expectations, yet the talent is obvious. Ray may be discarded by the Broncos after the emergence of this years first round pick, Bradley Chubb, and his veteran partner in crime, Von Miller. There are simply too many mouths to feed at the position for Denver (I didn’t even mention Shaquil Barrett who is in a similar position to Ray and arguably more talented and productive).
Ray’s arrival in Green Bay wouldn’t necessarily indicate a starting spot right away, but it would add talented competition to a position that desperately needs it. There will be additions made at this position, maybe even via both the draft and free agency. But, this position will not be fixed overnight and the best teams in the NFL have a deep rotation at the position. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine would love to have a bevy of talented pass rushers at his disposal.
Ray likely wouldn’t be the team’s first choice nor maybe even their second. But, he should arrive at an affordable price and would be an upgrade over what the team is currently putting out on the field every Sunday. Team Ray up with another edge defender(s) via free agency or the draft and the Packers will be well on their way to rebuilding a position that has become incredibly critical to success in today’s NFL.