The Green Bay Packers have been arguably the most talked-about team over the last week, and it doesn’t even have to do with any NFL free agent signings. Instead, it has to do with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers essentially confirming that his time in Green Bay is over, and that he will be joining the New York Jets this offseason. While a trade isn’t official just yet, it is indeed the end of a 15-year era for the Packers.
Aside from the Rodgers’ talk, Green Bay really hasn’t done anything in free agency. Now it doesn’t take a detective to figure out why, as thanks to Rodgers’ massive contract, the Packers won’t have much room to sign NFL free agents until the trade goes through. However, considering they are entering a new era and has some big holes to fill, they will need to join the fray eventually.
Offensively, Green Bay is still relatively lacking at wide receiver, which is not ideal when breaking in a new quarterback. Defensively, the Packers have needs at several positions, both up front and in the secondary. Fortunately, there are a number of free agents still out there who could help with these concerns.
With that said, here are three-still available free agents the Packers should target this offseason.
3. S Julian Love
Safety is a tricky position for Green Bay this offseason. Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos both had rough seasons, and the latter is a free agent likely to sign elsewhere. Add in that backup safety Rudy Ford is also a free agent, and the Packers could be very vulnerable on the back end.
Many have speculated that the Packers could address this issue in the draft, but free agency is also a viable option. In that case, New York Giants safety Julian Love is one of the best options available.
Love had a breakout season in 2022, his first as a regular starter. The fourth-year safety led the Giants with 124 tackles, along with five passes defended and two interceptions. He also earned a good PFF grade of 70, indicating that his stats weren’t just fluff.
This offseason, Love is one of the top defensive backs on the market. Spotrac projects his market value at just under $8 million annually, which seems very reasonable for a young safety with high upside. Considering the Packers will likely look to get younger this offseason, Love could be an excellent addition.
2. EDGE Justin Houston
Green Bay had quite a few struggles on defense in 2022, and getting to the quarterback was definitely among them. The Packers had just 34 sacks the entire season, the fifth-fewest in the entire league.
After Rashan Gary went down halfway through the season, the pass rush regressed considerably. Pass rushers Jarran Reed, Justin Hollins and Dean Lowry are also free agents, so investing in the unit may be wise this offseason.
Most of the top pass rushers have already signed, so it may be slim pickings for the Packers with their limited cap space. However, one budget option who could pay dividends is former Baltimore Ravens edge rusher Justin Houston.
Even at 34, Houston still showed he can play at a high level last season. Despite only playing on 44% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps, Houston still had a team-leading 9.5 sacks in 2022. He has over 100 career sacks, and even though he’s not an every-down player anymore, he can still thrive in the right situation.
Another benefit of signing Houston is that he should come at a very affordable price. Spotrac projects his market value at just $5.3 million, which would be easy for any team to work with. For what he can still provide, that is a steal. He is well worth pursuing as a veteran presence for a transitioning Packers team.
1. WR D.J. Chark
Part of Green Bay’s offensive struggles last season were due a lackluster wide receiver corps after trading away Davante Adams. Granted, things improved after Christian Watson broke out, but the overall production still wasn’t great.
Now that Allen Lazard has gone to presumably join Rodgers with the Jets, and Randall Cobb is also a free agent (who might also end up in New York) the receiver corps looks even thinner.
With Love becoming the starter this season, the Packers have to surround him with quality weapons. This free agent wide receiver class is pretty weak, but D.J. Clark of the Detroit Lions could be a nice option.
Having the player who ended Green Bay’s 2022 season, and by extension the Rodgers era, join the Packers would be an interesting twist, but crazier things have certainly happened.
Chark was more of a complementary receiver in Detroit next to Amon-Ra St. Brown, but he played the role well. In 2022, he caught 30 passes for 502 yards and two touchdowns. He can be a top receiver, though, as his 1,000-yard, eight touchdown season with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 proves.
According to Spotrac, Chark’s market value is roughly $9.5 million per year. A hefty price, sure, but it might be worth it to help Love succeed.