Many eyes were on the Green Bay Packers this season as this would be the first time since the 2007-2008 season that a quarterback not named Aaron Rodgers started the regular season after Rodgers was famously traded to the New York Jets, reuniting him with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The move was reminiscent of Rodgers' predecessor Brett Favre's exit trade to the Jets in 2008, who also spent a decade and a half as the starter for the Packers.

The pressure was on the new quarterback, 2020 first-round selection, Jordan Love to prove he could follow  Rodgers and Favre before. It's safe to say Love proved to be the real deal like Holyfield in his first full year starting throwing for a blazing 4,159 yards, 32 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, and rushing for 247 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns despite playing with a mostly inexperienced receiving corps.

The Packers were projected in preseason polls to finish last in the NFC North, and after a 3-7 start, they were arguably the hottest teams finishing 6-1 and a Wild Card playoff bid. They upset the NFC East Division winner Dallas Cowboys in a dominating 48-32 fashion in the Wildcard Round where Love finished with a near-perfect passer rating and almost made the NFC Championship losing 24-21 to the eventual NFC champions and Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Round.

The Packers have much to be proud of in their first season post the Aaron Rodgers era, but they need more to reach the next echelon in the NFC and NFL. Historically, the Packers are not known for splashy offseason signings and tend to build more in the draft, but here are three sneaky good free agents the Packers need to sign.

FS Xavier McKinney

Following a breakout campaign where he compiled a career-high 116 tackles, three interceptions, and 11 passes defended as one of the best coverage and run-stopping safeties in the NFL, the former second pick in Love's draft class, New York Giants free safety Xavier McKinney is betting on himself this offseason in the final year of his rookie deal.

One of the lone bright spots in the Big Apple this season for the 27th-ranked defense, according to PFP, he ranked fifth in passer rating allowed at 53.0 and first in coverage grade amongst safeties at 93.0 and as a tackler only missed an astonishing three tackles all year.

Ranked 17th, the Packers D was serviceable but to establish dominance within the NFC and NFC North, their play on the defensive side is going to have to vastly improve. Current fifth-year starter and former first-round pick in 2019, Darnell Savage is set to be a free agent this offseason. While he didn't set the world on fire this season, he stepped his play up in the playoffs getting a crucial 64-yard pick-six interception return for a touchdown on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Savage is two years older, with an injury history, and not as effective in defending the run and playing coverage which gives the edge to the younger and explosive McKinney. The Packers aren't a team that spends big money during free agency, especially with their secondary.

The last time they spent significantly was in 2019 on former division rival Chicago Bears free safety Adrian Amos who signed with the Jets upon the conclusion of his contract.

Before that? Some guy in the College Football Hall of Fame who holds the honor of being the only defensive player in college football history to ever win the Heisman trophy along with a 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, 2010 Super Bowl Champion, 2021 first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in the NFL as a free safety and cornerback by the name of Charles Woodson. You might have heard of him before.

As solid of a player Amos is, the Packers would most certainly hope that McKinney's production and impact would match or eclipse Woodson's in his seven seasons in Green Bay if they were to pull the trigger. McKinney's services won't be the cheapest but while he is still young and still making a name for himself, now would be an opportune time to capitalize.

OG Ezra Cleveland 

With the Packers having their tackle situation sorted, they can turn their attention to building the interior portion of their offensive line. They were able to block for Love and run the ball successfully last season despite losing 11-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler offensive tackle David Bakhtiari to a season-ending injury after only appearing in 55 snaps in the season opener versus the Bears.

Ezra Cleveland is a 25-year-old left guard who can play at either guard spot or tackle. He began the year as a member of the Minnesota Vikings before being traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars after Week 7.

The Jaguars were unable to make a reappearance in the playoffs after surprising many last year, just barely missing out after starting the year hot at 8-3 but slumped to a 1-5 finish to end the season at 9-8. Though the Jaguars regressed, Cleveland only allowed three sacks all season and was one of the better run blockers in the league.

The Jaguars might resign him but if not, the Packers should consider throwing a contract his way because he won't be a huge hit to their cap space at all. Both the Packers running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are free agents this offseason but whoever can run behind the lanes Cleveland opens up is going to be grateful.

WR Michael Pittman Jr.

RECOMMENDED (Article Continues Below)

The Packers have been regarded as having the worst wide receiver room since trading superstar Davante Adams in the 2022 offseason to the Las Vegas Raiders but they enjoyed a successful season in Love's first year as starter.

Despite having the youngest wide receiver corps in the entire NFL, three players went over 500 receiving yards led by rookie year stud Jayden Reed. The 2022 rookie year sensation and fantasy football hero Christian Watson compiled 422 yards and five touchdowns but he was only able to play in nine games last season due to injuries.

What the Packers lack is a No. 1 Alpha receiver like Adams that the defenses frantically game-plan against. This 2024 wide receiver free agent class is loaded with talent but a player that would make sense for the Packers financially and schematically is four-year wide receiver Michael Pittman who in a contract year enjoyed a breakout year to his already promising career.

Pittman Jr. caught a career-high 109 passes for 1,152 receiving yards and four touchdowns despite being the primary focus on offense with star running-back Jonathan Taylor missing the first seven games infamously because of a contract holdout and exciting first-round cannon-armed rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson injuring his shoulder after a promising start in his first 4 games into his career.

At only 26 years old 6'4 and 223 pounds with strong hands, a versatile route tree, and great jump ball ability, Pittman Jr. is exactly the kind of stud wide receiver that could revitalize the Packers' receiver room to their glory days in the early 2010's Aaron Rodgers era.

He might command a hefty price but to make that next jump and with the recent new salary cap raise, the Packers might have to bite the bullet. The Colts would ideally like to keep Pittman Jr. as long as possible but given they are rebuilding, Pittman Jr. might be looking to play for a team on the rise with a stud quarterback like Love who showed he could prosper without a No. 1 weapon.