Here’s how the Packers can give Aaron Rodgers enough help to win a Super Bowl title back to the fans in Green Bay next season.
Aaron Rodgers came agonizingly close to leading the Packers to another Super Bowl berth last season. Unfortunately, Green Bay came up short against the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. If the Packers’ front office wants to see Rodgers lift the Lombardi Trophy this year, they need to give their franchise quarterback some more help.
Free agency has been pretty quiet for Green Bay so far. Signing Christian Kirksey to a two-year, $16 million contract helps fill the hole vacated by Blake Martinez‘s departure at linebacker, but it’s hard to call it anything other than a modest upgrade.
Other than that, the only other two moves the franchise made prior to the close of business on Saturday were signing Mercedes Lewis and Rick Wagner to very modest contracts. Wagner should take over Bryan Bulaga‘s starting spot at right tackle. Expecting him to equal Bulaga’s level of production is a big ask. That’s likely going to be a downgrade for the Packers at a very important position. Lewis will soak up some snaps at tight end but he’s nothing more than an average backup at this point in his career.
The good news is that Green Bay still projects to have over $14 million in cap room per Over The Cap. Some of that room will be soaked up by rookie salaries, but it still means the Packers can be players with free agents still looking for a home.
The Packers have three primary needs they should look to address before the start of the 2020 regular season. First and foremost, they need to give Rodgers more weapons in the passing game. Davante Adams is one of the best wide receivers in the game, but the options behind him are mediocre at best. It’s possible that either Geronimo Allison or Marquez Valdes-Scantling could break out next year, but waiting for them to develop is more of a wish than a plan.
Rodgers could also benefit from an upgrade at the tight end position. Losing Jimmy Graham via free agency isn’t something to lose sleep over, but the Packers aren’t exactly flush with options in his wake. The aforementioned Lewis is a good blocker but isn’t anything resembling dynamic in the passing game. The Packers may be best served to hand second-year pro Jace Sternberger the job and live with his growing pains.
Lastly, Green Bay’s secondary could use an infusion of talent. Tramon Williams isn’t going to play at a high level forever. He’s a prime candidate for age-related regression sooner rather than later. Kevin King is talented, but his inconsistent play was an issue at times last season.
Wide receiver should be the easiest position to address. This year’s draft is stocked full of potential stars at the position. The Packers could easily use their No. 30 overall selection to grab a wideout with star potential. That’s too late to grab a guy like CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, but it could be the perfect place in the draft to secure the services of someone like Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins or KJ Hamler.
There are also some attractive wide receiver options still hanging available in free agency. Depending on the price, signing a more established veteran like Robby Anderson or Breshad Perriman could turn into a shrewd piece of business. Don’t rule out the idea of Green Bay using both their first round pick and a healthy chunk of their remaining free agency cash to give Rodgers more weapons at wide receiver.
Fixing the secondary is going to be more challenging. For one thing, the options at the position in free agency aren’t overly exciting. Jimmy Smith is a big-time talent at corner but his injury history makes counting on him a giant gamble. That makes Logan Ryan the only cornerback of real quality left on the open market. If the Packers can get him on a short-term contract at a reasonable cap number they should jump all over it.
Otherwise, they’ll be forced to use their first-rounder on a defensive back who doesn’t project to be anything other than a slightly above average regular. CJ Henderson isn’t going to fall to them at No. 30. Trevon Diggs might fall that far but he’s going to require patience at the NFL level. Adding a potential impact safety like Grant Delpit might represent an appealing alternative to reaching for a cornerback.
The perfect scenario for the Green Bay front office would be to find a way to sign by Ryan and Anderson in free agency. That’s going to require some contract restructuring to free up more than the $14 million in space they have open currently. It shouldn’t take much more though. Adding one starting-caliber wide receiver and cornerback before the draft would open the door for the Packers to take the best player available at No. 30.
That almost certainly will end up being a wide receiver given the depth of this year’s draft class at that position. If the Packers could come away with Ryan, Anderson and a rookie like Jefferson they’d turn their offseason haul from average to spectacular. Time will tell if the Packers’ front office can squeeze that much production out of the resources they still have remaining.