5 NFL Free Agents the Green Bay Packers Should Consider
The Green Bay Packers have been one of the most consistent teams in football, making the playoffs for the past five years and winning a Super Bowl in that time. Part of that consistency is due to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the talent that general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy have surrounded him with.
However, this doesn't mean that the Packers don't have any needs to fill in the offseason. The roster has holes, particularly on defense, and while Thompson has been known to build through the draft, it might be necessary for the team to bring in some players via free agency.
Here are five free agents the Packers would be wise to target in what could be a more active free-agency period for Green Bay.
Honorable Mention: Garrett Graham
Graham has Wisconsin roots and likely wouldn't be a costly free agent for Ted Thompson to spend money on. In addition, with the potential loss of Jermichael Finley in the offseason, the Packers could be looking for his replacement.
Graham is a young player with limited NFL experience, but he put up impressive numbers in 2013, catching five touchdowns for more than 500 yards. Those were impressive numbers for a young tight end on a struggling Texans team.
5. Henry Melton
Melton has proved to be a force on the defensive front, and the move would not only make the Packers better but their archrival Chicago worse.
In addition, he is relatively young at age 27, so he could be a contributor for years to come. The biggest issue? He has a nagging knee injury that could drive the Packers away, especially given their recent track record with injuries.
4. Jim Leonhard
Jim Leonhard is another free agent with Wisconsin roots who could bring a spark to the Packers and hopefully become a fan favorite in the process.
The Packers have a serious need to improve the safety position, and Leonhard would be a potential solution that wouldn't break the bank. In addition, he has had success in the NFL with both the Jets and the Bills, where he caught four interceptions last year. That's four more interceptions than the entire safety corps of the 2013 Packers.
3. Karlos Dansby
Karlos Dansby is on the other side of 30, making it questionable whether Ted Thompson will sign him, but he is, without a doubt, one of the better linebackers on the market.
Packers fans may know him best from his game-winning fumble recovery in overtime, where he scooped up an Aaron Rodgers fumble and returned it for a touchdown in a wild 51-45 wild-card shootout in 2010.
Regardless, Packers fans would have no problem accepting this playmaking linebacker into the defense, where playmakers are seriously lacking.
2. T.J. Ward
T.J. Ward has been talked about as one of the best free-agent safeties available in the NFL. Although coming from a bad situation in Cleveland, he is a Pro Bowler in the secondary who could upgrade a position that seriously underachieved in 2013 in Green Bay.
Despite his potential to contribute to the Packers in a major way next season, several things could hinder his chances of signing with the team.
The first is that he is still looking for a deal to sign with Cleveland, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. He could get that deal and return to the Browns. Also, if he does hit the free-agent market, he will likely command a high price tag.
Regardless, he makes this list because he is a fairly young player at age 27 with plenty of upside and a high chance of helping the Packers fill a huge need in the offseason.
1. Jairus Byrd
Perhaps the biggest free agent available in the offseason just happens to play the Packers' greatest position of need. Talks between the Buffalo Bills and former first-round pick Jairus Byrd have not gone anywhere, and although he could return to Buffalo, time is running out for the Bills to make a deal before he hits free agency.
Like Ward, Byrd will likely come at a high price, which means that Thompson will likely look at cheaper options to fix the position, such as Jim Leonhard and Antoine Bethea. Still, Ward and Byrd are two of the best free agents available, and if the Packers could land one of them, their problems at safety would be behind them.