While the Green Bay Packers weren't as active as other NFL teams during free agency, it'd be a mistake to think the Packers didn't get better during the initial wave of free-agent signings. However, the offseason has only just begun, and Green Bay still has plenty of work to do.
For example, there is still a huge hole on the roster at the safety position. After missing out on big-name safeties like Jairus Byrd, Donte Whitner and T.J. Ward, the Packers still have work to do at this position.
The good news is that there are still options for the Packers in both free agency and the draft. Today we're going to break down exactly what's next for the Packers. We'll start with the remaining team needs for Green Bay and look at what can still be done to improve the overall roster this offseason.
Let's start with the needs that the Packers still have on the roster. While the team didn't make many moves in free agency, there are two positions that were formerly needs that Green Bay can cross off the list.
Those two positions are defensive tackle and defensive end. The ream re-signed B.J. Raji and brought in Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion as free agents. While none of those players are superstars at their positions across the defensive line, they'll add depth and production that Green Bay lacked last year.
So, without the defensive line being a need, the Packers really only have four remaining positions to address. The most important is safety, while center, tight end and inside linebacker all hover around the same intensity of need.
With so many positions needing to be addressed, the Packers certainly still have their work cut out for them for the remainder of the offseason.
One thing we haven't seen the Packers do yet this offseason is re-structure some of the current contracts on the roster. With just over $16 million left in cap space according to Spotrac.com, the Packers definitely have room to extend the contracts of some current players they'll want to keep around.
Nelson is coming off a career year in 2013 and is easily one of the top wide receivers in the league. As for Cobb, few players are as dynamic as he is, and it shouldn't be long before he too is a premier player at his position.
Outside of Nelson and Cobb, there aren't any other young players on the roster who should have their contracts re-structured.
While the majority of the big names are off the market, there are still a handful of players who could help the Packers in a major way.
The most obvious name of the bunch is safety Chris Clemons. While Clemons had somewhat of a down year in 2013, there is still plenty that he could add to the roster in Green Bay.
For starters, Clemons is one of the better coverage safeties in the league. He ranked as the No. 9 safety while in coverage last year according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The Packers could also address their need at center via free agency. Brian de la Puente, who used to play for the New Orleans Saints, would really be the only free agent worth pursuing at the center position. While De la Puente certainly isn't an elite player, he has a ton of experience in a pass-first offense like Green Bay will be running.
There are certainly some free agents the Packers could sign, but with each day that passes, it looks less and less likely. They've already been more active than they've been in years, and the rest of their team needs could be addressed in the NFL draft.
The final major offseason event for the Packers to add talent is the draft in May. There are a handful of prospects Green Bay will certainly have its eye on in the following months.
Here's a look at a brief big board for the Packers:
|Packers' First-Round Big Board|
|Eric Ebron||TE||North Carolina|
|Louis Nix III||DT||Notre Dame|
|Jace Amaro||TE||Texas Tech|
|Jimmie Ward||S||Northern Illinois|
As you can see, if either of the top two safeties in the draft falls to the Packers at the No. 21 pick, they'd be foolish to pass on him. Between Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor, Clinton-Dix's game has a little more to offer Green Bay.
For starters, the Packers desperately need a safety who has the ability to create turnovers. Clinton-Dix proved while at Alabama to be able to make plays on a consistent basis and that no stage is too big for him.
If both the top safeties are off the board, which is certainly a possibility, then it might make sense for the Packers to bring in an elite player at his position like inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. He's got the talent to go in the top 10 of this year's draft, but not many teams picking before Green Bay have a need at inside linebacker.
What Mosley ultimately brings to the Packers defense is a combination of athleticism and playmaking ability that has been lacking with inside linebackers A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones. He'd be an instant upgrade over either player and would help cement one of the most important positions on the defense.
There is no doubt that the Packers have made some moves so far this offseason to be better suited for a Super Bowl run. However, there is still a lot of offseason left, and there is still quite a bit of work to do if Green Bay wants to compete with the truly elite teams in the league.