Packers' Biggest Keys to Having Successful NFL Offseason

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2021

Packers' Biggest Keys to Having Successful NFL Offseason

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Before the Green Bay Packers make additions to their roster this offseason, they need to open up salary-cap space.

    Green Bay already started the process through the releases of Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner, which saved the team around $10 million. 

    The Packers still have to get under the projected salary cap of $180 million through more cuts or by restructuring contracts. 

    Aaron Rodgers is the top candidate for a rearrangement of his deal since he is the top earner on the Green Bay roster. 

    Once the Packers get their cap situation figured out, they need to bring in more help for Rodgers on the offensive line and at wide receiver. 

    Defensively, Green Bay needs to make some upgrades to its pass rush, and the natural link has already been made to signing Wisconsin native and Wisconsin alumnus J.J. Watt. Even if they do not land Watt, the Packers could still become more effective off the edge. 

Restructure Deals to Get Under Salary Cap

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    The Green Bay front office has been hard at work trying to get under the cap line. 

    In addition to the releases of Kirksey and Wagner, the Packers converted David Bakhtiari's $11 million roster bonus into a signing bonus, per's Rob Demovsky.

    Rodgers should be the next candidate for the transition of cash since he is due a $6.8 million roster bonus in March. 

    Getting under the cap has been the top priority for the Packers brass, and it has to remain that way before it can approach any significant free agents. 

    On top of restructuring Rodgers' deal, Green Bay could let go of Preston Smith and Dean Lowry, who would free up another $11 million to work with.

    The Packers should try to swing big in free agency, especially with Watt on the market, but first they have to do some maneuvering to ensure they are not in a dire situation when it comes to money.

Protect and Support Aaron Rodgers

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Green Bay's two biggest offensive needs are offensive line and wide receiver. 

    You could make a case that running back is high on the list, but the Packers have A.J. Dillon in place to take over in case Aaron Jones leaves in free agency. 

    Rodgers may need more protection on the interior if Bakhtiari is not ready for the start of the 2021 season and Corey Linsley departs in free agency. 

    The Packers have some young offensive linemen on the roster in Elgton Jenkins and Jon Runyan Jr. who could slide into the positions of need, but they can also dip into the draft to bring in additional protection option. 

    Outside of Jordan Love's first-round selection in 2020, the Packers have a long history of selecting defensive players in the first round. They landed eight straight defensive prospects in the opening round from 2012-19.

    Green Bay should turn its draft focus to the offensive line, where it could land one of the second-tier offensive tackles, like Texas' Samuel Cosmi or Michigan's Jalen Mayfield. 

    At wide receiver, the immediate connection will be made to Will Fuller since the Packers made an attempt to trade for him last season. 

    Green Bay needs a more viable No. 2 wideout to complement Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Adams were the only receivers to have more than 500 receiving yards. 

    Bringing in a new partner for Adams may become more important if the Packers lose Jones, who contributed 47 catches and 355 receiving yards in 2020. 

    The Packers need upgrades at those spots to challenge the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams and others that should be active in their own right this offseason. 

Achieve More Draft Success

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The Packers missed an opportunity to land a difference-maker in the first round last year when they chose Love instead. 

    Love sat on the bench for the entire campaign, and the other two top selections were not as effective as the team hoped. 

    Dillon did not make much of an impact behind Jones and Jamaal Williams, and tight end Josiah Deguara failed to achieve success at a position dominated by Tonyan. 

    With the team facing salary-cap constraints, the Packers may have to turn to the draft to improve some of their biggest needs. 

    That means the front office can't make any ridiculous decisions, like taking a quarterback in the first round when Rodgers is already on the roster. 

    Instead of choosing Love, Green Bay could have taken Tee Higgins, or Michael Pittman Jr. to improve the wide receiver corps, or Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Jonathan Taylor with Jones' free agency impending. 

    Green Bay can't afford to whiff on its 2021 first-round selection, and it can go in a few directions with the pick. 

    If the Packers want to pursue Watt, they could use the draft to focus on offensive upgrades, mainly at wide receiver and offensive line. 

    Even if Bakhtiari returns to the field, the Packers need to have an insurance policy for him, whether that be Jenkins or Runyan, or an early draft pick in April. 

    Most of the top wide receivers should be off the board before No. 29, but the Packers may have a chance to land Purdue's Rondale Moore or Florida's Kadarius Toney, who would both bring speed to complement Adams' all-around talent. 

    Regardless of the approach, Green Bay needs to bring in impact players on cheaper deals through the draft so it does not experience cap restraints again in 2022. 


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.

    Contract information obtained from Over The Cap.