Packers' Top Players to Avoid in 2021 NFL Free Agency

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 3, 2021

Packers' Top Players to Avoid in 2021 NFL Free Agency

0 of 3

    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers have some work to do on their offensive and defensive lines in the offseason to get back to the NFC Championship Game. 

    Green Bay could lose center Corey Linsley in free agency, and they need more support for Kenny Clark on the defensive front. 

    The Packers front office can't afford to miss on their potential free-agent additions at those respective positions. If they do, they may lack the proper protection for Aaron Rodgers, or a tenacious pass rush. 

    Matt LaFleur's team has some serious decisions to make at the offensive skill positions as well. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are about to be free agents, and the Packers could use an upgrade behind Davante Adams. 

    Green Bay could trust its crop of young players or rely on the NFL draft at running back or wide receiver instead of chasing needs with players who may not be as productive in LaFleur's system. 

Yannick Ngakoue

1 of 3

    Brett Carlsen/Associated Press

    If the Packers retain Linsley, they could look to make improvements on the defensive interior. 

    Yannick Ngakoue was one of the most successful pass-rushers in the league a few years ago, but he struggled to match the production from his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars after he left the franchise. 

    Ngakoue's sack total has decreased in every campaign since producing 12 sacks in 2017 with plenty of defensive stars around him. 

    The 26-year-old's quarterback hits and tackles for loss also dropped off in 2020, when he split time between the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens.

    Ngakoue's past statistics in Jacksonville may suggest he can help Clark on a pass-rushing unit that needs more support. Clark totaled two sacks and 42 tackles while plugging up the middle of the defense. 

    Green Bay should be in the market for an edge-rusher, especially if Preston Smith is a salary-cap casualty, but there are better options than Ngakoue, like Matthew Judon, who could be more productive in its defense.

Curtis Samuel

2 of 3

    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Curtis Samuel's versatility could be intriguing to some franchises, but it is not what the Packers need to support Adams. 

    Samuel recorded a career-best 851 receiving yards with the Carolina Panthers in 2020. He also earned 200 rushing yards to go along with his five total touchdowns. 

    In some systems, Samuel's skill set will be valuable because of his ability to line up in the backfield and gain yards on sweeps or trick plays. 

    Green Bay can't afford to waste cash on a wide receiver who does not find the end zone on a consistent basis or cannot step into the No. 1 role if Adams gets shut down.

    JuJu Smith-Schuster could be a good fit after he had nine scores with the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020. 

    If the Packers add someone like Will Fuller V or Smith-Schuster, they could have a deep wide receiver corps with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Devin Funchess already on the roster. 

Ronald Darby

3 of 3

    Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

    Green Bay may need to land additions in the defensive backfield if Kevin King does not re-sign with the franchise. 

    Even if King is back in the fold, the Packers could look to improve a secondary that was torched by Tom Brady in the NFC Championship Game. 

    Ronald Darby could be viewed as a decent fit for any defense, but he did not put up the best numbers in the Washington Football Team defense in 2020.

    In his career, Darby has allowed a 59.9 percent completion rate and 13.3 yards per catch. In 2020, he had seven games in which he allowed over 15 yards per catch. 

    Those totals could be concerning for a team that was beat over the top by Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The Packers may look to find value in the NFL draft, but if they choose to address their defensive backfield needs, they could look to veterans like Richard Sherman or Patrick Peterson, or a slot guy in Mike Hilton to reinforce that spot on the field.


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.