Packers' Top Players to Prioritize in 2021 NFL Free AgencyMarch 10, 2021
Packers' Top Players to Prioritize in 2021 NFL Free Agency
The Green Bay Packers find themselves in one of the least enviable positions in the NFL as free agency is set to begin.
Green Bay could lose two key pieces on offense to free agency because it does not have much salary-cap room to work with.
Matt LaFleur's squad is facing less stress on the cap after a few cuts were made, but it still may not have enough to retain Corey Linsley and Aaron Jones.
The good news for Green Bay is it has younger replacements on its roster who could take over in the event that it does not have enough money to bring in veteran free agents.
Of the two, Green Bay should take a closer look at bringing back Linsley since it drafted running back A.J. Dillon in 2020. Dillon could take on an expanded role with Jones and Jamaal Williams departing in free agency.
If they do not look to retain Jones, the Packers should try to explore the wide receiver market with whatever cap space they have (currently projected by Spotrac to be $11.1 million over the salary cap) to find a solid No. 2 to Davante Adams.
Corey Linsley should be the Packers' top target on the free-agent market.
You could make the case that Green Bay can go young on the offensive interior to save salary-cap space, but the center is important to the team's offensive success.
Linsley has seven years of experience built up with Aaron Rodgers, and he has been a key part in keeping the quarterback upright during Green Bay's recent run at the top of the NFC North.
The problem with retaining Linsley is that he could be an expensive free agent to sign at the top of a loaded offensive line class that also includes Joe Thuney and Trent Williams.
While it will be difficult to re-sign Linsley, Green Bay should have some money available to bring him back since it appears that Jones is on his way out.
The Packers can't afford to pay a large sum to a running back, particularly with a young running back waiting in the wings and other needs on the roster.
If Green Bay uses whatever cap space it has on blockers for its young running back, it could pave the way for Dillon to have more success in what could be his first season as the primary ball-carrier.
Will Fuller V
Green Bay tried to trade for Will Fuller V during the 2020 season, but that pursuit came up empty.
The former Houston Texans wideout may be the perfect complement to Adams, but it could take some salary-cap magic to bring him in.
Of course, that can be said with all of Green Bay's potential free-agent targets at the moment since it needs to move some money around to open up space.
Fuller is coming off the most successful season of his career, as he totaled 53 receptions, 879 yards and eight touchdowns.
Those numbers were earned without DeAndre Hopkins opposite him, so they could go down a bit if he is the No. 2 wideout in Green Bay.
Even if Fuller does not match his totals from 2020, he could still be a vital piece in the Green Bay offense, which would then relegate Marquez Valdes-Scantling further down the depth chart.
That may not be the worst thing for Green Bay since it can utilize his speed in the slot.
Green Bay's secondary weaknesses were exploited by Tom Brady in the NFC Championship Game.
With little to no cap room to work with, the Packers could call on veterans looking to win titles to improve their defensive backfield.
At 31, Patrick Peterson may not command the type of massive deal that he would have earlier in his career, and he may be willing to take a short-term deal to chase a championship.
Peterson has been one of the most durable players in the league since he entered in 2011. He only missed six games in 2019.
The cornerback tied his second-highest single-season interception total in 2020 with three, and he made over 50 solo tackles for the first time since 2012.
If the Packers work out a short-term deal with Peterson, they would bring in a veteran who is coming off one of his best seasons.
A dose of experience could help Green Bay in its biggest games since some of its corners had trouble dealing with Tom Brady back in January.
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Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.