Packers' Last-Minute Guide to 2021 NFL Free Agency

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 14, 2021

Packers' Last-Minute Guide to 2021 NFL Free Agency

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers offense could undergo a bit of a transformation in the coming weeks.

    The NFC North champions could lose two key parts of their offense to free agency, and they may bring in a player or two to help Aaron Rodgers lead the team back to the NFC Championship Game.

    If Aaron Jones and Corey Linsley hit the free-agent market, they could be replaced by younger players already on the roster, which would save the Packers some salary-cap space.

    Some of that room could be used to add another weapon to the passing attack to complement Davante Adams. Green Bay tried to make a trade for now-free agent Will Fuller V before the 2020 trade deadline, but it failed.

    Matt LaFleur and his staff also have to look at where they can improve on the defensive depth chart. The Packers have needs on the edge and secondary that could be addressed before they put their focus on the 2021 NFL draft.

Packers Could Lose Aaron Jones and Corey Linsley

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Green Bay should be prepared to lose its top two free agents.

    Unlike some other franchises, the Packers are in decent shape to move on without Jones and Linsley since they have some younger options already on the roster.

    AJ Dillon could be thrust into the feature running back role since Jones and Jamaal Williams could walk in free agency.

    Elgton Jenkins, Jon Runyan Jr. and others could slide into the interior to replace Linsley at center, but it could be hard to make up for the chemistry he developed with Rodgers.

    As of Sunday, the Packers had $2 million in salary-cap space to work with, but that number could change if deals are restructured. Even if more space is opened up, though, Green Bay may have a hard time keeping both players since they will be in high demand.

    Green Bay likely will not receive any hometown discounts in negotiations because of the high demand, so that could make things difficult when trying to retain both players.

Can Packers Upgrade Offensive Depth Chart?

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Even if the Packers lose Jones, they could still come out of free agency with a net positive at the offensive skill positions.

    The way to do that is to add depth at wide receiver and an experienced running back who can complement Dillon.

    In 2020, there was a stark drop off between Adams and the production of the other wide receivers on the roster.

    Adams led the squad with 1,374 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was the only other wideout to have more than 500 receiving yards and five scoring plays.

    If the Packers want to keep pace with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and other NFC contenders, they may need to bolster their abundance of weapons in free agency or via the draft.

    Fuller is the first name who will be connected with the Packers because of the team's attempt to trade for the former Houston Texan, but there could be cheaper options available, like Nelson Agholor, John Brown and Corey Davis.

    At running back, Green Bay may be best suited to find a pass-catching running back who can spell Dillon on third down if it loses Jones and Williams. That duo combined for 78 catches and 591 receiving yards last season.

    James White would be the perfect fit for that role since he has become more of a receiver than a rusher in recent years, but he may be drawn to chasing another title with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.

Defensive Improvements Should Be Made

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Green Bay may have been in the mix to sign J.J. Watt because of his connection to Wisconsin, but he landed elsewhere in the NFC.

    The Packers may not have the cap space to sign the marquee defensive free agents, but they can still find quality at positions of need.

    Green Bay could look to improve its edge-rushing abilities to take some pressure off Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith, who were targeted more by opposing teams in 2020 because of their high production.

    If the Packers could land an inexpensive pass-rusher to bolster their depth, they could be in better position to chase down the top quarterbacks in the NFC.

    The secondary may be a bigger area of need after the Packers struggled to contain Brady's output in the NFC Championship Game.

    No cornerback on the Green Bay roster had multiple interceptions in 2020. Safeties Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos combined for six picks.

    If the Packers find a player or two who can increase those totals, it could make the slightest of differences in winning the turnover battle in big games next season.


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Pro Football ReferenceContract information obtained from Over the Cap.