Free-Agent Contracts Packers Must Consider Before Training Camp

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2021

Free-Agent Contracts Packers Must Consider Before Training Camp

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    As the Green Bay Packers approach the start of training camp, the biggest question remains whether star quarterback Aaron Rodgers will indeed play in 2021. Rodgers has stayed away from the team all offseason, and receiver Davante Adams' future could also be in doubt.

    Adams is entering the final year of his contract and is in "a bad place" regarding his contract, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

    Cryptic The Last Dance Instagram posts from Rodgers and Adams seem to suggest that if both play this season, it could be their final run.

    Regardless of how things stand with Rodgers and Adams, the Packers have to prepare to play in 2021, and that means bringing the best possible 53-man roster into the regular season. On paper, Green Bay has a stout squad, but it's not too late to add another free agent or two to the mix.

    Contracts may have to be of the budget variety—Green Bay has just $5 million in cap space, per Over The Cap—and the Packers may have to free up a little room. However, strengthening a couple of roster spots couldn't hurt.

    Here are three free agents Green Bay should consider before the preseason gets underway.

RB Duke Johnson

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    If Rodgers doesn't play in 2021, the Packers may have to lean more heavily on the ground game offensively. They have a quality starting back in Aaron Jones and a premium backup in 2020 second-round pick AJ Dillon. However, Green Bay also lost Jamaal Williams in free agency.

    In 2020, Williams contributed 505 rushing yards, 31 receptions, 236 receiving yards and three touchdowns to the offense.

    While Dillon showed some potential as a runner last season, he had only two receptions. If Green Bay is hoping to replace the receiving contributions of Williams, it has to consider free-agent back Duke Johnson.

    In six seasons with the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans, Johnson has amassed 307 receptions, 2,829 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. He's not a liability as a ball-carrier, either, with a career average of 4.2 yards per carry.

    Adding Johnson would provide Green Bay's quarterback—be it Rodgers, Jordan Love or Blake Bortles—with a capable outlet option in the backfield.

C Joe Looney

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    Green Bay is faced with the difficult task of replacing All-Pro center Corey Linsley ahead of the regular season. While the Packers do have options in guard Elgton Jenkins and rookie second-round pick Josh Myers, adding a veteran to the mix before camp couldn't hurt.

    Free-agent guard/center Joe Looney is exactly the sort of journeyman lineman the Packers should consider. The 30-year-old has spent time with the San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys and has been a starter in two of the past three seasons.

    In 2020, Looney started 12 games at center for Dallas and played 67 percent of the offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Reference.

    Looney could provide a valuable piece of insurance if Myers isn't quite ready and Green Bay prefers to keep Jenkins at guard. He could serve as a bridge starter for the coming season and, at worst, would be a quality backup along the interior.

    With the NFL transitioning to a 17-game regular season, offensive line depth will be as important as it has ever been.

LB Craig Robertson

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Defensively, it would behoove the Packers to strengthen their run defense and add another experienced linebacker to the middle of the second level. Last year's addition, Christian Kirksey, didn't pan out and was released after only one year. While Krys Barnes showed promise as a rookie, he's still on the inexperienced side.

    As a unit, Green Bay's defense ranked just 21st in yards per carry allowed last season.

    Linebacker Craig Robertson could be just the budget option Green Bay needs to help solidify its linebacking corps. A veteran of the Browns and the New Orleans Saints, the 33-year-old has 65 games' worth of starting experience under his belt and 579 tackles on his resume.

    Even at 33, Robertson can also provide special teams value. He played 79 percent of the special-teams snaps in New Orleans last season.

    At this point in his career, Robinson wouldn't be a starter, but he could provide experience and leadership to Green Bay's defense while bolstering the third unit. He would also be an inexpensive option, which is relevant given the Packers' cap situation.