Type to search

Are Packers Finished with Free Agent Shopping?

Tramon Williams became the third Green Bay Packers’ free agent signing of the offseason, reuniting with the team on March 22. That was 10 days ago.

Other than the visit to Green Bay by receiver Jordan Matthews, which also took place on that day, all has been quiet around the front office since then. That’s understandable, as almost all of the most sought-after free agents have been taken.

For some examples, only three of the top 17 edge rushers (as ranked by rotoworld.com) remain: Junior Gallette (8), Connor Barwin (9), and Charles Johnson (11). Only nine of the top 30 receivers are left, headed by Matthews, whose knee and ankle surgeries in December must be giving teams pause. As to cornerbacks, all but two of the top 20 are gone – Davon House, originally ranked 19th, is one of them.

Who’s left hanging from last year’s team? In addition to House, it’s guard Jahri Evans, tight end Richard Rodgers and linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Except for House, who the Packers have shown some interest in, the Packers seem to have little need for, or interest in, the rest.

I should mention in passing that ex-Packer LaDarius Gunter had become an unrestricted free agent for almost two weeks last month, until Carolina re-signed him on March 26. There’s room for debate whether this was an opportunity missed by the Packers.

Roster Holes

Where have the Packers come from and where are they now as this wild free agency period winds down? I believe the gaping holes entering the free agency period were at wide receiver, cornerback and edge rusher – and I think that’s also the consensus. The Packers have not obtained a new wide receiver or edge rusher. They did bring back cornerback Tramon Williams, though most would agree it’s at most a partial solution.

Instead the Packers went whole-hog and overpaid for tight end Jimmy Graham. They got another quality defensive lineman in Muhammad Wilkerson. And they obtained another backup quarterback in DeShone Kizer, by way of trade, which I think was sound planning.

Given that Green Bay hasn’t made a tight end a key component of its passing game since Jermichael Finley’s half-season of 2013, I refuse to view the tight end job as a pressing need. Since the Packers seldom use more than two down linemen at a time, Wilkerson didn’t fill a gaping need either. Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark are solid.

My view is that the Packers actually have needs for two new wide receivers and two new corners – a starter and a proven backup for each position. Why has the team done nothing to satisfy the most pressing needs on the roster? What am I missing?

I’m not sure what to expect anymore out of the re-aligned Packers’ front office. I’m left to expect they’ll be using the draft to fill these roster holes. The trouble is that rookies – even relatively high draft picks – can’t realistically be expected to perform like veterans in their first year.

I went out a limb back on March 21 when I theorized that “the Packers are knowingly sacrificing the 2018 season so that they can make the strongest possible postseason run next year.” These last 10 days, however, have made me more convinced than ever that 2018 is a rebuilding year in Green Bay. And that’s not April Fooling!

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Jacob April 1, 2018

    I think eventually they will sign Bashaud Breeland, and Davon House. I doubt they sign J Matthews (health concerns) but still might look for a cheap vet for depth.

  2. MJ April 1, 2018

    “Since the Packers seldom use more than two down linemen at a time, Wilkerson didn’t fill a gaping need either. Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark are solid.”
    ==> Partly true. However, DLs get tired more easily than the opposing OLs. Part of it is due to the DLs being sometimes double-teamed against. The rest, I don’t know, but teams do rotate DL guys, so even though it is not completely clear why, teams acknowledge that. Having another good DL in the rotation gives the starters a breather without conceding massive yardages.

    “I’m left to expect they’ll be using the draft to fill these roster holes. The trouble is that rookies – even relatively high draft picks – can’t realistically be expected to perform like veterans in their first year”.
    ==> Yes! Ted was overly optimistic with his picks, expecting them to suddenly solidify a position. This is a risk, and one with low odds of success. For two D positions you can thrust a rookie here and there and have your operation not collapse: CB and LB.

    1. tupac April 2, 2018

      You seem so sure that he expected the rookies to solidify a position that year, in the manner you expected.

      Ted never chanced future success for instant fame and the possibility of blowing the team up that comes with it. His calculated decisions made sure we’d never have a run the Bears just went through, while also making it neigh impossible to put up a 14-15 win season. And one could argue every year since ’11, we’ve been only $10M-$15M of FA investments away from being that 14-15 win team.

      Ted didn’t care that the rooks didn’t solidify the position. In his mind this was the process that best gave us the chance for continued success, year after year. They had better make the playoffs, but beyond that its on the coaches to overachieve the players into a SB.

      1. MJ April 3, 2018

        You know that purposefully leaving holes unattended will lead to those being exploited by contenders in the playoffs?

        1. tupac April 4, 2018

          Yes. That is up to the coaching and scheme to work around said holes.

  3. V April 1, 2018

    I’d feel a bit better if they signed journeyman Connor Barwin to improve our 3-4 OLB depth. I think they are a little thin at ILB too considering they elected not to resign Joe Thomas.

    Maybe their strategy will be to load up on offensive weapons in the draft and try to outscore everyone! Haha

    1. Cheese April 1, 2018

      You mean the same strategy that they’ve had for the past 8 years??

    2. Kato April 2, 2018

      Ahmad Brooks didn’t work out so well. The problem is they haven’t hit on a pass rusher pick since Nick Perry in 2012. Think about that for a minute. And that is even questionable given his availability issues

      1. PF4L April 2, 2018

        When you say “hit on a pass rusher” i think you are being more than generous my friend. When you have Perry on one side, and Clay on the other side, making the cash they’re making, and one of your needs is an edge rusher, something is wrong under the big tent.

        Ahmad Brooks was a waste of money, as was Bennett. It’s one thing to be active in free agency, that’s just the first step. Being successful is another thing.

        I looked at Ted’s foray into free agency last season, and it dawned on me why he hasn’t used it much. He’s not very good at it. I think one reason is Ted is a recluse and didn’t have many connections in the league. everyone knows of him, but nobody…really knows him. Truth be told, neither do any of us, and he’s been with the Packers for 13 years. What do we know about him? Not a hell of lot.

        I wish the Packers held a fundraiser, where you could bid, and have Ted, Murphy, and McCarthy do what you wanted (within reason). I would win that bid, and i would have all 3 of them mingling pre-game with the kids on the sideline, making poodles out of balloons for them. Cost?….don’t care!

  4. Marc Wilson April 2, 2018

    I’m not so pessimistic about 2018. Wilkerson is a great addition, and I wouldn’t expect Pettine to follow Capers tendency to go with only 2 at a time. And if a top edge rusher is added in the draft, look for Matthews to move into the middle at times.
    I would like to see them pick up a corner early in the draft and a FA safety like Vacarro, Boston, or Parker.
    And I’m not worried about WR. A guy like Matthews would be good to have at the right price, but with Graham and Kendrick’s at TE and a much better running game, a young receiver (Allison, Clark, and even Montgomery in the slot) would be more than adequate.

    1. tupac April 2, 2018

      Agreed. With more 3DL fronts, Mo is a great addition.

      A 1st, possibly 2nd round pass rusher moves Clay around more.

      A 1st or 2nd round CB moves Tramon to 3rd. While a 3rd round rookie CB has manned the slot CB before.

      Really just leaves WR the odd man out. Allison made a great year 2 leap…but to be a legit outside WR, needs to do that again. But with 6’6″ Graham, the tallest DB might be left to him, leaving Allison with a mismatch. Then there’s 6’6″ Clark whom was brought up from the practice squad in the midst of horrible injuries to several position groups, all to not be used. Hmm.

      1. PF4L April 2, 2018

        You guys assume a lot, and i’m not gonna rail on you for hoping for the best. But you are assuming the free agents play above what they have. You assume the draft picks will be starters at corner and olb edge rusher. I’m guessing everyone stays healthy? We’re assuming a much improved running game? Is safety a concern after losing a steady play caller. Is the offensive line suddenly a strength and not an issue worth bringing up? Does Josh Jones not look lost in pass coverage?

        I’m not saying none of those things won’t happen, i’m saying history teaches us wisdom and caution.

        Checks and balances. Stay thirsty

  5. Hinder April 2, 2018

    Done with shopping? No way! Uncle Ted taught Gutey that this is the perfect time to shop the bargain bins for has-beens and the dregs that no other team will sign.

    1. tupac April 2, 2018

      We usually do add a player or two in this period. Also could keep an eye on scheme changing defenses that will cut players that no longer fit…ala Odom and Brooks last year coming on a mere week before the season even started.

      1. PF4L April 2, 2018

        I don’t think we need anymore Brooks.

        1. tupac April 4, 2018

          Need is one thing, what we’ll get is another.

  6. Larry April 3, 2018

    Thompson’s “live by the draft” philosophy was insane and the clown should have been fired years ago. He is alone responsible for all the freaking holes in this roster. Every season only one or two rookies make any real impact for all the teams combined so anyone thinking help in this draft is coming for the 2018 season is a moron. Gute screwed the pooch as far as the FA CB position goes. Cutting Jordy was a monumental mistake for the 2018 season. I drink just as much kool-aid as anyone else but realistically at this point 2018 looks to be ANOTHER wasted Rodgers season and we have one Ted Thompson to thank……….

    1. PF4L April 3, 2018

      ^^^^….Almost as if i wrote it. Except i haven’t drank kool-aid in years.

    2. tupac April 4, 2018

      So what you’re saying is this season looks to not be another sure bet to win the SB?

      Fuck, when can we get that 2011 season again…

  7. MJ April 3, 2018

    I’ll venture two simple rules:
    1) don’t expect rookies to be the answer to a team’s deficiencies, especially if there us more than one. Even more so in positions such as TE and QB.
    2) don’t trade with NE until Bellichik and Brady retire.

    1. Empacador April 4, 2018

      Here’s an idea. If Belichick wants to trade with your team for a specific player that your team doesn’t hold in high regard, maybe your team should rethink their position and NOT trade/cut said player and rethink their original assessment.