10 Free Agents the Green Bay Packers Should Target This Offseason

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10 Free Agents the Green Bay Packers Should Target

Packers
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was not exactly how many expected the Green Bay Packers season to end. Personally, I thought they were catching fire at just the right time to make a deep playoff run. Not to mention the fact that the return of Aaron Rodgers injected positivity into the football team.

Unfortunately, the Packers were faltered by the San Francisco 49ers for the second consecutive postseason, which is a team that definitely got hot at the right time. For that reason, it is time to talk about what free agents, and yes Green Bay must sign a couple, the Packers should target in the offseason.

At the rate Green Bay’s season went it is quite clear the organization needs to target some defensive playmakers. I understand that the incredible amount of injuries definitely played a role in the rest of the NFL not getting to see what the Packers were fully capable of this season. Regardless, the defense still needs some improvement in several areas. More specifically, the defensive line and safety needs some upgrades immediately. Not to mention, the exit of some players via free agency could solve even more problems than the average fan even wants to comprehend.

Remember, the Packers don’t have a lot of money to spend, even with some players coming off the books. However, this slideshow isn’t going to get too focused on the finances. Instead, the focus will be more about which players will help improve the team.

Make sure to click through the slideshow to see 10 free agents the Packers should target this offseason. Also, don’t forget to comment below on which free agents you would like to see Green Bay go after.

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10. Packers Defensive Free Agents

Defensive
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The Packers have several defensive players that will turn to free agency this offseason. However, Sam Shields, Johnny Jolly and Mike Neal are three players in particular that Green Bay can’t let reach the open market. Shields is the top cover cornerback on the team, Jolly proved to be a major spark on the defensive line and Neal has the proven ability to get to the quarterback. Losing any one of these players would set the defense back instead of forward, which is the direction it desperately needs to go.

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9. Packers Offensive Free Agents

Offensive
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay has a few players on offense that could test free agency. James Jones, James Starks and John Kuhn are the three players that must be retained by the organization. Jones is an incredibly underrated wide receiver who has proven to be a consistent playmaker. Starks ran with authority and showed that he is a great complementary back to Eddie Lacy. Kuhn is a fan favorite who is solid on special teams and is by far the best back when it comes to protecting Rodgers.

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8. Charles Woodson S

Woodson
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Yes, Charles Woodson is a free agent. And yes, the Packers really do need to sign him. The cornerback turned safety had a very productive season for the Oakland Raiders in 2013. He posted 97 total tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and three defended passes.

Why must Green Bay bring him back? The main reason is leadership. The Packers have zero on the defensive side of the ball since Woodson was let go a year ago. Clay Matthews hasn’t filled the void nor has Tramon Williams. It’s a ship lost without her captain. That needs to change in the offseason.

Still not good enough for you? Safeties Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings were targeted 60 times in 2013 in which they allowed 46 passes to be completed for 612 yards, 9 touchdowns and an incredible passer rating of 148.1. Even worse, Burnett was the only safety in the NFL who played for at least 900 snaps and didn’t record a single interception. Jennings was the only safety in the league who suited up for 800 snaps and didn’t defend one pass. Neither of them forced a fumble. The safety position is the last line of defense. Their job is to create turnovers and defend passes.

As you can see, an upgrade at safety is imperative. Considering the Packers have made Burnett one of the highest-paid safeties in the league means that Woodson should replace Jennings.

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7. Paul Soliai DT

Soliai
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The unfortunate reality is that B.J. Raji won’t be back in 2014, at least as of right now. Raji rejected Green Bay’s $8 million per season offer, which means there’s no way he’s coming back. On top of that, he wasn’t very productive in 2013, or at least his 17 total tackles didn’t indicate it. And yes, I do realize that Ryan Pickett played a majority of the snaps at defensive tackle this past season, but I don’t believe he will be back in 2014 either. Therefore, the Packers must target a defensive tackle in free agency.

Green Bay will need someone who can plug the middle and be an asset when it comes to defending the run, which is why Paul Soliai needs to be on the team’s list of interest. The 6’4”, 340-pound defensive lineman has the necessary size to prevent any momentum up the gut. More importantly, he’s very active in getting after ball carriers as his 34 total tackles prove. He also recorded one sack and forced one fumble in 2013.

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6. Antonio Smith DE

Smith
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If Green Bay learned anything on defense the past few seasons, it’s that they need someone opposite of Matthews to pressure the quarterback. Defensive end Antonio Smith has done a terrific job of that over the past several years. Smith, who works brilliantly with J.J. Watt in Houston, would be a perfect fit in Green Bay’s 3-4 defense. The Packers need defensive linemen, along with the outside linebackers, to record sacks. Smith posted 30 total tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble this past season.

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5. Corey Graham CB

Graham
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

As much as I appreciate the hard work of Shields and Williams in the secondary, the Packers really need to find an additional cornerback in free agency. One such player the team needs to target is Corey Graham. The 28-year-old really stepped his game up in 2013 in which he posted 74 total tackles and one forced fumble. He also had a career-high in sacks (one), passes defended (12) and interceptions (four).

I understand the Packers think a lot of Davon House and rookie Micah Hyde. However, if Green Bay wants to reach the Super Bowl in 2014 they must upgrade the secondary as much as possible. The Packers ranked 24th in the league in opponent passing yards (247.3 per game), which is simply unacceptable.

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4. Karlos Dansby ILB

Dansby
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Hawk had a career year and led the team in tackles (118). At the price the Packers are getting him for there’s really no reason to think about replacing him as of yet. Brad Jones is a different story. He was productive in 2013 and the organization appears to be a huge fan of his. The reality is the team will most likely not cut ties with him. With that being said, there were too many times during the season that running backs were able to run right up the middle. In fact, there were too many times where the inside linebackers were nowhere to be found.

Karlos Dansby might be out of reach financially for the Packers. However, the team really needs to make a lucrative splash on defense. Dansby is someone that would have an immediate impact on the team and improve the defense to the point where Green Bay would be contenders once again. Dansby recorded 122 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, four interceptions and defended 19 passes in 2013. Needless to say, he’s the complete package.

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3. Randy Starks DT

Starks
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a 3-4 defense, the nose tackle is the anchor. It’s actually a job that rarely sees any recognition, unless your name is Vince Wilfork or you return an interception for a touchdown in a conference championship game. Randy Starks is a defensive tackle who gets after the quarterback. He might not be suitable to play nose tackle because he weighs in at just 305 pounds, but there’s no question the Packers could find somewhere to use his services along the defensive line.

Starks recorded 49 total tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery this past season. He’s aggressive, fierce and wants nothing more than to win. He’s exactly what Green Bay needs in the trenches.

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2. Alterraun Verner CB

Verner
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Alterraun Verner is the very definition of a playmaker in the secondary. Once again, I appreciate the services of current players for the Packers, but changes must be made if the team wants to reach the ultimate goal this year. Verner is one of the more underrated free agents on the market, which could work brilliantly in Green Bay’s favor.

He posted 57 total tackles, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one defensive touchdown and a whopping 23 defended passes. For a team that struggled to get takeaways for a majority of the season, Verner would be a fantastic addition. On top of that, he would be a great asset in coverage.

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1. Brian Orakpo OLB

Orakpo
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers need another pass rusher to go along with Matthews. In fact, if Green Bay could ever find someone else to match his intensity and production there would be no stopping them. Enter outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. The 27-year-old wants out of Washington, which means he will be signing elsewhere in free agency. Orakpo needs to be Green Bay’s top priority in the offseason, as he would become a matchup nightmare with the Packers. Could you imagine Matthews on one side and Orakpo on the other? It would be a dream come true for Dom Capers.

Orakpo recorded a career-high 60 total tackles, 10 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one interception and defended five passes in 15 games. The fact that his sack numbers have remained consistent throughout his career means he’s definitely worth spending the money on. Ted Thompson has to come to the realization that the Packers will not get a top-notch pass rusher in the draft. It will have to come in free agency, and there’s no one better than Orakpo as far as outside linebackers are concerned.


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  • Scott

    I’ll go easier here, but lets start with the fact that you don’t even mention re-signing the one guy on the offense thay is the most critical, one of the top centers, and you insist instead Kuhn, Starks, Jolly(who may not even be ABLE to play next year) as guys we habe to bring back. EDS was one of the top rated centers, the MOST important position on the offensive line according to McCarthy. You also don’t address our top need, a Safety other than the ridiculous solution to bring back a 36 year old player who refused a pay cut from roughly 10 million last year. Finally, you’re just being lazy on the Orakpo thing. You claim that he wants out, so he’ll be a Free Agent. Two HUGE problems. 1-He does not as he said he wants to be a a Redskin for life. 2nd, the ‘Skins could also franchise him.

    With you on either or both Dolphins however. Damsby ain’t leaving AZ, but again, OK. No way are we spending big money on ANY CB IF we sign Shields though. They’d be our 4th string, or dime CB with Casey Heyward, Shields and Williams all back. No, moving Hyde to Safety, drafting a CB like Gilbert from Okie St or Darqueze Dennard from Mich St, then letting Williams walk and saving the 9.5 million after next year not only makes way more sense, but it’s cheaper by about 40 million dollars and is how Thompson 8s likely to do things. Oh, side note, Pick has said he’d come back on a year to year basis for less money, so he has to be brought back, like Jolly if the back is good, and the Packers don’t play with a defensive tackle. That’s a 4- 3. They play with a NT or a 0 technique, and two defensive ends, a 3 and 5 technique.

    • Michael Terrill

      Thanks for the read! You’re correct in that the Packers must re-sign EDS. In fact, there are several players they must re-sign that I didn’t mention. The top need is a safety and there are several options in order to fill the role. You can call a possible Woodson signing ridiculous because of his age. However, there’s no question the lack of leadership on defense. Sign Woodson to a one-year deal, let a drafted safety sit behind him and learn.

      As far as Orakpo, there’s nothing lazy about it. Read around and you’ll find out that he indeed does want to test what is available in free agency. In fact, if he finds something better he’s most definitely leaving Washington, the sinking ship of the NFC East. Do you have any idea how many players say they want to be a “(enter team name here) for life.” Just because they say it doesn’t make it true. The only reason I said Orakpo wants out of Washington is because I was told it’s a real possibility.

      I seriously doubt the Packers spend any big money on anyone, let alone a cornerback. They will bring back Shields, restructure Tramon Williams’ contract and hope Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward can get the job done. I’m just putting some options out there that would work for the Packers if they were willing to write a big check. It’s no secret that Aaron Rodgers (via his radio show) and the other players believe a couple of playmakers on defense needs to happen in the offseason.

      I seriously doubt Pickett will be re-signed, but if he is, I’m all for it simply because I like the guy. Packers aren’t switching to a 4-3 defense so the need for NT is still necessary.

      • Scott

        YES, the Orakpo comment about how “he wants out of Washington, which means he’ll be signing elsewhere in free agency,” IS lazy. You’re just flat out guessing, and you guessed WRONG. Don’t tell me to “read around.” Go and do the same. He’s said on about 15 different occasions that he WANTS to come back and has said the same thing his entire career. Does that mean he can’t sign elsewhere? Of course not. But you’re trying to be a writer here, and I get this isn’t the WSJ, or NYT, but you’re just making things up to support your beliefs as a fan. He has said unequivocally that he WANTS to and prefers to stay in Washington.

        And with respect, I called the Woodson re-signing ridiculous because of several reasons. 1st-He left last year because he wouldn’t take a pay cut. He made 10 million for the Packers. 2nd-He said he went back to Oakland to finish his career where he started it. 3rd-Just listing his stats doesn’t really do much for me, nor does being better than MD Jennings/McMillian. He’s also extremely likely to miss time, chose to leave here last year and was obviously upset with the Packers on his way out(as evident by his tweets) and…is THIRTY SIX. That just brings it all together. I really don’t understand why we’d bring him back.

        What’s more, if they draft a Pryor or a guy like Clinton-Dix, why would they sit them for a year for a guy like Woodson? Woodson was great for the Packers. Secured his HOF candidacy. He’s got almost nothing to offer anymore. And as I said in the other Woodson thread, it’s RIDICULOUS to say that you “can’t question their lack of leadership,” on Defense. The hell I can’t. Ryan Pickett, Tramon Williams, AJ Hawk, Clay Matthews, BJ Raji…the truth is however I have no idea how good of leaders they are as “leadership,” isn’t a stat you can quantify and you certainly can’t look at the end results with a thousand of variables and say, “well, must not have had leadership.”

        As for Pickett, I really don’t understand why you don’t think HE’LL be re-signed, a guy who really hasn’t seen a huge drop off in performance. Plus, he’s willing to come back on the cheap.

        And I doubt they re-structure Williams. With one year left, they’re not adding years, and I don’t see him taking much of a paycut only so we can give it to Shields….it’d be nice though.

    • VEEJ

      The Packers need to focus on players who produced at a high level in College and on a more consistent basis, they also need more speed to the edges which should come from the LBs but in our case….ugh

  • VEEJ

    Ugh…where to begin…no, no, no. Love C Wood—he ain’t coming back. Another Free Agent Fat guy up front does solve the Raji/ Pickett departure but not the need for better pass rush from the line and more team speed on defense. They need to GET Aaron Donald from PITT (same size as Mike Daniels) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3YKvx6LcBs

    This guy (Donald) will be a perennial ALL PRO. If they do address safety via FA, I would say Ward or Byrd but who is kidding who, that won’t happen so it’s best to sign our own guys as you suggested and switch Hyde to FS. And I still think they need to take a safety in the first two or three rounds of this draft as an insurance policy (unless you have to trade those away to get Donald). Dang, it’s like our RB auditions we had for years—except now with the safety spot. My point here is that we need to get players who create headaches for the opposition. It is rare, really rare to find rookies like the only highlighted above (Donald). A guy like him might slide because of height or size limitations but when you watch the tape, this guy is an instant upgrade for whichever team or scheme (understanding his ideal fit is a 3 technique in a 4-3 but he’s the same size as Mike Daniels) and he won’t get out of RD1. He can anchor and play the run very well and rush like nobody’s business so he’s a 3 down player. I would also look for any and all stand up pass rushers in the draft who might slip into later rounds—to create more competition and insurance for oft-injured Clay (you can never have enough of those). This draft is very deep with pass rushers and you might find a bargain in the later rounds but then we’re back to the old draft and develop cycle. So, maybe the Orakpo idea is not a bad one if you don’t re-sign Neal. But I don’t see them paying two OLBs top dollar with Matthews locked up either—sheesh, this is harder than I thought!