Free agency is officially underway and the Green Bay Packers have proven they are already a different team under new general manager Brian Gutekunst.
“That’s obviously a position we’re looking at heavily right now,” Gutekunst said to reporters on Tuesday night, via ESPN.
Last week Green Bay traded former first-round draft pick Damarious Randall to the Cleveland Browns, who was arguably the Packers’ best corner. However, even before the trade the Packers needed to address the position.
Green Bay allowed 7.9 yards per pass last season, 30th in the NFL. They recorded only 11 interceptions, their lowest total since 2013 and opposing quarterbacks had an average rating of 102.0, just sneaking by the Browns as the second worst in the league.
The current unit consists of Quinten Rollins, Kevin King, Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pipkins, Demetri Goodson, Herb Waters and Donatello Brown. Veteran Davon House, who signed with the Packers last season, is an unrestricted free agent.
Rollins was placed on injured reserve last season with an Achilles injury.
Hawkins, Pipkins, Goodson, Waters and Brown were all undrafted free agents.
King is entering his second season and will look to build off of his rookie campaign, but only played in nine games as he battled with injuries.
Bottom line is this unit lacks depth and experience. Green Bay has already lost out on signing big time corners like Malcolm Butler, Trumaine Johnson, Richard Sherman, Bashed Breeland and Aaron Colvin.
As the hours go by, the free agent market continues to dwindle and Green Bay needs to improve this unit, before addressing it again in the NFL Draft.
Here are three corners that are still available and will be a boost for the Packers.
Since being drafted in 2014, Rashaan Melvin has been an NFL journeyman. Mevlin’s career started with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he was signed as an undrafted free agent.
After Tampa he had stops in Miami, Baltimore, New England and back to Miami before signing with the Indianapolis Colts in 2016.
In two seasons with the Colts, he played in 25 games, recorded 82 tackles, two forced fumbles and three interceptions.
This past season, Melvin was the Colts’ top cornerback. Melvin earned an 85.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus and was ranked as the 17th best corner in 2017.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Packers and Raiders have expressed interest in Melvin.
Melvin is a big physical corner (6-foot-3) who would pack a punch in the Packers’ secondary. But it should be noted he has a long list of injuries and his price tag will be relatively high after his successful 2017 campaign.
E.J. Gaines became an unrestricted free agent after the Buffalo Bills failed to re-sign the 26-year-old corner.
He was acquired by the Bills from the Los Angeles Rams last summer in the Sammy Watkins trade. Last season, Gaines played in 11 games, recored 48 tackles, forced three fumbles and snagged one interception.
The former sixth-round pick was drafted in 2014 and has averaged about 52 tackles a season. He missed his entire second year with a foot injury and battled through a hamstring issue this past season.
Gaines is young and has a ton of upside if he can stay on the field.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be 32 years old by the start of the 2018 season. But one thing the Packers lack at the cornerback position is experience.
Their oldest corner currently on the roster is Goodson, who will turn 29 this year and has only played in 26 games.
DRC is a veteran who will bring experience and durability to this unit. Since being drafted in 2008 by the Arizona Cardinals, he has played in at least 15 regular season games every year except 2011.
Although he did not record an interception last year, two seasons ago he tied a his career high with six picks.
The Packers could easily bring in the veteran on a one-year deal to help groom the unit.