Packers: Intriguing veteran defensive backs available via trade

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 27: Free safety Earl Thomas
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 27: Free safety Earl Thomas /

Three veteran defensive backs the Green Bay Packers should consider trying to trade for.

Unless you’ve been holed up some dark cavernous region of the globe without electricity and internet access, you’re probably well aware of Green Bay’s offseason of futility in terms of the front office’s inability to infuse the roster with much-needed firepower in the secondary.

Especially distressing to all Packer backers is the fact that the defensive backfield is currently in worse shape than it was just a few days ago, considering how Damarious Randall and Morgan Burnett are both long gone.

The prospect of adding quality veteran cornerbacks seemed rather promising only a week ago before many of the top options were taken off the market in rapid succession.

A shot-in-the-dark four-year offer sheet to restricted free agent Kyle Fuller was easily (and almost immediately) matched by the Bears and has, as a result, sent many Packer diehards in near panic mode regarding their team’s suddenly alarming lack of depth on the backend.

So, where does new GM Brian Gutekunst go from here?

Scooping up one or two of the remaining free agents remains an option, but names like the brittle E.J. Gaines, the fossil-like Tramon Williams or the mercurial Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are hardly inspiring.

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And then, of course, there’s old free agent stand-by Davon House, whose lack of speed and inability to shut down No. 1 receivers aren’t exactly the traits that will have people engaging in all sorts of unfettered revelry.

What about the draft, you say? Yeah, building with homegrown prospects has traditionally been a successful formula for restocking the roster, but will that be enough to cure all of the organization’s ills in the secondary?

If anyone has realistic expectations of the Packers being a true-blue Super Bowl contender, it won’t be due to multiple rookies providing an instant impact at the third level.

So, where then can a much-coveted difference maker be found if not on another team’s roster? It’s not the Packer way of doing business, but it may the only way to acquire that missing piece.

Luckily, the Packers are armed with 12 draft picks and dealing away three or four of them won’t catastrophically alter organizational plans to usher in quality youth at positions of need.

This year’s free agency period has seen the Rams deal 2018 fourth and fifth-round picks respectively for Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Was there any hope of them drafting similarly-talented defenders had they held onto those two late-round picks next month? I think we all know the answer to that.

It’s time for Gutekunst and company to follow Les Snead’s lead and start dealing. Here are three defensive backs that help elevate the Packers D to another level.

Earl ThomasEven at the ripe-old age of 29, Thomas remains a top-five safety, who can provide the Packers with the versatility they lost with Burnett signing elsewhere. Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice are gifted athletes in their own right, but neither possess the complete skill set of the unquestioned leader of the Seahawks’ secondary.

Keep in mind, though, that he would’ve already been shipped to Dallas if Seattle would’ve been happy with a sixth or seventh-round pick in return. But coughing up a mid-round pick could be worth it in this case.

Ronald DarbyThere’s a lot to like about the ball-hawking 24-year-old, who isn’t exactly coming off a banner year with the Eagles. A Week 1 ankle injury resulted in the former Florida State Seminole playing only eight games in which the one-time Bill went through a transition period in adjusting to a new scheme.

Darby bounced back, however, with strong effort versus the Raiders and solid performances in the playoffs. But while the young corner offers the Eagles an enticing package of speed and instincts, they now have a glut of talent at the position with the recent acquisition of Daryl Worley from the Panthers. Darby is the type of cover man that can help the Packers for years to come.

Dre KirkpatrickGoing into last season, the 28-year-old was generally viewed as a top-20 performer at his position and the Bengals rewarded him handsomely with a five-year, $52 million contract for the progress he’d shown since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2012.

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Kirkpatrick didn’t live up to that deal in 2017, though, as he become the second-most penalized NFL player since 2015. If he can keep those penalties down, the 6-foot-2 corner possesses the ability to play both press-man and in off-coverage while having the recovery speed to make up for a misread. The fact that he wasn’t his best last season may lower his price tag to, say, a seventh-round pick.