Packers: Free agency blueprint to address positions of need

Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Any team that wins just six games over a 16-game season is in need of significant reinforcements during the offseason. Here is what the Green Bay Packers should do with their cap space this offseason.

With just over $33 million in available cap space at the moment, according to Spotrac, the Packers have themselves ample resources to add significant outside help this offseason. But first they need to create more cap space.

The Packers can start by letting go of Nick Perry. If he is released after June 1, they will save over $10 million in cap space. Free agency occurs before then, so the Packers will have to operate under the assumption that Perry’s huge contract will be off the books. They should also be willing to let several free agents walk.

Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, Justin McCray, Jake Ryan and Davon House should all be let go rather than re-signed. The Packers are in need of new personnel as much as they were in need of a new coaching staff. Geronimo Allison, Robert Tonyan and Reggie Gilbert should be the priorities for the front office.

Allison will likely be the most expensive, even as he comes off a season-ending injury. A new contract for the undrafted free agent out of Illinois would probably cost in the area of $3 million per year. For the Packers, a two-year contract is ideal. The Packers shouldn’t be too committal to a player with a concurring injury history and consistency issues even when healthy.

With $3 million off the table, the Packers are left with around $30 million to spend.

Gilbert should be next on their list. While he has a long way to go before being a starting level pass rusher, he could mature into a nice rotation piece for the Green Bay front seven. A new deal for Gilbert will also be pretty cheap. Only $2 million a year should be enough to pry him back to Green Bay.

Byron Bell is a player the Packers should be looking to bring back. He filled in nicely while the team dealt with injuries left and right on their offensive line. Originally signed to be a backup at tackle, Bell eventually became the full-time starter at guard alongside Lane Taylor.

The Packers managed to bring Bell in at just under $2 million. Another contract at the same salary should be enough for the eight-year veteran.

Free agents to sign

In this hypothetical scenario, the Packers have now spent roughly $7 million on three of their own free agents, leaving them with $26 million. There are several targets for them to pursue from other teams within their price range. Their first pursuit should be of running back Corey Grant.

Grant has been overshadowed during his time in Jacksonville by both Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon. He has proven to be a very effective gadget player during his four years in the NFL.

The Packers should make Aaron Jones the starter at running back, and use Jamaal Williams in passing situations. The one thing the offense is missing is a back who can be used on a jet sweep, swing pass, or misdirection.

Furthermore, Grant was best utilized with Nathaniel Hackett as his offensive coordinator. Hackett is now the offensive coordinator in Green Bay. Hackett will know exactly how to involve Grant more than any coach in the NFL. A free agent contract for Grant should cost around $2 million, given his lack of usage in Jacksonville.

Now with $24 million, the Packers should set their sights on Landon Collins. Unquestionably the most expensive player the team could target, Collins could be the presence at the back end of the defense that they have needed for years. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was always overrated and the Packers made the right call by turning him into a draft pick.

Collins is a years younger than Clinton-Dix and is undoubtedly a better player. Collins is rangier, stronger, and would be the first safety the Packers have had since Nick Collins who can play the run effectively.

The Packers need depth all over the place on defense, but they are also in need of a proven star player who can get the rest of the young secondary lined up. A contract to woo Collins to Green Bay would likely cost right around $9 million annually. This would also be a long commitment for the Packers as well, as Collins will be looking for a deal for at least four years.

Now with $15 million left, the Packers must remember that their draft class is going to be unusually expensive. Not only will a player picked at #12 be on a higher than average rookie scale, but they will also have a second first-round pick to pay for from the New Orleans Saints, as well as an extra fourth-rounder from the Redskins.

But upon remembering that the Packers will eventually be freed of Nick Perry’s contract, they should be able to afford one more signing.

The Packers should have a little bit more cap space than hypothesized here, considering most free agent signings have part of the annual salary paid in a signing bonus.

Jared Cook has had the two best years of his career in Oakland since signing there after leaving the Packers. Green Bay sorely missed him given how poorly their experiment with Martellus Bennett turned out. Even with Jimmy Graham cemented as the starter, the Packers offense would get a huge boost with Cook back in the lineup.

Cook proved to be a very capable receiver especially in third down situations. The Packers couldn’t give Aaron Rodgers anywhere to go with the ball this past season on third down. Cook’s arrival would be extremely helpful in that part of the game. The offense is still in need of receivers, but Brian Gutekunst can look to solve that in the draft.

The Raiders appear to be in a complete tear down, meaning bringing back the 31-year-old isn’t in the best interests of their long-term outlook. The Packers are going to have to open up the checkbooks a little bit considering Cook will probably have opportunities to start elsewhere, but a three-year contract in the $21 million range should be enough.

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A free agent haul of Jared Cook, Corey Grant and Landon Collins is a pretty nice way to welcome in new head coach Matt LaFleur. With 10 draft picks in this year’s draft, the Packers should finally be able to get themselves the necessary reinforcements the roster desperately needs.