Money will be tight, but the Packers have many holes to fill.
Here are five realistic targets for Green Bay to pursue.
5. Marquise Goodwin, WR
The Packers completely blew it when they neglected the wide receiver position in last year’s draft and at the trade deadline. They simply cannot let that happen again this time around.
This year’s free agent class at receiver is as robust as the draft class was at the position last year. Allen Robinson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Corey Davis, Curtis Samuel, and T.Y. Hilton are only some of a remarkably deep class of receivers.
But Green Bay likely can’t bring in anybody at that level because of their tight financial situation. Besides, the Packers are absolutely desperate for help at slot receiver.
Enter Marquise Goodwin. He decided to sit out last season due to COVID-19, but the rebuilding Eagles do not look like a team willing to spend on a 30-year-old receiver. Goodwin is an ideal scheme fit, adds badly needed speed and can return kicks. No one needs to tell Packer fans how sorely a kick returner is needed these days.
4. Matt Breida, RB
It is no secret that the Packers are going to lose at least one running back to free agency this offseason. One or both of Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones are goners, leaving the offense with just A.J. Dillon in the backfield. The Packers will need to provide some contrast to Dillon’s bruising, workhorse style. Matt Breida can be that guy.
Breida got a bit lost in the shuffle of San Fransisco’s crowded offensive backfield. Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, and Jeff Wilson took over the mantle as Breida and Jerick McKinnon battled injury. Breida eventually got traded to the Dolphins, where he didn’t have much of a role either. But Breida is still oozing with potential. He showed remarkable speed and explosiveness in his time on the field with the 49ers, and would be an ideal cheap option to replace Aaron Jones.
3. K.J. Wright, LB
The Packers have needed help at middle linebacker since 15,000 B.C. Year after year after year, the Packers find themselves deficient at inside linebacker. This past year was no different. Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin look like potential keepers, but neither is good enough to be an every-down linebacker, at least not yet. K.J. Wright can be part of the solution.
Say what you want about Joe Barry, but he should be able to get the linebackers to play at a higher level. But the Packers are so long overdue for a competent veteran in the middle of their defense.
Wright is past his best days, but can be a nice addition for a team needing just a few more pieces to push for a Super Bowl berth. With a new coordinator prioritizing the position and a still sturdy veteran brought in, the Packers could end up in solid shape after all at middle linebacker.
2. Josh Norman, CB
Packer fans all around the world covered their eyes in disbelief during the NFC Championship game, as Kevin King got beat by anything and everyone. Jaire Alexander is coming off one the best playoff performances by any defensive back in team history, which is saying quite a lot. The Packers absolutely must add a capable outside option next to Alexander. Josh Norman can still be that guy.
He is quietly coming off a great season with the Buffalo Bills, possibly overshadowed by the fact the Bills’ defense in 2020 was not particularly good. The Bills could look to make a larger splash somewhere else on the roster, particularly along the defensive line.
Norman could slip through the cracks as a result. Any offense having to go up against Alexander and Norman is going to have a difficult time being dynamic in the passing game. He wouldn’t be a long-term solution, but a one-year stopgap might be the difference for this secondary.
1. J.J. Watt, DE
This one simply makes too much sense. J.J. Watt is still a pretty scary defensive end and when combined with some other talent across Green Bay’s front seven, he can be an absolute terror.
The Packers absolutely have to pursue Watt and add him to a defensive line starving for help next to Kenny Clark and Za’Darius Smith. The Packers defense has not had a player with Watt’s leadership and versatility in quite some time.
Getting Watt on a homecoming deal of sorts oozes potential for the Packers. After making an inexplicably bad decision to select a third-string quarterback in the first round of last year’s draft, the Packers owe it to Aaron Rodgers to go all-in and bring in a Hall of Fame defensive player.