With the 2023 NFL trade deadline having come and gone, the Green Bay Packers made it abundantly clear that their strategy at the deadline was built around the 2024 season.
In their only transaction, the Packers traded cornerback Rasul Douglas and a fifth-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for a third-round draft pick. According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers weren't shopping Douglas and would only agree to the Bills' request with a third-round pick involved.
Usually, that might not be the worst news, and the returned draft compensation is valuable when you consider Green Bay now holds five picks in the first three rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft. But 2023 is not a typical season for the Packers.
The Packers are off to a puzzling 2-5 start where very little has gone right. That doesn't mean it's time to toss up the white flag on the season, but the light is fading, and there were names on the block that would have helped this team tremendously.
However, GM Brian Gutekunst, like in previous seasons, mostly stood pat at the deadline. While teams like the Washington Commanders were selling off top talents, there is no indication the Packers made serious efforts to engage in a young player like Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin, who would have provided an instant jolt to a lagging offense.
It might sound entirely impossible, but the Packers are only 2.5 games out of the final NFC playoff spot despite tracking towards only their sixth losing season in the past three decades. Adding a spark plug to the offense, at the cost of a mid or late-round selection, likely would have played favorably to turn hot seats down on a coaching staff facing further harsh scrutiny by the week.
With moving Douglas, he was not only a leader on the defense, but he's been their top defensive back this season and a much-needed veteran presence in the locker room. While Alexander is nursing a back injury and not playing up to his standard superstar capabilities, along with Eric Stokes heading back to injured reserve after four special teams snaps in his return from IR, most were shocked when Douglas was dealt.
If the Packers' goal was to see what they have in more young talent, moving off of Preston Smith to provide more opportunity for youngsters Lukas Van Ness, Kingsley Enagbare, or Brenton Cox would have been more expected.
Shopping linebacker De'Vondre Campbell would also have made sense for a contending team looking to add a veteran and recent All-Pro in the middle of their defense.
These two players need to step up after Packers trade Rasul Douglas
The Packers will have to not only hope Alexander overcomes his back injury and returns to the status quo between the white lines, but they're taking a chance that rookie cornerback Carrington Valentine can bounce back after getting picked apart by Russell Wilson in week seven against Denver. With Stokes out, Valentine, Corey Ballentine, and recent free-agent signing Robert Rochell will claim outside corner duties opposite Jaire.
Rochell most recently spent time on the Carolina Panthers practice squad after a stint with the Los Angeles Rams. Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero runs a similar scheme as the Packers, making the transition more seamless for Rochell. He should emerge on special teams immediately.
With trades being off the table until the offseason, the Packers may further dip into the free-agent pool to fill some positions, but the roster is now mostly set for the remainder of the season.
Here are two players who benefit from the trade deadline roster moves, or lack thereof.