2018 Green Bay Packers (Cap Numbers as of 1/26; source Over The Cap.com; projected $179.5 M cap)
2018 Team Cap = $184,403,050
Total Cap Liabilities = $165,025,417
Top 51 = 159,826,884
Dead Money = $4,718,533
Team Cap – (Top 51 + Dead Money) = Cap Space
Cap Space = $19,857,633
Rookie Pool = $8,864,072
Cap Space – Rookie Pool = $10,993,561
11 draft picks: 1/14, 2/45, 3/76, 3/101, 4/116, 5/152, 5/173, 5/175, 5/177, 6/189, 7/232
Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com Team Needs:
- CB, OL, WR
- “They added a CB (Kevin King) in the 2017 draft, and it might be time to go back to the well at the position. The Packers could look to add competition along the offensive line. Randall Cobb is a potential cap casualty, so WR could become a priority.”
Team’s Free Agents:
Green Bay is at a stage of their franchise where they’ve become over invested in the passing game with Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, plus Jordy Nelson as their top three cap hits at 25.52% of the cap and the team extending Davante Adams to a deal that’s going to pay him a projected 5.87% of the cap in 2018 as their seventh most expensive player. This over-investment in one phase of the game is something I talk about often in Caponomics: Building Super Bowl Champions. As a team gets heavily invested in one phase of the game, most typically passing because of the high costs of quarterbacks with about half of the NFL paying over 10% of the cap to their top quarterback, wide receivers, and left tackles, other phases of the game begin to suffer, which is what has happened for the Packers over the last few seasons. To this point, they have Pro Football Focus’ #1 left tackle for 2017 in David Bakhtiari, but there’s a large investment in the singular discipline of offensive passing. The Packers are one of the most well run organizations in the NFL, so this can happen to anyone and they’re still in their Super Bowl window. They even have the potential to expand it, if they can make the right moves this offseason.
The 2017 Packers might have looked a bit better on defense if Aaron Rodgers played the whole season, but as it worked out they were ranked 26th in points allowed at 24.0 per game and 22nd in yards allowed at 349 yards per game. Even if Rodgers was healthy, there is no doubt this team had defensive issues and has weak spots heading into 2018. The team needs that I have for the Packers start with cornerback as the number one team need, then the interior of their offensive line, wide receiver if they have to move on from Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson, tight end, safety, outside linebacker, defensive end, and back-up quarterback.
Cornerback is their biggest need and it’s also a need that could be solved for them right now if they were able to re-sign Casey Hayward in 2016. They were then unable to sign the versatile safety and cornerback Micah Hyde in 2017. This is a great example of what I mean about an over-investment in one phase of the game creating holes elsewhere on the roster, these are two of their biggest needs this offseason for a team that traditionally builds from within their roster and has been second in the NFL in draft picks from 1994 through 2016 with 204 to the Patriots 210.
I must acknowledge that part of the reason they couldn’t re-sign Hayward and Hyde was because the team has drafted so well, the top 10 most expensive players currently on the roster for 2018 were drafted by the team, so this is a case where they couldn’t re-sign everyone. Alternatively though, Hayward and Hyde were such good values that maybe the Packers should have planned out their spending better, rather than investing in both Cobb and Nelson. I’m just presenting both sides to this though because the Packers also drafted potential replacements for Cobb and Nelson in Ty Montgomery, Jared Abbrederis, and Jeff Janis, but they didn’t pan out as the team planned. Adams has panned out though, which has made Cobb more expendable in 2018.
Similarly, in the defensive backfield, the Packers drafted players like cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Kevin King who haven’t worked out as well as the team would have hoped. Maybe 2017 second round picks King and safety Josh Jones play at a similar production level to Hayward and Hyde after a season in the league and the Packers have a greatly improved secondary. The Packers haven’t replaced Hayward and Hyde yet, but in their defense, they’ve made the moves to deal with their departures and invested their draft picks wisely. Considering their track record of draft success and player development, it wouldn’t be surprising to see King and Jones become good NFL starters in year two as they learn more about being a pro and the organization understands more about how to use their strengths in their system. The team has to be hoping that 2015 second round pick Quinton Rollins, a cornerback who started 10 games for them in 2016, will return from an Achilles injury that cost him more than half of the 2017 season and continue to develop into a competent player for them.
Hayward was signed away by the Los Angeles Chargers on a three-year, $15.3 million contract, which is pennies for a player who was already one of the top 15 to 20 cornerbacks in the NFL when he left Green Bay and was Pro Football Focus’ #1 cornerback in 2017. Hyde was signed away by the Bills for a five-year, $30 million contract that’s a great value for a player with his versatility as a safety for the Bills and the Packers lost their slot cornerback from 2016. Hyde was a top 15 safety according to Pro Football Focus. Heyward’s contract is in the 3-3.5% of the cap range, which is low second tier costs for a top player at a position that can cost as much as 9% of the cap. Theoretically, the Chargers are getting a potential 9% of cap value from a player they’re paying 3% of the cap. Hyde’s cap costs will be in the 2.4-4% of the cap range, which is near the bottom of the first tier for the safety market, which peaks at 7%.
As I wrote in Caponomics, the NFL is about value and versatility and the Packers lost out on two valuable players who would have added versatility to their defense, but again they did make a strong attempt at replacing them with low-cost players. One thing regarding losing out on Hayward and Hyde, but having Cobb and Nelson is that I also believe that when a team has a truly elite quarterback, they should be looking to save costs at wide receiver as that quarterback can elevate the play of his wide receivers and a team wants to avoid becoming over-invested in one phase of the game. An elite quarterback can make lesser receivers produce at a higher rate with his arm strength and accuracy, while his decision making can elevate the receivers through understanding where to throw the ball on each play and the whole offense through knowing when to audible to the right play call versus each specific defense. I saw future cap issues coming when they signed Nelson and Cobb to such high costs within nine months of each other in 2014 and 2015. It’s hard to guess what the cap issue will be, but you can foresee the team losing productive players and having holes on their roster elsewhere on the roster when so much of the cap is allocated to one phase of the game.
Because the Packers are such a great organization, almost their entire roster has been constructed through the draft, so they have veterans who are on reasonable contracts mostly due to being signed to extensions prior to hitting free agency and being forced into bidding wars with the rest of the league. They have an expensive top 10 of their roster with 63.08% going to this group, but they have saved some cap space due to signing six of these players to extensions, while only allowing three to hit unrestricted free agency. The tenth player is Ha Ha Clinton-Fix on the fifth year of his first round rookie deal. The six signed to extensions are Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthews, David Bakhtiari, Davante Adams, and Mike Daniels. One could argue that all six of these players are on contracts that are below what they would have received on the open market and even on contracts that are good values for the teams or more team friendly deals. With the Packers ability to draft well, they also have contributors on their rookie contracts like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Randall, Ty Montgomery, Jake Ryan, Aaron Ripkowski, Kenny Clark, Blake Martinez, King, Jones, Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones. These players are low-cost, so while some of them might not be high performers right now, they can cost as little as 0.30% to 0.50% of the cap and even if they’re just an average starter, the team could be getting 1.50% of the cap worth of value out of them because that’s what an average veteran starter in the NFL can cost.
Now, especially with safety Morgan Burnett hitting free agency, they’re going to have to try and find values in free agency or through the draft that can immediately come in and contribute for the two weak spots of cornerback and safety for a team that was 23rd in passing yards allowed, 29th in passing touchdowns allowed, and 29th in net yards per attempt allowed. In defense of their defensive backs, the Packers were 19th in sacks, so maybe they weren’t getting enough pressure on the quarterback as well, but that’s something they’ll likely end up having to solve through the draft because of lack of cap space, which we’ll get to later.
As it currently stands, the Packers are estimated to have about $11 million in cap space after paying out their 11 draft picks in their rookie pool. As I said, they’re traditionally a team that builds through the draft, but, with how many needs they have and the opportunity to extend that Super Bowl window, this might be the year to go out and get a first rate player like when they signed Reggie White, Charles Woodson, and Julius Peppers. Two of those signings helped the team win championships. This is a great example of how the right big signing can help win a championship with much of the rest of the team being built through the draft. Worth noting that the three of these players were signed by the Packers at ages 32, 30, and 34, so maybe the team has identified that certain elite players can a) continue to be productive into their 30s and b) can be had at a lower price than they would have been had at 26 or 27 when their earning potential is at it’s peak. Elite edge rushers and safeties can tend to have longer careers, so they picked players at two positions that had a reasonable chance of continuing to be productive.
The first move they can make to clear the cap space required to make necessary short-term improvements is to ask slot receiver Randall Cobb to either take a pay cut or be released as he’s not worth the 7.09% of the cap he’s about to be paid. As Bill Barnwell points out, Cobb would be entering a flooded slot receiver market with Jarvis Landry, Tavon Austin, Danny Amendola, Jordan Matthews, and Kendall Wright, which means after a down 2017 season, he might not be in line to earn much more than he’d be offered by the Packers on a pay cut. While Cobb’s down season could be attributed Rodgers being injured, he hasn’t been an elite first tier player since he signed his contract during March 2015. He was a first tier caliber player the year before with 91 catches for 1287 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he’s averaged just 68 catches for 697 yards per season with 14 touchdowns since. The Packers could clear $9,468,750 worth of cap space if they cut or trade Cobb, but extending him and keeping him on the roster at a discount that clears $7 million in space is also a viable option. A one-year extension through 2019 could accomplish that and give the Packers the chance to still have one of the best receiving groups in the NFL with all three. With Nelson and Adams on such expensive contracts though, it might be time to move on from him, especially if they can draft a receiver with the potential to replace him immediately in the first three rounds. I also think the signing of Adams to an extension that has him at 5.87% of the cap in 2018 was an indication that something will be done regarding Cobb. Clearing $7 million in cap space would give them about $18 million in cap space, while releasing Cobb would put them near $20.5 million.
Nelson is a player I’m more likely to keep if I’m the Packers because in the three years coming into his 53 catch, 482 yards, six touchdown campaign in 2017, he averaged 93 catches for 1363 yards per season with 35 touchdowns. Still, at 6.97% of the cap, that’s pricey for a player who had such a down 2017 and will be 33 in 2018, regardless of who was quarterback. I don’t think they’ll cut both Cobb and Nelson this offseason after a 2017 season where they didn’t have a chance to play their best football with Brett Hundley under center. When I appeared on Chris Harris’ Football podcast on January 11th. I had both Nelson and Cobb as potential cuts, but I think Nelson is the one who is more likely to sign an extension of the two because he probably still has something left in the tank, plus at an older age he could probably be had for a lower price on an extension. He’s more of a Green Bay institution at this point as one of the greatest receivers in franchise history, so I don’t think either side will want to part ways.
Nelson will turn 34 during May 2018, so it’s unlikely he could demand a contract over 4 or 5% of the cap, even after a great season, so they might be able to work out an extension that gives the team a bit of a break, while paying Nelson a reasonable expectation of his worth. Could he still be a first tier type receiver with near 1300-yards this season? Potentially, but after just 482 in 2017, even with Hundley at QB, I’m not sure how likely that is and the low-production might also scare teams off who don’t have Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback as they might think Nelson is a product of Rodgers being his quarterback. I could see an extension that converts Nelson’s $9.25 million salary for 2018 into a signing bonus, then prorates it out over the next two or three years to give the Packers a discount in 2018, while extending his costs into 2019 and 2020 where the team has a projected $73.5 and $130.6 million respectively. I think with Rodgers as his quarterback, Nelson could continue to give the team 4% of the cap worth of value, or around 900+ receiving yards per season, especially if they start to go younger at the position with the release of Cobb. Adams could be growing into the #1 receiver in Green Bay right now, so Nelson’s role might become the second receiver during this last contract and he’d be a good second option rather than relied on to be the #1 facing off with the opponent’s top cornerback each week. The game is about match-ups, so if Adams develops into the kind of player defenses have to focus their best cornerback on, Nelson could then be in a position to beat the opponent’s less talented second cornerback.
Maybe the team will clear $4 million in cap space through a Nelson extension, which would get them to $22-24.5 million. Regardless of how they deal with the situation they have at wide receiver this offseason, the Packers have a second round pick, two thirds, and a fourth, so I’d like to see them take a receiver in this window. I love Anthony Miller out of Memphis in this area as he could be a slot receiver, but could also be much more over time. He could be Cobb’s immediate replacement and at a far lower cost, probably as a second round pick, which would then allow the team to invest more in more pressing needs than keeping a first tier receiver in terms of cost, but who hasn’t produced like a first tier receiver in terms of production since he signed the deal.
Since we’re on the offensive side of the football, tight end is a need they must address through free agency and the draft this year. Unfortunately for the Packers and for Jermichael Finley, he’d be nearing the entering his 31-year old season and might be a pass catcher who could be relied on to gain 700+ yards per season if he stayed healthy. He dealt with injuries throughout his time in the NFL, but from his second year in 2009 through his sixth year, he averaged 11 games per season with 43 catches for 542 yards and 19 total touchdowns. His 48.4 yards per game during this time averages out to 775 yards per 16-game season.
In his last two 16 game seasons, 2011 and 2012, Finley had 58 catches for 717 and 5 touchdowns per season. In his last six games of his career in 2013 before a neck injury ended it, Finley had 25 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns, he was on pace for 67 catches for 800 yards in his 26-year old season. That was in an offense that had Nelson, Cobb, and James Jones too. He was becoming one of the better tight ends in the league if he could have stayed healthy, so he could still be their starter if they held on to him and in a lower cost positional market as great tight ends can be much more of a value than receivers.
Instead, the team hasn’t had any consistency at the position since then and they’re looking for a new tight end to lead the group like they have the last two years as they thought the signings of Jared Cook and Martellus Bennett would finally be a short-term solution through free agency to help push these team into the Super Bowl. Tight end is one of the key spots the Packers should be looking to free agency for because tight end is a position that takes some time to develop and it’s a lower cost positional market, so free agency is less of a risk.
I had lunch with an NFL free agent tight end this weekend and we got on the topic of tight end play. In Caponomics I note that part of the reason tight ends take a bit of time to develop in the NFL is because they have to block for the run and run routes at a professional level, two distinctly different tasks. This tight end took it further, mentioning that they have to do that, but they also have to block people who specialize in stopping the run and rushing the passer on the defensive line, then they can run routes against safeties who specialize in covering receivers. Not only that, but a tight end has to learn multiple positions, he has to know the tight end spot, slot receivers, outside receiver, H-back, and even fullback. He has to understand the line calls, he has to understand which routes to run against which coverages. It’s a very, very complex position.
This need for a veteran tight end is part of the reason it’s so important to decrease the costs of Cobb and Nelson. As teams like the Patriots and Eagles illustrate, you need multiple mismatches in the passing game with the tight end being one of the most important and dynamic mismatches that a team can present. Richard Rodgers has been one of their starting tight ends over the last few years and is a free agent this offseason, but he’s not someone I’d be looking to re-sign if I were the Packers considering they’ve gotten very little out of him. Lance Kendricks is under contract for one more season, but he’s never been a leading tight end. Kendricks was signed by the Packers to be Bennett’s back-up and he’s best suited for that role in 2018 as well. Speaking in terms of mismatches, you want Kendricks lined up against a team’s second best coverage defensive back or linebacker, not the guy who covers the #1 tight end or TE1. Maybe they clear a little more cap space by signing Aaron Rodgers to a long-term contract extension, but with at most about $25 million in cap space after those receiver moves and multiple needs in free agency, they should probably go after the second tier of tight ends and look for a player who is likely to exceed his contract’s value. Trey Burton is the most intriguing name in this market this offseason as he’s shown quite a bit of production and ability in limited playing time, while he might be on a deal in the $5 to 7 million range during the prime of his career. By comparison, Jason Fitzgerald has Jimmy Graham at a projected $7 to 7.5 million per year and while he might be on the decline heading into his 32-year old season, Burton might be on the upswing heading into this 27-year old season. Burton also has the potential to be more of a long-term solution than Graham
While Burton was PFF’s 13th ranked tight end with a 75.6 rating and a nice stat line of 23 catches for 248 yards and 5 touchdowns in just 345 snaps, Graham was PFF’s 33rd ranked tight end with a 53.8 rating. Graham had 57 catches for 520 yards and, a very good, 10 touchdowns in 729 snaps. It’s not that Graham wouldn’t be a nice signing for the Packers or anyone else, he still could be, but Burton might provide more long-term and at a better price, which would be ideal for a Packers team that hasn’t had stability at the position since 2013.
Burton reminds me of Brandon Lafell when he was signed by the Patriots after four years in Carolina. It was the first time I realized how smart coaching staffs will look at a player’s production in a system where he’s getting less targets or snaps, then extrapolate that out to what would happen if he had an increased role. In his three years prior to being signed by the Patriots in 2014, Lafell averaged 43 catches on 72 targets for 639 yards and four touchdowns per season. His yards per reception were 14.9 and his yards per target average was 8.87.
The premise the Patriots were working under was that where other teams saw a 600-700 yard receiver, the Patriots saw a player who could produce the kind of 74 catch, 953 yard, and seven-touchdown season on 119 targets that he had for the Patriots in 2014. He had about 25 more targets with Tom Brady as his quarterback and he was asked to stick to his strengths as a route runner in that offense, which helped the team get almost 1000-yards out of a player who cost just 1.50% of the cap. That is at the intersection of the third and fourth tiers of the wide receiver market and typically a player who is likely to produce a 400 to 500-yard season at best. The Patriots got almost double the production value compared to his cost.
Trey Burton could be the same kind of player for the right team as he would be on a second tier contract for tight ends between one and a half and three percent of the cap. He only had 31 targets thrown his way in 2017, so what could his stat line look like if he got the 77 targets the Packers threw at Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks in 2017 as the Packers starter in 2018? He could end up being a 600-800 yard player behind the Packers receiving leaders like Adams and Nelson. As I note in Caponomics, “players in this [second] tier are great as a supplementary piece who can produce a mismatch against some teams, but who can’t provide the weekly consistency to build an offense around. Since the position takes time to develop, this tier is where teams will invest in a second contract player they believe could become a bigger contributor than he was previously as teams are willing to make a small risk of overpaying in an inexpensive market for the potential reward of a difficult mismatch. While top tier tight ends [between three and six and a half to seven percent of the cap] are the types that teams can trust to provide 800 to 900-yard plus seasons in a versatile pass catching group, second tier tight ends are the 400-yard plus type of players.” I also write, “targeting tight ends who have been underutilized, as second tight ends during their rookie contracts behind top tight ends can be a good strategy for finding production value at the position,” which is a mold that Burton fits.
Other potential signings at tight end could include Tyler Eifert, although his injury history is cause for concern. It’s up to whoever signs him to structure a deal that takes this into account, while also having a back-up who could start behind him, which is something I don’t think the Packers will have. What’s the price that makes it worth taking a chance on a player who has shown the potential to be a first tier tight end, but has played in just 24 of 64 potential games over the last four seasons? Is a one-year deal worth $3 million a good price? If Eifert is at that price, then it might be worth taking a risk on him no matter the situation regarding a team’s back-up. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is an interesting candidate, so is Cameron Brate who has the potential to be a highly valuable player just like Burton in that $5 million range. I think the Packers have to sign one of these tight ends, then also draft one in the middle rounds.
The Packers have four fifth round picks, which is a very good time to strike when it comes to tight ends. Here’s a draft success by position chart from Caponomics:
As you can see, tight end is the most successful position to draft in the fifth round out of any position and with the Packers slew of picks here, along with the depth of this draft at tight end, I’d love to see them draft two. I’d even draft two to present the opportunity to release Kendricks and gain $1,625,000 in cap space to use that more wisely than an investment in PFF’s 69th ranked tight end out of 71. I’ve already gone over the tight ends I really like in the last few write ups (which are linked at the bottom of this article), but just looking at Walter Football’s tight end rankings as a base for this, the tight ends who he has projected in the middle rounds is deep. Just to re-iterate what I’ve said elsewhere, I love Troy Fumagallli from Wisconsin and Adam Breneman from UMass, but the Packers will be doing much deeper work into this market and should choose whichever two late round players they think are best for their system.
Imagining that the Packers sign a tight end with a cap hit of $3 to $5 million in 2018, they’ll still have over $20 million in cap space after the wide receiver moves. The big need they have to solve this offseason, above all else, is cornerback, it was a huge hole in 2017. Damarious Randall was their best-ranked cornerback per Pro Football Focus in 2017 as the #81 ranked cornerback with a 70.9 rating. Their #2 cornerback was Davon House and he had a 50.4 rating as their 98th ranked cornerback. The inexperienced Josh Hawkins and Kevin King were equally bad with rankings of 107 and 115 while both graded under a 44.0 rating. Austin Gayle from Pro Football Focus has Malcolm Butler as the Packers “Dream Splash Signing” this offseason and I like that fit considering he’s still a good player and could be had for probably about $8 to $10 million a year after a drop in his PFF grade to 79.2 in 2017 from 88.1 in 2016 and his quizzical benching in the Super Bowl. The Packers being a team that looks for value and looks for the discounted player over the expensive one, this seems like a potential fit. An $8 million cap hit in 2018 would be 4.46% of the cap, which is a good second tier value for a player who has the potential to be a first tier player. Other signings could be Trumaine Johnson, Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller, Rashaan Melvin, or EJ Gaines. They could also be drafting a cornerback either with their first round pick or one of their other picks in the first three rounds, it’s an immediate need and Josh Jackson from Iowa could be available at #14. If they don’t want to go to free agency for a cornerback, then they should definitely be using the first round pick on a cornerback. If they believe they can get a true #1 cornerback in the first round, then maybe they can use the $8 to $10 million that might go to a free agent cornerback on an edge rusher, an interior offensive lineman, or they split it between both. Even if the young players already in Green Bay’s defensive backfield develop and improve in 2018, they need a potential #1 cornerback, which would then create depth and better match-ups down the line.
Say they spend $10 million on a cornerback, then the team has a little over $10 million in cap space. If Butler’s signed for $8 million, then they’d have over $12 million in cap space. At the safety position, they have to either re-sign Morgan Burnett or find a replacement. He could likely be had for a deal similar to the $7 million average per year that Darian Stewart got from the Broncos before the 2016 season. Say they re-sign him for that, which is probably what the Packers will do considering their homegrown philosophy, then they’ll have about $3 to $5 million in cap space to address their other needs. They should also be drafting a safety at some point in the draft considering their need for depth, their excess of draft picks, the way safeties can contribute on special teams, and the prevalence of nickel defense in the NFL.
With that $3 to $5 million left, the Packers need to solve some issues on the interior of their offensive line. Maybe they re-sign free agent Jahri Evans as he was their highest rated guard in 2018 as he could likely be retained for less than $3 million per year or maybe they find another replacement in a weak interior line class. Lane Taylor, exclusive rights free agent Justin McCray, and center Corey Linsley all had PFF ratings of 68.8 or below, so this is a spot that the Packers should be heavily focused on in the draft. It’s not a dire need though, Green Bay was Football Outsiders’ fifth best run blocking line, while they were the 28th ranked pass blocking line, which could be attributed to the loss of the mobility and pocket awareness that Rodgers has, plus both tackles, David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, missing time during the season. This is why the Packers don’t necessarily need to make a big offseason investment on the line. The interior of the offensive line can be found in later rounds as the Patriots have proven over and over again, but it’s likely they should use one of their four picks in the first three rounds on an interior lineman, but also one of those fifth round picks.
With the signing of an interior offensive lineman, the Packers would have, at most, about $2 million in cap space, so they wouldn’t be able to make wholesale improvements to their front seven in free agency, but their front seven is better than one would think considering their issues in 2017 and it might be something they could supplement through the draft and with the right situational edge rusher for a few million dollars. They could make some more moves to clear cap space and hope to sign someone to a similar one-year, $3.5 million contract to the one Ahmad Brooks was on in 2017, but who will hopefully produce at a higher level. Players like Trent Murphy, Kony Ealy, Junior Galette, and Mitch Unrein might be candidates for this kind of contract. Maybe they can even use one of their 11 draft picks to trade for a younger and less expensive edge player.
For the edge rushers already on their roster, Clay Matthews is still a top player at his position and Nick Perry is a good player. Interior linemen Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and Dean Lowery are all good starters. Linebackers Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez are top 25 starters at their position. Other than increasing the talent in their rotation, their front seven is in good enough shape to win with improvements to the rest of the roster, including an offense with Rodgers at QB and at defensive back because teams will be forced to play more of a shoot-out style of football against Rodgers, which will make opponents more one dimensional and the Packers will have a defensive backfield more prepared to stop the pass.
So through this article so far we’ve addressed potentially drafting one receiver, one cornerback, one safety, two tight ends and two interior offensive linemen. With 11 draft picks, some of them coming through compensatory picks due to players they drafted going on to bigger veteran contracts elsewhere, the benefit of great drafting, the Packers still have four picks after addressing those needs. They should address their defensive line with two of those picks to increase their ability to rotate linemen, then use the other two on an inside linebacker and potentially another running back in an attempt to ensure they have a rushing offense in 2018. Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, and Ty Montgomery could form a good three-headed backfield, but a fourth back could add necessary depth and prepare them for Montgomery’s free agency bid in 2019. A good draft pick at inside linebacker could prepare them for Jake Ryan hitting free agency in 2019 as well.
As stated earlier, the Packers are on the cusp of greatness still. They’re just a year removed from their NFC Championship Game loss to the Falcons and Aaron Rodgers is still one of the three best quarterbacks in the NFL, so that alone will help them compete for a championship. It’s up to one of the best front offices in the NFL to continue to make the homegrown moves with supplementary free agent pieces like the great organizations typically do. I think the Packers can make the necessary adjustments in their positions of need to compete for a Super Bowl in 2018, but potentially more well-rounded contenders like the Eagles, Cowboys, Rams, Saints, and Vikings could be road blocks for a Packers team that may have too much invested in the top of their roster to build a similarly well rounded roster.
Zack Moore is a writer for OverTheCap.com, an NFLPA certified agent, and author of the recently released book titled, “Caponomics: Building Super Bowl Champions,” which is now available on Amazon. You can follow him on Twitter @ZackMooreNFL.
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