With Brad Jones' struggles to stay healthy and A.J. Hawk's struggles in pass coverage, the Packers need to add depth and athleticism to the inside linebacker position. Rob Francois is likely gone after suffering an achilles tendon injury, so look for the Packers to add another linebacker to the mix in 2014.
Jamari Lattimore is almost certainly coming back as a restricted free agent, which should at least help the depth at the position and on special teams. However, there doesn't appear to be any truly top-flight talent at the position at this time, and it's time for an upgrade.
Let's take a look at some of the Packers' options.
Jon Beason (Giants)
The eight-year veteran was traded from the Panthers to the Giants in Week 3, and instantly improved an otherwise pitiful Giants defense. He will likely resign with New York before free agency hits, but if he doesn't, he will most likely be the No.1 option at his position.
Karlos Dansby (Cardinals)
The 10-year veteran is likely to test the free agent market after signing a one-year, $1.75 million deal last May with the Cardinals. He has been a model of consistency during his career, and may be the best value by contract numbers. I doubt the Packers add someone over 30-years-old at a position that demands so much physical play, but he is a proven commodity at a position that could use some experience.
Brandon Spikes (Patriots)
The four-year veteran suffered a PCL injury late in the season, but will not need offseason surgery. He is unlikely to resign with the Patriots, and at only 26-yards-old, he wouldn't be a bad option to push Brad Jones if the Packers can bring him in at a discount price.
C.J. Mosley (Alabama)
Mosley recorded 104 tackles in his senior season with the Tide, and showed great athleticism in pass coverage and blitzes. Mosley (6-foot-2, 234 pounds) was also above average in run support, and has great tackling technique. His only weakness would be his tendency to get mixed up in misdirection read-option plays.
Shayne Skov (Stanford)
The fifth-year senior recorded 109 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and four pass break-ups in 2013. He showed improved speed in his final year at Stanford after suffering an ACL injury in 2011. Skov has always displayed great instincts and would be a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense. He is stout against the run, and shows great blitzing ability.
Chris Borland (Wisconsin)
The fifth-year senior recorded 112 tackles, four sacks, and two pass break-ups in 2013. Borland is phenomenal against the run, but lacks the size (5-foot-11) and speed to be a first-round talent. Much like Skov, he would be an excellent fit in a 3-4 defense, and he played in one his senior year as a Badger.
Max Bullough (Michigan State)
Bullough was a senior-captain on the best defense in the country in 2013, and he finished with 76 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2 pass break-ups before being suspended for the Rose Bowl. The suspension will likely drop him into the middle-to-late rounds, but Bullough has early round talent. He has the size (6-foot-3, 252), football IQ, and physicality to be a contributor early on in his career if he can prove to be reliable in pass coverage.
Khairi Forett (California)
Forett transferred from Penn State in 2012, and recorded 64 tackles in 2013. At six-foot-two and 240 pounds, he has the size to be an NFL linebacker, but will have to have a solid combine to be considered a middle round prospect.
James Morris (Iowa)
Morris recorded 107 tackles, eight sacks, four interceptions, and three pass break-ups in his senior season for the Hawkeyes. Morris is a proven playmaker and ball hawk, but his size and speed may hold him back from being a top prospect at inside linebacker. Morris may end up being an outside linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, but would be intriguing option if he is still around in the late rounds.