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Cheese Curds, 2/21: Packers’ personnel needs can be best filled in different ways

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Last year, the Packers needed corners and looked to the draft rather than a high-priced free agent. This year, they may be better suited to paying big money for a safety.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Year-to-year, free agency across the NFL looks drastically different. A year ago, the safety market crashed while cornerbacks surged. Corners like Trumaine Johnson, Kyle Fuller, and Malcolm Butler got huge contracts, while safeties were left fighting for scraps weeks after the onset of free agency.

This year, those roles appear to be reversed. There are several top safeties set to hit the free agent market, while quality cornerbacks are few and far between. The money should see a drastic flip as names like Earl Thomas and Landon Collins replace Johnson and Fuller.

Meanwhile, pass-rushers are numerous this year, after a 2018 that saw few top options hit the market. In fact, the biggest move for an edge rusher came via trade in August, when Khalil Mack went from Oakland to Chicago.

The makeup of this year’s free agent market makes it intriguing for some positions of need in Green Bay. With safety and pass-rush being top needs on defense, it should be no surprise if Brian Gutekunst is aggressive at those spots in free agency. However, other holes like offensive line and tight end appear better-served by looking to the draft instead.

Pass rush off the edge is probably the one spot where it would make sense this year to look at both a high-priced free agent as well as an early draft pick. Next week’s Combine will help determine who’s available when the Packers are on the clock at 12, but any signings between now and then will influence what player hears his name read off the card at that time.

Earl Thomas, Trey Flowers represent top FA targets for Packers | Packers Wire
In Wednesday's Walkthroughs, nobody mentioned Trey Flowers -- perhaps because he's likely to be the top free agent pass-rusher on the market. Still, if the Packers want to invest a lot of money at that position, he could absolutely be an impact player.

Ten defensive backs worth pursuing via free agency/NFL draft - NFL.com
Shocking - Thomas is number one. The second-ranked player is perhaps a surprising name, however: Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby. This year's free-agent cornerback class is pretty mediocre (especially compared to last year's), so by virtue of being the number one option, he climbs up the list.

Mike Pettine looking for ‘big jump’ from Packers’ defense | Packers.com
In year one, Pettine and his assistants had to focus heavily on teaching his players what to do. Now, entering his second year in Green Bay, the focus will be on how to do them, as Pettine gets to dive into the "graduate-level details" of his scheme.

Shawn Mennenga has length to-to list to fix Packers’ special teams | Packersnews.com
If he does nothing other than cut down on the penalties, that could be considered a success. Though the success other teams have on fakes must stop as well.

Josh Allen, 2019 NFL Draft first-rounder? Yep, there’s another - SBNation.com
Here's a great look at Kentucky OLB Josh Allen, who appears poised to be a top-five pick in April. This was from October, but Allen lived up to the hype and then some; this does give a great explanation on why he wasn't a higher-profile player coming into college, however.

Man accused of throwing toilet through front glass of Board of Education building | ksdk.com
A Florida man (of course) carried a toilet into a building in East St. Louis and threw it threw a window. He was found shortly thereafter on the street...sitting on another toilet.