Last season, the Green Bay Packers’ free agent acquisitions were as impactful as any class in history. The team turned around its entire defense with three big arrivals and added a 16-game starter on the offensive line. But the way that fans remember the news breaking on the second day of the legal tampering period is very different from how those deals came together.
This year, how will the Packers proceed with a tighter budget and very different positional priorities? The approach may be similar: target the guys that they really want and go after them with vigor.
One interesting facet of the current free agency process — which allows teams and agents to negotiate before the actual signing window begins — is that fewer top players take physical visits to team facilities to sign contracts. As a result, the concerns around the coronavirus outbreak should have a minimal effect on the mechanics of the free agency process. Perhaps that is why the league has elected to move ahead with the start of the new league year next week.
The NFL Draft is a very different animal, however. With in-person scouting for Pro Days and top-30 visits normally a big part of the process, expect many of those events to be canceled shortly and for agents to instruct their clients not to travel to team facilities. Meanwhile, the Packers are closing down to the public for the time being as well to help prevent any spread of the contagion.
Here’s where things stand as of Friday morning.
$182M in 24 hours: How the Packers’ most expensive March unfolded - ESPN
While March 12, 2019 appeared to be the most impactful day in recent memory for the Packers — when news broke of deals with Za’Darius Smith, Adrian Amos, Preston Smith, and Billy Turner, in that order. But the actual deals came together in reverse order, with Turner’s contract coming together within minutes of the legal tampering window’s start.
Roundtable: NFC North beat writers break down their teams ahead of free agency – The Athletic
If the Packers follow last year’s pathway and go all-in on a couple of primary free agent targets, they could end up with some solid players. But trying to decipher just who those targets will be is the challenge.
Former fourth-round pick Blake Martinez far exceeds expectations | Packersnews.com
Martinez surely outperformed his fourth-round draft pick status, becoming a solid starter over the past three-plus years. But that does not change the fact that he has limitations in the modern NFL and that the contract he will likely receive next week will be more than he is worth to the Packers.
Coronavirus pandemic putting NFL scouting process on hold – The Athletic
Meanwhile, most teams have now restricted their scouts and coaches from traveling, meaning college Pro Days are either getting canceled or will be held with video distributed to NFL teams. It’s a weird way to do business, but there appear to be few other options. Meanwhile, free agency will go ahead as planned.
Packers to close public operations at Lambeau Field, Titletown for two weeks | Packers.com
It's not just team operations that are affected by the coronavirus either. If you missed the announcement on Thursday, all public facilities at Lambeau Field will be closed for the immediate future.
Finally, we have a very Wisconsin thing happening in Green Bay area as residents prep for potential quarantines:
Coronavirus report from my WI friend pic.twitter.com/AHXYxEE53I— Jay Boller (@jaymboller) March 12, 2020
This definitely checks out.
Please stay safe, everyone.