Even the most staunch Packer fans would admit that it was a minor miracle that Green Bay went 13-3 (14-4 overall) last season. While they may not win that many games this season, many thought that Green Bay should have went all in this offseason to make a push for a Super Bowl title. It has been 10 years since Green Bay won the Lombardi trophy, and with star QB Aaron Rodgers not getting any younger, time is running out for ring #2 for #12.
An all in offseason would mean spending future draft capital for win now pieces, and also spending almost all of the available cap space. So let's see what Green Bay could have done differently in free agency and the draft
Roster Hole - Middle linebacker
Losing Blake Martinez seemed inevitable, and the Christian Kirksey signing may prove to be a sneaky good one. However, there's still a hole besides Kirksey, and Oren Burks has yet to prove he's a viable starter. Instead of signing Kirksey and drafting Kamal Martin, there are 2 moves that Green Bay could have done
Free Agency - Signing Nick Kwiatkoski
Kwiatkoski is a solid all around linebacker who should be able to be a plus in all facets of the game (run defense, coverage) He was able to produce a PFF grade of 72.6 in a rotational role with the Chicago Bears. He graded over 70 in run defense, and only allowed a 59.5% completion rate when targeted (37 targets) His cap hit is a bit rich at 7 million, but it would still be cheaper than keeping Blake Martinez
Draft - Drafting Malik Harrison in Round 3
Harrison may not move the needle as a coverage linebacker, but he's a rangy linebacker who tackles extremely well. Harrison's ability to be a run stopper and part time blitzer who can complement Kwiatkoski's coverage skills well as one part of our new middle LB corps.
Roster Hole - #2 Wide Receiver
It's never a good thing to have only one established receiver on your team (see: Patriots, New England), but the Packers last year managed to cobble together enough passing offense to win close games. I'm not saying that the Packers have a type when it comes to receivers, but the shortest WR on Green Bay is Davante Adams at 6'2. There's one move that not only would help us, but hurt a rival
Draft - Trading up to 20th with Jacksonville to draft WR Justin Jefferson
Jefferson was considered one of the top options in the draft after the top tier prospects (Jeudy, Lamb, Ruggs). Not only could the Packers have prevented him from being a menace twice a year, they would get a very good slot option opposite of Adams. Jefferson's toughness and catch radius are part of his strengths, and with #12 rumoured to have coveted him as a teammate, trading up with the Jaguars for future draft considerations would have made a ton of sense.
Roster Hole - Right Tackle
With longtime right tackle Bryan Bulaga leaving for the Chargers, the Packers signed Ricky Wagner to a 2 year deal as a stop gap option. While Wagner is a solid option, the Packers will have been looking for a new right tackle in another 2 seasons. With how the draft board fell, there was a player who was mocked to the Packers in the first round on many draft boards
Draft - Draft Josh Jones in Round 2
While he wasn't playing for a high profile school, Jones was considered a top-25 talent by many analysts. Many pegged him to a be a late 1st round/early 2nd round in a stacked tackle class. Imagine the Cardinals surprise when Jones fell to them in Round 3. Jones is comfortable playing both left and right tackle, and possesses plus athleticism. Many scouts noted his ongoing improvement within the season and during the Senior Bowl too. Raw in terms of technique, but starter potential is there.
Roster Hole - Defensive Line
Kenny Clark needs some help, and he hasn't gotten any other than the raw, toolsy Jonathan Garvin. Treyvon Hester is the newest Packer, but if he plays significant snaps at DL, something has gone horribly wrong. Kingsley Keke has showed some flashes, and more will be expected from him along with Montravius Adams. However, there was a candidate in free agency who could have been had for a reasonable price point
Free Agency - Signing Danny Shelton
Shelton signed for a reasonable $4 mil AAV with the Detroit Lions, and he's only 27. He's been mainly known for his run defense prowess dating back to his days as a Cleveland Brown, which is why he would immediately help the Packers. He may not be a 3 down player, but having him as the primary run stuffer allow Kenny Clark to affect the game more.
So, after addressing the immediate needs of the team, there are still a few not so glaring holes which the Packers could have addressed (or will have to address in the future)
- Finding Corey Linsley's future replacement
Linsley's $10.5 million cap hit will expire after the 2020 season, and the current replacement on the roster is Lucas Patrick. We would retain pick 136 and Tyler Biadasz from Wisconsin is a year of recovery and development away from being an option in the NFL at center.
- Cornerback depth
Re-signing Tramon Williams looks like a eventuality, unless Josh Jackson/Chandon Sullivan develop into viable slot cornerbacks. Stanford Samuels III is a nice pickup as an undrafted free agent.Packers could have traded up in Round 5 to take Bryce Hall. Hall has good size and is a physical corner who can play on the outside, considering that Kevin King will be a free agent at the conclusion of the year
- Backup QB/RB options
With Eno Benjamin slipping into the last round, Packers could have easily got him with pick 209. Benjamin shows good quickness and toughness, and can weave his way through small gaps with good balance. Benjamin represents good value in Round 6, when he was projected to go late day 2/early day 3.
If we're talking veteran backups, Packers have their pick of Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Blake Bortles. They could have made a run at Jameis Winston before his deal with the Saints. Undrafted free agents include Anthony Gordon, who could be Minshew Mania 2.0 due to the fact that they both played in the same system. He threw for 48 touchdowns, and also 16 interceptions.Tyler Huntley was one of my sleeper prospects who has gone to Baltimore as Lamar Jackson's understudy. He completed 73.1% of his passes, and he has the speed to be a very good scrambling quarterback. I would take my chance on Winston, due to the fact that he does have some similarities with Rodgers in terms of making off schedule throws, throwing off minimal platforms.
So, going all in would probably solidify the roster enough to be a legitimate 10-12 win team as well as divison winner, and they would probably be able to host a home playoff game or two. But is there enough talent to win a Super Bowl? Probably not. The combination of not having a lot of cap space and extremely poor drafting over the years have put a cap on this team's potential. The development of Allen Lazard, Rashan Gary, Jace Sternberger and Kevin King are crucial to the current 2020 Packers not regressing to being .500. If AJ Dillon, Reggie Begelton and one of St.Brown/Valdes Scantling can give us meaningful contributions, the 2020 Green Bay Packers may have life yet