The NFL’s legal tampering window begins today, and it’s no secret that many teams are strapped for cash. The Green Bay Packers made moves this week to get under the cap that culminated in signing Aaron Jones to a 4-year contract on Sunday afternoon. The details of that deal can be found here. While the Packers may have little room to make a splash, there are plenty of moves to be made on the margins that could send this team over the top.
Today, we’ll enter into the dark and unforgiving world known as NFL Free Agency, let you choose your own path, and see if we can come out alive! Or with a Super Bowl victory, either works.
Long ago, tales were told about the Green Bay Packers far and wide across the internet. Many claimed they’d never sign a free agent. Sports blogs and talk shows were abound with jokes at the expense of the front office. However, a new era began in 2019, when the Packers went on a spending spree fit for a king, coming out of the offseason with the Smiths, Preston and Za’Darius, and Adrian Amos. After coming so close to the ultimate victory in back to back years, it is time for the Lombardi trophy to return home in all its glory.
Here’s how our exercise will work. 3 choices will be laid out today, including bargain bin finds and a few pricier options. While these deals would require further restructuring, possible void years on contracts, and other cap wizardry, today we’ll just focus on the players. You get to choose your own adventure!
If you like Option A, you can scroll all the way down to Option D, and so on and so forth. By the end, you will have assembled a group of free agency finds that will be the envy of the whole kingdom! Good luck... and stay safe.
Option A: Malcolm Butler, defensive back
In our first scenario, the Packers find their replacement for Kevin King. The former Super Bowl standout for the New England Patriots was released recently by the Tennessee Titans after signing a five year, $61 million contract in 2018. After finishing last season with 4 interceptions and a decent PFF grade of 72, Butler could be a prime candidate for the Packers. A sure tackler and consistent veteran presence could be just what the doctor ordered opposite Jaire Alexander. At 31 years old, the Packers may be able to find a bargain here. If you choose to go this route, scroll down to Option D to see your next step!
Option B: Casey Hayward, defensive back
So you weren’t a fan of Malcolm Butler, eh? Memories of his early days in Tennessee still burned into your brain? Then how about a reunion? Hayward was released by the Chargers recently in a cost-cutting move, as he was set to make nearly $12m this season. If it isn’t clear already, the biggest goal this offseason is figuring out CB2. Hayward, turning 32 this September, could be the rare feel-good signing that also helps the team. But the signing comes with some obvious risk. The former All-Pro produced a PFF grade of 59.5 last year and is coming off of a late-season hamstring injury. Last season he allowed 38 receptions on 77 targets, for a total of 631 yards and five touchdowns. However, he represents a chess piece that can line up all over the defense, something that new Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry would surely appreciate. If you’ve chosen this option, scroll down to Option E to find your next signing!
Option C: Dalvin Tomlinson, defensive line
Every great kingdom needs a terrifyingly large bodyguard that does the dirty work. Enter Dalvin Tomlinson. At 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds, Tomlinson is a mountain of a man who could turn the Packers interior into something that opponents fear. The 27-year-old has been a model of consistency, playing in every game of his career so far. Tomlinson achieved career highs last season with 4 passes defended and 10 tackles for loss. 7 of his 8 career sacks have come in the last 2 years, which suggests some untapped pass rushing upside that could leave the space-eating DT on the field for a few more third downs. If this sounds like a player who may be out of the Packers’ price range, well, it probably is. Spotrac lists his market value at 4 yrs, $45,873,412 with an AAV of $11.4m. His 2021 cap hit would have to be significantly lower than that for the Packers to even dream of signing him. I couldn’t write about Packers free agency without an improbable, big-ticket signing! But if the Packers were willing to go big, Tomlinson could be a game-changing piece on the interior. With the D-Line getting some extra beef, it’s time to scroll to Option F to find our last piece!
Option D: T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver
So you chose Malcolm Butler! The CB2 spot next to Jaire Alexander is finally filled and you can rest easy, right? Wrong! You still feel like one more weapon could put this offense over the top. With not much cash on hand, you’ll need to be pretty thrifty. Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN seem to think that last weapon could be T.Y. Hilton, the free agent WR from the Indianapolis Colts. After multiple Pro Bowl seasons in Indy, Hilton took a step back in production last year, coming up with 56 catches for 762 yards and 5 touchdowns. Hilton was more effective down the stretch, suggesting that there could be something left in the tank if he were to sign with the Packers.
Option E: Jurrell Casey, defensive line
You brought back a hometown favorite in Casey Hayward. Congratulations! It’s now time to continue focusing on the defensive side of the ball. You feel confident in the Packers’ weapons coming into this season with the recent signing of Aaron Jones and you always have the draft if you need another receiver. It’s time to focus on stuffing the run and shoring up the D-Line. Casey was yet another cap casualty, was cut by the Broncos recently after being set to make nearly $12m this year. Once one of the league’s most explosive interior defenders for the Titans, Casey struggled with injury after being traded to the Broncos. His season came to an end due to a biceps tear in his third game with the team last year. While we don’t have much to go off from his time with the Broncos, before his injury he had produced five pressures and two quarterback hits, suggesting there could be something left in the tank for the Packers to take a chance on. If even a little bit of that pass-rushing upside is still there, it would be an excellent signing
Option F: Emmanuel Sanders, wide receiver
Our only option without a defensive back! Clearly, you’re feeling confident in the draft to find Kevin King’s replacement. Sanders is the oldest option in our adventure, a veteran receiver who turns 34 in just 2 days. He was cut by the New Orleans Saints last week after being set to make $8m this season. While last season could be seen as a down year on paper, Sanders put up a respectable 61 receptions for 726 yards and 5 touchdowns, earning him a PFF grade of 74.6. He is comfortable inside and outside, providing Matt LaFleur with another exciting weapon to play with on offense. Landing on a team-friendly deal in Green Bay, who have previously shown interest in Sanders, could be the move that gets Sanders back to the Super Bowl and playing with his third Hall of Fame quarterback. Not a bad draw if you ask me.
You have reached the end of our short, but merry adventure! Have you saved the kingdom of Green Bay? Or will your moves be talked about in the years to come as what ended the rein of the Packers? Whether you chose offensive weapons, interior defensive warriors, or replacements for outgoing talent, your signings could have ramifications not just in Wisconsin, but the whole realm! Maybe a bit dramatic, but you get the point. Feel free to vote below on which options you think are the best, and sound off in the comments on potential options that were left off the list!
Which free agency option is best?
This poll is closed
Option A and D
Option B and E
Option C and F