Twenty-one players who finished last season with the Green Bay Packers are set to become free agents in less than a month, but there are a few coming off unspectacular years in 2019 who will be easier to let walk than others.
The Packers don’t have enough cap space to fund the same type of flashy upgrades they made last offseason, even if they save about $12.6 million in cap space cutting both tight end Jimmy Graham and offensive lineman Lane Taylor. It will take careful maneuvering on the part of general manager Brian Gutekunst and his staff when it comes to deciding which players to re-sign and which price points won’t break the bank, especially given the high volume of starters due for new contracts.
Among the top names looking for new-deal consideration: right tackle Bryan Bulaga, inside linebacker Blake Martinez, cornerback Tramon Williams and kicker Mason Crosby. Beyond that, the Packers are also expected to ink a new contract extension with nose tackle Kenny Clark this offseason that will take a larger piece out of their spendable cap.
As a result, the Packers will have to be realistic about the role of each one of their 21 pending free agents this offseason and determine which among them aren’t worth investing in any further. Here are four pending free agents the Packers should absolutely let walk when free agency opens on March 18.
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Geronimo Allison, WR
Coming into the 2019 season, Allison was a promising candidate for a bigger role within the Packers offense after catching 20 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns in just five games one year earlier. Despite playing in every game, though, Allison didn’t even match his previous production. His 34 receptions for 287 yards flew under the radar at a time when the Packers could have used a playmaker in the passing game, all while playing more snaps than his past two seasons combined. The red flags are everywhere. Better to let him start over with another receiver-needy team than pay him more than he has delivered.
Kyler Fackrell, OLB
Fackrell is probably the most talented player on this list and could earn some good money in his next contract, but it would make little sense for it to be with the Packers. He went from leading the team with 10.5 sacks in 2018 to being a buried rotational piece behind star pass-rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, who arrived last offseason. The road forward offers even less promise for Fackrell as 2019 first-rounder Rashan Gary is also due more opportunities in the near future. It’s nothing personal with Fackrell. There are just more pressing needs this offseason than supplementing a stout outside linebacker position, at least with big money.
Jared Veldheer, OT
One of the best mid-season acquisitions for Gutekunst and his staff, Veldheer came out of retirement at the perfect time and offered the Packers ample depth along their offensive line down the stretch of the season. If the 32-year-old veteran offensive tackle doesn’t decide to retire — again — he might cost too much to keep around for another season, especially if the Packers decide to sign starter Bryan Bulaga to an extension. There is also skepticism leftover from how he handled his last one-year deal, earning $1.25 million in guaranteed money from the New England Patriots for never playing a snap. Even still, it doesn’t seem worth paying him top dollar to be a backup. He could be viable as a replacement for Bulaga if he leaves, but it would be a big gamble given his age.
B.J. Goodson, ILB
The Packers traded the New York Giants for Goodson last September when their inside linebacker group was ailing and he finished the regular season making nine starts, but it would be difficult to point to a specific defensive play where he impacted the game in a major way. He played just 24 percent of defensive snaps and didn’t get much more time in at special teams, finishing with 37 total tackles. Even if starter Blake Martinez walks out the door in free agency, the Packers simply haven’t gotten enough from Goodson to justify re-signing him unless they can get a bargain. Better to explore the market and draft for better option(s), especially if rookie Curtis Bolton is on track to come back strong next season.