The Green Bay Packers might have less spending power than last year, but that doesn’t mean general manager Brian Gutekunst and his staff can’t explore a few potential deals during the 2020 offseason to address the team’s biggest needs.
The Packers swapping draft picks hasn’t been uncommon during Gutekunst’s tenure with them trading up to select Jaire Alexander at No. 18 overall in the first round of the 2017 draft and doing it again last year to acquire safety Darnell Savage Jr. at No. 21 overall. The Packers also dealt return specialist Trevor Davis to the Oakland Raiders for a sixth-round pick back in mid-September.
Let’s be clear: the Packers have not suggested intentions to trade any specific player. If Gutekunst does decide to explore trading some players, though, here are three Packers worth watching based on their current role with the team and potential trade value.
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Josh Jackson, CB
The Packers don’t really need Jackson at this point with how the rest of their cornerbacks have developed, as The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman pointed out. Jaire Alexander and Kevin King are both locks for starting roles while Chandon Sullivan — who will be an exclusive rights free agent this offseason — surpassed Jackson on the depth chart before the end of the season. If they choose to bring back veteran Tramon Williams in free agency as well, the need for the former second-round draft pick would shrink even more.
Jackson was forced into a bigger role during his rookie season in 2018 after King was injured, starting in 10 games and finishing with 49 tackles, 10 passes defensed and a fumble recovery. Once King was healthy again, though, he slid back down the depth chart. That’s where things got less appealing for Jackson, as a 36-year-old and former undrafted free agent both beat him out for playing time. He did make a splash play with a blocked-punt touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2, but a second-round pick should be generating more than special teams reps. Perhaps dealing Jackson to a team looking for cornerbacks would be best for both sides.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR
Maybe it is too soon to give up on Valdes-Scantling after just two seasons in the league, but it depends on how the Packers choose to proceed with their wide receiver position. If they acquire a new wideout either through free agency or the draft, he would likely be facing an uphill battle to make the roster out of training camp. Better value might be found in offloading him to another team in exchange for a late-round pick.
Valdes-Scantling was among the most curious cases on the Packers’ roster last season after emerging from training camp as the heir apparent No. 2 receiver. He finished the season with 26 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns, but he collected just 36 of those yards after Week 7. He wasn’t even targetted during the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. Whatever the reason for his disappearing act, those first seven games do hold some promise. If the Packers aren’t interested in investing further, maybe another team looking for young talent to develop would be interested in featuring MVS in their offense.
Corey Linsley, C
Admittedly, Linsley is the least likely out of the three candidates on this list. It might seem ridiculous to consider trading a crucial piece of the Packers’ offensive line, especially after he finished the 2019 season as the top pass-blocking center in the league, but the team isn’t too far away from a time where they will have to consider his long-term future in Green Bay.
Linsley is heading into the final season of his three-year, $25.5 million contract with the Packers and will turn 30 before the start of the 2021 season. He also won’t be the only offensive lineman looking for a new deal with the Packers during next year’s offseason with All-Pro tackle David Bakhtiari also set to become a free agent. If the Packers believed they could again find an instant starter through the draft, as they did with Elgton Jenkins in 2019, there is money to be saved if they parted ways with Linsley early — about $8.5 million.
It would be a wild move, but Gutekunst hasn’t been opposed to making big plays in the past.