The Green Bay Packers snuck through the first week of NFL free agency without making nearly the splash they did in 2019, but there are still plenty of needs left for general manager Brian Gutekunst to address this offseason — and lots of talent still looking for a job.
While the Packers’ first two signings were bargains, Gutekunst still has the means of reeling in a big fish from the open market and drastically improving his team heading into the 2020 season. The NFL draft could be one avenue to supplementing the roster with 10 picks on the board for the Packers, but it can tough to beat the immediate impact of an established player.
Here are five free agents who could fit the Packers’ various needs and are still available as of Monday morning.
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Robby Anderson, WR
It seems a little ridiculous that the New York Jets star is still available after the first week of free agency, but the Packers’ chances of signing him as a dynamic new weapon for their offense have only gotten better as time has gone on. Anderson was initially looking to get $13-15 million on his next contract, but a veteran like Emmanuel Sanders getting an average of $8 million per year from New Orleans could see his market drop lower. He still wouldn’t be cheap for the Packers, but landing a reliable No. 2 receiver who has made 165 catches for 2,472 yards and 18 touchdowns over the past three seasons could be worth the investment for a win-now strategy.
Taylor Gabriel, WR
If Anderson can be classified as one of the best high-value wideouts on the market, Gabriel should be considered one of the most budget-friendly options. He might not have the glitz and glam tied to his raw numbers in the way Anderson does, but he has been a steady weapon for a struggling Chicago Bears offense over the past two seasons when he has been on the field. Injuries that restricted him to just nine games in 2019 have also helped drive down his price point. The Packers have already shown they are willing to take a risk on a free agent with recent concussion troubles, so why not roll the dice again with Gabriel and see if he can thrive with a future Hall of Fame quarterback throwing him the ball?
Damon “Snacks” Harrison, DL
The Packers are expected to sign star nose tackle Kenny Clark to a lucrative contract extension at some point before the start of the 2020 season, but they also need to find help for him along their defensive line. Who wouldn’t want to fill that void with someone who calls himself Snacks? In all seriousness, Harrison is a veteran run-stopper who crowds the middle and elevates the success of the pieces that surround him. He is coming off a down year with Detroit and might not have too many more miles left on his career, but he can strengthen the Packers’ interior in a massive way while letting younger pieces develop behind him. It is a move that would both address the immediate issue against the run and build for the future all without breaking the bank.
Derek Wolfe, DL
Another possible option for fortifying the interior of the defensive line, Wolfe is an experienced veteran who is a smidge younger than Harrison and also happens to be coming off a career year for Denver. He tallied a career-best seven sacks along with 18 pressures, 12 quarterback hits and a forced fumble in just 12 games before a dislocated elbow landed him on injured reserve. If his recovery is progressing nicely, he could be just the right complement for Clark. Of course, the Packers have to consider the rest of Wolfe’s injury history before deciding to spring for his expected price. He earned about $9 million per season over the past four years with the Broncos, but he has started all 16 games in just three of his eight seasons in the league.
Tramon Williams, CB
While there are other free-agent Packers worthy of consideration for re-signing, Williams might be the most valuable among them. The veteran cornerback showed few signs of being 37 years old last season and provided crucial depth behind starters Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, finishing with two interceptions, eight pass deflections, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Even if his production were to dip in 2020 and he slid to the No. 4 corner role behind youngster Chandon Sullivan, there is obvious value in bringing back someone who both knows the defense and offers a veteran leader for the locker room, especially with a one- or two-year deal the most Williams could expect.