With the 2018 NFL Draft over and done with, Green Bay’s focus shifts from scouting rookies to analyzing talent within their own building. While new GM Brian Gutekunst apears to have had a solid first draft class, he may decide that he is still a piece or two away from fielding a team capable of making a deep playoff push into late January. One position that comes to mind is at outside linebacker, a position that the Packers failed to address until the third day of the draft, with their final seventh round selection. Now that the initial waves of free agency have washed over the NFL, most of the options remaining on the market aren’t without their flaws, but many can still contribute as role players on a team looking to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy. With that in mind, let’s take a look at few options available to the Packers if they decide that they need an upgrade at a position or two.
S Kenny Vaccaro
With Morgan Burnett moving on in free agency earlier this offseason, it was speculated that Green Bay may look to the draft to replenish the depth at the safety position. That didn’t happen, and while Green Bay has Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice waiting in the wings, the former is a bit of a tweener and projects better at linebacker, while the former is coming off an ankle injury that limited his 2017 season to only 6 games. Vaccaro, a former safety for the New Orleans Saints, would present an experienced veteran option who is two full years younger than Burnett at 27 and could be groomed as a long term starter opposite Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The former first round pick’s best season came in 2015, when he played all 16 games and totaled 104 total tackles and three sacks, as well as a forced fumble.
CB Bashaud Breeland
Breeland is a four-year NFL veteran who has spent his entire career with the Washington Redskins. The former fourth round pick initially signed a 3-year deal with Carolina earlier this offseason, but failed a physical due to an infection in his foot, leading to the voiding of his contract offer. Assuming Breeland is healthy by camp, he would be a solid addition to Green Bay’s cornerback room. After drafting Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson with their first two picks in this year’s draft, signing Tramon Williams, and considering Kevin King, Breeland would likely be no higher than fourth or fifth on the depth chart, but he represents a significant upgrade over veterans Davon House and Quentin Rollins and likely could be had on a cheap one- or two-year deal. At only 26 years old, and with 7 forced fumbles and 8 interceptions over his career, Breeland would make for a great competition with Alexander in the slot cornerback position in 2018.
OLB Ahmad Brooks
As mentioned earlier, Green Bay failed to address the edge rusher postion early in the 2018 NFL Draft, and it’s certainly a position in the free agency market Gutekunst and Co. will be monitoring heavily heading into training camp and roster cuts. Brooks is a familiar face who could step in and contribute right away, as he is familiar with the organization and likely could be had for the veteran’s minimum. At 34 years old, Brooks is definitely on the back nine of his career but is only one year removed from a 12-sack season with San Francisco, and 14 sacks the year before that. Green Bay will likely play through the preseason with Vince Biegel, Kyler Fackrell, and Reggie Gilbert as their primary backups at outside linebacker, but if any of them falter or get injured don’t be surprised to see Brooks donning green and gold yet again in 2018.
OT Byron Bell
Bell, an 8-year NFL veteran, has spent time with Carolina, Tennessee, and Dallas. An undrafted free agent from 2011, Bell has spent most of his career as a fringe starter/backup, but would represent a solid depth addition at the right tackle postion for Green Bay. With Bryan Bulaga, Jason Spriggs, and Kyle Murphy all finishing the 2017 season on injured reserve, there is the possibility that none of them will be healthy to start the 2018 NFL season. While the Packers selected OL Cole Madison in the fifth round of this past draft, it’s a terrifying proposition to suggest that Madison, Justin McCray, and Lukas Patrick are the current favorites to man both the right guard and tackle positions if Bulaga, Spriggs, and Murphy can’t go. Considering that Green Bay is set to make their superstar quarterback the richest player in NFL history, it makes sense to fortify the offensive line with an experienced veteran, and Bell represents just that. In fact, Bell would represent a likely upgrade as a swing tackle over Spriggs, even when healthy, and at 29 years old he still has a lot of quality football ahead of him.
WR Dez Bryant
Maybe the most far-fetched name on this list, but an exciting one at that. Imagine an offensive formation with Bryant, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Jimmy Graham all on the field at the same time. That combination would represent a nightmare scenario for any defensive coordinator in the NFL, and one that Aaron Rodgers deserves to take advantage of. While Bryant may be hesitant to play for Green Bay after his catch/non-catch fiasco from the 2014 playoffs, it would be a great opportunity for him to make a push for the Lombardi Trophy that he never got with the Cowboys. Bryant has also mentioned that he is looking for a one-year prove it deal this offseason that he hopes to parlay into a big money contract in the 2018 NFL offseason, and Rodgers at quarterback is an elite option to consider catching passes from to produce big numbers.