Following another NFC Championship appearance, the Green Bay Packers’ offseason began with uncertainty surrounding their most important player: quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Was there ever a true inclination of his departure from Green Bay? No; but the thought raised eyebrows about what Rodgers’ plan potentially was from the get-go.
Despite a second consecutive 13-3 season, the Packers now enter a crucial offseason with limited cap space and multiple key pieces on defense to enter the open market. With Rodgers now 37, time is slowly ticking, as the focus now turns to general manager Brian Gutekunst to make the necessary moves, adding to an already ultra-talented roster. With the fifth-least amount of cap space available in the NFL, Gutekunst must get it right if he decides to go all-in for 2021.
Here are three potential defensive targets the Packers could look to sign when free agency begins.
Rasul Douglas, CB, Carolina Panthers
What a year it was for Rasul Douglas, who found himself without a roster spot just weeks before the Carolina Panthers’ season opener. After the loss of cornerback James Bradberry last offseason, the Panthers secondary lacked talent, depth, and continuity; and following Donte Jackson’s injury in Week 1, Douglas, a four-year veteran, was immediately tasked with covering the opposing team’s top target on a weekly basis. It was a tall task in a division with the talents of Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas. Douglas garnered a bulk of the snaps in head coach Matt Rhule’s primary Cover 2 scheme, starting 11 of the next 13 games while playing 78% of the team’s total defensive snaps—the fourth-highest mark of any Panthers defensive player.
Douglas’ role in Green Bay as the potential CB2 opposite Jaire Alexander would prove to be a massive addition if Kevin King signs elsewhere in free agency. Chandon Sullivan looks to be a prime re-sign candidate if both sides can agree to a tender, but Douglas would offer a cheap addition with Super Bowl pedigree into a youthful secondary room.
Lawrence Guy, NT, New England Patriots
A former seventh-round selection of the Packers in 2011, Lawrence Guy’s addition alongside Kenny Clark and Kingsley Keke in new defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s 3-4 front would allow the two bookends to do what they do best: wreak havoc.
Along with Guy’s production as a pure run-stuffing nose, he has proven to be ultra-durable, missing just two games in the last six seasons. Additionally, Guy’s 9.8% run-stop percentage over the last three seasons ranks 12th out of 152 eligible defensive players, via Pro Football Focus.
With cap space limited, Guy, like Douglas, would provide championship pedigree into the core of Green Bay’s front three without Gutekunst having to break the bank for the Ndamukong Suh's or Kawann Short’s of the class.
Neville Hewitt, ILB, New York Jets
Neville Hewitt, a former undrafted free agent, made his living initially as a special teams ace with the Miami Dolphins. After his arrival in New York, Hewitt worked his way up into the middle of the Jets’ defense and never looked back. With the recent departure of Christian Kirksey, a major hole lies in the middle of Barry’s defense. The Smith’s, Za’Darius and Preston, make up one of the league’s top OLB units. However, since the departures of Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell, the Packers have lacked a true anchor in the middle. Hewitt burst onto the scene in 2020, recording a career-high 134 tackles, good for ninth-most in the league. Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin offer a youth-inspired duo, but the latter could be suited best in a rotational role, allowing the addition of the 27-year old Hewitt to step in alongside Barnes to provide a talented and rangy inside linebacker duo.
- Jun 24, 2022
- Jun 22, 2022