The Green Bay Packers’ offseason was a wild one as they crunched the cap and had to part with several players in order to look to improve at the positions that needed the most help. They made two trades, signed just 3 players in free agency, had 10 draft picks, and signed one last undrafted free agent to get the roster to the required 52 players with less than one million in cap space left.
Trade #1: Packers Give Kenny Clark DT, Jordan Love QB, Pick 59 FOR Bengals Akeem Davis-Gaither LB, Marlon Mack HB, Tyler Boyd WR, Pick 2, Pick 34, Future 7th Round Pick
This blockbuster trade was the start of a new era in Green Bay. Trade talks between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Green Bay Packers started early in the offseason as the Packers’ defense is filled with superstars and quality players so they were looking to shop Kenny Clark as he was guaranteed to bring in a major haul. The original plan was to trade Love separately but after the Bengals traded Joe Burrow and asked for Love, the Green Bay front office took the opportunity to deal out the turnover-prone quarterback and got to fill some holes and prepare for the future. Trading for the 2nd overall pick while keeping the 4th overall let the Packers go for their QB of the future and still have an early first to fill a gap well, not to mention the 34th pick being a pretty underrated acquisition. Finally, Davis-Gaither added some speed and more depth to the Packers’ LB core, Marlon Mack can help take some of the rushing load off of Aaron Jones just like he did for Joe Mixon in Cincinnati, and Tyler Boyd is a huge upgrade at WR2 over Devin Funchess who was cut for cap space.
Trade #2: Packers Give Pick 100 FOR Bills Pick 128, Pick 160, Pick 224
This trade happened mid-draft and had one purpose for the Green Bay Packers: gather late round picks to fill out their roster and meet the player requirements the staff both wanted and needed. A fun, little added bonus was they were now in possession of the last pick and could draft Mr. Irrelevant.
Trades that fell through: Jordan Love was being shopped for LBs and mid-to-late first-round picks. There were a couple of potential trade-ups from 34 and 36 to mid-to-early first round that would have given the Packers 3 top 10 or top 15 picks. There were a couple of potential trade-downs from 4 to try and gain more picks but Green Bay was able to do this towards the back half of the draft. Finally, the Packers were very interested in Tyler Lockett but the Buffalo Bills were interested in Za’Darius Smith and after trading Kenny Clark from the defensive line and receiving Tyler Boyd, the trade didn’t make sense and talks never progressed past initial intrigue.
Notable Cuts: Getting under the salary cap is a huge hassle for NFL Franchises and the Green Bay Packers were put in an awful spot with their financial situation, all while not paying a quarterback besides a rookie deal, too. To make room for free agency and incoming rookies some tough cuts were made. Devin Funchess was cut to save roughly 7 Million, although he was quickly replaced by an upgrade in Tyler Boyd for only 2 Million more. Corey Linsley was also cut for around 7 Million and his spot will be taken by the young but promising Harry Miller. The final notable cuts were to Damon Hazelton Jr, the team’s previous return specialist, and backup tight end Cade Brewer which left the Packers with just one tight end heading into the NFL Draft as they couldn’t secure another during free agency.
Free Agent Signings: Veteran Kicker Cairo Santos was brought in on a 3 year deal with an average annual salary of 550k to replace Jason Myers at a cheaper cost which the team desperately needed. Punter Tommy Townsend from Florida was brought in to replace Jordan Berry at a much cheaper cost which again at 550k per year over two years and the low price was the Packers’ top priority in this stage of free agency. Special Teams players are important so only time will tell if making the financial sacrifices here will pay off in the long run. Finally, the Packers signed WR Jamal Agnew for 1 year and roughly 1.8 million to bring some athleticism, speed, and returning ability to Green Bay. Agnew played for the Detroit Lions for a solid amount of time so he’s no stranger to Lambeau Field, the Packers, and the NFC North. The Packers expect him to make impact plays and energize the offense with his versatility, a trait that their weapons lacked last season. The Packers tried to bring back tight end Jace Sternberger and also tried to sign a veteran backup center in A.J Cann, but both turned down Green Bay’s lowball offers hoping they could get more money from a team not struggling financially.
Pick #2: QB Bryce Young- Alabama: This was a controversial pick as Young wasn’t even the starter his senior year at Alabama, but the Crimson Tide have a history of amazing players and the Packers felt they liked his versatility and playmaking ability over the Heisman award winner, Michael Penix Jr, and Alabama’s starter, Mac Jones. Young is being given the reigns right away and hopes to prove himself to the rest of the league.
Pick #4: CB Tyreke Johnson- Ohio State: Green Bay was rumored to be going WR here to help out their rookie stud QB, but instead opted for the speedy lockdown corner out of Ohio State. The Packers just felt too strongly about Johnson’s ability to shut down his man or zone and also knew they could still get a quality receiving option at their next pick.
Pick #34: TE Michael Mayer- Notre Dame: Both of Green Bay’s early second-rounders were used to provide fresh young playmakers for Bryce Young but with only one tight end on the roster entering the draft, the Packers decided to get a new starter in Mayer. He isn’t a super flashy or athletic player but is exactly what the Packers were looking for in a new starting tight end: stability.
Pick #36: WR Treylon Burks- Arkansas: The Packer’s fourth selection in the first 40 picks was where they finally addressed the wide receiver position. While still a big need, especially with the team’s lack of explosive speed, the Packers felt comfortable waiting until this pick after acquiring Tyler Boyd. They really liked Burks as he is tall and athletic similar to MVS who Green Bay let walk a couple of seasons ago.
Pick #68: DT Keondre Coburn- Texas: The third round is where Green Bay decided to attempt to hit on a steal to replace the huge loss of Kenny Clark in the middle of their 3-4. After contemplating several defensive tackle prospects and also entertaining the idea of drafting an oversized defensive end and moving him, the Packers landed on Coburn. The Texas product was probably the closest thing to Clark in this draft as he isn’t super tall but is a big-bodied run stuffer who is still surprising explosive in powering through with pass rush moves and is expected to compete for the starting tackle spot with Alim McNeill.
Pick #128: TE Malcolm Epps- Texas: The Packers took their second tight end and their second player out of Texas with the last pick in the fourth round. Epps is a less complete and less developed player than Mayer but has the physical making of an elite tight end. He is a tall 6 feet and 6 inches while still having above average speed for a tight end. He should get a lot of time in preseason to take the second string tight end spot over Josiah Deguara who has barely progressed in his time in the NFL
Pick #132: SS Lannden Zanders- Clemson: Green Bay expressed interest in using more nickel and dime sets on defense in the upcoming season and Zanders is a unique prospect that can fly all over the field and make plays. Coming out of Clemson’s stacked national championship winning defense, Zanders explosive play style is one that looks to bring energy and take some pressure off of Adrian Amos who is getting older and on an expiring contract. He’ll be a rotational piece this season, but could be a starter as soon as next season if he reaches his potential.
Pick #160: DT Jowon Briggs- Virginia: The Packers went with a pure depth pick late in the 5th round as they wanted another defensive tackle to fill the roster and complement their defensive line. Briggs is pretty undersized and not as strong as the typical 3-4 nose tackle, but he’ll get a strong chance in the preseason to prove if he’s worth a roster spot or just a one-year filler piece.
Pick #164: CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart- USC: Green Bay decided to add another depth player early in the 6th round with a promising corner in Taylor-Stuart. He’s not a beast or a speedster but he is a solid coverage guy who will get a high volume of reps in preseason and will most likely come onto the field for dime packages with chances to make big plays for the Packers defense in coverage. He may not be much, but the Packers are confident he’s better than the spot they got him at.
Pick #224: WR Trejan Bridges- Oklahoma: This year’s Mr. Irrelevant isn’t going to be very irrelevant as he is a solid raw talent and should be a rotational piece with a lot of potential upside. He was overshadowed by his Oklahoma teammate Jadon Haselwood in college who went 10th overall and really shouldn’t have fallen this far. Green Bay looks to develop into Bridges into a slot and run after catch guy as he isn’t the strongest but has the skills to be a quality role player.
UDFA Signing: HB George Holani- Boise State: The Packers had just enough cap to sign an UDFA to complete their roster and have the amount of players they wanted at certain positions. Holani was someone they looked at in the 7th round but ultimately decided they’d rather bring him in on a one year deal worth roughly 1.5 million to provide extra speed because they have Marlon Mack and Aaron Jones signed for years to come.