In the time since Matt LeFluer took the reigns of the Green Bay Packers, cheesehead fans have seen a drastic change in their handling of the roster. They have begun to sign real free agents, several of whom have greatly contributed to a revitalized team that made it to the NFC Championship in both 2020 and 2021. This article will go in and take a look at the three worst and three best player acquisitions made in this time frame. 2022 players will not be included as they have not played a single snap for the team yet. Context will be important for this ranking, so any day three picks will not be included as busts as they were low draftees to begin with. Without further ado let’s get into the three worst, followed by the three best player acquisitions.
Worst Player Acquisitions
Number Three: Tight End Jace Sternberger, 2019 Third Round Pick
Starting off with number three in worst player acquisitions is Jace Sternberger, a former third round pick out of Texas A&M. Sternberger was the only pass catcher drafted by the Packers in 2019. He was added to a room with both Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis that year. Sternberger was widely considered in the draft community to be the fourth best TE in that draft and as such, when he was drafted expectations were set rather high for him. With both Graham and Lewis in the TE room to coach him the expectation was he would develop in both his pass catching and blocking. Unfortunately we never saw this development. In 2021 after serving a two game suspension Sternberger was cut from a rather bad tight end room, signifying just how bad he truly was. Since being cut he has floated around on multiple teams and is currently in Pittsburgh competing for a roster spot.
Number Two: Tight End Josiah Deguara, 2020 Third Round Pick
Starting to see a pattern? Following up the Jace Sternberger pick in 2019 the Packers opted to go back to the tight end well in 2020, instead of going for a wide receiver like they so desperately needed, grabbing Josiah Deguara out of Cincinnati. To start his rookie season deserves an incomplete status as he was injured after only playing two games and ended up missing his rookie season. Then in 2021 he came back behind both Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis.
This limited his snaps early in the season until Tonyan tore his ACL. At that point Deguara had the opportunity to shine as a tight end one, but unfortunately he never did. He ended the season with 245 yards off of 25 receptions while also scoring 2 touchdowns. His PFF grade reflected this poor production with a receiving grade of 55.4. Not to mention when he was out on the field it was easy to see he wasn’t running the right routes by evidence of Aaron Rodgers repeatedly chewing him out. 2022 will be a big year for Deguara as he will either cement his placement on this list or he will finally show some semblance of development in his career.
Number One: Quarterback Jordan Love, 2020 First Round Pick
This placement for Jordan Love should come as a shock to absolutely nobody. In the 2020 NFL Draft the Packers used an extra fourth round pick to move up in the draft to select QB Jordan Love. This was shocking at the time, but there was also room for this acquisition to be a good one. The idea was they did this to develop Love behind Aaron Rodgers for a season or two and then move on from Rodgers. Unfortunately the team has not shown any signs of following this logical path since.
Aaron Rodgers has now won back to back MVPs and also signed a massive three year $150.815 million dollar extension. This all but guarantees the Packers have decided to not roll with Love as QB one at any point as by the time Rodgers retires, Love’s cheap rookie deal will be over. This means that a team with a future hall of fame quarterback opted to trade up in the first round for a backup QB rather than adding any other position that could contribute to a team that should be in win now mode.
Best Player Acquisitions
Number Three: Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, 2021 Free Agent
This spot went back and forth for a while with offensive tackle Elgton Jenkins. Ultimately I decided Campbell was a better acquisition as he filled a hole on this roster that has been there for years. Lineback has been a gaping hole for the Packers since I started watching them in 2016. Fortunately gone are the days of the slow Blake Martinez and in are the days of a real modern linebacker. Campbell was signed as a post draft free agent in June of 2021. At one point it was unsure if he would even make the roster. Up until 2021 he had been a low end number two linebacker with his best year coming in 2017 with the Falcons. Then Campbell made the roster after preseason.
By week three virtually everyone knew something was different about Campbell. He was covering well and also playing great run defense. By the end of the season Campbell was named an All-Pro. Campbell finished the 2022 season with 111 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. His PFF grade was 84.7, their second best grade for a linebacker in 2021. This offseason Campbell signed a massive five year, 50 million dollar contract to remain the Packers starting linebacker for the next several years.
Number Two: Edge Rusher Rashan Gary, 2019 First Round Pick
There is no other way to put it then Gary has been a phenomenal addition to the Packers. A 2019 first round pick out of Michigan, Gary was a very polarizing prospect coming out. In year one he did not see many snaps as free agent additions Preston and Za’Darius Smith played a majority of the edge rusher snaps. In 2020 Gary received his first four career starts while playing in all 16 games. He recorded five sacks and 35 tackles that year. By 2021 he received even more playing time due to a Za’Darius Smith back injury.
By the end of the year Gary was considered an elite pass rusher. He recorded 81 pressures in 2021 according to PFF. His total grade ended up being an 89.3, which ranked eighth among edge rushers. With only two years left on his contract Gary will be looking for a hefty pay day. Hopefully the Packers recognize how important an edge rusher like he is and pay him accordingly.
Number One: Safety Adrian Amos, 2019 Free Agent
This might come as a shock to some but not to others. Adrian Amos is the best safety the packers have had for years. In 2019 he came over from Chicago on a four year $36 million dollar deal and has been worth every penny since, much to the ire of Bears fans. It has come as a welcome relief to Packers fans who for several years had to watch the likes of HaHa Clinton-Dix and Kentrell Brice. In 2019 he recorded eight pass deflections and two interceptions (he has had two interceptions in all three seasons with the Packers.) His stats have looked similar in every season and this has been shown by the steady improvement in games of not consistently seeing blown coverages on the back end. Some may say his interceptions are not enough but interceptions are a terrible metric to judge by. First, interceptions are a very fluky thing, often based around the play of a quarterback over the play of the safety. And also, Amos is not some remarkable playmaker. He is a safety net for this defense, ensuring nothing crazy bad happens on the back end. This in turn allows the other backs to play more aggressively. This is why Eddie Jackson for the Bears had such a great 2018 season. Amos was there to clean up any messes that were made, allowing Jackson to focus on playmaking. Unfortunately 2021 was Amos’s worst year in the green and gold. Luckily he still graded out okay at a 74.7 for PFF, which ends up as the 19th graded safety. 2022 will be a big year for Amos. If he can step back up in the Packers defense and play like he did in 2020, he should easily see a contract extension. If not then there is a good chance we see Amos walk and the Packers look to the draft to find his replacement.