The Packers Have a lot of Holes to Fill. What Should be Prioritized?

There is a good chance the 2023 Green Bay Packers roster looks far different then the 2022 team. Even without many starters hitting free agency. Not to mention there is a chance franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets traded this offseason. Also, the team is not in the best of cap situations, meaning that some expensive players like Edge Preston Smith or less likely but still possible, star running back Aaron Jones. With so many question marks still, it is hard to truly prioritize what positions are going to be most needed, but in this article we will talk about what I think the Packers WILL do, and work off of that.

First off, let’s talk about certain Packers players hitting free agency. Starting safety Adrian Amos, who experienced a down year, is set to hit free agency. Also starting defensive lineman Dean Lowrey and Jarran Reed are also set to leave the team. On the offensive side of the ball, wide receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb are free agents. So are TE’s Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis as well as starting RT Yosh Nijman. All of these players are unrestricted free agents meaning that unless they are franchise tagged, they are able to walk if they so wish.

Now let’s talk about the players I think the Packers will retain. First I believe that Aaron Rodgers will be back next year, as well as Jordan Love with the team denying Love a trade. In this scenario I believe the Packers will retain Randall Cobb, Yosh Nijman, and Marcedes Lewis. On the defensive side I believe they will re-sign Jarran Reed and Adrian Amos. Factoring this in I believe Preston Smith will end up being the only cap casualty for the team, with other contracts being reworked rather than players being cut.

With this housekeeping out of the way we can break down the five biggest holes for the Packers, before diving into what should be prioritized. To me the five biggest holes on the team are going to be RT, WR2, Edge 2, a starting tight end, and a starting safety. Now there are always depth concerns but for the sake of this article we are only talking about starting players. Now let’s discuss what should be prioritized.

The lowest priority of these five positions for the team should be RT. Yosh Nijman has shown that he can be a capable starter, a good pass blocker and an average run blocker. That being said, the 2023 NFL draft has several high end OT prospects. Should one of these players fall to the Packers at 15 I believe the Packers should draft them rather than trading down. Giving up a chance to upgrade a great offensive line to an elite one is not something that I think would end well for this team. Look at division foe the Detroit Lions. They added an elite offensive line and can easily dominate in both the passing game and running game due to this mismatch with other teams defenses. Adding a potential elite RT could provide necessary protection for the team’s quarterback, plus strengthen their ability to run outside zone plays on the right end of the line.

Next let’s talk about two positions where the team needs to look at and sign either veteran players or spend early draft picks to strengthen said positions groups so that group is not carried by one player. These positions would be WR and Edge. Starting off with WR, yes the team has Christian Watson as its WR1. This is clear and obvious.But Romeo Doubs, for as good as he is, is at best a WR3 right now. With the team potentially retaining Randall Cobb, who is a low end slot option, the team still needs a real number two opposite of Watson. The Packers need to make sure to add playmakers and not ignore this position yet again. They could look at adding a player on day two of the draft and potentially through free agency if the right player wants to come to Green Bay. This doesn’t mean the team can’t spend a first round pick on this position, but unlike the last few years, the team has bigger concerns and is at least semi capable at the moment. As for Edge the team does have Rashan Gary. But it is unknown when he will be able to return from his ACL injury. Even when he does, the team’s next best option would be second year player Kingsley Enagabre who did flash in his rookie campaign. Even when he flashed I am still hesitant to say he can be a true number two opposite of Gary once he returns. Rather the team should also look at spending an early draft pick on the edge position, or sign a veteran should one become available.

Finally, let’s discuss the two positions that this Packers team cannot leave free agency or the first two days of the draft without adding at least one player to both of these positions. Tight end and a starting safety. This Packers team has been missing a real receiving threat at tight end for years. Even in 2020, Robert Tonyan’s stellar season, most of his production came off of schemed open plays rather than simply beating players and getting open. This team needs an athletic receiving threat rather than a blocker and a possession tight end. This is a position that the team has neglected for far too long and as evidenced by the playoff teams this year, is necessary to a playoff run. Now let’s discuss what is a gaping hole at free safety. Darnell Savage is still on the team for 2023, but was benched for most of the season due to his struggles at safety. Even with him here, the team needs to target a versatile, speedy safety to help cover on the back end. This also happens to be the position I think the Packers end up spending their first round pick on this year. A starting rangy safety to pair with a slowing down Amos should be enough to buy the Packers a year or two on the back end to help secure a better defensive unit (would certainly help if they fired Joe Barry.)

All in all these are my rankings of what I believe the Packers need to address on the team for this offseason. This team has been left in a rough state due to the poor roster management of this team in 2020 and 2021 and as such, another home run of a draft is needed from Brian Gutekunst if this team is to be even remotely relevant in 2023. But for now, only time can tell and hopefully by the end of April this Packers team will have been reloaded with youth and upside.
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