Weird 2020 Draft, No Free Agents — Packers Still OK for 2021

Jan 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) during the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers have been one of the most successful teams in the NFL over the past few decades. From Brett Farve to Aaron Rodgers, they have enjoyed the benefit of having two hall of fame quarterbacks lead the way. More recently, the Packers are coming off back-to-back 13-3 seasons that ended in a trip to the NFC Championship game. And in both games, the Packers didn’t look like they ever had a shot. Despite Aaron Rodgers receiving his 3rd MVP award, injuries to the offensive line derailed their postseason. However, the Packers seem content with sticking to their current roster build with the moves they have made this offseason.

Returning Players

The Packers haven’t had a splashy free agency, not having a single outside signing. However, they have been busy re-signing players from their 2020 team. These signings, however, can be considered questionable. By signing Aaron Jones, the Packers have now made the puzzling decision to spend premium money on a running back while having just spent a premium draft pick last year to draft AJ Dillon. It seemed like they were about to make the “smart” decision by letting Jones walk in free agency, but with this move, there are also questions raised as to why they spent a 2nd round pick on a backup running back. The Packers also re-signed Kevin King earlier this week. This move is surprising as the last memories we have of King are from the NFC Championship game. 

King posted a 50.6 PFF grade in 2020, which was good enough for 99th/121 eligible corners. While not a terrible move in its own right, it’s questionable that they did re-sign King when just five years ago they let Casey Hayward, who had a 75.7 PFF grade in his last season with the Packers, leave in free agency. Jaire Alexander is a stud in his own right, but having a high-quality #2 CB is also crucial, and King thus far has not fit the bill. The Packers will need to upgrade at the #2 CB position eventually, and re-signing King does not seem like the right path for this.

Question Marks

The Packers also let Corey Linsley walk this year. Linsley was the #1 graded center this year per PFF and had also graded in the top 10 the previous two seasons. He was an elite player on their offensive line, but the Packers didn’t have the money to pay him 12.5 Million a year like the Chargers ended up doing. The other starter they lost was Christian Kirksey, who had posted a sub 50 PFF grade the last three years. This move was not as surprising, but the Packers have needed help at linebacker for a while now, going back to the 2020 NFC Championship game. They did draft a couple of linebackers on day three of the 2020 draft, but it was surprising they hadn’t invested more into the position.

This now brings us to the 2020 draft. The 2020 draft for the Packers has been criticized by now, with their first three picks all spent on backup players. With them not spending any money in free agency so far to fill any holes either, many questions must be asked about how well the Packers are building their roster. The offensive line will also likely regress with the loss of both Linsley and Rick Wagner. The defense was a solid unit last year, with one of the best secondaries in the league and a strong pass rush – but if the middle of their defense doesn’t get better, we may see a similar ending to their season. The 2021 NFL Draft will be a crucial one for the Packers. They will need to address some of their holes through the draft with premium picks, unlike what they did last year. 

2021 Projection

While this outlook on the Packers so far may look negative, the truth of the matter is that as long as Aaron Rodgers is the bad man, they will be the favorites to win the NFC North every season. Not only that, they will always be a dangerous team in the playoffs with an offense that has weapons everywhere. Rodgers, Adams, Jones, and Tonyan are a group of playmakers that are tough for any defense to stop. Their defense also has some playmakers such as Jaire Alexander, Za’Darius Smith, and Adrian Amos. This team rightfully has Superbowl aspirations, but the only question is if they are doing the best to make those aspirations into reality.