Which Offseason Players Could Help Rodgers Reach The Super Bowl?
By: Dave Browne
Packers, Packers, Packers. Every year comes a new opportunity. But those opportunities for future first ballot Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers seem to be dwindling for Green Bay. Rodgers is used to playing with a chip on his shoulder. He was passed over by Alex Smith, was passed over 23 times in the 2005 NFL Draft, was a backup himself for a few years to Brett Favre, criticized by teammates, and most recently the Packers drafting his potential replacement in Jordan Love and essentially not adding another wide receiver last off-season to help them get over the hump offensively.
Rodgers has mostly taken those chips and elevated his level to another level of greatness. BUT, when will that chip on his shoulder turn into get me the heck out of Green Bay? He provided some raw, concise insight in his responses to questions that he received after their latest NFC Championship game defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Without dissecting everything that Rodgers said postgame or in his annual Aaron Rodgers Tuesday on Pat McAfee’s show on Sirius XM, he knows his time in Green Bay will be coming to an end eventually. When push comes to shove, it’s safe (nothing in the NFL is ever SAFE); more like assuming that he will be back in Green Bay for another season. Go all in for one more Super Bowl run with one of the best quarterbacks in the last two decades. The Packers could conceivably put all of their chips in the middle of the table, and just go all in. Whether it’s draft capital or some stud free agents set to hit the market that could help them get over the top.
Green Bay went on a free agent spending spree in 2019, and was a little bit more conservative with their spending on the 2020 team. However, when you’ve reached two straight NFC Championship games you’re not too far off.
Here are five free agents that could help the Packers reach Super Bowl LVI.
- Will Fuller V WR (Houston)
There looks to be quite a few wide receivers ripe for the picking for Green Bay if they choose to dip into the free agency pool. Assuming that no wide receivers are re-signed or franchise tagged by their current club, we could see Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Corey Davis, Curtis Samuel and Will Fuller could all hit the open market.
I don’t envision the Packers paying top dollar for Allen Robinson or Chris Godwin, but Will Fuller would be a nice consolation prize. He could be the yang to Davante Adams’s ying. Following a PED suspension, Fuller was having a career year. More surprisingly, he was able to stay healthy having played in 11 of 12 full games that he played. He was well on his way to posting his first career 1,000 yard season and double digit touchdowns. He scored 8 touchdowns and scored in all of three games that he played.
He would bring another element that Green Bay sorely lacks. Marquez Valdes-Scantling flashed big play ability but lacked the consistency (and hands) of a viable number two receiver. Fuller’s speed and versatility will give defense fits, and open up the Green Bay’s offense.
- Marvin Jones Jr. WR (Detroit)
I’m double dipping with the wide receivers here. That’s alright, because of how many viable options at wide receivers there are and Green Bay’s need for one. Green Bay knows what Marvin Jones Jr. is having seen him twice per season. Turning 31 at the start of next season, Jones Jr will also give them a cheaper alternative to other top wide receivers on the market as well.
He is not the sexiest name out there, but he sure is a productive receiver. Touchdowns are a variant stat, but he does have a knack for scoring with at least nine touchdowns in three of his last four years. He also has at least 60 receptions in that same span.
He is a versatile receiver who could line up on the outside or in the slot. He is not a true burner like Fuller would be, but he is a nice middle of the field, chain moving presence that teams covet. He is a nice wide receiver in which Green Bay would not need to break the bank for.
- Dalvin Tomlinson DT (NY Giants)
One Achilles on the Green Bay defense is their propensity to give up chunk plays on the ground. They ranked 10th in the NFL by giving up nearly 110 yards per game rushing. That’s respectable, but if you look a little further they were still not very good at stopping the run. They yielded 4.5 yards per carry which ranked 18th in the league. Green Bay also jumped out to big leads by having one of the most proficient offenses in the NFL, so many teams would have to abandon the run midway through the game.
The same issue that plagued them in the 2020 NFC Championship game against San Francisco (285 yards allowed on the ground/6.8 ypc) is still an issue with their defense now. While Tampa Bay’s rushing stats weren’t eye popping in the NFC Championship game, Leonard Fournette was able to convert some big runs, including his impressive touchdown run.
Dalvin Tomlinson would be an immediate upgrade for the Packers front 7. He and Leonard Williams were a formidable run stuffing for the Giants this season. According to PFF, he ranks in the 82nd percentile against the run since he entered the league in 2017.
You could even make the argument that Tomlinson mammoth size and the ability to draw double teams made Williams have his most successful season in his six year career.
He will be 27 by time the NFL season kicks off, and could be a fixture on their defense for years. In the meantime, he could be the difference into taking that Green Bay defense to the next level.
- Taylor Moton RT (Carolina)
We saw what happened to the Packers’ offensive line when David Bakhtiari was out with an Achilles injury. The Green Bay offensive line was no match for Tampa Bay’s front 7, as they wreaked havoc on Rodgers all game long. Even when Bakhtiari is out there, they could still use reinforcements on the line. RT Billy Turner had a respectable year for the Packers, but they could still use someone with a bit more consistency.
Taylor Moton has been exactly that since he came into the league in 2017. He is elite at pass blocking, and he is a solid run blocker. Green Bay ran the ball at a 44% clip in 2020, and most recently invested a 2nd round pick in running back AJ Dillon. Regardless of their decisions on impending free agents Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams, the Packers will definitely feature their running game quite a bit.
However, Green Bay’s success is contingent upon Aaron Rodgers staying healthy and maintaining a clean pocket for him. Moton was rated as PFF’s 13th best tackle in the NFL and received a season grade of 81.2. At 26 years of age, he could be a foundational piece of their offensive line for the foreseeable future.
- William Jackson III CB Cincinnati)
Tom Brady wanted no part of Jaire Alexander in the NFC Championship game, so he found someone else to expose. It happened to be Kevin King, who was on the wrong side of some big plays.
King himself is a pending unrestricted free agent so there is no guarantee that he will even be back next season. If Green Bay is looking to upgrade their number two cornerback position, look no further than William Jackson.
He is far from a perfect cornerback, but he is still a savvy corner. He’s been inconsistent against other teams’ number one wide receiver, but with Alexander locking things down, he won’t have to. Being in a better defense overall with less pressure should be conducive to higher success for Jackson.
PFF ranked had him ranked as the 20th graded cornerback with his 71.4 rating. At 28 he still has some very good years of football left.
Green Bay is an intriguing situation this off-season. They have some big decisions to make on their own pending free agents and roster in general. With an aging (unhappy?) quarterback and a win now roster, they may decide to go ”˜all-in’ this off-season. It’ll be interesting to see how the dominoes fall for the Green Bay Packers.