The Green Bay Packers enter the 2023 NFL offseason as one of the league’s main focuses. Aaron Rodgers is still under contract with Green Bay until 2026, but all signs point to a trade of the long-time Packers QB. Ironically enough, the New York Jets look to be the recipient, drawing parallels to another controversial (now) Packers quarterback from the past.
Much of what Green Bay does in free agency depends on what eventually happens with Rodgers. The best part of that hypothetical is we get to explore two avenues of approach. Because depending on how we look at things, keeping or trading Rodgers could each be positive or negative, depending on what angle we take looking at the picture. But even with Rodgers, is this a team that could realistically compete for a Lombardi Trophy?
Green Bay Packers Free Agency Predictions
The wind was taken out of the Packers’ sails a bit after retaining Joe Barry, but that doesn’t mean we should simply ignore the current defensive holes. The team finished 20th in DVOA and 27th in EPA per play.
Let’s see what moves need to be made in free agency to fix that.
Best-Case Scenarios Include Trading Aaron Rodgers, Signing Dalton Schultz and a 5-Technique
Although Aaron Jones admitted to Good Morning Football that he wants Rodgers to return to the Packers, he showed confidence in Jordan Love during the interview.
“If not, then we have Jordan Love, who’s more than capable, and he’s ready to ball as well and ready for his shot.”
With 55 players on the roster and $12.4 million in effective cap space, the Packers are already in decent shape to fit players into the needs they currently possess, and that is before any deal for Rodgers is finalized.
MORE: What Is the NFL Legal Tampering Period, and When Does It Start in 2023?
There aren’t too many glaring needs on Green Bay’s roster. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb are free agents, but the more glaring needs come on the defensive side of the ball.
Both Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry are free agents. While the Packers could re-sign Lowry at an inexpensive number and a lower snap count, even more, inexpensive free agents could fill that void, plus Green Bay could draft a player at a lesser cost and with a higher upside.
But one of Dre’Mont Jones, Poona Ford, or Zach Allen would be a perfect addition alongside Devonte Wyatt, and each would conceivably be around for the long haul as Green Bay retools with their new QB. Ford may be the most likely because he’s a cost-effective option due to his relative ineffectiveness as a pass rusher. While they are each very different players, Green Bay has put players of all shapes and sizes on their defensive front in the B and C gaps, and each of them can play there.
However, the Packers are in a pretty pickle. Love’s contract expires after 2023, and he’s only attempted 83 passes as a professional. Because of the complicated nature of Rodgers’ contract, age, and limited trade market aside from the Jets, Green Bay may not receive a first-round pick as compensation for Rodgers. That makes a trade-up for a 2024 NFL Draft QB unlikely.
Maybe Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur would want to see what Love brings in a similar offensive situation to Rodgers, but it’s usually a good idea to surround your young QB with as much offensive firepower as possible to give him a fair shot at succeeding. Even if Love plays well, he still hardly has an argument to be paid any more than Derek Carr or Daniel Jones.
A good tight end can often be a safety blanket for a young QB, and Dalton Schultz has proven to be exactly that. It’s an uninspiring free agency and draft class at wide receiver, but adding Schultz provides Green Bay with a decent in-line blocker and third-down weapon in the slot.
No matter what happens, Love needs to play in 2023, by Gutekunst’s own admission. “Not every quarterback comes into this league ready to go out there and play. I think he needed a little time, but over the last year and a half or so, we’ve seen that’s the next step in his progression. He needs to go out and play.”
Worst-Case Scenarios Include Jordan Poyer, James Bradberry, and Retaining Aaron Rodgers
With Adrian Amos likely out as the Packers’ top safety, the team could get a bit creative with their secondary. Gutekunst has hinted that Rasul Douglas could slide back into a safety role, which would complicate their safety room, but clear things up in the secondary as a whole.
No matter what the team does, they should be looking to build for the next half-decade and not spend big money on aging free agents like Jordan Poyer and James Bradberry. Gutekunst and LaFleur must be realistic with the team’s chances in 2023. They need to learn what Love’s potential is, and start building for when and if he’s earned the snaps to build around in 2024 and beyond.
MORE: Top 100 NFL Free Agents
Someone with the versatility of Julian Love could be a nice pickup for Green Bay, even if he’s not as talented a player as Poyer or Bradberry. The Packers need the picks from the Jets to maximize their ability to build around Love/whoever is their QB in 2024 and beyond.
Green Bay Packers Free Agent Targets
Here is a list of free agents by position the Packers should at least consider targeting in free agency (not including their own).
- Julian Love, S, New York Giants
- Juan Thornhill, S, Kansas City Chiefs
- Zach Allen, DE/DT, Arizona Cardinals
- Dre’Mont Jones, DE/DT, Denver Broncos
- Poona Ford, DT, Seattle Seahawks
- Charles Omenihu, DE, San Francisco 49ers
- Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
- Foster Moreau, Las Vegas Raiders