Should the Packers load up at the NFL trade deadline for a Super Bowl run in 2021?

Will the Green Bay Packers be in the news leading up to the 2021 NFL trade deadline, and if so, which positions could they target?

After a turbulent offseason where the Green Bay Packers were in the news for all the wrong reasons, their 2021 NFL season has largely gone smoothly. Sitting with a 6-1 record heading into Week 8, should the Packers be eyeing the upcoming trade deadline in order to add crucial pieces to their roster for a Super Bowl run?

The Green Bay Packers have the flexibility to make some trade deadline additions

None of the NFL teams expected to challenge in 2021 are flush with cap. Still, the Packers at least have some breathing room heading into the trade deadline. With around $6 million in cap space, the Packers can investigate some additions in the coming days.

However, due to the contract situations on their roster, the Packers are somewhat hampered from making a number of big moves. According to Over the Cap, the only player currently on the roster who could open up more than $1 million in cap space with a restructure or extension is Aaron Rodgers.

Therefore, if Green Bay wants to make additions at the deadline, they need to look to add players with smaller cap numbers who can contribute immediately. Meeting both of those parameters is tough to do. They’ll have to either restructure the new contracts coming in or overpay for the player in order to have the team trading them away eat some of the salary, and thus, the cap space before the trade.

Which positions could the Packers target ahead of the trade deadline?

With a good roster, the Packers don’t have a vast amount of needs. Nevertheless, there are areas they might consider trying to update.

Cornerback

It seems that every year cornerback is an issue for the Packers — as it is for many contending teams. They attempted to fix these concerns with the addition of Eric Stokes in the draft. Stokes’ performance has been fine, but nothing more. Combine that with the loss of Jaire Alexander to a sprained AC joint, and the Packers are looking short on both top-end talent and depth at the position.

The likes of Kyle Fuller and Xavien Howard would obviously be improvements if they are available. However, with cap numbers of $9 million and at least $12 million, respectively, the Packers would need the Broncos and Dolphins to eat some of the salary to make a deal work.

Players who could be an upgrade on their current options and be affordable include Steven Nelson (Eagles) and Isaiah Oliver (Falcons).

Defensive End

Dean Lowry and Kingsley Keke have not been great on either side of nose tackle Kenny Clark. Getting production out of the defensive line is crucial for teams looking to make a Super Bowl run. Fortunately, a handful of options could be in play for the Packers ahead of the trade deadline.

The Seahawks’ potential in 2021 appears to be fading, which could make veteran DL Al Woods an ideal target for the Packers. Woods is on a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.25 million and a $29,411 per-game bonus. He would be an affordable addition to the line with no long-term commitment. A similarly short-term addition would be Giants DL Austin Johnson. Johnson is having a breakout year at the age of 27 and would come with just a $1.5 million cap number in 2021.

If the Packers are thinking more about the long term, they could look at Shelby Harris. With the Broncos slipping out of the playoff picture and their future uncertain, Harris could be someone they are willing to move. Harris would bring just a $1 million cap number in 2021 but does have $5 million of guaranteed salary in 2022.

Linebacker

The low-risk signing of De’Vondre Campbell has so far paid off nicely for the Packers. Campbell has been superb against both the run and pass this year and has 2 interceptions to his name. While Jaylon Smith has had a good start to life in Green Bay, they could look to add more depth.

Myles Jack is the popular name available at the position, but unless the Jaguars are willing to help with his $9.5 cap number, that looks to be a non-starter. A name to potentially look at is Bobby Okereke in Indianapolis. Okereke has given up a couple of touchdowns in the passing game but has generally been solid in coverage. However, in just his third season, the Colts may see him as a long-term option for their franchise, which could make him expensive.

A name that could be interesting is Christian Kirksey down in Houston. Kirksey was with the Packers in 2020 but signed with Houston in the offseason. Kirksey would cost a little under $2 million in cap space in 2021. He was limited in practice this week with a thumb injury, which could be a sticking point.

Wide Receiver

The offseason news surrounding the Packers was all about Rodgers’ unhappiness with how the front office supported him. Well, they could make a statement by going out and getting him another solid weapon to go alongside Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. The issue will be trying to thread the needle between an addition good enough to improve the offense and their limited cap space.

The top option for any contending team would be Texans WR Brandin Cooks. Cooks’ salary for the 2021 season was just $2.5 million and his cap number on the entire year for the team acquiring him is that figure plus a small amount of per-game roster bonus. His value in the Packers’ offense would be enormous, and there is no commitment to him in 2022 with none of his $12 million salary guaranteed.

Additionally, Andy Isabella is reportedly available, but he is no sure-fire upgrade on what they have. An intriguing deep threat weapon could be John Ross, who is a very boom-or-bust type receiver. Nevertheless, the former top-10 pick is undoubtedly talented and comes with a cap hit of under $1.5 million. Sticking with the Giants, Darius Slayton has also flashed playmaking abilities and is cost-controlled through the end of 2022.

Offensive Line

The return of David Bakhtiari will be a huge boost to Green Bay’s offensive line. That would allow Elgton Jenkins to be utilized wherever the Packers most feel he is required. Jenkins has played at tackle, guard, and center in the past two years. Therefore, he could be used to plug any issues on this line.

You can never have too much depth on the offensive line when it comes to the second half of the season and the playoffs. With this in mind, the Packers could decide to be aggressive in the coming days.

A veteran addition like Ted Karras would provide further interior flexibility and that consistent, trusted ability. However, an aggressive move would be to go after former first-round selection Chris Lindstrom from the Atlanta Falcons. Lindstrom’s game has slowly improved over the past three years. But, with the Falcons in a state of uncertainty and with a long-term decision about Lindstrom to be made soon, the Packers may be able to pry him away.

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