The Green Bay Packers are notorious penny-pinchers in free agency. GM Ted Thompson doesn’t like to wade into the pool of available players, but that should change this offseason with Green Bay lacking talent at its skill positions and Aaron Rodgers getting another year older.
The secondary needs attention, as does the pass rush, and with $42 million in cap space, the Packers have the funds to address both positions. The franchise-tag period has thinned the number of options at corner and outside linebacker, but there are still plenty out there.
Here are five players the Packers should target in free agency next week.
WR Kenny Stills (Dolphins)
I have a hard time believing the rumor that Stills will get $12 million per year in free agency, which would put him way out of Green Bay’s price range. If his cost comes in at around $8 or $9 million, that’s more feasible and should make him an option for the Packers. Jordy Nelson isn’t a deep threat anymore, and Randall Cobb has seemingly lost his way in Green Bay’s offense and potentially could be in line for a paycut. Stills would open up underneath routes for Nelson, Cobb and Davante Adams, while adding a much-needed infusion of speed. He’s averaged 16.7 yards per catch in his career.
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G Larry Warford (Lions)
Coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that T.J. Lang is still recovering from a foot injury and isn’t expected to do much before training camp. He’s also a free agent and could move on to another team. Warford was one of the best rookies in 2013, and though he hasn’t returned to that form since, he’s still a good offensive guard. Warford, 25, is younger and healthier than Lang, which means he can help the Packers’ offensive line for years to come. Unless Lang returns on a team-friendly deal, Green Bay should pursue Warford.
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RB Adrian Peterson (Vikings)
The Packers have a glaring need at running back with Ty Montgomery looking more like a third-down guy than someone who can carry it 25 times a game. Peterson isn’t a bellcow or a three-down back anymore, but he can still be effective on first and second down. As long as the price is right, the Packers should pursue their former division rival. They have the offensive line and passing attack to allow him to succeed. No team should sign Peterson with the assumption that he’ll carry the offense, which he wouldn’t have to do in Green Bay.
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OLB Nick Perry (Packers)
The Packers got an unexpected amount of production from Perry at outside linebacker last season, as he broke through with 11 sacks in 14 games. He never had more than four in any of his previous four seasons, which does admittedly cause some concern about whether he’s a one-year wonder. Regardless, he’s worth re-signing for the Packers. Green Bay loves to retain its own players, and with Clay Matthews being a shell of himself, Perry has to return in 2017. Not to mention, he’s just 26 years old and is strong against the run, too.
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CB Stephon Gilmore (Bills)
I know, I know, the Packers don’t spend big money in free agency. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. Thompson has been too cautious in recent years, and that has led to a lack of talent at key positions. Gilmore will be one of the two best cornerbacks available in free agency alonsdide A.J. Bouye, and he’ll be worth the money. Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins haven’t panned out, and Sam Shields is out of the picture. Gilmore would be an immediate upgrade at CB1, locking down opposing teams’ top receivers. He’d take pressure off the rest of the defense.