Green Bay Packers’ Free Agency Outlook

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A.J. Bouye

Teams can start negotiating with free agents on Tuesday. They can begin signing them officially on Thursday. Is this the year when the Green Bay Packers actually do something?

As far as we are concerned, they have to.

Let’s get down to brass tacks. The Packers don’t have a No. 1 cornerback since they released Sam Shields. While they certainly have other needs — another pass rusher being high on the list — the one they simply can’t overlook is cornerback.

As we all know, the Packers’ secondary was a disaster in 2016. Counting on Damarious Randall or Quinten Rollins to bounce back or LaDarius Gunter to take another leap forward would be foolhardy.

There’s a good chance none of those things is going to happen. While the draft is deep at cornerback, you certainly can’t count on pulling a No. 1 cornerback out of there at pick No. 29.

Even if the Packers do draft a corner there — something we wouldn’t rule out regardless of free agency — that guy isn’t going to step on the field on day one and be that No. 1 guy. Maybe he develops into that two or three years down the road, but time is luxury — one that NFL teams don’t have.

If the Packers really are a team with Super Bowl aspirations, they need to go out and acquire their No. 1 corner this offseason.

I would argue that after quarterback and left tackle, a top-of-the-line corner is the third most important position on the team. The good news is, there’s a couple of guys who fit that bill available.

The Packers damn well better be picking up the phone and giving giving them a call.

A.J. Bouye

Here’s a guy right up the Packers’ alley. Signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Bouye turned into a legit No. 1 corner in 2016. He finished the season with 53 tackles, an interception and 16 passes defended. Those numbers may not look overwhelming, but the tape does. Bouye got a 90.9 grade on the season from Pro Football Focus, the third-best among cornerbacks.

Perhaps the one question about Bouye is sample size. He’s been in the league four years, but really only played at this level for one season — 2016, his contract year. Is it possible that was just your I-need-to-get-paid-and-will-never-play-this-well-again aberration? Of course, but it would be hard to see a guy who played at an elite level taking that much of a step back. Bouye, who’s only 25, was a big reason Houston had the top defense in the NFL in 2016. The biggest question is if the Packers want to pay the market rate for him.

Stephon Gilmore

Here’s a guy who went the other way in his contract year. Known as a top-of-the-line corner for most of his career with the Buffalo Bills, Gilmore had an off year in 2016. He put up 48 tackles and five interceptions, but he got beat an awful lot last season. PFF graded Gilmore out at a fairly middle-of-the-road 78.2, ranking him 61st among cornerbacks. Clearly based solely on reputation, he made his first Pro Bowl in 2016.

Unlike Bouye, Gilmore has the pedigree. He was a first-round pick in 2012 (No. 10 overall) and, despite 2016, has established himself over time as a shutdown-type guy. If you sign him, clearly you’re counting on him to bounce back. We’d say that’s a good bet.

Logan Ryan

The two guys above are the class of this cornerback group. The New England Patriots’ Logan Ryan is solid, but also a definitive step down from Bouye and Gilmore. He’s more of a really solid No. 2 and that’s not exactly what the Packers need, is it? Still, he should be discussed. As you’re probably aware, the Patriots’ No. 1 is Malcolm Butler. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to like about Ryan.

Ryan is probably the best tackler you’re going to find at cornerback. He had 92 tackles in 2016, to go along with two interceptions, a sack and forced fumble. PFF graded him at 83.5, 16th among cornerbacks. He’s young (26) and durable, having not missed a game in his career. The question is, can he be a No. 1? That’s what the Packers will have to ask.

Other Options

Certainly much less intriguing, but here are a couple of other guys who shouldn’t be as expensive and would still be an upgrade over what’s currently on the roster.

  • Prince Amukamara (27): 49 tackles, no interceptions, 76.6 grade with Jacksonville
  • Dre Kirkpatrick (27): 46 tackles, three interceptions, 74.7 grade with Cincinnati

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

9 Comments on "Green Bay Packers’ Free Agency Outlook"

  1. PackAttack

    You’d have to think with $40M in cap space and this talk about Lang not returning and possibly getting into a bidding war with Perry — where’s the rest of this cap space going to go if not into a guy like Bouye?

    Jared Cook, in my subjective opinion, isn’t worth more than $3-5M per/year with his career production/track record and injury history, I think he’s a top priority but he doesn’t break the bank and neither should Micah Hyde.

    You’d have to think it makes sense to go to a guy like Clay Matthews and ask him to restructure his contract, and the likes of Randall Cobb, if either of those two have any aspirations of going back to playing in a Super Bowl both of them need to realize they’re being paid well above market value (and their production level) and restructure for more cap.

    You’d think there’d be a way to restructure Matthews and Cobb, get Lang to settle for less to stay in Green Bay, resign Cook and Hyde at or slightly below market value, resign Perry and still be able to sign a playmaker like Bouye. You compliment that with a CB, OLB in the first two rounds of the draft and that’s not a bad off-season. Nevertheless I don’t see that as realistic with old Ted.

    • PF4L

      Nice…Not much to argue with there.

      The problem i have with Cook, is not with Cook. They need to feature him more in the game plan. If you look at his production during the season, and compare it with his production in the playoffs, He was without a doubt, featured more into the game plan in post season, and he was very productive. I also think he should sign for 4 or 5 million. But if he got an offer for 6 million in F A, i’d match it.

      As far as the 40 million. Yes, you can do something , but not much. Especially, if you take TT’s history of keeping 10 million under the cap, which leaves you with 30 mill. Then they probably sign Perry for 10/mill, almost 6 mill for the draft class, 7 or 8 mill for Lang, 5 mill for Cook. Tretter, Hyde, Lacy, Jones = ?

      30 mill don’t last long in the NFL.

      • KILLER

        Good point about TT keeping hold of 10 million just to fatten the wallets of the rich cats pulling the strings.

        But, ah…. “probably sign Perry for 10/mill”? Was that a joke? Or are you that clueless about NFL contracts?

        And suggesting there is any chance Lang is resigned? Is that a joke or are you that clueless about TT, the Packers, how Lang has been treated, and how Lang’s friend Josh Sitton was back-stabbed by the organization? ANY resigning of Lang is silly, not because it would be good for the team, it would, but because it just would never happen. Then you add insult to injury by suggesting Lang can be had for 7 or 8 million. Just ridiculous. You are goofy! Osemele, LAST YEAR, signed for 5 years at 58.5 million with 25.4 million guaranteed. Lang is arguably a better Guard and the salary cap is bigger this year. Lang at 10 million a year would almost be a steal!

    • MJ

      CBs tend to transition nicely to the pro level. Yes, even those who later on experience a huge sophomore slump. For pass rushers, my take is that they tend to require a few seasons to tap their potential. There are exceptions, of course, Joey Bosa played quite fine, but it is not something you can reliably count on.

  2. PF4L

    Bravo my man…..What you said about drafting players and expecting them to all of a sudden be a #1 or difference maker, is unrealistic. Does it happen, yes, but it’s very rare.

    The whole concept of draft and develop, is not putting the team in the position where you need your draft picks to be playmakers right away, it should viewed as a bonus, and/or indication of future play.. That’s partially what free agency is for, besides providing your team with depth. If a GM is so inclined to operate that way, but that’s another article.

    Also, i’m not defending the secondary, because they were horrible. But i have to say that when you look at any shutdown pass defense, they have a strong front to pressure the opposing QB. Those two segments go hand in hand to compliment each other.

    Even top secondary’s can struggle if the opposing QB has too much time.

  3. Deepsky

    Anyone remember the article “Davante Adams: Failed Experiment Must End”? Adams had a bad year and a whole lot of folks called for his immediate release. Put Janis on the field!! Then the 2016 season was allowed to occur. Adams had a good season.

    You can bet Thompson thinks that Randall and Rollins simply had bad years. As such he won’t be signing any free agent corners.

    • PF4L

      I remember that article…written by the metric analytical genius, except, for the fact, he was wrong, again.

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