NFL News & Analysis

2017 Free Agency Preview: Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 04: Nick Perry #53 of the Green Bay Packers wears a cast on his arm in the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field on December 4, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on March 1, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]

What you need to know

After 2016 and the release of Sam Shields, the Packers have a clear need at cornerback. They also are getting hit hard with multiple free agents at both the interior of their offensive line as well at outside linebacker. With how much cap space they have, this might be a year where they make a big move.

Salary cap room

$40,077,981 (13th in NFL; as of 3/6/2017)

Biggest needs

  • Cornerback
  • Linebacker
  • Guard
  • Tight end

Notable free agents

  • T.J. Lang, G, 87.0 overall grade in 2016
  • J.C. Tretter, C, 84.1
  • Nick Perry, LB, 82.2
  • Julius Peppers, LB, 79.8
  • Eddie Lacy, HB, 77.3
  • Micah Hyde, CB, 74.7
  • Jared Cook, TE, 72.9
  • Datone Jones, LB, 69.2

Must re-sign

Nick Perry, LB, 82.2 overall grade in 2016

The Packers had three outside linebackers with 500 or more snaps in 2016, and all three are free agents. Of them, Perry played the best. He had the best run-stop percentage (12.4 oercent) among 3-4 outside linebackers, and the only outside linebacker of the group worthy of a long-term deal.

Dream splash

Stephon Gilmore, CB, Buffalo Bills, 73.2

While the Packers could make a riskier move at cornerback, Gilmore has been the most consistent of the free agent class. They could use him in the same role they had for Sam Shields; sometimes going up against a top wide receiver, and other times staying at right cornerback.

Top 2017 free agency prospects

Jabaal Sheard, Edge, New England Patriots, 79.6

When the Packers are in their dime defense, they prefer to have three or four edge rushers on the field at the same time. With Perry, Peppers and Jones hitting free agency, they will need to restock the position if they don’t re-sign their own. He has experience at outside linebacker, some experience rushing from the inside, and has 26 combined sacks and hits over the last two seasons.

John Simon, Edge, Houston Texans, 78.3

Simon is another puzzle piece that the Packers could insert into their front-seven. Like Nick Perry, one of Simon’s strengths is playing the run. Like Peppers and Jones, he has experience lining up both outside and inside when rushing the passer.

2017 Free Agency Rankings
Top 50 free agents
Every 2017 free agent ranked by 2016 overall grade
10 free agents who can make an immediate impact
10 veteran free agents worth a one-year contract
10 sleeper free agents who could bring surprise upside
10 splash free-agent signings we’d like to see
Quarterback rankings
Running back rankings
Wide receiver rankings
Tight end rankings
Offensive linemen rankings
Edge defender rankings
Interior defender rankings
Cornerback rankings
Safety rankings
Linebacker rankings

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