3 Free Agent Defenders That Make Some Sense for the Packers

The Packers have some work to do to get below the salary cap for the 2021 season, but with a couple of restructured contracts and potentially a few more releases, Green Bay should have no trouble getting under the cap. With a new defensive coordinator at the helm in Joe Barry, here are three free agents on the defensive side of the ball the Packers could consider that would fill areas of need without breaking the bank. 

Mike Hilton, Cornerback

While it’s likely the Packers will bring back Chandon Sullivan who’s a restricted free agent, Mike Hilton is a proven player who’s carved out a place for himself as one of the league’s best nickelbacks. At only 5-9 he’s still got the physicality to cover the middle of the field, and he can also get after the quarterback. In his most recent season with the Steelers, Hilton had three interceptions, seven passes defensed, three sacks, and eight tackles for loss. 

While a boundary corner might be fans’ preference as far as replacing players through free agency rather than the draft, Hilton’s experience in the nickel role would lend itself well to a secondary that already has Jaire Alexander, Adrian Amos, and Darnell Savage. That’s a lot of supporting talent to help a young, drafted CB2 develop, especially under the tutelage of defensive backs coach Jerry Gray. 

Denzel Perryman, Inside Linebacker

The Packers just parted ways with last year’s free agent acquisition linebacker Christian Kirksey, so this one feels like a long shot, but Perryman is a former second-round draft pick that would give the Packers veteran experience at the position beyond relying on second-year pros Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin. 

The Los Angeles Chargers are loaded at the inside linebacker position, so Perryman was relegated to a rotational role on defense this past season. That rotational role aligns with what the Packers would be looking for at the position. He’s more of a thumper than a coverage linebacker, which would help the middle of the defense against the run. What should impress Packers fans most? Per Pro Football Reference, Perryman’s missed tackle percentage for 2020 was only 2.0%. 

Lawrence Guy, Defensive Tackle

A reunion with the Packers? Lawrence Guy was drafted by Green Bay in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, but never actually played for the Packers. While he’s played for multiple teams, he was most recently with the Patriots, making it to the Super Bowl in 2018 as one of the league’s highest graded run defenders, and that’s exactly what the Packers need, a reliable run defender. 

Per Pro Football Focus, Guy’s 9.8% run-stop percentage over the last three seasons ranks 12th out of 152 eligible players. Green Bay needs a run stuffer that can join pass rushers Kenny Clark and Kingsley Keke in the middle of the defense. Letting a player like Guy take some of the more traditional nose tackle snaps off of Clark’s plate will free him up to do what he does best, generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. 

While it’s likely the Packers draft a defensive lineman in the draft, that’s one of the positions that takes time to acclimate to the NFL. Guy could be a one-year stop gap while Green Bay does what it does best, develop draft picks. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (39)

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Fabio's picture

February 23, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Yesterday I saw news where they claim iPackers should trade for Gilmour.
The player cannot be argued but I don't know at what price

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 23, 2021 at 04:42 pm

Ted should have been in the bidding 2017 and we would have had TJ Watt to boot. He went low-ball and King was put in play along with the massive whiff on Jones. No SB 4 You !

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NitschkeFan's picture

February 23, 2021 at 05:54 pm

Patriots are looking for a QB, Packers are looking for a CB. Lets trade Jordan Love for Stephon Gilmore.

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DenePhillips's picture

February 23, 2021 at 09:23 pm

Get JJ this year!!! Then we will easily get
TJ Watt

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mnbadger's picture

February 23, 2021 at 12:30 pm

I love all three of their skill sets, all are definitely needed. Screw the cap, get them all plus JJWatt and blow up the cap. It would be fun once to watch an Offense AND a Defense impose their will. GPG

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Duneslick's picture

February 23, 2021 at 01:55 pm

Where do i even start. You cant Blow up the cap. You have to be under it.

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Guam's picture

February 23, 2021 at 03:18 pm

Its a hard cap - if the Packers don't make the cuts to get themselves under the cap, the league will do it for them.

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BradHTX's picture

February 23, 2021 at 03:35 pm

In fairness, I think he’s not saying “Spend more than the cap,” but rather, “Structure contracts to win now and pay later.”

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Coldworld's picture

February 23, 2021 at 07:50 pm

Later comes sooner than you think in the NFL

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splitpea1's picture

February 23, 2021 at 12:44 pm

Love to have Hilton and Guy (what upgrades they would be!), but can we afford either one? While the Steelers may be struggling with cap issues, I would think Hilton is a player they would hate to lose.

Strolling down the bargain aisle, there was a recent podcast suggesting the Packers should consider bringing Mike Pennel back. He's a little younger then Guy, and definitely affordable. The only question is, has he learned to keep his hand out of the PED jar? So if for some unfathomable reason the Packers do not plan to select a D-lineman in the draft (or he is a long-term project who cannot get on the field), this may be an option.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 23, 2021 at 04:45 pm

Do not think Lawrence Guy is a big Fan of Packertown after the let down by Ted and Company. He stated his bias previously. Last time I checked, Pennel was side showed by Gutedkunst, moved on to K.C. signed on a Thursday and ended up playing in the last two superbowls, winning one .

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Coldworld's picture

February 23, 2021 at 07:57 pm

Pennel was gone before Gute took the reins. He was with the Jets in 2017 after being let go in Jan 2017 after his second substance suspension in the 2016 season.

Personally, I think Price may be just as good an option at this point.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 24, 2021 at 04:28 am

He was in town, November, 2019 ,but Gutedkunst didn't sign him even though they needed a run stopper. He went down to K.C. and contributed, especially in their SB win.

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DenePhillips's picture

February 23, 2021 at 01:14 pm

JJ WATT!!!!

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PeteK's picture

February 23, 2021 at 01:45 pm

with what!!!

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x24's picture

February 23, 2021 at 02:34 pm

With "loonies" apparently

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HankScorpio's picture

February 23, 2021 at 09:48 pm

The Packers can make a lot of room with creative accounting that pushes 2021 dollars spent to the 2022 cap, along with few cuts. If they are close to extending Adams, they might see some cap savings there, too. Possibly enough room for Watt, Allen Robinson, a CB to replace King and to take a run at retaining Aaron Jones, just to throw out some names. It depends on how the market develops.

I'm not advocating for it. But I'm not totally against it, either. Generally, I'm dead-set against the kind of kicking the can down the road that would be involved. But pulling Preston Smith and Dean Lowery numbers off the 2022 cap wipes out all those cans and then some. And it makes some sense to me to spend this year, when the cap is contracting and the market is more likely to be depressed than next year when everyone and their brother will be flush with cap space to overpay for FA.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 24, 2021 at 01:44 am

I do not agree. Certainly not if one wants to have any chance of fielding a good team in 2022.

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Jackier's picture

February 23, 2021 at 01:32 pm

What can I do without an www.translate.com? It would definitely be more difficult, since I know Italian at a basic level, and I studied German only at school. If I need to write a letter/appeal in a foreign language, I always use an Online translator's services, and it's quick and easy!

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PeteK's picture

February 23, 2021 at 01:51 pm

tre parole ,va fan coolo!! fa ridere Fabio.

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Tundraboy's picture

February 23, 2021 at 02:48 pm

Ha ragione!

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PeteK's picture

February 23, 2021 at 04:43 pm

hahahahaha

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Fabio's picture

February 24, 2021 at 01:19 pm

I would hit myself (smile)

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Pizzadoc's picture

February 23, 2021 at 06:57 pm

Die

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Fabio's picture

February 24, 2021 at 01:17 pm

Guys I'm sorry if I misspell. I already use translate, but the effects are not very good at this point I see ..... Don't get angry and try to have a laugh .... (I'm already very angry with myself for not knowing your language well)

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stockholder's picture

February 23, 2021 at 01:37 pm

The object is to get better. If the Status Quo is the primary objective. By all means just keep playing Russian roulette. Didn't Last year Teach us anything. Yet only to see the same results. Somewhere lets find a DT that can Help Clark. And why in the world do you let a guy go, and help somebody else first? I would say if their not better then what you had, Don't Bother. Have faith in the draft.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 23, 2021 at 04:52 pm

Maybe Barmore will be your guy? Move on a CB in round one( move up) and still maneuver back into the lower end rd one for Barmore. The OT will be tempting with the first pick. It will depend on Bhaktiari's diagnosis, early April. One CB should be a free agent capable of starting, use the drafted guy as the nickel and keep Sullivan as the dime, maybe.

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stockholder's picture

February 23, 2021 at 05:52 pm

Barmore should be the Packers pick. A 1 and 3 should be enough. Cosmi is the stay @29. There are No guarantees at CB. Have to let testing separate them. If Barmore and Cosmi are gone. I'd trade down.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 24, 2021 at 04:32 am

Cosmi is a 2nd round guy at best.

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Duneslick's picture

February 23, 2021 at 01:56 pm

No to all They all have weaknesses 2 are early down players only and the 3rd is too small.

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Lphill's picture

February 23, 2021 at 01:58 pm

My 3 would be JJ Watt , JJ Watt and JJ Watt anyone will do .

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Lphill's picture

February 23, 2021 at 01:58 pm

My 3 would be JJ Watt , JJ Watt and JJ Watt anyone will do .

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Swisch's picture

February 23, 2021 at 03:01 pm

I'm glad for this article as these are the kinds of players the Packers may be able to afford at three of our greatest positions of need.
At the very least, they may be solid players so that a rookie doesn't have to carry all of the load from game one. Better yet, they contribute significantly in some role for years to come.
Our first three or four draft picks should be guys who can contribute significantly as rookies, and probably start in year two; after that, we can start thinking about projects.
Even with that strategy, though, signing a free agent or two can fill in the gaps and buy time for development.
Best case scenario is to find a somewhat under-the-radar player who is ready to break out into stardom the way Christian Yelich did in baseball with the Brewers, or the way Bobby Portis may turn out in basketball for the Bucks -- or as Casey Hayward seemed to do when he went from the Packers to the Chargers. An example in our favor may be Z. Smith.
Then there's the option of hoping a major older talent with a high price tag like J. J. Watt has a couple years of excellence left in him, even if it's not all the way up to the level of his past. Plus, a guy like J. J. could bring a flame that fires up the whole defense.
Do you sign one J. J. Watt, or two or three guys like those mentioned above?
What the Packers can get in the draft as far as ready-to-go talent may make finding a free agent at that position less important. If we're fairly certain of finding an immediate starting cornerback in round one, for example, then maybe we turn to free agency at another position such as defensive tackle.
So it's quite the mind-boggling juggling act for a GM in the NFL working with a budget.
One way or another, it seems DL and CB need a player most urgently, then OL and ILB.

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murf7777's picture

February 23, 2021 at 04:49 pm

Sign JJ, like Reggie and Charles in the past he might just be the missing piece of the puzzle.

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Swisch's picture

February 23, 2021 at 09:18 pm

Signing J. J. would be a risky but bold move that would send a charge of excitement to the whole team and throughout Packer nation.
If he is as enthusiastic about becoming a Packer as it seems, especially when we are in position to win a Super Bowl, then it would seem a contract could be worked out that is a win for both sides.
As a veteran of the NFL wars, J. J. would know better than most that we need enough money overall to put talented players around him.
It seems he is worth signing rather than two or three players of lesser stature, though not worth breaking the bank.
Maybe $7 million plus bonuses that could go up to $10 million, based on incentives such as number of snaps, personal stats and even team achievement.

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wildbill's picture

February 23, 2021 at 04:13 pm

Aren’t the first signed free agents the most overpriced? There are plenty of more good cuts to come so let’s hold our cards tight to our chest and make sure we use our dollars wisely

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Demon's picture

February 23, 2021 at 05:27 pm

Like we have the last 10 years? So we can once again lose in the playoffs and watch someone else in the SB AGAIN! Teddy's slow boat from China roster building is getting rather redundant, don't you think? And the added bonus of going to the playoffs and losing is a later than we would all like draft position.

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DenePhillips's picture

February 23, 2021 at 09:02 pm

JJ Watt !!!

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DenePhillips's picture

February 23, 2021 at 09:04 pm

The younger crowd 35 and under have NO CLUE this website!!

Go get JJ WATT!!!

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