Five Potentially Cheap Options in Free Agency

The Green Bay Packers aren’t going to have much wiggle room as they did last year when free agency rolls around. Fortunately, general manager Brian Gutekunst smacked it out of the park with the acquisitions of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner. All four never missed a game in 2019 and no matter how big or small, had an impact on what can only be described as a successful year. However, If the Packers want to build on last season, there will have to be some changes to the personnel.

Bryan Bulaga, Blake Martinez, Tramon Williams, and Mason Crosby are all pending free agents, so some tough decisions will have to be made. Not to mention a deal still needs to be made with Kenny Clark, who will play next season on the final year of his rookie contract. When the dust settles and it’s time for Green Bay to cut, resign players, and sign free agents, they will have somewhere between $25-$30 million in cap space. At least that is what I found after playing around on overthecap.

That range could change depending on how the front office wants to approach this offseason. The Packers may want to restructure some deals to free up some immediate cap space, or they may want to make some surprise cuts. We’ve seen it before.

Whether it be a little lower or a little more than the $25-$30 million range, Green Bay will have the opportunity to bring in some impactful free agents. However, they will also have to consider some cheaper options.

Here are five 2020 free agents who might be a fit in Green Bay and won’t get paid a king’s ransom come March:

  1. Reggie Ragland, ILB, Kansas City Chiefs- The former second-rounder out of Alabama has had a rough start to his NFL career. He missed all of his rookie season with a torn ACL before being traded to the Chiefs. His playing time in Kansas City has been inconsistent. After starting 15 out of 16 games in 2018, Ragland started just seven of 14 in 2019. He’s likely going to explore the market in 2020 to see if he can earn more opportunities. If the Packers choose not to resign Martinez, Ragland would be a solid cheap pickup even if he isn’t the starter. Ragland might be a tad more athletic than Martinez, and is a known playmaker even in a limited role. He has one defensive touchdown and two career interceptions, including one in the 2019 AFC Championship on the goal line against Tom Brady.
  2. Darron Lee, ILB, Kansas City Chiefs- Yes, another Chief. Like Ragland, Lee played sparingly for Kansas City while backing up Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson, however, he still appeared in all 16 games. Lee was a former first-round pick by the New York Jets, where he had some initial success before the team declined his fifth-year option after being suspended four games in 2018 for a PED violation. Then, he was dealt to the Chiefs. Over his four year career, Lee has started 38 out of 56 games. Despite missing four games in 2018, Lee came down with three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. Though he’s not as productive of a tackler as Martinez is, Lee is much faster having run a 4.47 forty at the combine compared to Martinez’s 4.71. There’s reason to believe Lee would be nice to pair with a high draft pick in Mike Pettine’s 3-4 base defense.
  3. Charles Clay, TE, Arizona Cardinals- Green Bay should definitely consider bringing back Marcedes Lewis, but Clay is basically a younger version if they decide to go another route. Clay wouldn’t be the full-time starter, but he adds value as both a run-blocker and receiver. One knock against Clay is that he’s only played one full season in nine years. Although, the most games he has missed in a single season is three. Clay would be yet another veteran mentor for Jace Sternberger and could also have some juice left to finish his career. In just 401 snaps for Arizona in 2019, Clay caught 18 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Lewis had 15 receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown in 100 more snaps.
  4. Phillip Dorsett, WR, New England Patriots- Some might call Dorsett a poor man’s Randall Cobb, but he’s also healthier and much younger. Dorsett had a solid season last year playing for the Patriots on a one-year $2.6 million deal. In 14 games, he had 29 receptions, 397 receiving yards, and five touchdowns. Despite not being a primary target within the Packers’ offense, his 4.3 speed would allow Matt LaFleur to get creative with Dorsett’s skill set. He could be the gadget-type guy Tyler Ervin was for the end of last year while also possessing the speed to be a potential deep threat.
  5. Rodney Gunter, DT, Arizona Cardinals- Green Bay hosted Gunter for a visit in 2019, but the 6-5 defensive tackle resigned with Arizona where he has been a member of the Cardinals for the last five seasons. Gunter signed a one-year $1.75 deal and should command around the same a year later. However, in light of a cheap price tag, he would be a nice running mate beside Clark. Over the past two years, Gunter has combined for 75 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. Gunter is coming off a toe injury that forced him to miss the final three games in 2019, however, his production for such a cheap cost will be intriguing for a lot of teams.  

 

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (38)

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Handsback's picture

February 07, 2020 at 12:13 pm

Good list, I think all or any would be a upgrade. I like Lee as a chaser just also need that run stopper.

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dobber's picture

February 07, 2020 at 12:15 pm

These are the kinds of acquisitions that raise the talent level of your roster without costing you an arm and a leg, and leave you room under the cap to find a big splash acquisition.

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mnbadger's picture

February 07, 2020 at 12:28 pm

At the prices listed, I say sign them all. We need experienced help and depth at all o these positions.

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TXcheese34's picture

February 07, 2020 at 12:30 pm

Loved Ragland coming out of college that draft. I think he's a great addition that won't break the bank. Pair him with a top draft selection of (Murray/Queen/Harrison) and that's a nice upgrade to the position group we're looking for.

Another DL name I'd throw in there is Shelby Harris from the Broncos. Has quietly carved a nice little niche for himself in Denver. Wouldn't require a big payday and still on the right side of 30 years old

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 07, 2020 at 01:40 pm

Harris wants starter's money. Spotrac has him "projected" around 12M / year. There are better values around the 4-6M range.

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stockholder's picture

February 08, 2020 at 11:28 am

Heart Condition.

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Sol's picture

February 07, 2020 at 01:01 pm

I like the idea of mid 20's, NFL break-in experience provided by other teams and faster. Coach them up in our system and see what they can do. So many rookies need a couple of years to develop, with theses players you will know what you have right away without breaking the bank.

As for free agents I like the idea of finding teams that have a track record of creating what you need the most. If the young man out of Baltimore, Michael Pierce were to become available, for the right price the probability of success goes up. He's coming from a team that has prioritized defense for decades, we have the team chemistry and the Smith brothers to help with transition and he would make Kenny Clack absolutely shine with all the double teams he would command. At six foot tall and 340 lbs, just imagine the leverage and mismatches he would be able to create. It would also help solve the run defense problem at linebacker by commanding a double team the opponents have one less hole to run through, and less clutter for the linebackers to negotiate, that will definitely show up in the analytics and stats.

But what do I know, I am only a loyal Packer Fan.

Go Pack

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Mojo's picture

February 07, 2020 at 01:28 pm

I'd throw a few extra bucks at Gunter as long as he has an OK toe. His stats for the last two years are pretty nice, although most came in '18. At worst he's better than M. Adams.

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dobber's picture

February 07, 2020 at 01:33 pm

It looks like he was having a decent season this year until he came up 3 games short.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 07, 2020 at 01:42 pm

He is a guy to put on the list. As you say, the medical will have to get the green light.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 07, 2020 at 01:55 pm

Dorsett looks like a guy Brady was stuck with at the end of the season as Gordon was jettisoned and Brown took a trip to cookoo land. Tyler Ervin is a guy the Pack should keep and make a move in the draft for a speed receiver. They have enough big body WRs to play the short zones and block. I still am pushing for Reagor.

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Guam's picture

February 07, 2020 at 04:29 pm

We need a guy with not just speed but quick in and out of his breaks. MVS has great speed but short of a "go" route he has trouble getting open. ESB has decent speed but is not "short area quick". We need more quickness. Not sure Dorsett qualifies as that guy.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 07, 2020 at 06:39 pm

Reagor is your man.

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BBlake's picture

February 07, 2020 at 03:03 pm

One thing Z.Smith, P.Smith, Turner & Amos have in common is that they've stayed pretty healthy so far in their NFL careers. If Gutekunst signs some FAs in 2020, I think they'll share that ability. Fluke injuries happen, but some players seem to stay healthier and some seem to be injured more often.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

February 07, 2020 at 06:23 pm

Some players get Nick(ed) up more than others. I think I have a Perry good idea of who you're referring to. Just hope future FAs aren't in the Club.

In honor of TK.

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dobber's picture

February 07, 2020 at 07:45 pm

ALL HAIL TK!!!

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Lphill's picture

February 07, 2020 at 04:24 pm

Montravious Adams had a very good college career and was a first team all - sec and has good size, I am wondering if he is not receiving the proper coaching because he has all the tools to be a disruptive force . I would like to know what the story is with him, I could just see the Packers cutting him and he becomes a beast on another team. If he was performing well than we wouldn’t need to sign or draft a D lineman high.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 07, 2020 at 06:42 pm

Some guys do not adjust to the Pro Game. Not a good track record for a lot of Auburn players. Montgomery runs the D line.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 07, 2020 at 04:16 pm

When GB draft M. Adams, I thought it was a good flyer. Very talented guy, but with motor issues and a bit of a head case. He was considered an underachiever in college.

He might blossom elsewhere but whether it was due to better coaching or getting a wake-up call will be hard to tell. 2020 is a contract year: he might get the message.

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packerbackerjim's picture

February 07, 2020 at 05:33 pm

Adam’s measurables were outstanding for a guy his size. Is it technique or effort? More will be revealed, especially in a contract year. I hope he steps it up.

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CoachDino's picture

February 07, 2020 at 04:16 pm

I've been wondering the same things.. Some injuries and work ethic have been thrown around as explanations, adjusting to the pro game is a viable one as well. Just to play devils advocate on Coaching - The guy did make tyler lancaster a UDFA a decent player and Lowery is about as good as one could project. Lets hope MA produces in 2020

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Guam's picture

February 07, 2020 at 04:33 pm

If the Packers pick up two defensive linemen (either two FA's or one FA and a draft choice) in the offseason, M. Adams is done. He has had three years to develop and did nothing this year. I will be surprised if he makes the 53 next year.

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PatrickGB's picture

February 07, 2020 at 06:25 pm

Except for Ragland, it’s a pretty good list. Thanks.

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Harold Drake's picture

February 08, 2020 at 02:36 am

This is a very poor article. First, assuming Jimmy Graham, Blake Martinez, and Bryan Bulaga leave the Packers, Green Bay would have closer to $45 million in cap space which is comparable to what that had last season. Second, Mr. Carwile's suggest free agent list is a poor man's selection. The Packers need elite players at ILB and at WR. None of the above players comes anywhere near to delivering what the Pack needs to correct glaring weaknesses at these positions.

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MarkinMadison's picture

February 08, 2020 at 06:37 am

Blake Martinez and Bryan Bulaga leaving the Packers creates zero dollars. Their contracts are already off the books. Wishes, fishes and all of that stuff.

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Guam's picture

February 08, 2020 at 08:13 am

MinM - Spot on point. Many people don't seem to understand the cap system. Cutting Graham creates cap space because he has one more year left on his contract. Letting go of Martinez, Bulaga, Crosby, Lewis and Williams creates zero additional cap space because their contracts with the Packers are up and therefore create no savings when they go. Cap space is calculated by subtracting the guys under contract to the Packers from the total cap available. If a guy like Bulaga is not under contract, his cost is not included in the calculation of cap space and hence creates no savings if he is let go.

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Harold Drake's picture

February 09, 2020 at 10:18 am

It should have been obvious even to veteran Packers' trolls that NOT having to re-sign Bulaga and Martinez frees up virtual cap space by the mere fact that they will no longer be commanding fairly substantial salaries. Releasing Graham and two or three others would release net cap space. It's a matter of semantics but you are too anxious to identify what you have mistakenly identified as an error to even deal with the substance of my comments regarding the wrongheaded points made by the writer. This is the danger of these fan websites when non-professional writers generate copy free of the kind of editorial oversight from traditional print media.

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HankScorpio's picture

February 10, 2020 at 04:52 pm

The Packers paid out a lot of cash above cap last year. They cannot do that year after year without it biting them eventually. Beside, a big $$ signing is as likely to be of the Graham/Turner variety than the Amos/Z/Preston variety.

Lower $$ brings less upside and less risk. But I would argue that is perfectly fine. The Packers have things covered nicely at the star level. They don't need to improve the top 10 of their roster. They need upgrade a little farther down the pecking order.

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JakeDickerson's picture

February 08, 2020 at 09:07 am

I believe it’s your comprehension that’s lacking. The article is clearly titled “cheap options”. Who in this upcoming free agency class would you deem elite at WR and ILB?

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McFly's picture

February 10, 2020 at 04:23 pm

Ummm... this article is about bargain free agents. Poor man's selection or not, the point was to highlight cheaper FA alternatives. There have already been myriad articles written examining who the best FA are, this is not one of those articles. Reading is something you should probably consider doing in the FUTURE before you comment.

To summarize, I'll just go ahead and use your very own quote against you Harold: "you are too anxious to identify what you have mistakenly identified as an error..."

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MarkinMadison's picture

February 08, 2020 at 06:42 am

This is an excellent article. I think Reggie Ragland could very well be a cheaper alternative to Blake Martinez if the Packers feel like having one old-school middle linebacker is still the way to go. Others might prefer a speedier middle linebacker. Personally, I think the Packers need two new middle linebackers. If both of these guys' come in as cheap as the article projects I'd be fine with picking both of them up. Then if the Packers can get a high quality ILB go for it, but they won't feel like they have to reach. Reaching has cost this team a lot in the past.

I'm a little surprised there aren't more IDL players on this list. It looks like the deepest position in FA this year. Just a thought.

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Packman60's picture

February 08, 2020 at 09:00 am

None of these players would be an upgrade from what they had this year other than Gunter who would likely be an upgrade over Lancaster. I would much rather see them go with Kiawtowski? from the Bears and then draft one to go with him and Piece from Baltimore for the DL. They won't be quite as cheap as the players mentioned, but "dumpster diving" is not going to produce the results we're looking for. Those who think these players will provide any type of upgrade will be sorely disappointed and be critical of Gutey for signing them after the fact.

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mnbadger's picture

February 08, 2020 at 09:30 am

At the prices listed, I say sign them all. We need experienced help and depth at all o these positions.

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PatrickGB's picture

February 08, 2020 at 10:37 am

The team could go cheap, pick up some of the players mentioned in this article. That would give them a few more good players. And save cap space for some of the ones they want to keep. Or they could pick up ONE high priced gem. That kind of thinking is what messed up the Bears cap space.

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stockholder's picture

February 08, 2020 at 10:53 am

I'd still rather go the way of the draft. Especially at Wr this year. The guys you want to sign, just Aren't money players. Quick fixes yes. But not the missing pieces we need to complete the puzzle. You get what you pay for. Help wanted! Good players with speed., Fight, and make plays that shout OMG. Your players aren't exciting. They'll only push us in the other direction.

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Lphill's picture

February 08, 2020 at 01:25 pm

Pierce from the Ravens and Kwitnikowski from the Bears would both be a good fit these are the 2 players I am hoping for, run defense improved.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 08, 2020 at 02:40 pm

Re-sign Goodson. He's not much different than Ragland, who was over-drafted. Besides, Goodson knows the system.

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Lphill's picture

February 09, 2020 at 11:51 am

Sean Lee is a free agent I wonder if it’s worth kicking the tires?

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