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Packers Should Kick Tires on Connor Barwin

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Packers Should Kick Tires on Connor Barwin

Training camp for the Green Bay Packers officially starts in two weeks, on July 26. And before the padded practices begin, the Packers could really use one thing -- another pass rusher.

For months, I have been on both sides of the fence. With Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike Daniels, Green Bay could have enough pass rush to boast a really good defense. That is if everyone is healthy and lives up to expectations.

That's a big if, especially with the luck the Packers have had with injuries the past few seasons, particularly with Perry and Matthews. The two USC products have been Green Bay's best pass rushers for the past few years, but they also struggle to stay healthy. Each has missed a total of six games the past two seasons and dealth with nagging issues that affected their performance. 

So the questions is, if injuries strike again, where will the Packers turn?

With Daniels, Wilkerson and Kenny Clark, the Packers should have a solid inside pass rush. Even Dean Lowry offers decent depth if problems arise. However, on the edge, the Packers aren't nearly as deep. After Matthews and Perry, Green Bay boasts only Vince Biegel, Reggie Gilbert, and Kyler Fackrell. All three of those guys have potential sure, but some veteran help wouldn't hurt.

That brings me to Connor Barwin, who said earlier this week on Sirius XM Radio, he wants to play again next season and is only interested in suiting up for a Super Bowl contender.

Well, look no further, Connor, because Green Bay could be that team. The Packers have a need, they are certainly Super Bowl contenders and with more than $7 million in cap space, they have enough cheddar to get a deal done. 

Yes, Barwin is 31 years old and maybe past his prime. But he did register five sacks for the Rams last season and has 55.5 for his career, although to be fair, just 17 over the past three seasons. 

At this point in his career, Barwin isn't an elite edge rusher. He never really was in the first place. However, he could be a very solid third rusher behind Matthews and Perry. He could be everything Green Bay wanted in Ahmad Brooks last season but never got. 

Outside of Brooks, it's the kind of move Ted Thompson never really made. Unfortunately, it didn't pay off last season. Yet, that doesn't mean Green Bay should shy away from Barwin. The need for a third edge rusher is still there. It wasn't filled through the draft or free agency and counting on the current depth might be an even bigger risk than making a modest, short-term investment in an aging 31-year old sack artist.

If the Eagles taught the NFL anything, it's that veteran moves can make a huge impact. Just look at the difference Chris Long made for them during their title run. The Packers should follow a similar course of action and as long as Barwin doesn't try to break the bank, why not sign him? 

After all, you can never have enough pass rushers and with two weeks to go until camp, Green Bay still seems at least one short. 



Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

LambeauPlain's picture

It would be ok to bring Barwin in...but as a third edge would he truly bring more horsepower to the role than Reggie or Vince?

BradHTX's picture

Probably not, but we don't know what we have in them, really. I would still be in favor of it, as an insurance move. When you have two good-when-(rarely)-healthy starters and two young backups with potential but lack of experience, an aging-but-still-effective vet makes perfect sense. Biegel/Gilbert(/next year's #1?) may be the future, but there's nothing wrong with an additional vet for the next couple years.

I was one who wanted Barwin last year, and TT settled for Brooks. I thought that was better than nothing but not ideal and that's exactly how it turned out. Would I be happy with a vet backup capable of starting 4-6 games between Perry/Matthews' annual injuries and chipping in 3-5 sacks? Hell yes.

Make it happen, Herr Gutemeister.

Colin_C's picture

I like the idea of bringing in a vet to add depth, but I'm also fully on the Gilbert hype train, so I'm a bit conflicted here. I honestly think Reggie can be our #3 guy, so where would that leave someone like Barwin? If we're going to try and add to the OLB group, I'd almost rather make a bigger splash and attempt a trade for someone like Shane Ray. Adding another injury prone player may seem counter-intuitive, but he carries a much higher reward potential in the long term. Then again, next year's EDGE class is loaded with talent, so maybe just stopgap this year with a vet like Barwin, and then draft Gary, Ferrell, Sweat, etc. next year as the long term solution. Certainly lots for Gute to think about.

4thand10's picture

I’m rooting for Gilbert this year. Seemed like all he did was get sacks and pressures at every opportunity he had.

Lare's picture

I'm more inclined to wait and see how the younger guys do before bringing in an aging veteran on the downhill side of his career. Maybe Barwin will be a good pickup when Matthews and Perry get injured, but for now his spot on the roster may mean releasing one of the promising younger players at WR, OL, or DB on the final cutdown.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I figure we have one $3.5M FA signing left in our cap. Barwin makes some sense, but at the same time, I can't get excited by the idea. He played 658 snaps last season and started 13 games. CM3 played 659 snaps. 7.5 sacks to 5.0, and 43 tackles to 34, 2 Passes defended to 0, and one fumble recovery to none. PFF gave Barwin a 43 grade. They gave Ahmad Brooks a 72 and CM3 an 83.4.

Not sure. I didn't see Barwin play. Still hoping for a speedy WR to get cut, or pick up Boston or Reid to insure a quality player as FS or SS, even if that player becomes redundant because HHCD plays well or Josh Jones or Brice blossoms. I'd be okay with some other positions as well.

dobber's picture

Playing for a coach he knew on a defense transitioning to the 3-4 (where he's had good seasons in the past), he looked slow and past his prime last season. I, along with many others, was big on Barwin up til he signed last I'll admit to being pretty wrong. I don't think his addition would have made much difference then, and I don't expect that his addition this year would be much more than a depth move. He might end up getting cut before September.

Rak47's picture

I don't see Gute making a move for Barwin. Possibly if Capers was still coaching the defense, but Pettine never has featured outside rushers in his scheme and probably won't this year either. He asks his OLB's to set and hold the edge while containing QB's escape routes while pressure is applied mostly up the middle. Perry, Mathews. and Gilbert all have the size and power to do it. Idk if anyone else on the roster does though at OLB.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Thanks for the insight on Barwin. I don't watch other teams play except by accident, so I was just looking at stats. I liked Barwin last year but actually thought Brooks would be better. Brooks might have played much better if he hadn't hurt his back. Back pain is awful.

kevgk's picture

These articles are fun to discuss and all, but if a player is availible this late in the offseason, the Packers already made their mind up about him. The only way that changes is if they stop liking what they see with the young guys or major injuries. Same with the safety market; they must have faith in Jermaine Whitehead and Kentrell Brice.

PatrickGB's picture

Yah, go ahead and “kick the tires”. Unless he wants too much money, then why not?

TheBigCheeze's picture

....offer him veteran's minimum with added incentives

carlos's picture

Players. Can’t have enough “Players. “

Ryan Graham's picture

I think if the Packers were interested in Barwin they would have made a move for him last year. Then again, this is a new front office. Personally, if they are gonna bring in another edge rusher Id rather see John Simon who looks to be a cut out of Indy in a transitioning defense. Younger, productive player, relatively cheap Id imagine.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

From Indy's SB nation site, on Simon and his attempt to transition from OLB in a 3-4 to a 4-3 DE despite being at most 250 pounds:

Despite missing seven games, he [Simon] still finished with a fat seasonal stat line: 42 tackles, including 27 solos and seven tackles for a loss; 3 sacks, 12 quarterback hits and an interception against the Tennessee Titans he returned for a touchdown. Simon’s second season with the Colts – he signed a three-year, $13.5 million free-agent contract last offseason – will require him reacquainting himself with a position he last played seven years ago. [Coach] Eberflus’ assessment of Simon’s transition to this point wasn’t exactly effusive: “He’s working hard,’’ he said."

Indy dumped Jonathan Hankins citing a bad scheme fit despite signing him to a FA contract in 2017 for $9M AAV but he had no dead money. They also traded 2015 3rd round pick DT Henry Anderson for a 7th round pick due to scheme fit issues despite an 81 PFF grade. The point is that Indy knows it will have to lose pretty decent players due to their scheme change and might be open to moving Simon, maybe even cutting him. For what its worth, the comments from the fans on Simon in Stampede Blue are all positive.

Again, I don't watch Indy and don't know what his strengths and weaknesses are. Fans cite his tireless work ethic. PFF gave Simon a solidly average grade of 75 as an OLB. Solidly average sounds pretty good for our back-up or rotational OLB right about now. He has a $3.28M cap hit ($4M in 2019) and is 27 years old. He has no dead money for Indy to eat if traded or released.

Hawg Hanner's picture

This guy could be a real plus. I'm sorry but Dean Lawry is not good enough and with the horrible injury histories we have more talent is needed. Sign him.

Jonathan Spader's picture

What does Lowry have to do with OLB? Lowry had a great preseason (which means very little) but didn't stand out playing the 5 technique. I'm hoping he does better in Pettine's scheme. I think he's got potential.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Well, it is also kind of about pass rush. Still, I like Lowry. We saw that pre-season play, and while I thought he was solid during the season, I had hoped for more of a breakout year. Even so, I really like Lowry as a rotational talent.

TJ Coon's picture

I gotta believe Chris Odom is the answer to a Connor Barwin.

White _tornado's picture

Im not as optimistic as you are of Chris Odom. Had he maybe gotten on the field at all last year id be more encouraged

blue eyes's picture

It's not a if Matthews and Perry get hurt it's a when they get hurt. They need to sign an edge rusher imo.

Samson's picture

You have hit the nail on the head.
WHEN CM3 and/or Perry get hurt (extended period of time), then who's coming in off the bench?

I have no idea. (Proven past talent --- not potential based on media reports)

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