Three Free Agents Who Could Help the Packers Right Now

The Green Bay Packers have spent this offseason trying to keep as many of their own players as possible. They have already managed to re-sign Aaron Jones, Kevin King, Marcedes Lewis, Will Redmond and Tyler Lancaster. The only outside free agent they have brought in so far is long snapper Joe Fortunato.

But there are still some players out there for the taking in free agency and as the draft approaches, teams may let a few more players go to create cap room for themselves.

While the Packers don’t have a lot of room under the cap, they can still create some more by releasing a player or two or extending Davante Adams or Aaron Rodgers.

Here is a look at three players who could still help the Packers in free agency as we approach the 2021 NFL Draft:

3. CB Casey Hayward

Hayward was originally drafted by the Packers in the second round back in 2012 and spent the first four seasons of his career with the Pack.

After leaving Green Bay, the former Vanderbilt star spent the last five seasons with the Chargers and earned Pro Bowl honors after the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In 2016, he led the league with seven interceptions and returned one of them for a touchdown.

In 2020, Hayward played in 14 games for the Chargers and didn’t have a great season. He made one interception and broke up eight passes but his Pro Football Focus grade in coverage was below average.

According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, opposing quarterbacks completed only 49.4 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Hayward and had a quarterback rating of 93.6.

Hayward would give the Packers experienced leadership and depth in the secondary. They could sign him to a one or two-year deal and allow him to play until a likely 2021 draft pick is ready to assume a larger role.

2. DL Sheldon Richardson

The Brown released Richardson on Friday making him an unrestricted free agent. The 30-year-old former first round pick of the New York Jets started all 16 games for the Browns last season and made 35 total tackles including 4.5 sacks.

Richardson is not the player he was in his prime when he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2014, but he’d be a big upgrade for the Packers along the interior of the defensive line and could provide the Packers with a similar skill set to Mike Daniels who worked very well with Kenny Clark during his stay in Green Bay.

Richardson can still get some push inside as a pass rusher and is solid against the run. He would give the Packers more options along the defensive line, a position they need to upgrade significantly. At this stage of his career, he probably wouldn’t cost too much either.

Richardson has also played with Seattle and Minnesota and would give the Packers reliable experienced play in the middle of their defensive line.

1. CB Richard Sherman

Sherman remains available and would give the Packers a savvy and experienced corner who would be able to fill one of the top three spots on the depth chart.

While he has clearly lost a step from his prime, Sherman was never reliant on his speed much to begin with. His football intelligence and ability to anticipate plays would make him a good fit in Joe Barry’s defense which features a lot of zone coverages. That’s where Sherman excels. He uses his size, his length and his ability to read defenses to get into the right position to defend passes.

Sherman also has a lot of playoff experience. He has played in 15 postseason games in his NFL career including three Super Bowls one of which his team won.

The Packers could take this former nemesis in Seattle and San Francisco and add him to the lineup in an attempt to get over the hump and win another Super Bowl.

Each of these three players would help the Packers address a short-term need and they would all be available on a one or two-year deal for relatively reasonable money. These players would improve the Packers roster in the short term and help mentor some younger players by the power of their example. The only question that remains is whether GM Brian Gutekunst is willing to spend the money needed to make it happen.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (41)

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PatrickGB's picture

April 17, 2021 at 12:29 pm

Yes, but at what cost? I am not against signing one of them (except maybe Sherman) but what about the cap hit on paying declining veterans?

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 17, 2021 at 06:55 pm

There are two-three players who can move out along with their contracts. They didn't Win the CH game on their home turf. It's not Reggie and company.

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Coldworld's picture

April 17, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Money and timing. I doubt we move on anyone already till after the draft.

As to what players like these want, obviously there’s a question of cap space. I think with Sherman particularly , there is also the question of are you buying a memory?

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jhtobias's picture

April 17, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Not a shot at the author of the article because he is right especially about Sheldon Richardson these players could absolutely help the packers this is not up for debate . I'm not sure if it is the that time of year where there is nothing else to write about but we read 4 to 5 of these types of articles every day and the chance of any of these free agents being signed by Green Bay is below zero percent so while I don't blame the author because he is absolutely right, there is a better chance of green bay drafting Kyle Trask in the first round than any of these players being signed by Green Bay.

The only gripe I have with Gutekest as the arm chair quarterback I am is not the 2020 draft might be a great one, not the so called lack of weapons which is just not true, the Kevin king signing because for the money could have done much worse, or the Rodgers situation because only Rodgers and the packers know what is really going on.

The only gripe is the complete lack of addressing the defensive line minus Clark or the justification of keeping lowery on this roster at his current salary . Time and time again teams that win in the trenches win championships so I'm just dumfounded by this

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Coldworld's picture

April 17, 2021 at 02:08 pm

The team’s view of Lowry probably isn’t just Gute but LaFleur and coaches too. Don’t understand why Pettine loved him so much. Don’t understand why we want him on his current salary. The only thing that comes to mind is the adage don’t cut till you have a replacement.

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flackcatcher's picture

April 17, 2021 at 04:20 pm

Gutekunst passed on DL in the pass two drafts too. I would like to know what his front office and scouts saw that made them so down on those groups. In fact do the Packers even see a need in the draft with so many veterans on the market. (On the other hand, do they have any money to sign them)

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greengold's picture

April 18, 2021 at 08:14 am

Totally, totally agree. Wow. I was stunned to see both players returned LAST year. They are a big part of GB’s defensive woes and both NFCC game losses.

It is on Brian Gutekunst to fix this miserable unit. Of the 5 players we had on the 53 at DL to start 2020, only Clark and Keke delivered.

The Packers must improve this unit by adding a NT, a DT, and a 3-4 DE. That’s a lot of players for the one position group. Clark has to have an adequate backup, for once. Can’t keep running him 70+ snaps/game. Keke needs to improve.

ONE SAVING GRACE at DL would be if Previllon were to come in ready to contribute at the NFL level.

Hyde isn’t getting any faster. None of the 3 are, but Richardson & Sherman might be worth considering after the draft.

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egbertsouse's picture

April 17, 2021 at 12:41 pm

We don’t need no stinking CBs. We already have future HOFer Kevin King. As far as Richardson, I hope the failures that were Muhammad Wilkerson and Snacks Harrison have taught Gutey a lesson on paying older fat guys with nothing left in the tank.

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PF4L's picture

April 17, 2021 at 03:22 pm

Weren't the Packers slobbering all over themselves in getting Snacks on our team?

What a difference a few months make.

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Coldworld's picture

April 18, 2021 at 06:34 am

Might be somewhat of an exaggeration to say slobbering over any veteran depth signing.

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PF4L's picture

April 18, 2021 at 09:41 am

It's funny how things happen sometimes...

First they try to sign snacks, then he signs with Seattle instead.

Then he whines that he's not starting.

Seattle cuts him, Packers sign him on Dec 30th.

Harrison says signing with the Packers is a dream come true.

Harrison barely plays and isn't heard from again.

Seems to me like the whole exercise wasn't worth the trouble of buying him a plane ticket to Green Bay.

Same goes for signing T Willy late.

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PeteK's picture

April 18, 2021 at 08:12 am

True, I think he would have helped on a rotational basis if we signed him earlier.

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fastmoving's picture

April 17, 2021 at 04:52 pm

So you are young and lean.......and smart? And nobody is paying you anyway?
In neandertal they always think orange. But we talk about real life here. Welcome!

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Gman1976's picture

April 17, 2021 at 07:16 pm

Not sure if Snacks was a failure since he hardly played. Not sure if Pettine was ready to use him just like we didn’t see Williams play in the NFC Championship game while King and Sullivan got continually picked on.

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PeteK's picture

April 17, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Sheldon actually had 64 total tkls , 4.5 sks, 10 QB hits. In a draft weak in DLs , its time to rework another contrac t (Adams). We need this type of player.

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PhantomII's picture

April 17, 2021 at 02:03 pm

He's playing a lot better than the much loved and better paid Clark.

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Coldworld's picture

April 17, 2021 at 02:13 pm

Not sure I agree with that and he didn’t have to deal with Lowry and who either side either.

I’d like Sheldon, but he was cut because he was due 13 million. While he won’t get that on the performance last year, still don’t see how we give him a contract at his market rate and do what we have to (still requiring more space to be freed as it is as I understand TGR). Just too rich for our blood this year.

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PhantomII's picture

April 17, 2021 at 02:53 pm

Not a fan of extreme overpayment of players. Clark would be much better with quality help. I was just stating what was commented was not accurate for Richardson. Nobody should have to play with rotational players as starters.

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Titletown222's picture

April 17, 2021 at 02:34 pm

If that were the case Cleveland would not have cut him

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PhantomII's picture

April 17, 2021 at 02:54 pm

Cap cut. Large salary.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 17, 2021 at 07:00 pm

They picked up Clowney

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geronamaker's picture

April 18, 2021 at 08:40 am

I replied to a similar comment you made in the Big Bob thread so please forgive the repetition but is there even a slight possibility Richardson gets bypassed all the way down the waiver wire to 29?

If he can still play and it appears he can, seems like some other team with more cap space will sign him well before he reaches us.

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Coldworld's picture

April 18, 2021 at 09:36 am

He’s a vet, don’t think waivers apply.

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geronamaker's picture

April 18, 2021 at 10:19 am

D'oh! I think I confused him with Hurst. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Lol

Thanks

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LambeauPlain's picture

April 17, 2021 at 01:20 pm

No worries talking with their agents, but no moves until the draft is done and UDFAs are signed.

I think there is a chance Jackson may revive his performance with Barry using best CB man to man (Alexander) and remaining DBs mostly zone...zone made Jackson's career at Iowa. It would be a nice bonus.

Richardson might be the most affordable and would upgrade the weak DL.

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Coldworld's picture

April 17, 2021 at 02:24 pm

Richardson will surely be the least affordable by some margin.

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TomFisher's picture

April 17, 2021 at 02:50 pm

Maurice Hurst still available? Give me him all day. Younger and cheaper than Richardson and would be a force next to Kenny

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PeteK's picture

April 17, 2021 at 03:59 pm

Richardson has as many tkls last season than Hurst in 3 seasons. Lowry is more productive than Hurst.

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TomFisher's picture

April 17, 2021 at 04:12 pm

Oh boy, never come at me with the premise that Lowry is more productive. Hurst was injured and dealt with covid last year. He has never played next to anyone close to as good as Kenny. And if you want to go by production, Hurst has 8 sacks in around 1200 defensive snaps the past 3 years, Lowry has 6 sacks in over 1900 defensive snaps in 3 years.

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PeteK's picture

April 17, 2021 at 06:09 pm

I'll raise you 128 TKLs and three full seasons over 76 and 2 more SKs and one full season. At under a million why would a crappy Raider D release him ( heart issues)? I'll admit that price and youth does entice .

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TomFisher's picture

April 17, 2021 at 09:03 pm

What has the Raider front office done in the past few seasons that resembles competence?

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PeteK's picture

April 18, 2021 at 08:06 am

Hahahaha, beware a Raider fan must have snuck into our site.

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flackcatcher's picture

April 17, 2021 at 04:23 pm

All cut because of flat Cap. Even the teams who are rebuilding do not have a great deal of Cap space. Well, we saw the Packers make massive adjustments with player contracts to get barely under the Cap. And as TGR pointed out, so they could bring most of this roster back, and sign this year's draft class. That's not counting the Cap cuts teams may be forced to make for operating expenses this year either. Covid-19 has really done a number on the NFL, and the season hasn't even started yet.

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Starrbrite's picture

April 17, 2021 at 05:01 pm

Get’em—get’em now— except for Sherman.

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Swisch's picture

April 17, 2021 at 06:51 pm

With this upcoming season (and possibly the next) being exceptional as an opportunity to win a Super Bowl, it seems good to take a hard look at guys such as these.
That's especially true if the Packers don't see immediate help in the draft or on the current roster.
Like LambeauPlain, I'm hopeful about Josh Jackson to elevate his game, similar to what Hayward did at a similar point in his career with a new defensive coordinator (in his case on a new team).
Otherwise, let's look at getting back Hayward, if he's deemed to be up to the task.
It's hard for me to accept Sherman with the Packers after so long as a rival, and a loud one at that. I'm not completely closed to the idea, but tend to avoid guys who draw a lot of attention to themselves.
It could be great to add stoutness to the defensive line. However, I'm hopeful Kingsley Keke may step up this season, and that him rotating with our current guys (and perhaps a high draft pick) will add up to significant improvement up front. As with running backs, the interior defensive line in the NFL may be best operated with multiple players who can do more with less snaps.

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Nate-1980's picture

April 21, 2021 at 07:58 pm

Jackson never had a 6 interception year in Green Bay, Hayward did, and then had solid seasons until he left, just couldn’t play the outside cb position when tried in capers defense.. Two totally different players, I’d be thrilled for Jackson to become anything at all, but I don’t see that become a reality, not even slightly..

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BJP's picture

April 18, 2021 at 08:22 am

By not signing other teams’ free agents the packers are in line for some quality compensatory picks next year. Maybe even a third rounder. Yes, the Packers need to patch some holes before the season begins. Free agent signings should happen after the deadline that counts against compensatory picks. With so many free agents available because of the flat cap difficulties, this is an ideal year to wait..

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NJ-RICK's picture

April 18, 2021 at 09:24 am

Wishful thinking but it ain't happen... Packers had more then enough money to sign some of the other FA that have already been signed by other teams. Packer Mgt still thinks they can win a SB with players like - Lowry, Sullivan, King and inexperience at the DL & ILB position. If the Buc's did anything to the Packers during the NFC Championship game they clearly showed them they have many weaknesses on defense. They still have plenty of deals to make to free up cap space within the team, but for now they choose not to do it... Draft and Develop that is the Packers philosphy.. They've had the best QB's in the NFL for the past 25 years and they only have two super bowls to show for it... Just look at what the New England Patriots have accomplished with one of the best NFL QB's. Packer MGT hasn't done enough for their two best QB's to win more Super Bowls. Ask any NFL analyst and they will say the same thing. Packer MGT has come up short in all categories.

neought to surround th.

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Nate-1980's picture

April 21, 2021 at 08:00 pm

I support this message ha..:)

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NorCalPacker685's picture

April 18, 2021 at 03:01 pm

They need to sign all 3 then cut Lowry, King and Will Redmond.... yes I’m aware that’s impossible money wise. I’m just saying, all 3 are better than the options we currently have as the second CB or DL.

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Nate-1980's picture

April 21, 2021 at 08:08 pm

Why for the sake of all that is HOLY is Dean still on this team making 4 mil ?? Why? What has this definition of mediocre done except basically steal from the team, when he shouldn’t have gotten the extension in the first place.. At least Kevin King has made plays, and has stats, even though I’m dumbfounded he was resigned after his last game.. That’s two idiotic moves of incompetence from our ( can do no wrong) gm..Especially when you see what better players signed for in this years FA alone..

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