The Green Bay Packers may have had the least exciting offseason among NFL teams, so far, when it comes free agency. They had 16 players set to be free agents once the season ended and have re-signed just four of them at this point in time – kicker Mason Crosby, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, outside linebacker Nick Perry and offensive guard Lane Taylor.
They also have not signed any other players that played elsewhere last season, but that cannot be too big of a surprise. The Packers have never really been a team that signs players from outside of their organization. Instead, they usually prefer to re-sign their own free agents and build through the draft.
There are a few players they will not be able to re-sign, though, as they have already gone and signed with other teams. The biggest hit the Packers have taken this offseason was losing cornerback Casey Hayward to the San Diego Chargers. Hayward was probably the team’s best cornerback and at the age of 26 – will turn 27 in September – he is still in the prime of his career.
The Packers will now have to address the cornerback position this offseason, likely through the draft, to help fill the void that they will now have.
Another player that has decided to leave the Packers organization and sign elsewhere is backup quarterback Scott Tolzien, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts. This loss should not concern the Packers organization very much because they have Aaron Rodgers as the starter and they drafted Brett Hundley out of UCLA last season to groom behind him.
What will hurt them more than Tolzien leaving the organization is defensive tackle B.J. Raji taking “a hiatus” from the NFL for the 2016 season. He said that he cannot rule out returning to the NFL someday, but he will at least be taking one year off.
Raji was set to be a free agent this offseason and would have likely been re-signed by the Packers. He has suffered multiple injuries the past couple seasons, but when he has been healthy and on the field he remains a dominating force along the defensive line.
The Packers had a middle-of-the-road defense last season, finishing 15th in yards per game allowed (346.7) and 12th in points per game allowed (20.2). However, after suffering the losses of Hayward and Raji they will need to address the defense in the draft, free agency, or both. Otherwise teams will be looking to have big offensive performances whenever they face the green and gold.
The team has also recently informed veteran wide receiver James Jones that they will not be re-signing him this offseason. That should make Minnesota Vikings fans happy as he recorded 10 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown in two games against them last year. However, even though Jones will not be returning to the team, the Packers will be getting back Jordy Nelson next season, after he missed all of last season with a knee injury.