It may look like the 2020 Green Bay Packers had a successful season, but in reality, it was a failure. They lost their fourth NFC Championship game in seven years against Tom Brady and the Bucs, resulting in yet another disappointment for Aaron Rodgers and Packers fans.
Despite the disappointment, the Packers still have a very bright future under Head Coach Matt Lafleur and it seems as though Rodgers isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. If they want to sustain contention in an always changing NFC, they need to make some important offseason decisions.
Let Aaron Jones Walk
Alright, let’s get the controversial one out of the way. Yes, Aaron Jones is a top ten running back in football. He had a stellar year in 2020, posting 1104 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the season. So why let a pro bowl running back walk in free agency?
First off, Jones will be asking for a hefty payday in a passing league. Even though Jones was a key part of the number one Packers’ offense in 2020, he could be easily replaced with second-round pick AJ Dillion. Dillion showed a ton of promise against the Titans in Week 16 with 21 carries and rushing for 124 yards. Even in the playoffs, Dillion surprisingly showed that he is the more reliable running back.
Jones has two fumbles in the NFC Championship game including one at the start of the third quarter, shifting the momentum entirely in favor of Tampa Bay.
The Packers are better off now and in the future for not overpaying for a player that’s position is the most replaceable in the NFL. They have a nice in house replacement that is cheaper and could bring about the same production.
Cut WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling and LB Christian Kirksey
The Packers are in a bit of a cap crunch right now as they rank 28th in the league in cap space. They could free up some space by cutting two players who are productive but unreliable. Valdes-Scantling had a productive season but had too many drops throughout the season to be a reliable number two alongside Davante Adams. Cutting Scantling would save over $2.2 million in cap space.
On other hand, Kirskey had a solid season with Green Bay but has a long history of injuries and struggles in pass coverage. The Packers could also save up to $5.6 million in cap space by making the move. These two cuts can free up enough money to sign a free agent that is much more vital to the team’s success.
Re-Sign C Corey Linsley
This move should be a no-brainer for the Packers. Linsley was an All-Pro in 2020 and a key part of the Packers’ offensive line. Letting Linsley walk to be detrimental for the Packers’ offense. They cannot afford to lose a reliable and productive center who is only twenty-nine years old.
It’s not very often a team has a center who doesn’t get hurt and is productive at a very young age. This move should be automatic and very easy for the Cheeseheads to make.
Sign Or Trade For DE JJ Watt
This move could be a low-risk high reward move for the Packers. Watt shouldn’t be asking for a hefty payday since he has been struggling with injuries since taking home DPOY in 2015.
Watt could also take a hometown discount, being from Wisconsin, and the Packers would have a veteran pass rusher that could complement the Smith brothers, bringing a deadly pass rush to the Frozen Tundra. Something they were missing against Tom Brady and the Bucs.
Draft a Wide Receiver and a Linebacker
Cutting both Valdes-Scantling and Kirksey creates a hole in both the wide receiver and linebacker position. The Packers can fill these holes via the draft.
In round one, the Packers can take Terrace Marshall Jr from LSU. Marshall Jr was LSU’s number one receiver in the absence of Jamaar Chase with 731 receiving yards, 48 catches, and 10 touchdowns on the season. Marshall Jr could be a very good number two alongside Davante Adams and take the pressure off of him in the passing game.
As for linebacker, the Packers would have to look in the second round of the draft. A good option could be Chazz Surratt of North Carolina. Surratt has raw athleticism but will need some time to develop to become an NFL level linebacker. But with the departure of Christian Kirksey, Surratt could be a replacement that could be on the Packers years down the line.
The Packers need to make some tough offseason moves to stay competitive in 2021. Hopefully, the cheeseheads make the right decisions for their fans and franchise quarterback.