Roster-building is a 365-day job for Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst. The 2022 NFL draft provided 11 opportunities to add to his roster, but the work has not been done, and a window for adding veteran players on cheap deals is now opening. In June and July of last year, Gutekunst signed linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and offensive tackle Dennis Kelly to one-year deals, plugging big holes on the roster. Both worked out. Campbell emerged as an All-Pro in the middle of the Packers defense, while Kelly was a valuable backup at offensive tackle and ended up starting the playoff game.
Where can the Packers add to the roster this year? It’s time to assess the roster and find positions of need for Gutekunst following the 2022 draft and as the summer approaches.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports:
The Packers lost veterans Za’Darius Smith (released) and Whitney Mercilus (retired), robbing the edge rusher position of experience and production. The lone addition was fifth-round pick Kingsley Enagbare. Can the Packers get by with some combination of Enagbare, Jonathan Garvin and Tipa Galeai as the top backups behind Rashan Gary and Preston Smith? This looks like the ideal position to add a veteran at some point, much like signing Mercilus mid-season last year. An experienced edge rusher could help keep Gary and Smith fresh over a 17-game season, play starter’s snaps if either is hurt and lessen the pressure on the young edge rushers to play an important role in 2022.
(AP Photo / Lon Horwedel)
The Packers signed veterans Sammy Watkins, drafted Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure and then added undrafted free agent Danny Davis at the receiver position over the last month. Is there room for one more addition, especially with Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers returning? Maybe. Adding competition can’t hurt. Lazard has never been more than a complementary player, Cobb and Watkins have extensive injury histories, and Watson and Doubs face difficult transitions into the Packers offense as rookies. Adding an experienced player – either this summer or at some point during the season – makes a ton of sense for a Super Bowl contender. It’s a big stretch to think the Packers can make a deep playoff run – against the best defenses in the conference – with this collection of pass-catchers.
Green Bay Packers safety Vernon Scott (36)
If the season started today, Vernon Scott might be the favorite to be the No. 3 safety behind Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos. A seventh-round pick in 2020, Scott was active for only three games and played exactly zero defensive snaps last season. He could not beat out Henry Black, who was not tendered as an exclusive rights free agent. Scott’s top competitors? Shawn Davis, Innis Gaines and seventh-round pick Tariq Carpenter, who is likely a linebacker. Any kind of injury to Savage or Amos could be crippling to the defense. One thing to consider here: The Packers plan to stay in more traditional defensive packages, meaning more linebackers and cornerbacks and fewer safeties on the field. The days of having a third safety on the field in obvious passing situations could be over, lessening the need here.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports:
Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes are all signed for at least the next three years, giving the Packers an incredible combination of talent and long-term security at cornerback. There’s arguably no better trio of starting cornerbacks in the NFL. But the Packers have big question marks after the top three. Shemar Jean-Charles, a fifth-round pick in 2021, and Keisean Nixon, a free-agent pick-up, are the best bets to fill out the depth chart behind Alexander, Douglas and Stokes. Would the Packers consider bringing back Kevin King (at the right price) to be the No. 4 corner? He’s already on the foreign books for 2022 thanks to a voided contract. And he played well in spurts last season. The Packers could do a lot worse in terms of cornerback depth.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports:
Time and time again, Brian Gutekunst has gone the veteran route when searching for capable depth at offensive tackle. Jared Veldheer, Rick Wagner, Dennis Kelly. Having a veteran available to play important snaps on the bookend of the offensive line is so valuable. The Packers are bringing back Yosh Nijman, who started at left tackle last year, and Elgton Jenkins will eventually be the favorite to start on the right side when healthy, plus rookies Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker might all get a chance to compete at tackle. But a veteran could solidify the position in the short term, or at least until Jenkins returns. Do not be surprised if Gutekunst signs an offensive tackle off the scrap heap for the fourth straight offseason.