With free agency and the NFL Draft behind him, you would think that Packers Brian Gutekunst can take a step back and take a deep breath. But as Gutekunst has previously stated work on an NFL roster is never done. Even with signing three free agents during free agency, drafting 11 new players, and signing numerous undrafted free agents, the Packers still have potential holes to fill. Gutekunst has also talked about creating competition at each position, which might lead them to still add more players. The Packers still could add some pieces this off-season.
The current free agency market has been depleted quite a bit. But like when shopping for a new shirt that you don’t want to pay top dollar for, there might still be some bargains left to be had. There are some positions on the Packers roster that could benefit from bringing in some veteran talent. The players might not perform at an elite level anymore but they could still help out the Packers.
The three positions that the Packers could use the most help are a starting offensive guard, a blocking tight end, and a pass rusher from the edge. With that in mind, here are three players that are still available as free agents that the Packers still could add this off-season.
Luke Joeckel – Guard
Joeckel was selected number two overall in the 2013 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Joeckel was expected to be the starting left tackle for the Jaguars for many seasons. But injuries and subpar play side tracked Joeckel’s career. In 2016, Joeckel lost his starting left tackle position and was moved to guard.
In March of 2017, Joeckel signed with the Seattle Seahawks and started 11 games for them. His only season with the Seahawks was subpar at best. Still, Joeckel still has a lot of talent and if signed by the Packers, he could benefit by playing for one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL in James Campen.
Joeckel could provide some good veteran competition to Justin McCray and rookie Cole Madison who will be competing for the starting right guard position.
Brent Celek – Tight End
Celek has spent his 11 year career all with the Philadelphia Eagles, the defending Super Bowl champions. He isn’t the receiving target he once was. But with playing behind Jimmy Graham and backup tight end Lance Kendricks, who are more known for their receiving ability than there blocking, he would be asked to block more than catch the ball.
The Packers could benefit from having a tight end who can block. With starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga’s status up in the air for the start of the 2018 season, the Packers might be forced to start either Kyle Murphy or Jason Spriggs. Either would benefit by having Celek lining up next to them.
Connor Barwin – Outside Linebacker
If former defensive coordinator Dom Capers was still running the Packers defense, it is doubtful that Barwin would be on their radar. But new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine likes to flip back and forth between a 3-4 and 4-3, which might make Barwin a possible target.
Barwin will be entering his 10th season as a professional and has played with three different teams, the Houston Texans, the Eagles, and most recently, the Los Angeles Rams. He has registered 55 ½ sacks during that time. He has played in a 3-4 as an outside linebacker with the Texans, a 4-3 defensive end with the Eagles, and last season, under Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, he lined up at both. Although he isn’t the pass rusher he once was, he still chalked up five sacks last season. A veteran to back up starting outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry may benefit the Pettine led defense.
The expectations are pretty low from Packers fans in regards to expecting additions leading up to the 2018 season. The Packers franchise has always valued giving time to their young players in training camp helping them develop. But with Ted Thompson no longer in charge, Gutekunst might handle business differently and bring in some veterans before the season starts.
These three players might be possible targets and if there are other players released before the season starts from other teams, they might be looked at as well. The Packers will always look to develop their young players, but with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback, they need to make sure to prepare to win now. Veteran pickups might help with that goal.