The Green Bay Packers entered the 2022 offseason with the second-worst salary cap situation in the NFL. Only the New Orleans Saints had a worst hole than the Packers, who needed to shed over $50 million in payroll in order to get to the 2022 salary cap.
Through a series of moves that included releasing Za’Darius Smith and restructuring several contracts, the Packers were able to turn their deficit into $17 million in cap space. With so much cap space now available, the Packers can turn their attention to various free agents that are still available to fill holes on their roster.
Xavier Rhodes could provides the Green Packers with depth at the cornerback position
Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes make up arguably the best trio of cornerbacks in the NFL. Alexander was a Second Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection in 2020 and signed a massive four-year $84 million extension earlier this offseason. Rasul Douglas burst onto the scene after the Packers plucked him off of the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad. He had five interceptions in 12 games, including two that he returned for touchdowns. Douglas was re-signed on a three-year $21 million contract. As a rookie, Eric Stokes was targeted early and often, deflected 14 passes while allowing a miniscule 49.5% completion percentage.
As great as these three cornerbacks are, the Packers do not have any quality depth behind them. Kevin King served as a backup last season, but has not been brought back despite the fact that he remains a free agent. Using some of that $17 million in cap space, the Packers could look into signing three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Last season, Rhodes played in 13 games and deflected seven passes while intercepting one. He allowed a 60.7% completion percentage and a 97.0 opposing quarterback rating. In short, he was not his Pro Bowl self and has not been for a while.
This is why the Green Bay Packers make sense for Rhodes. He does not need to be the star cornerback and can rely on more talented backs to cover the opponents’ best receivers. Additionally, Packers defensive backs coach Jerry Gray is Rhodes’ former position coach from his days in Minnesota. Perhaps, a reunion would help him return to form.
Kyle Rudolph could provide short-term security at the tight end position
The most-recent news out of the Green Bay Packers’ camp concerning tight end Robert Tonyan is not good. It appears less and less likely that Tonyan, who tied the team’s record for touchdowns by a tight end (11) in 2020, will be ready to go by Week 1 against the division-rival Vikings. Tonyan tore his ACL in Week 8 of last season.
Marcedes Lewis is returning to play tight end for the Packers for his 17th NFL season. This, by the way, will tie the NFL record for most seasons played by a tight end. However, Lewis is not a receiving threat and is used more like a bonus lineman due to his prowess in both pass and run blocking. Josiah Deguara showed signs of being a reliable receiving threat last year, but is not yet a proven tight end in the league.
In order to provide some stability to the position, the Packers could pursue Kyle Rudolph, who spent years facing Green Bay twice a year as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. While he had a down season last year with the New York Giants, much of that can be blamed on the fact that it was, well, the Giants.
Rudolph had 26 receptions for 257 yards and a touchdown. While these stats do not jump off the page, it should be noted that Rudolph has not dropped a single pass in over three years. Additionally, Giants’ quarterbacks had a passer rating of 93.6 when targeting the veteran tight end. Just imagine what Aaron Rodgers could do.
Takkarist McKinley could provide Green Bay Packers much-needed depth at the edge
Rashan Gary and Preston Smith combined for 18.5 sacks last season. Even without Za’Darius Smith, who missed most of the season with a back injury, the two were able to disrupt quarterbacks at a highly successful rate. However, beyond those two players, the Packers have virtually no depth at the position.
Kingsley Enegbare was drafted in the fifth round this year and is expected to receive some playing time. However, after him are fringe roster players who may not even make the team.
Takkarist McKinley would be an ideal signing because he was an effective backup edge rusher last season. While playing just 43% of the defense’s snaps in Cleveland, McKinley had 2.5 sacks and 14 pressures. While these are not stats worthy of a starter, it would make him an excellent addition to the Packers’ roster.