The Green Bay Packers are showing an aggressiveness to add talent like we haven’t seen in years, taking the all-in approach with the hope it helps Aaron Rodgers win another Super Bowl. As the NFL trade deadline approaches, Green Bay could be very active.
Thus far, the Packers have primarily focused on free-agent talent. They signed outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, off-ball linebacker Jaylon Smith and cornerback Rasul Douglas. But if Green Bay wants a shot at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy once again, it will take a much bigger swing.
Let’s examine four trades the Green Bay Packers could make to improve their Super Bowl odds.
Evan Engram fills the void after Robert Tonyan injury
Already without Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Week 7, things got even worse for the Packers in Week 9. Robert Tonyan went down after a big play, grabbing at his knee and requiring assistance off the field. Less than 24 hours later, Green Bay confirmed that a torn ACL ends Tonyan’s season.
While Tonyan hasn’t been as heavily used as the 2020 season, he is a weapon in this offense. The 6-foot-5 tight end’s athleticism and size made him a mismatch who could create some separation over the middle. With Marcedes Lewis primarily a blocker, Green Bay could use someone to step into Tonyan’s role.
The New York Giants should certainly be ready to trade Engram, things haven’t worked out for either side. Injuries are the main culprit, but a bad schematic fit in Jason Garrett’s offense also plays a role. Engram can be a playmaker, someone Matt LaFleur could use even more creatively than Tonyan. Considering how much the Packers use 2TE sets, pursuing an Engram trade makes a ton of sense before Nov. 2.
Green Bay Packers acquire Brandin Cooks
Davante Adams landing on the COVID-19 list further highlighted Green Bay’s need for a No. 2 receiver. While there was confidence before the season that Marquez Valdes-Scantling could step into that role, he only had 76 receiving yards in three games before suffering a hamstring injury. If the Packers want to compete for a Super Bowl, they need a bonafide weapon.
- Brandin Cooks stats: 45 receptions, 502 receiving yards, 11.2 yards per catch
Cooks is doing his best in a bad situation. In his first two games with Tyrod Taylor under center, Cooks hauled in 14 catches for 210 yards and Taylor posted a 90-plus quarterback rating when targeting him. Cooks is also versatile, lining up in the slot on 28.6% of his routes and outside 70.6% of the time, per Pro Football Focus.
- Green Bay Packers trade: 2022 third-round pick, 2023 fifth-round picks
- Houston Texans trade: Brandin Cooks
Adding him to this offense changes everything for Green Bay. If opponents want to risk shifting a safety to put double coverage on Adams, Cooks can burn them deep or find space over the middle. He could complement Adams nicely and would give Green Bay flexibility in 3WR sets.
Shelby Harris traded to Green Bay
Green Bay’s defense is steadily showing signs of improvement, even amid a growing list of injuries. It’s a credit to general manager Brian Gutekunst being active in the free-agent market, but a trade might be the best way for the Packers to improve along the defensive line.
This team remains weak on the defensive line outside of Kenny Clark. Kingsley Keke is a liability against the run and is responsible for just eight total pressures on 155 pass-rush snaps (PFF). Meanwhile, Dean Lowry gets pushed around in the run game. If the Broncos are ready to sell in November, Shelby Harris is Green Bay’s solution to replace Keke.
- Green Bay Packers receive: Shelby Harris
- Denver Broncos receive: 2022 fourth-round pick, 2023 third-round pick
Harris is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the NFL. Entering Week 8, Pro Football Focus ranks him as the fourth-highest graded interior defensive lineman (83.7) against the run. He is also reliable on passing downs, generating 27 total pressures across 294 pass-rush snaps.
Steven Nelson bolsters secondary
There is still uncertainty with Jaire Alexander and whether or not he’ll need season-ending surgery. Even if he’s cleared to return and avoids re-aggravating the injury, Green Bay needs another cornerback. Eric Stokes displays potential, but he isn’t ready to cover high-end receivers in big moments.
Nelson could immediately start on the outside, providing an upgrade over Kevin King. He played very well in 2020, allowing just a 53.9% completion rate when targeted. While he hasn’t been quite as strong this season, it’s primarily the result of one bad game.
The Eagles are slipping further down the NFL standings with each passing week and the front office likely wants more draft capital. If Gutekunst wants to make another all-in move, this time to address the secondary, Nelson would be a welcome addition. Considering many of the NFC contenders are loaded at wide receiver (Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals), another corner is needed.