The Green Bay Packers will have a plethora of decisions to make this off-season when it comes to their free agents. Specifically, there are 14 unrestricted free agents that the Packers will need to make decisions on. Here is our ranking of those 14 players.
Number 14: Cornerback Corey Ballentine
Corey Ballentine was signed to the Green Bay Packers practice squad in September 2022. He was activated to the 53-man roster in November for the Packers’ Week 10 matchup vs the Dallas Cowboys. It won’t come as a surprise if Green Bay moves on from him, however, he would be very inexpensive to bring back on the practice squad.
Number 13: Linebacker Eric Wilson
Eric Wilson finished the 2022 campaign with nine tackles and one sack. He played in just over 3% of the defense’s total snaps this past season. However, Wilson did play 197 snaps on special teams. Bringing Eric Wilson back as a special teams gunner would make sense, but finding someone to replace his production wouldn’t be hard.
Number 12: Defensive Tackle Jarran Reed
This one will be tough to decide on. Jarran Reed was brought in to be the “robin” to Kenny Clark on the defensive line. Reed played in all 17 games this year, starting 14 of them. He finished the season with only 2.5 sacks and 52 total tackles. His tackles were a career-high, however, his 2.5 sacks were a far cry from his 10.5 in 2018. Additionally, the Packers’ run defense struggled all year, something the Packers were hoping Reed would be able to help with this year. The Packers’ depth on the defensive line is thin, to say the least, bringing back Reed would be smart, but only for the right price.
Number 11: Outside Linebacker Justin Hollins
Justin Hollins was a pleasant late-season surprise. With the injury of star linebacker Rashan Gary, Hollins got some unexpected playing time at the end of the season. Over the final five games, he recorded three sacks and nine quarterback pressures. The Packers have a few studs at the outside linebacker position in Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. The excitement of rookie outside linebacker Kingsley Enagbare is certainly there. The depth at this position may not be as dire as defensive tackle, but Hollins made the most of his opportunities and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back.
Number 10: Safety Dallin Leavitt
Dallin Leavitt was a presence on special teams all season long. He played 308 snaps for special teams and was someone that special teams coach Rich Bisaccia absolutely trusts. I would certainly look for the Packers to try to bring back Leavitt on a similar deal to continue the Packers’ special teams turnaround.
Number 9: Wide Receiver Randall Cobb
The Randall Cobb decision will be pretty cut and dry. If Aaron Rodgers returns to the Packers in 2023, he will certainly campaign for Cobb to be back as well. If not, Cobb will likely be as good as gone. Cobb finished the 2022 season with 34 receptions, 417 receiving yards, and one touchdown in 13 games. Randall Cobb would provide another season of veteran presence in the locker room and someone Aaron Rodgers trusts. However, would bringing in an outside veteran be more beneficial for the Packers?
Number 8: Defensive End Dean Lowry
It feels like Dean Lowry has been playing on borrowed time for a few seasons now. He finished the 2022 season with just 43 total tackles and 1/2 a sack. That being said, he has been known to do the “dirty work” for the Packers in the trenches over the last seven years. Bringing Lowry back would provide depth at a position that needs it, but could they find a better option in free agency?
Number 7: Tight End Marcedes Lewis
Marcedes Lewis has been on the Packers for five seasons now. He has continued his stellar blocking at the tight end position and often makes a difference in the running game. This is also another name we should expect to see back if Aaron Rodgers stays in Green Bay. However, he finished the season with just six receptions, 66 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. If the Packers make a splash move at the tight end position, Lewis may be gone either way.
Number 6: Safety Rudy Ford
Rudy Ford will certainly be a name the Packers should consider bringing back. Ford stepped in when Darnell Savage was benched. He recorded three interceptions, three pass deflections, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery on the year. Not to mention the impact Ford had on special teams, playing 108 snaps. Safety will be another position of concern for the Packers this off-season, I would expect them to bring back as much help as possible at this position.
Number 5: Wide Receiver Allen Lazard
Allen Lazard would be much higher on the list, however, he has made it clear that he thinks he has played his last game as a member of the Packers. It will be hard to bring back a player who seemingly doesn’t want to come back. Lazard finished 2022 with 60 receptions, 788 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. He will likely get a big payday in free agency, but if the Packers are able to find a way to bring him back he is a reliable wide receiver who Aaron Rodgers trusts. Not to mention he is one of the best run-blocking wide receivers in the entire NFL.
Number 4: Safety Adrian Amos
The Packers signed Adrian Amos to a four-year 36 million dollar contract in March 2019. He earned every bit of that contract for the Packers, even if he did have a down year in 2022. For the right price, the Packers need to seriously consider bringing Amos back. The Safety position will be extremely thin this off-season and Amos will be valuable for this defense. The Packers likely take a Safety, or two, in the 2023 NFL draft, but in the meantime, they need to bring back a proven veteran.
Number 3: Tight End Robert Tonyan
Robert Tonyan tied the Packers franchise record in 2020 for touchdown receptions by a tight end in a season (11). After tearing his ACL in 2021, the Packers hoped he would return to form in 2022. Tonyan finished the 2022 season with a respectable 53 receptions, and 470 receiving yards, but just two touchdowns. If the Packers do not make a free agent/trade move at the tight end position, bringing back Tonyan will be a must. He will provide a competent outlet for Aaron Rodgers and could very well return to his 2020 self.
Number 2: Kicker Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby is one of the most experienced kickers in NFL history. He is the Packers’ all-time leading scorer (854 points) and has been a model of consistency since 2007. In 2022 he made 25 of 29 field goals and 37 of his 39 extra point attempts. Crosby has made it clear he doesn’t want to retire, so bringing him back will be a must for this team. The old vet is not ready to hang up his cleats just yet.
Number 1: Kick Returner/Cornerback Keisean Nixon
Keisean Nixon almost single-handedly turned around the Packers’ special teams. In a matter of weeks, he became an instant fan favorite. No player had more kick return yards than Nixon this year – he had 1,009. Nixon ranked second in kick return average, averaging 28.8 yards per return. His longest return was a 105-yard touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. The week prior, he had a 93-yard return against the Miami Dolphins. The result? He was named First-Team All-Pro and earned every bit of it. Keisean Nixon needs to be at the top of Green Bay’s priorities when it comes to Packers free agents during the 2023 off-season.
For More Wisconsin Sports:
Follow me on Twitter at @mcquadewarnold, follow us @WiSportsHeroics, and listen to our Podcast, The Cheese Dads NOW with Legendary DT Gilbert Brown! You can also reach out to McQuade Arnold via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of our articles and keep up to date on the latest in ALL of Wisconsin sports, click here!