Following the Green Bay Packers’ 38-3 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week One, it was apparent that the team was nowhere near as ready for the season as they led on. In addition, edge rusher Za’Darius Smith is heading to the injured list with the back injury that kept him sidelined for most of training camp. According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, both of these situations led the Packers to call teams around the NFL to inquire about available linebackers on the trade market.
Packers Sign LaDarius Hamilton
In the short term, the Packers signed linebacker LaDarius Hamilton off of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad. This, however, is merely a band aid for a larger problem. Hamilton has never played a regular season game for any of the NFL franchises he has been with.
What Assets to the Packers Have?
The Green Bay Packers are not exactly an asset-rich team in terms of available players. Of course, Aaron Rodgers may want a trade after the season, but that does not solve the problem of acquiring linebacker help to win a ring with him THIS season.
If desperate enough, the Packers could part ways with either Marques Valdez-Scantling or Allen Lazard. However, both players are important pieces in Matt LaFleur’s offense and would be difficult to replace with players already on the roster this year. Additionally, both are free agents at the end of the season, which could negatively affect their market via trade.
That all being said, the only real assets the Packers have that they can deal for quality linebacker help is draft picks. Brian Gutekunst, like his predecessor Ted Thompson, is very stingy with draft capital and is not likely to move them for anything that does not involve another pick.
The fact of the matter is that the Packers waited too long to address this issue. They knew that linebacker was a position of need, yet they did little to address it in free agency or the draft. De’Vondre Campbell has been brought in and is a starter, but Green Bay did nothing else to improve the position besides his signing.
Unfortunately, the Packers have put themselves in a very delicate situation financially. Some players took pay cuts this season to help the team get under the salary cap. Green Bay is already tens of millions of dollars over the cap expected for next season.
To put it bluntly: the Packers have not placed any value on inside linebackers in the past. Instead, they have paid hefty extensions to players at other positions. This was not the wrong decision, though, by any means. After all, where would the Packers be without players like Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, and Kenny Clark. The point, however, is that they cannot pay everyone. Inside linebacker has become a casualty of the Packers’ priority list, and they need to find a way to live (and win) with it.