The Green Bay Packers have some tough choices to make come free agency. They have fifteen players who are now out-of-contract. Packers General Manager, Brian Gutekunst, spoke highly of three of these, namely Mason Crosby, Bryan Bulaga, and Tramon Williams. He expressed appreciation for their positive presence in the locker room and production on the field. Those three are joined by offensive tackle, Jared Veldheer, linebacker, Blake Martinez, and wide receiver, Geronimo Allison as the six hardest decisions the Packers will make in free agency this off-season.
Green Bay Packers Free Agency Decisions
Likely to Return to Green Bay
Bulaga has been with the Packers for all of his nine years in the NFL. When Bulaga is playing, fans know their quarterback will be well protected. Despite his struggle with injuries in the past, Bulaga has only missed three games in the last two seasons. Sure, the tackle is getting older. He will turn 31 in March. However, Bulaga is a huge part of the offensive line and he believes he has what it takes to continue to play at a high level.
Offensive tackle, Veldheer, came out of retirement in 2019 to join the Packers. He filled in for Bulaga like a champ for the divisional playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, praised their “niche guys” like Veldheer, Bulaga, and even Tyler Ervin and said he’d like to see them back next year.
Ervin gave the Packers a big lift in their kick return game. In his nine kick returns, beginning in Week 15, he picked up an average of 22 and one-third yards. That may sound small, but Ervin had a single return for as many as 45 yards. He wasn’t just a special teams player, though. Ervin played a few snaps at running back, giving the Packers another option on offense. It makes sense for the Packers to keep Ervin and build on these successes next season.
Williams, a 13-year veteran cornerback, has only missed nine games in his NFL tenure. When Green Bay let him walk following the 2014 season, his absence was quite apparent. Since his return in 2018, Williams has become the leader of the Packers secondary. The cornerback has stated that he wants to come back to Green Bay, where he has played the bulk of his career.
Mason Crosby has been the Packers kicker since 2007, and he just closed out a record season. Forbes SportsMoney Contributor, Rob Reischel, says, “Crosby made a career-best 91.7% of his field goals this season (22-of-24) and drilled game-winning field goals against Detroit on two occasions.” In addition to the two 2019 games against the Detroit Lions, The Pack has leaned on Crosby a few times for a game-winning field goal. Specific examples of this include: at the Dallas Cowboys in the 2017 NFC Divisional Game and at the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football in the 2018 season. Aside from the October 2018 game in Detroit when Crosby missed five kicks, he’s known for being accurate.
Unlikely to Return to Green Bay
Martinez has been a part of the Packers defense ever since he joined the NFL in 2016. In his last three seasons, Martinez has been in the top three in tackles. As Rob Demovsky of ESPN says, he’s a “tackle machine“. The linebacker even played the second part of the 2019 season with a broken bone in his hand. Martinez is a team-first guy. In his interview following the NFC Championship Game loss in Santa Clara, he tearfully admitted this is a contract year for him. He made it clear he wants to stay in Green Bay, but he understands there’s a possibility he won’t.
When the Packers let Randall Cobb walk, that left the door open for another wide receiver to step up. Allison had the opportunity to make himself known as the obvious second option behind Davante Adams. However, Allison struggled with drops and didn’t make the strides the Packers hoped he would. To be fair though, none of the other wide receivers became the obvious second choice either.
Aside from Adams, there wasn’t a guy Rodgers could count on consistently. Sure, guys like Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow made their presence known with some clutch plays. However, the Packers needed one of their young receivers to step up and fill the hole left by Cobb. Since Allison wasn’t successful, they’re unlikely to re-sign him.
It will be interesting to see the Green Bay Packers free agency moves this off-season.
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