While we spent the last few days looking at unrestricted free agents whom Pro Football Focus thinks fit best with the Green Bay Packers for 2018, we are now shifting our focus back to players who were with the team in 2017.
Today, we’re looking at where the Packers’ UFAs would fit best, according to PFF. Green Bay has just nine unrestricted free agents by our count (there is some uncertainty about whether Ulrick John is restricted or unrestricted, so we excluded him), and PFF listed seven of those players in their free agency guide for the offseason.
Let’s look at where these players might be logical fits for next year and whether the fits make sense.
OLB Ahmad Brooks: Baltimore Ravens
Brooks makes sense in Baltimore, who still run a productive 3-4 defense under DC Dean Pees. Terrell Suggs still keeps racking up the sacks at age 35, making his first Pro Bowl since 2013 after posting an 11-sack season. Grand Valley State’s Matt Judon had a nices second season (his first as a starter), posting eight sacks. Brooks would make sense as a backup edge rusher to rotate with Suggs as Judon and 2017 rookie Tyus Bowser come along.
S Morgan Burnett: Tennessee Titans
The Titans have a solid pair of starting safeties in Kevin Byard and Jonathan Cyprien. Byard had a breakout year, being named first-team All-Pro after picking off eight passes and breaking up 16. Cyprien and backup Da’Norris Searcy make a solid pair at strong safety, however, so unless the Titans were to move Burnett to a full-time slot safety (like the Eagles did with Malcolm Jenkins), it’s hard to see how Burnett would get much playing time.
Schematically, the Titans’ defense is a bit up in the air. Dick LeBeau has retired, and if he were still around it would be an easy transition for Burnett to go from a Dom Capers defense to playing for LeBeau. Former Packers safeties coach has been mentioned as a possible DC candidate for new head coach Mike Vrabel, however, and if that happened it would make it a natural transition for Burnett.
DT Quinton Dial: Dallas Cowboys
Dial could come back to Green Bay to pitch in as a rotational backup, much the way he did in 2017. He has played most of his career as a 5-tech and three-tech tackle, but PFF sees Dallas as the ideal landing spot for him. There, he could back up starting tackle Tyrone Crawford, though he has a smaller frame (6’4”, 295) than Dial’s 6’5”, 315. The five-tech spot seems to be his best position, so Dial might be best suited to a team that plays more of a base 3-4 than the Cowboys, who remain a 4-3 team, or the Packers, who barely use base at all anymore.
G Jahri Evans Green Bay Packers
CB Davon House: Green Bay Packers
See the pieces from Friday (on the Packers’ offense) and Saturday (on the defense) for our discussions of these two players’ potential returns to the Packers.
WR Jeff Janis: Seattle Seahawks
The Packers were never able to get much of anything out of Janis from a receiving perspective, but Seattle’s offense seems to be a simpler one for a player with great physical tools but unrefined route-running skills. Think about Paul Richardson in Seattle — he’s a burner who had a big year in 2017 by posting 16 yards per catch thanks to eight deep ball receptions for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Janis likely wouldn’t have the same level of playing time or production, but he could function in a similar deep-threat role for Russell Wilson and company.
TE Richard Rodgers: Pittsburgh Steelers
Rodgers was relegated to the second or third tight end spot for much of the 2017 season, but had a couple of big catches late in the game against the Panthers after Aaron Rodgers’ return. In the past, the Packers loved to run him into the flat as a safety valve, much to fans’ dismay due to his distinct lack of agility or yards after the catch ability.
For the Steelers, Rodgers might be able to play a similar third tight end role behind Vance McDonald and Jesse James, and his ability to line up at any position — in-line, slot, or fullback, as well as special teams — at least make him a useful player for someone.