As of Friday, April 1, the Green Bay Packers still had seven free agents unsigned. The list includes four contributors from last year’s defense, a veteran starter along the offensive line and one of the team’s three specialists from 2021.
The Packers were able to re-sign players such as De’Vondre Campbell, Rasul Douglas and Robert Tonyan while also adding Jarran Reed and Pat O’Donnell. But the salary cap situations means some players were lost, and others remain in limbo.
Here is the full list of unsigned free agents from the Packers:
King played 303 total defensive snaps over 10 games and six starts but once again battled through injuries in 2021. While he may never be a reliable or overly consistent player, King covered better and tackled better in his first year playing for Joe Barry. Because of the way his contract was structured last year, King is already counting $3 million in dead money on the Packers cap in 2022. Maybe the team can get him back on a veteran’s minimum deal and get something for the money. He’d be fine as the No. 4 cornerback, especially after he played well in the slot and in the box as a hybrid defender late in the season. King doesn’t turn 27 until May.
The Packers signed veteran Jarran Reed in free agency, so the writing might be on the wall for Lancaster, who has played at least 30 percent of the defense’s total snaps in each of the last four seasons. He has value as a space-eating run defender, but he never developed into more than a replacement-level defensive lineman and the Packers probably want to see what Jack Heflin can do in a similar role.
Will “Bojo” get another chance to be a team’s primary punter? He’s looking for his fourth team in three seasons after producing an inconsistent first season in Green Bay. The Packers swapped draft picks in the 2023 draft to get Bojorquez last August but will move on after signing Pat O’Donnell in free agency. He doesn’t lack kicking talent, but Bojorquez wasn’t consistent enough as a directional punter or as a holder for field goals.
The Packers have made it a habit to add veteran swing tackles under Brian Gutekunst, so a reunion could still make sense with Kelly, who started five games (including the playoff loss to San Francisco) for the Packers at right tackle last season. He held his own and was solid in pass protection. Does he want to come back to Green Bay and compete with Yosh Nijman to be the Week 1 starting right tackle while Elgton Jenkins recovers? Kelly, who turned 32 in January, might be a strong option later in the summer if the Packers don’t find the right fit at offensive tackle in the draft.
Signed in October after being released by the Texans, Mercilus gave the Packers 10 pressures in four games before going down with what looked like a season-ending injury. He was able to return for the playoff loss and play 12 snaps. When healthy, Mercilus was a strong rotational edge rusher behind Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Bringing him back in that role makes sense, especially after cutting Za’Darius Smith. He’s a veteran who is hungry to win and knows how to beat offensive tackles and disrupt the pocket. Like Kelly, he might be someone the Packers approach if the team doesn’t use a high draft pick to acquire a developmental third rusher.
Black played 262 snaps on defense, mostly as the designated third safety, and he finished second on the team with 315 snaps on special teams. He ended the season with the Packers’ highest overall grade on special teams, but his return looks increasingly unlikely. Black became an unrestricted free agent when the team passed on tendering him as an exclusive rights free agent, providing a strong clue regarding his future in Green Bay. The undrafted free agent from Baylor will likely move on after two seasons and 25 games with the Packers. Keep in mind, his blocking failure on the blocked punt in the divisional round was a season-crushing moment.
The Packers acquired Rivers off of waivers from the Ravens in August, and he quickly earned a spot on the 53-man roster with a strong overall performance in camp and the preseason. A knee injury ended his season after four games and just 98 total snaps (54 on defense). Like Black, the Packers passed on tendering him as an exclusive rights free agent, likely because of the injury and recovery. The Packers will look to the draft or college free agency to bolster the depth at edge rusher and special teams.