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3 Defensive Players to Target for the Green Bay Packers

After signing Xavier McKinney and Josh Jacobs to over $100M combined in the first day of free agency, the Green Bay Packers are likely done spending big money. With very few cap extending moves even available to make, Packers’ GM Brian Gutekunst will be bargain shopping for the remainder of NFL free agency. 

With a Goodwill mindset, let’s take a look at 3 top bargains the Packers could target in the second or third wave of free agency. 

  1. Austin Johnson, IDL

The Packers are moving to a 4-3 defensive scheme under new coordinator Jeff Hafley. With that shift, Green Bay will need a lot more interior defensive line depth, and linebacker depth (which we will get to later.) 

Johnson has played at least 15 games in six of the last seven seasons, and that consistency will be key with plenty of young additions coming to the Green Bay defense. There is only one player above the age of 28 on the Packers, Preston Smith, so key veteran additions will be paramount to the Packers looking to make a run in 2024. 

Johnson has the second best season of his career in 2023, starting all 17 games and producing the second most Average Value of his career, per Football Reference. While Kenny Clark and Devontae Wyatt will be the main interior defensive lineman for Hafley, depth at this position will be key in 2024 and Johnson fits the bill perfectly. 

  1. Jerome Baker, LB

Let’s be clear, I think Brian Gutekunst addresses this position via the 2024 NFL Draft. Baker is probably the top linebacker left on the market, so he doesn’t truly fit the “bargain” category here. However, Jerome Baker is probably the best positional fit for the Packers defense, with the 4-3 requiring a lot more off-ball linebacker play for the Packers. 

Baker is 27 years old and coming off of a string of really good seasons for the Miami Dolphins. After releasing De’Vondre Campbell with a Post-June 1st Designation, Green Bay only has two playable linebackers on the roster. Obviously Quay Walker will be in the mix, and Isaiah McDuffie is familiar with Hafley’s scheme. But, you need at least one more starting LB and then depth at the position. As much fun as it was watching Preston Smith drop back and cover Justin Jefferson, I would like a little more speed for my off-ball LB’s in 2024. 

  1. Micah Hyde, Safety

As I reported recently for TDT Media, the Packers and Micah Hyde have “mutual interest” in a reunion for 2024. Hyde played in Green Bay at the beginning of his career and would be the perfect veteran addition to a very young NFL roster. 

While Hyde would immediately be the oldest player on the roster, that may be exactly what Green Bay needs. There will likely be one if not two rookie safeties/DB’s on the defensive side in 2024, and Hyde would be the perfect player to mentor Xavier McKinney and a younger secondary through the season. Additionally, Hyde is still playing at a high level and was one of the defensive leaders for the Bills in 2024. It isn’t a done deal yet, but Hyde returning home to Green Bay is a real possibility.

And hey, 33 is even available again!

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