Green Bay Packers
2018 record: 6-9-1 (3rd in division)
Head Coach: Matt LaFleur (1st year with team)
General Manager: Brian Gutekunst
Projected Salary Cap Space: $34 million
2019 Draft Picks: 1st (12, 30), 2nd (44), 3rd (75), 4th (114, 118), 5th (150), 6th (185, 194), 7th (226)
2018 in review:
The Packers stumbled to a disappointing six-win season, punctuated by the in-season firing of long time head coach Mike McCarthy. A 1-4-1 divisional record, combined with a midseason stretch of five losses in six games, gave them no shot at a late season charge as they were eliminated from playoff contention after Week 15.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers did bounce back from an injury-plagued 2017 to top 4,000 passing yards for the seventh time, and saw his favorite receiver, Davante Adams, enjoy a prolific season, finishing seventh in the NFL in receiving yards. Left tackle David Bakhtiari continued to be one of the NFL’s best at his position, and the Packers have a promising pair of young cornerbacks in Josh Jackson and Jaire Alexander entering their second season.
Along with their divisional struggles, the Packers won just once on the road, against a lowly New York Jets team in Week 16. That includes a Week 5 loss to the Lions at Ford Field. The Lions have dominated this matchup over the last two seasons, with four straight wins in the series.
The Packers also struggled to protect Aaron Rodgers in 2018, surrendering the third most sacks in the NFL at 53. Considering some of the feared pass rushers within the division, and the injuries Rodgers’ has suffered in recent years, that must be remedied.
The Packers are obviously set at quarterback, and have a new head coach in Matt Lafleur, a branch of the coveted coaching tree of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. They whiffed on their 2018 signing of tight end Jimmy Graham, who seems to be in decline. In addition, wideout Randall Cobb is an unrestricted free agent and their three rookie wide receivers looked very much like rookies at times. The Packers are sure to look for more pass catching options.
Star linebacker Clay Matthews is starting to show his age at 32; he had a career-low 3.5 sacks in 2018. The Packers also have limited options at edge rusher and are sure to be in the market for help there, either early in the draft or with one of the high-profile free agents available at that position.
Rodgers continues to be one of the best quarterbacks in football, but he’s not getting any younger. 2018 marked the first time that he missed the playoffs for two straight years since becoming a full time starter. That means that the pressure will be on the Packers’ new coach to win early as the window won’t be open forever with Rodgers in tow.