And Then There Were Three

Free agency officially began on Mar. 16 with 14 members of the Packers hitting the open market. Only three players remain unsigned four weeks later – offensive tackle Dennis Kelly, cornerback Kevin King, and defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster.

Kelly started five games last season, including the divisional-round loss to the 49ers, and while he played pretty well, it’s no surprise he’s still looking for a place to call home. Remember, he didn’t sign with Green Bay until just before the start of training camp. And that was following a season in which he started all 16 games for the Titans. Teams simply aren’t in a rush to sign marginally talented offensive linemen in their early 30s, especially ones who can play only right tackle at this point in their career. Kelly will eventually find work once the draft is over and general managers reassess their remaining needs. Could that lead to a second season with the Packers? Never say never, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

King had already re-signed with Green Bay a year ago at this time, but it’s no surprise he’s having more trouble finding a job in 2022. The Packers were the only team seriously interested in the former second-round pick from Washington last spring, and that interest has dissipated after yet another injury-plagued campaign. Still, don’t expect King to be unemployed for too much longer. Capable corners in their 20s will always find work. It’s even possible he’ll return to Green Bay if the position isn’t addressed in the early rounds of the draft. Only this time it would be as a low-paid backup.

While it’s hardly a surprise Kelly and King are unsigned, Lancaster’s continued availability is a bit unexpected. Big players, even ones with limited skill sets, tend to find work pretty quickly. The former Northwestern star may be one-dimensional with 1.5 sacks in four seasons, but he’s started 22 games and played nearly 1,500 snaps. He’s also only 27 years old. While a return to Green Bay is certainly possible, it’s less likely after the recent signing of veteran Jarren Reed. The Packers now have four defensive linemen they like, and Gutekunst will almost certainly add more talent in the draft.

The uncertainty surrounding this trio of veterans is a great example of the fickleness of the National Football League. In January, Kelly and Lancaster were starting in a postseason game, and King was seeing action in the sub-packages. A little less than three months later, all three players are unemployed and just looking for an opportunity to extend their careers.

As far as the other 11 free agents are concerned, three re-signed with the Packers (tight end Robert Tonyan, corner Rasul Douglas, and inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell), six left for other teams (center/guard Lucas Patrick, wide receivers Equanimeous St. Brown, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, linebacker Oren Burks, corner Chandon Sullivan, and punter Corey Bojorquez), one was traded (wide receiver Davante Adams), and one retired (edge rusher Whitney Mercilus).


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POLL: Which unsigned free agent is most likely to return to the Packers?
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Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

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