Packers Named Best Free Agent Fit for Former No. 3 Overall Pick - Sport News

Packers Named Best Free Agent Fit for Former No. 3 Overall Pick

Even as new Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley installs a scheme predicated on strong play in the secondary, general manager Brian Gutekunst could look to bolster pass-rush depth in free agency.

Packers

That’s especially true after the Packers finished the 2023 regular season with just 46 sacks, 17th-most in the league, and as Green Bay aims to take the next step from a team capable of winning a playoff game to one with the personnel to win a Super Bowl.

Ahead of the new league year beginning on March 13 and free agency getting underway, Pro Football Focus lists the Packers as the best fit for New York Jets defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

“Green Bay has gotten continued growth from recent draft picks along the interior,” Brad Spielberger writes. “But, a position-flex five-technique type to add to the rotation could be a nice piece in a young group.”

While Thomas has never quite lived up to the promise of developing into a dominant interior pass-rush presence, the No. 3 overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers back in the 2017 NFL Draft is coming off posting a career-high five sacks along the heart of the Jets’ dominant defensive line.

What Could Solomon Thomas Add to Packers’ Defensive Line?

Thomas is likely a rotational interior defensive lineman at this stage of his career, with the upside of generating some pressure on passing downs.

This past season, while Thomas posted the most sacks of his career, he also only added 17 quarterback pressures in 223 pass-rush snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

Meanwhile, PFF gives Thomas a meager 32.2 run-stopping grade and an overall mark of just 37, while the outlet lists him as the No. 183 ranked overall free agent as this offseason looms.

Through the first 99 games of his career, Thomas has produced 186 total tackles with 15 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 21 tackles for loss.

Given that Kenny Clark could be a candidate either to be released as a cap casualty or sign a reworked extension to create cap space, and T.J. Slayton hasn’t posted a sack since his rookie season back in 2021, Thomas could contribute quality snaps given the state of the Packers’ defensive line.

Thomas is coming off signing a one-year “prove it” deal with the Jets, which paid him $2.35 million in 2023 and he could be in line for a similar contract in free agency.

Given that the Packers are projected to have approximately $10.33 million in cap space, Thomas could be the type of bargain bin free agent Green Bay could target to add a veteran presence at a young position group.

Solomon Thomas’ Walter Payton Man of The Year Push

Thomas was the Jets’ Man of The Year Award winner, and a finalist for the NFL’s award, thanks to his efforts for a cause close to his and his family’s heart.

Back in 2018, Thomas’ older sister, Ella Thomas died by suicide. Meanwhile, mental health and suicidal thoughts have plagued Solomon, which prompted the creation of his foundation, The Defensive Line.

With the goal of “to end the epidemic of young suicide, especially for young people of color, by transforming the way we communicate and connect about mental health,” Thomas works tirelessly off the field to raise mental health awareness and transform the way we talk about the issue across society broadly.

“I understand how little time we have this platform,” Thomas told DMagazine. “It’s different when an NFL player’s talking to you. … You kind of rip open a Band-Aid sometimes when you do this work, but people need to know it’s OK not to be OK for whatever they’re going through. It’s saving lives.”

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