ESPN’s Offseason Grades: Did Packers Do Enough?

ESPN Analytics’ Seth Walder gave the Packers only a B-minus for an offseason that includes signing Xavier McKinney and Josh Jacobs.
Green Bay Packers running back Josh Jacobs (8) carries during minicamp.
Green Bay Packers running back Josh Jacobs (8) carries during minicamp. / Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers are “real contenders” entering the 2024 NFL season, according to’s Seth Walder, but did they do enough to push their way to the top of the NFC?

Perhaps not. In his NFL offseason grades, Walder gave the Packers a B-minus. That’s tied for 17th.

“Given their healthy cap situation and win-now opportunity, I would have liked to have seen Green Bay make one more move to aid the roster, though plenty of that cap space will surely be spent on a (Jordan) Love extension,” Walder wrote.

The one big move that Walder liked was signing safety Xavier McKinney to a four-year, $67 million contract. McKinney fills a major need – he’s an enormous upgrade over the likes of Darnell Savage and Jonathan Owens – and is a relative bargain even at $16.75 million per season.

“X is obviously a very talented player. Otherwise, you wouldn’t reward him with that type of contract,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “I just can’t say enough great things about him. It’s not a shock why he was a captain in New York. He’s a very intelligent player. Some of the stuff that we’re doing is different than things that he’s done in his past, but he’s a quick learner and he loves the game of football.

“I think it’s absolutely critical to have a guy like him for all those guys that are inexperienced around him, because he can get them up to speed a little bit faster. Certain things are going to hit our brains differently, but to have a player that can help reinforce that I think is critical.”

On the other hand, Walder didn’t like the “odd choice at running back” of releasing Aaron Jones and signing Josh Jacobs.

“While I appreciate getting younger, Jacobs has just one season in the past four with positive rush yards over expectation, per NFL Next Gen Stats,” Walder wrote. “And while I understand moving on from Jones, I wouldn't want to pay real money for Jacobs, though it's mitigated by the fact that only $12.5 million is fully guaranteed.”

It will be fascinating to compare Jones to Jacobs throughout the season. Due to injuries, Jones was having a miserable season until he got healthy and caught fire. As excellent as Love was down the stretch, it was Jones who carried the team into the playoffs.

His 127 rushing yards against Carolina, 120 against Minnesota, 111 against Chicago, 118 (with three touchdowns) against Dallas and 108 against San Francisco was arguably the greatest individual stretch by any running back in franchise history. In fact, no player in Packers history had rushed for 100-plus yards in five consecutive games.

Comparing Jones to Jacobs is no comparison at all. Jones in 2023 was better than Jacobs by just about every measuring stick, including 10-yard runs, with Jones having 15 in 142 carries and Jacobs having only nine in 233 carries. Of course, that’s an apples-to-tomatoes comparison because Jones had Love and Jacobs had Jimmy Garoppolo, Aidan O’Connell and Brian Hoyer, who combined for 19 touchdowns vs. 18 interceptions.

Jacobs is almost four years younger than Jones and will be supported by Love and a top-flight passing attack. Jones, meanwhile, will be going from grass to FieldTurf and could have a rookie quarterback running the show.

Meanwhile, the Packers let go of three proven offensive linemen (David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan and Yosh Nijman) and drafted three blockers (Jordan Morgan in the first round, Jacob Monk in the fifth round and Travis Glover in the sixth around).

Sticking with the NFC North, the Chicago Bears got a B-plus for not just drafting Caleb Williams but surrounding him with a dangerous supporting cast that includes receivers D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze.

“The Bears are in the unusual position of being able to draft an elite quarterback while possessing a capable roster … if Williams hits right away, the Bears’ offense will be instantly dangerous and the team will be a legitimate contender.”

The Detroit Lions got a C because Walder thought they overpaid for quarterback Jared Goff, who he doesn’t consider a top-10 quarterback.

Click here for the full story, including his grades of the team that knocked out the Packers last year (the 49ers) and the team that will face the Packers in Week 1 (the Eagles).

More Green Bay Packers News

Not a top-10 QB? | The “best” leader | Updated report card: Coaching | Updated report card: Draft | Updated report card: Free agency | Latest NFC North odds | Key five weeks for Edgerrin Cooper | PFF’s center rankings give Watt/King vibe | Jekyll and Hyde Packers | Christian Watson healthy, hopeful

Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.