4. Bruce Irvin, Oakland Raiders
On the flip side, the Packers defense took a step forward under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. More importantly, Pettine will be leading the defense again in 2019, even with a new head coach in town.
Green Bay allowed 5,670 total yards, 18th-most in the league. The unit compiled 44 sacks, tied for eighth most in the 2018. This was the first time the Packers finished in the top-10 in sacks since 2015.
Dean Lowry led the defensive end group in sacks with a career high of three. Last offseason the Packers signed Muhammad Wilkerson to a one-year prove it deal, but he only played in three games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
A veteran option Green Bay should target is former Falcon, Bruce Irvin. The 31-year-old defensive end was snagged by Atlanta after the Oakland Raiders released him. He struggled in Oakland’s defensive scheme while being the highest-paid player on their unit.
Irvin compiled three sacks with Oakland and added three and a half more in Atlanta. He’s played in all 16 games in three consecutive seasons. During that stretch he compiled at least 6.5 sacks in each of those years.
Taking it a step further, he has played in at least 15 games in every season but one. The only season in which he tallied less than 5.5 sacks was 2013, which happened to be the only season he played less than 15 games.
Similar to Saffold, Irvin’s age may turn people away, but he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Surrounding Green Bay’s young nucleus with an experienced veteran will be beneficial on and off the field.