Packers 2024 free agency tracker: Offseason moves, signings

NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2024 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, which means free agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2024 NFL draft begins April 25 on ESPN.

Here's a breakdown of every 2024 NFL free agent signing by the Green Bay Packers and how each will impact the upcoming season:

Keisean Nixon, CB/KR

The Packers are bringing Nixon back for the 2024 season.

What it means: The Packers still believe there's value in having an explosive kick returner. Sure Nixon played regularly on defense as their nickel corner and will get the chance to do that again in 2024 -- although new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley might have other ideas for that spot and/or for Nixon. But make no mistake about it, Nixon's best attribute is in the return game. He is the reigning two-time All-Pro returner, and now he'll get the chance for three in a row with the same team.

What's the risk: There's been talk of changing the kickoff rule again, which would further minimize the value of that spot. And if the Packers want to try someone else in the slot corner role, then they're essentially just pay for a return man.

Josh Jacobs, RB

The Packers released Aaron Jones and agreed to terms with the former Raider Jacobs on a four-year, $48 million deal.

What it means: It's the end of the Jones era -- and what a run it was for the 2017 fifth-round pick. Now, the Packers are going with Jacobs, who at age 26 is more than three years younger than Jones. But it signified that the running game was so important that they weren't willing risk it by going with an unproven rookie, even if it were a high draft pick. Coach Matt LaFleur's offense is predicated on the play-action game, so the running back position is too important to leave to chance. It's probably no coincidence that quarterback Jordan Love and the Packers' offense was at it's most productive when Jones was healthy. Now it's up to Jacobs to continue that.

What's the risk: Like Jones, who missed six games with injuries last season, Jacobs dealt with injuries in 2023 as well. He missed the Raiders' last four games with a quad injury. Not surprisingly, last season was the least productive of Jacobs' five NFL seasons. He totaled 805 yards rushing and averaged 3.5 yards per carry, both career lows. However, during the previous three seasons, he missed only three games combined, so there's not a long injury history with Jacobs. In three of his five seasons, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards, and he has a career average of 4.2 yards per attempt.

AJ Dillon, RB

Dillon's new deal is for one year and up to $2.74 million under the four-year qualifying offer.

What it means: One half of the Packers' running back duo from last season is back. Most thought it would be Aaron Jones, but it's Dillon who gets another go around. Dillon had the chance to show the NFL he was a starting-caliber back last season when Jones missed so much time with injuries. While he rushed for 613 yards and two touchdowns, his 3.4 yards per carry was the lowest average of his career. However, he missed the final two regular season games and the playoffs because of a severe stinger and dealt with a broken thumb. GM Brian Gutekunst expressed recently how much he likes to have a big running back like Dillon. "I do think we would always like to have one power, bigger back on the roster for short-yardage situations and playing in the weather and closing out games, things like that," Gutekunst said.

What's the risk: There is no long-term commitment here, so the risk is minimal. There was always the possibility that Dillon could return to Green Bay on a one-year, prove-it type of contract. He'll get a base salary of $1.125 million. He can also get all or part of a $1.45 million qualifying pool bonus that can be divided among no more than two players, plus $167,500 in additional compensation. Only the base salary counts on the salary cap. Dillon is only 25 years old (he'll turn 26 in May), and the Packers hope he can return to being the tackle-breaking power runner that they envisioned when they drafted him in the second round four years ago. Also, he has been a reliable third-down back when it comes to blitz pickup, something not all backs can excel at.

Xavier McKinney, S

The safety and the Packers agreed to terms on a four-year, $68 million contract.

What it means: The safety position is hugely important to new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley. When he described what he's looking for in that position, it was clear the Packers had to sign a veteran. Said Hafley: "Want him to be a guy, when a ball carrier is wrapped up, he goes and he finishes off the pile. I want a guy who can go from sideline to sideline and take the ball away. I think that position has to be a guy with high ball production, meaning he's gotta be able to intercept the ball." In addition to all that, Hafley said that player must communicate the calls effectively.

What's the risk: It's a high price for a position that the Packers haven't invested in this heavily since 2019, when they used a first-round pick on Darnell Savage and signed Adrian Amos is free agency. McKinney's productivity can't be questioned. In four seasons (49 total games played) with the Giants, he has 279 career tackles, nine interceptions and two forced fumbles. However, he missed the first three months of his rookie season with a foot injury, returning for six games late in the season. He also missed eight games in 2022 because of a broken hand he suffered in an ATV accident during the Giants' bye week.

Greg Joseph, K

The former Vikings kicker is joining the Packers on a one-year deal.

What it means: Unlike last year, the Packers aren't just handing the job to Anders Carlson because he was a sixth-round pick. There is no other explanation for why they didn't push him last year, especially when he began to struggle in the second half of the season. While Joseph's career numbers aren't appreciably better than Carlson's -- they're both in the low-80% range on field goals, although Joseph's extra point rate is higher -- it's a sign the Packers are serious about a kicking competition. Otherwise, they could have just continued on with street free agent Jack Podlesny (who was signed in January and has never kicked in the NFL) as token competition.

What's the risk: The risk isn't necessarily in signing Joseph but rather giving up on Carlson too soon. He was a draft pick for a reason, with his strong leg being the biggest one. There have been plenty of kickers who were released by one team only to go on to a successful career with another. Anders' brother Daniel Carlson is the perfect example. The Vikings drafted him in the firth round in 2018 but cut him just two games into his rookie year. Since then, he has made a pair of All-Pro teams with the Raiders.

Corey Ballentine, CB

Ballentine is sticking with the Packers for the 2024 season

What it means: Experienced depth in the secondary. Ballentine has been around for a while, both on the Packers' practice squad and active roster over past two seasons. He appeared in the final eight games of 2022 and played in a career-best 14 games with a career-high six starts this past season. The Packers experienced major injuries in the secondary last year, so all the depth they can have helps.

What's the risk: There's no risk here because it's likely a low-cost deal with little or no guaranteed money.

Tyler Davis, TE

The Packers have re-signed Davis.

What it means: This is as much about special teams as anything else. In 2022, Davis was on the field for the most special teams plays (346 or 80.84%) among all Packers players. Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia was counting him for the same last season until Davis tore an ACL in the preseason opener at Cincinnati. Said Bisaccia at the time: "It's going to take more than one person to do some of the things that Ty did for us. He was such a fast, physical presence for us in all four phases."

What's the risk: This is a low-cost deal, likely for the league minimum with little or no signing bonus. So if Davis can't get back to his old self, it won't cost the Packers much. They also don't need him to be a big part of the offense given how tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft performed last season as rookies. In 39 career games with the Packers dating to the 2020 season, Davis has eight catches for 61 yards and no touchdowns.

Kristian Welch , LB

Welch is re-signing with the Packers.

What it means: The Packers liked what he did on special teams last season after being elevated from the practice squad in Week 4. Despite not playing in the first three games of the season, he still ranked third on the team in special teams tackles (six). He did not play a single snap on defense last season but appeared on nearly half of the special teams plays. After three seasons with the Ravens, where he also was primarily on special teams, Welch got the chance to play for his home-state team, having grown up in nearby Iola, Wisconsin -- a little more than an hour from Green Bay.

What's the risk: This is another low-cost signing with little or no guaranteed money, so if the Packers decide not to keep Welch on the opening-day roster, there won't be any significant financial or salary cap obligations.

Robert Rochell, CB

The Packers are re-signing Rochell.

What it means: This is a depth signing. Rochell is not expected to compete for a starting job. In fact, he didn't play a single snap on defense last season. However, he was on the field for 117 special teams plays in 2023 after he was signed in late October off Carolina's practice squad. The Packers likely have their top three cornerbacks set -- Jaire Alexander, Carrington Valentine and Nixon (assuming Nixon returns as the slot corner).

What's the risk: The Packers didn't tender Rochell as a restricted free agent because even the lowest tender (nearly $3 million) would have been too pricey. Instead, the Packers brought him back at a much lower price and will let him try to win a roster spot in training camp.

Eric Wilson, LB

Wilson is re-signing with Green Bay.

What it means: Another core special teams player is back. Wilson played more than 300 special teams plays last season -- none more memorable than his recovery of return man Nixon's fumble in the divisional round playoff game against the 49ers. Wilson did get some run on defense, playing a little more than 10% of the defensive snaps last season as a backup inside linebacker. Over the past two seasons in Green Bay, he's played in 30 regular-season games plus both playoff games.

What's the risk: Wilson is by no means assured of a roster spot. It's possible the Packers could decide to go younger than the 29-year-old, but that won't be determined until well into training camp this summer.

Andre Dillard, OT

Dillard is joining the Packers for 2024.

What it means: This won't change the Packers' draft strategy; a tackle still could be high on their priority list in the first round. However, it gives them depth and insurance in case they don't draft a potential immediate starting tackle. At this point, however, this is nothing more than taking a chance on a once highly regarded player who was the 22nd overall pick in the 2019 draft but never lived up to his potential. Dillard could be more of a replacement for backup tackle Yosh Nijman, who left in free agency to sign with the Panthers, than a potential starter.

What's the risk: This is likely a low-cost move with little or no guaranteed money, so there's little or no risk if he doesn't make the roster. He was released by the Titans last month, following a four-year career with the Eagles, who drafted him in the first round. Perhaps the Packers can get Dillard to reach his potential. Last season, he ranked 54th in pass block win rate out of 65 offensive tackles who played at least 350 pass snaps. Only seven of those tackles allowed more than Dillard's 13 sacks. However, Dillard was 11th out of 65 in run block win rate.