Brian Gutekunst could corner free-agent market with one more signing

Rashaan Melvin was the top-rated cornerback still on the market as of Wednesday night. Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In signing Jimmy Graham and Muhammad Wilkerson in the first wave of free agency, Brian Gutekunst did something no other NFL general manager could pull off: He signed the top player available at two different positions.

First it was Graham, who was rated the No. 1 tight end in ESPN’s top-100 free-agent list and fifth overall player regardless of position.

A few hours later, it was Wilkerson, the No. 1 defensive end and 26th among all available free agents.

If you believe in rankings -- and that’s all you really have to go on at this time of the NFL year -- then you’d have to consider it impressive what the first-year Green Bay Packers GM pulled off in his initial foray into free agency.

But even as Gutekunst had both moves in his back pocket Tuesday evening, he knew there was still work to do. And most of the work must come at one key position on the defensive side of the ball: cornerback.

“That’s obviously a position we’re looking at heavily right now,” Gutekunst said when he spoke with reporters Tuesday evening following Jordy Nelson's release.

Nearly two days later, the Packers still haven’t filled that hole.

So it’s no wonder Gutekunst’s focus has turned to Rashaan Melvin, who just so happens to be the highest-ranked remaining cornerback on the ESPN top 100, at No. 38 overall. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that the Packers and Raiders have expressed initial interest in the 28-year-old Melvin, who had three interceptions in 10 starts for the Colts last season.

It would appear the Packers were priced out of the market for the top available cornerbacks: Trumaine Johnson (No. 10 overall on ESPN’s top 10) went to the Jets for a reported $15 million per year. Bashaud Breeland (No. 16) went to the Panthers for $8 million per year. Aaron Colvin (No. 17) went to the Texans for $8.5 million per year. Kyle Fuller (No. 18) was giving the transition tag by the Bears and would make $12.67 million this season without a long-term deal. Malcolm Butler (No. 25) went to the Titans for $12.2 million per year.

After Melvin, the next-highest ranked available cornerbacks on the top-100 list were: Morris Claiborne (No. 44 overall), E.J. Gaines (No. 47) and Justin Bethel (No. 61).

Melvin would give the Packers an intriguing pairing at cornerback with Kevin King. Both stand 6-foot-2. The other cornerbacks on the Packers roster are the 6-0 Lenzy Pipkins, the 5-11 Quinten Rollins and Demetri Goodson plus the 5-10 Josh Hawkins. None has significant NFL experience, although King and Rollins were high draft picks: King at No. 33 overall last year and Rollins at No. 62 in 2015.

The Packers also could bring back Davon House, who played under a one-year deal last season.

Cornerback was a top need even before Gutekunst traded former first-round pick Damarious Randall to the Browns last week, making it seemingly a must that he sign at least one -- if not two -- veterans who could challenge for starting jobs.

“I don’t think it’s imperative,” Gutekunst said. “But like I said, we’re going to look at every avenue. This is something that really between now and the start of training camp that we’ll be looking at. There’ll be many avenues to upgrade that group. But like I said, I think we have some good young players there that’ll be competing for those spots, but it is something that we’re focused on.”