It’s Week 2 of our 6 part series where we let our contributors make the decisions. Here’s how I would handle the offseason If I were Gutey.
It’s going to be another complicated offseason for Brian Gutekunst and the Green Bay Packers‘ front office. It will be full of difficult decisions and at least a dozen of our favorite Packers will be shown the door.
The Green Bay Packers are an estimated $48.5 million over the cap for the 2022 season, via Spotrac. That’s before signing any free agents or their draft class. They can clear up space by trading players, releasing them, extending them, or restructuring them.
Let me start by saying I have written before that I would trade Aaron Rodgers.
It appears very likely that will not be what happens. So while this is supposed to be what **I** would do – I just don’t think that is worth discussing at this point.
With Rodgers returning, the only question remains what to do with Jordan Love.
My thought with Love is that it’s unlikely he has any sort of trade value that would be worth moving on. With Rodgers doing the retirement song and dance eerily similar to his predecessor, I would hang on to Love in case Rodgers were to retire.
That is of course unless some team makes it worthwhile. With all the eggs in the Rodgers basket, Love is never going to be the preferred starting quarterback in Green Bay.
That means a few things. For starters, Love is going to want a chance to play. Since that’s not going to be in Green Bay, he would likely prefer to be playing elsewhere.
The Packers, however, shouldn’t just move him for the sake of moving him. That’s silly.
A high-pedigree backup isn’t the worst thing to have when your quarterback is aging and has experienced some injury issues in his career.
If a team offers an asset that can help the team in 2022, I would trade Love. If a team offers a pick in the top-100 of this year’s draft, I would trade Love.
If in this situation I’m trading him just to spare feelings or give better optics, I’m holding on to Love.
In turn, I’m hoping he lights up the preseason and gives me a chance to trade him for an even better asset next offseason.
- Restructure Aaron Jones
- 3rd round pick on James Cook
The Aaron Jones contract came under fire when it was signed. Jones is a running back. Conventional wisdom is you don’t pay running backs.
That said, Jones is a dynamic player. His contract will need some re-tooling in order to make the salary cap work. That’s why I have Russ Ball as my right-hand man.
AJ Dillon is another player that took a jump in 2021, that we’re excited for in 2022.
Beyond that? There’s a lot of question marks.
Patrick Taylor showed some nice things at the end of the season, but he struggled with injuries in his young career.
The same is true for Kylin Hill.
Add in that I now 100 percent believe in the third-round pick curse that follows the Packers for whatever reason.
The easiest way to buck that trend? Draft a position that is incredibly hard to flame out at. Running backs usually have such good value the later you get into the draft.
Cook adds a natural pass catcher and speed to a Packers backfield that could use an injection of both. Add in that if the team were to move on from Jones following the 2022 season, Cook can step in and be the “lightning” to Dillon’s “thunder”.
- Extend Davante Adams
- Cut Randall Cobb – see if he’ll come back on the league minimum.
- Let MVS walk
- Re-sign Allen Lazard
- Re-sign Equanemious St. Brown
- Draft Christian Watson with pick 62
- Add a speed WR on Day 3.
With just Amari Rodgers and Randall Cobb on the books for 2022, you can bet the Packers will be active in the WR market. They do have three players under futures contracts but I’d be surprised if any makes the active roster.
If I were Brian Gutekunst, part of bringing Aaron Rodgers back means bringing back Davante Adams. There’s little sense in just bringing Adams back on the tag. Swallow your pride, offer Adams an extension that makes him the highest-paid receiver, even if you feel the contract is an outlier. You were more than happy to do that for David Bakhtiari last November.
Allen Lazard is a restricted free agent and easier to retain. Add in he is a key cog in the run game.
Cobb can come back, but only if it’s for the league minimum.
I’m letting MVS walk assuming he’s going to get a nice contract somewhere and replacing him with a day 3 speed threat in the same way the team drafted him.
Amari Rodgers is going to need to show something, but I cannot rely on him to be a primary contributor for this team. If they do, they could be in a world of trouble.
That’s where Christian Watson comes in. He lines up all over the formation. He can run actual routes. He can be a gadget player. He could be a draft selection that forgives the sins of Amari Rodgers.
The second-round was always a sweet spot for receivers under Ted Thompson. It’s time to give an ode to the predecessor and add to the room.
- Let Robert Tonyan walk
- Sign Rob Gronkowski
Nobody said this had to be realistic right? Do I actually think Gronk would come to Green Bay? Probably not.
Should the Packers be interested in his services? Absolutely.
Gronk is arguably the best player to ever play tight end. He’s able to move people in the run game, and make plays in the passing game.
Is he an injury concern? Sure. That’s a completely fair question, but to quote his soon-to-be former Head Coach: No risk it, no biscuit.
- Restructure David Bakhtiari… again
- Release Billy Turner
- Re-sign Yosh Nijman
- Add a veteran FA, draft at least one
Cutting Billy Turner makes me sad, but if we’re talking about where to save some money, Turner becomes an obvious candidate.
He’s a good right tackle, and he’s played as a capable left tackle when pressed into action. There’s no question the Packers have a really good tackle tandem with Bakhtiari and Turner, but these moves are necessitated by others.
Start teaching Yosh Njiman to wipe his ass with the other hand. Draft someone that could be his replacement.
Perhaps most importantly, let Elgton Jenkins heal and then play guard when he gets back into the lineup.
He’s a good tackle, he’s an All-Pro guard.
- Restructure Kenny Clark
- Sign Akiem Hicks
- Draft Perrion Winfrey/Phidarian Mathis at pick #92
Kenny Clark is another restructure candidate. He’s got a massive cap hit of over $20 million and some of that can be converted into bonus and pushed into the 2023 season.
You want to talk about a value position in free agency? Defensive Line is almost always the answer to that question.
Hicks is familiar with the division and he has an edge that this team is going to need.
This is a position they could look into as early as round 1 in the draft, but if they’re not able, find someone in the top-100 and continue to add depth.
That’s where Winfrey and Mathis come in. Both players could be someone to add some pass rush upside to a unit that has almost none beyond Kenny Clark with Kingsley Keke departing.
- Re-sign De’Vondre Campbell
The Green Bay Packers have never had a quality linebacker since the days of Ray Nitshcke.
Ok I’m joking, but it certainly feels like it has been that long.
- Trade Za’Darius Smith
- Extend Preston Smith
- Option Rashan Gary
- Re-Sign Whitney Mercilus
- Draft Jermaine Johnson at 28
Za’Darius Smith has ridiculous $27 million cap hit this season and the Packers can save over $15 million by releasing him. He was inactive for almost the entire season and it didn’t seem to make that big of an impact.
That said, when he was healthy for all two games that he was, he sacked the quarterback in each of those games. Smith is an All-Pro when he’s healthy.
I have no desire to watch him play for Minnesota. Trade him. Even if that means for pennies on the dollar. Trade him and control his destination.
Gary should be given the 5th-year option and Preston Smith should be extended. Both players should be on the team through the 2023 season.
There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth that Gutekunst didn’t pick a receiver in the first round, but who cares? The Packers take real football players in the first round.
Meet Jermaine Johnson. You’ll like him very much.
Mercilus is retained for the back half of the EDGE room as someone that can give way to Johnson if and when he is ready.
In the meeting: …just cut that backside end – you got the angle on him. Easy assignment.
In the game: 😳
Jermaine Johnson is an outstanding run defender by the way pic.twitter.com/wvIzycPvXI
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 20, 2022
- Run It Back
Rasul Douglas might end up being a one-year wonder. While he was excellent in Green Bay, that was his fifth team in 2021.
The question is, did the Packers unlock something, or did he just catch lightning in a bottle? If I’m Gutekunst, I am willing to find out. Run a secondary of Stokes, Alexander, and Douglas out there.
Douglas saying in his postseason media availability that he’d be willing to play safety was intriguing to me as well. More on that in a minute.
For the back half of the room, Sullivan and King can both walk to be replaced with cheaper options that provide more special teams value.
Thankfully, Cole Curasi’s favorite, Isaac Yiadom is already out the door.
- Extend Adrian Amos
- Option Darnell Savage – let him play slot.
- Add a 3rd S
Adrian Amos should never play anywhere else. He has been so good since coming to Green Bay. He’s arguably Gutekunst’s best free-agent signing in a class that included both Smith brothers and Billy Turner.
He’s rock-solid on the back end. He’s made a splash play in each of the team’s last two playoff games.
A good player that has played well in big spots? You hold onto that guy.
Darnell Savage is where things get interesting. I would let him play the star role. He’s better closer to the line of scrimmage. He struggles in Cover-2.
How do we fix that?
I’d love to add Daxton Hill or Jalen Pitre early, but that could be an issue considering the draft capital.
Henry Black cannot be starting in 2022.
Maybe that’s Rasul Douglas as a primary starter? Maybe there’s a value free-agent that wants to chase a ring?
Maybe the Packers say forget it and throw the bag at Tyrann Mathieu.
Ok, that one probably isn’t happening. Either way, the third safety is used often enough that Green Bay should be looking into upgrading at that spot.
- Release Mason Crosby
- Release Corey Bojorquez
- Release Steven Wirtel
Crosby stunk. Bojo stunk by the time the season ended. Wirtel is one of the primary culprits of the blocked punt that helped end the season.
You hired Rich Bisaccia. That’s a good start.
Blow the rest to pieces.