How would you handle the 2021 offseason if you were Green Bay Packers’ GM Brian Gutekunst… aka ‘Gutey’?
In this six-part series, we’ll give a few of our writers an opportunity to navigate what’s sure to be a difficult offseason for the Green Bay Packers. Andrew Mertig takes the first shot.
Taking over General Manager duties for the Green Bay Packers is a pretty cushy gig, with a roster full of talented players, a winning culture, and arguably the best young head coach in the business. However, the task of getting this team to the 2021 Super Bowl will require facing some difficult moves to get under the cap, and fill the holes left by impending free agents. Here is how I would handle the Green Bay Packers’ 2021 offseason:
QB Aaron Rodgers
Edge Za’Darius Smith
I actually hate the idea of pushing more of Rodgers’ guaranteed money out. I just don’t see another way to get under a reduced cap, and if helps to appease the MVP it is even better. I think reducing Rodgers’ 2021 cap number helps to make the current roster better, with the only downfall being potentially eating into a little of the cap space if we do decide to move on to Jordan Love in two years.
It is always going to take both parties to get a deal done, but it would be difficult for the Packers to carry Z’s $21.5 million cap charge into 2021. I would advocate pushing some guaranteed money out another year or two and risking having a more difficult contract to deal with in 2023.
Edge Preston Smith
LB Christian Kirksey
T Rick Wagner
DL Dean Lowry
WR Devin Funchess
Moving on from Preston is difficult, but he wasn’t productive enough to justify his contract this year. The Packers built an out into his contract after year two, and I think you have to exercise that in this difficult cap situation. Axing Kirksey, Wagner, and Funchess a year after signing is difficult, but younger players have stepped into those roles and made them expendable.
G Lane Taylor
Do Not Re-Sign:
C Corey Linsley, RB Aaron Jones, RB Jamaal Williams, CB Kevin King
I think Lane Taylor can be had for close to the veteran minimum. He was on his way to a big payday, but the injury is going to prevent there from being a big market for his services. I hate letting Linsley, King, and both RBs walk, but there’s not enough cap space to make it all work. I have to keep an eye out for the future contracts of Davante Adams and Jaire Alexander, and sometimes you have to let really good players walk to keep your great ones.
CB Mike Hilton
Hilton has been a fantastic slot CB for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Like many teams across the league, the Steelers are facing a tough cap situation. Slot corners do not have a history of signing big contracts, and in a depressed cap situation, I think I can sign Hilton to a 3-year deal at an average cost of $6 million. Fixing the slot CB position is much more economical than trying to sign a top-notch outside corner, which we’ll try to find in the draft.
1-24 (Trade up for 1-29 and 4-140) OT Christian Darrisaw – Virginia Tech
I’m moving up to pick 24 for the second season in a row. This time instead of getting a QB, we are getting the player who could fill in for Bahktiari at the beginning of the season and be the RT of the future after #69 is healthy.
2-61 WR D’Wayne Eskridge – Western Michigan
The last WR the Green Bay Packers took from Western Michigan in the 2nd round turned out pretty good (Greg Jennings). Eskridge is a fantastic route runner, has great athleticism, plucky hands, and is a fierce competitor. Even watching him as a run blocker is really fun.
3-92 CB Keith Taylor Jr – Washington
Taylor is a long, athletic CB who will thrive on the outside. I like him in press man or using those long limbs in zone. He becomes the CB2 opposite Jaire, with Mike Hilton in the slot.
4-133 RB Chuba Hubbard – Oklahoma St
Hubbard needs some work as a receiver, but possesses incredible explosiveness and would be a nice compliment to AJ Dillon.
5-172 RB Pooka Williams – Kansas
Williams can take the Tyler Ervin role, but he also is a RB with a lot of experience running routes and catching the ball.
5-178 DL Bobby Brown III – Texas A&M
6-209 CB Marco Wilson – Florida
6-217 WR Tamorrian Terry – Florida St
7-252 LB Paddy Fisher – Northwestern
I feel like I was able to navigate a tricky salary cap situation, plug some holes at CB, add a fantastic young OT, and fill in at RB the best I could with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams departing. I think this is a roster that would be a favorite for the NFC title in 2021.