Cory's Corner: Looks like 2018 Is a Time to Save

I expected general manager Brian Gutekunst to be more aggressive in free agency than Ted Thompson, but there is something else at stake here: Aaron Rodgers.  

Aside from Jimmy Graham and Muhammed Wilkerson, the Packers have been pretty quiet in free agency.

I expected general manager Brian Gutekunst to be more aggressive in free agency than Ted Thompson, but there is something else at stake here: Aaron Rodgers.

Gutekunst is likely thinking this is a time to save cap room with Rodgers’ deal likely coming in the next month. And with Rodgers expected to get around $30 million a year, the Packers would be wise to save than spend this year.

But as surprised as I am about Gutekunst’s approach, the Packers have at least been in the conversation with several players this year. I doubt we would’ve seen Thompson give Kyle Fuller an offer sheet or kick the tires on players like Tyrann Mathieu.

Make no mistake, Gutekunst has been bolder, it’s just not Tabasco flavored bold. It’s more like Lawry’s seasoned salt. The market for free agent corners has been ridiculous and the same can be said about receivers, judging by Donte Moncrief’s one-year, $9.6 million deal.

There’s a time to spend and a time to save. With Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb off the books in 2019, the Packers would have more money to spend on Khalil Mack. He would be a cornerstone defensive player that would give that side of the ball instant credibility. He would also make Nick Perry’s job a little easier. Or if the Vikings allow Stefon Diggs to get to free agency next year, he would be nice asset alongside Davante Adams.

The Packers didn’t break the bank with the Tramon Williams signing, and they will likely hedge their bets by re-signing Davon House. Those aren’t bad moves because the back end of the defense was lacking in veteran leadership. However, Williams is 35 and House turns 29 this summer. They are products of a cap-saving philosophy.

Of course with compensatory picks on the table to be drafted, the Packers have 12 picks to move up in the draft or package together to get another player. That includes nine picks from rounds four through seven.

It’s fair to assume that the Packers don’t want to overspend on a big-ticket free agent only to look through the couch cushions when it’s time to pay Rodgers. He deserves to be paid the highest paid player in the league and will likely get it.

So if you had hopes that the Packers were going to make a splash in free agency, you thought wrong. It just so happens that Gutekunst took over as general manager the same year that the best passer on the planet was going to negotiate his contract.

Granted, the Packers dipped their toe in the pool, but unless there is a draft day trade, wait until next year for that big splash. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (59)

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

March 24, 2018 at 06:23 am

Getting Muhammad Wilkerson & Jimmy Graham would be considered HUGE gets if it was Ted Thompson.
I give Guty credit here. He got these 2 for about the same price as Nelson was set to receive.

I love Jordy, & I personally would have tried to trade Cobb instead of releasing 87 (but don't know if anyone, or who, would have offered even close to fair value for Cobb). But it would have at least been "something", perhaps a CB with a too-high #, or a day 2 pick.

And Ty can do much of what Cobb does. Not all though. But ask Rodgers about replacing Nelson. They had that chemistry. Except at Seattle 2014 NFCCG.

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4thand1's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:28 am

"Except at Seattle 2014 NFCCG". I was screaming Sherman is hurt, throw to Jordy, he was covering him one on one. One stinking first down and the Packers go to the SB.

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Savage57's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:32 am

"We wanted to hit our targets."

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Bearmeat's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:54 am

ugh

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packerbackerjim's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:00 am

You weren’t the only one. Sherman was dragging his arm around with him and MM never went at him. Colossal blunder of epic proportions (redundant, I know. But still..)

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Since'61's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:36 am

Rodgers could have changed the play at the LOS but for some reason he didn't. They wanted to use up Seattle's timeouts, never expecting a shanked punt, a defensive suicide on the field, a botched fielding of an onside kick and the failure to knock down a lame duck 2 point conversion, not to mention CM3 deciding to be tired. Those 2+ minutes are a case study for throwing a game away, at least until the Falcons/Pats SB. Almost makes me believe the game was deliberately thrown. Thanks, Since '61

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snowdog's picture

March 25, 2018 at 07:21 am

Playing possum

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Nick Perry's picture

March 24, 2018 at 07:34 am

Personally I like what Gutekunst has done. He's inherited a roster with several holes and needs and doesn't have a ton of cap space to fix it. It took the Packers several years of bad drafts, poor choices in retaining their own players, and some very costly injuries to get this roster to where it is. It's NOT going to be "Fixed" in Gutekunst's first 90 days and will probably take a few drafts and more cap space for him to get it to where it needs to be.

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Bert's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:49 am

I agree Nick. I know folks are impatient, and with AR getting along in age I can't blame them. The future is NOW! But Gute just may not have the ammo to plug all the leaks in one off season.

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Nick Perry's picture

March 24, 2018 at 10:35 am

I completely agree Bert, i'm actually a very impatient man. But perhaps with years does come at least some wisdom and it's awfully tough to fill those holes in one off-season, crush the first 4 or 5 rounds of the draft, AND get em all playing like a SB team by years end.

If the Packers can get a draft like the Saints had last year and get 4 starters who actually contribute then maybe...

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Packer Fan's picture

March 24, 2018 at 07:11 am

The Pack has been more aggressive. And there is still time to do more. It is about acting when there is opportunity. TT never did that. BG could add another veteran CB, Safety and OL. When players get injured to find another veteran instead of player younger players that do badly. BG can pick up players when roster cuts occur. It is about improving the roster at any time they can.

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stockholder's picture

March 24, 2018 at 07:23 am

Saving, Saving, Savings! Most felt Graham wasn't worth that much. The Quality of the players was in question, for the money thrown around. The demand was just to HIGH. I understand the costs. But we still have to sign certain players. Or should we? The swing to the Free agents was bigger than I ever expected. Gute could have traded more. Hopefully will see that in the draft. It's time to have a good draft class regardless of position. This team needs more than A-Rod.

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Ryan Graham's picture

March 24, 2018 at 07:34 am

Side note has anyone heard anything on Jordan Matthews?

The jury is still out I think in free agency. If Matthews gets signed to a modest 2 year deal and then they go after Breeland....this would be easily disregarded. If they discontinue shopping then I would second your point to save and it's not the worst idea. Still have a hunch BG is gonna get real aggressive in the draft. I mean like an early 20th century detective looking for clues without the findings of DNA kind of hunch, but nonetheless...a hunch.

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Savage57's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:27 am

I see Gute laying in the weeds at this point, waiting for the trickle of cap moves yet to come, the June 1 activity and then who becomes available at roster cutdowns.

Now having said that, look for Matthews to be signed over the weekend.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

March 24, 2018 at 10:14 am

Tend to agree Savage. Unlike many here, I do not believe BG will move up in the draft with the 1st pick, but instead, he will wait for players to fall to him as the run for QBs begins. Regardless, with the many holes we have, I would hope we don't over pursue for one player. Some day 2 moves are definitely on the radar though. I feel the Packers have 10 positional needs to fulfill yet (both starters & depth). Not all of this will happen through the draft though as you elude to.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 24, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Fitting Breeland and Jordan Matthews under our remaining cap probably needs a shoe horn, but perhaps they will sign for very modest numbers.

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William Dickson's picture

March 24, 2018 at 07:42 am

As The World Turns as usual here.............never enough.
if we ain't complaining,we not happy.

love you experts

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Savage57's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:31 am

First time visiting a sports blog?

"Sports were invented so fans could form an opinion and then argue about them" - Frank Deford.

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dobber's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:28 am

Congrats on joining us in the complaining!
We love you, too!

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Since'61's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:37 am

Nice way to start off with a complaint about the posters. Thanks, Since '61

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Johnblood27's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:54 am

at least his name is descriptive...

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4thand1's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:07 pm

Some are experts at handing out dislikes, I gave you a like. Welcome

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holmesmd's picture

March 25, 2018 at 02:47 pm

Lol

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Cubbygold's picture

March 24, 2018 at 07:51 am

Remember that time new england held back in free agency so they could make their multi-superbowl championship quarterback the highest paid guy in the league?

No? Me either.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

March 24, 2018 at 10:20 am

I strongly think ARODs deal will be done with contract re-negotiations of other players in the mix. To that point, this may take longer than many expect. Regardless, your point about the aggressiveness or plan of the Pats is very true.

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Pikeman's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:08 am

It’s time for Aaron to step up to the plate. It was Aaron who sai we need to go all in. He wants to win. We need money to get the players to do that. Does he need a new contract? YES. But for Christ’s sakes how many millions can one spend.? How many million does it take to satisfy ones ego? I guess it not a team thing.

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sonomaca's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:22 am

Oh, come on! He has to be paid. If mediocre QB’s are getting $28 million, Rodgers had to get substantially more. Calling Rodgers selfish, which is what you did, is dangerous.

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Cubbygold's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:41 am

He doesn't have to. He can choose to, and fans can then choose whether they consider him a team player or not.

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mrtundra's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:55 am

Cousins is barely rated in the top half of NFL QBs and Minnesota is singing they're going to the Super Bowl. They paid a boatload of money to get him and then discarded all three of the other QBs they had. ARod deserves his payday. He is the best QB in the game today. Rodgers is not selfish. He knows he is great and so do I. Pay him and play him. Get him some weapons and protection in the draft and hopefully draft a few mean guys who don't take kindly to opponents messing with our QB.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

March 24, 2018 at 10:27 am

I don't blame Aaron one bit. This was the Packers GM staff doings and their issue to deal with. However, note that Favre renegotiated his contract more than once to bring in players. My point is that there is a balance to be struck here, and some players and Packer brass need to walk the talk about wanting championships.

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Pikeman's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:53 am

You don’t have to sell the farm. If he wants the farm, I hope he can run like hell.

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Johnblood27's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:58 am

time to draft the next qb1

I cannot see any way possible the GBP win another SB with AR if he is taking up $30 mil + of cap space.

Brady never did.

Our front office canot seem to build a team around AR that can win it all WITH cap money.

Pipe dreams. Lets get all we can for AR now and let the FAN cycle of hope springing eternal continue...

Is spring training over yet? I need some peanuts and a hot dog and some beers.

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ricky's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:26 am

So free agency has officially ended? I didn't realize that. So, Jordan Matthews just came to GB to see the sights and have a quick snack at Curly's Pub? There's time left, including last minute cuts by teams cutting players to sign others. Do we need to pull out that Rodgers quote from a few seasons ago?

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Lare's picture

March 24, 2018 at 11:42 am

Hope not, Curly's Pub closed a few years ago.

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TC026's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:30 am

A couple of Arm chair coach moves I would like to see.

What would be wrong with moving Mongumery back to receiver. We have a pretty healthy stable of running backs. That might help ease some of the Jordy pain.

Also, I like the thought of moving Matthews in the middle. He and Martinez would be a formable dual. He seems to play better and healthier there.
From there he can blitz, cover side line to side line and could be the general on defense we are looking for.

We pick up a 2 edge rushers and 2 cb in the top 4 rounds and go from there. After that OL and receivers
and depth.

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Cubbygold's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:43 am

Monty should absolutely see time as WR. He makes anfew deep catches early in the season and he'll have every team trying to game plan for him. Line him up as a rb, audible him out wide...or do the opposite...nightmare for opposing DCs

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4thand1's picture

March 24, 2018 at 08:40 am

We won't know what AR and his agent will do or how much they will demand. I think AR will do what's best for the team IMO. We all know he deserves to be compensated more than the likes of Glennon, but that's why the bearsstillsuck. He knows winning and his great play lead to endorsements, another SB and he wouldn't even need a contract. But, in the blink of an eye, your career could be over in the NFL. WTF everyone knows it's his team and they're, we're screwed without him.

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dobber's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:44 am

"He knows winning and his great play lead to endorsements, another SB and he wouldn't even need a contract. But, in the blink of an eye, your career could be over in the NFL. "

We all have worked with people or heard stories about players who just flame out. They decide they don't want to have to train at the more dedicated levels that it takes to play well into their 30s. They dedicate so much that eventually, mentally, they've had it. They see the other things they could dedicate their time and energy to and decide that the grass is greener. Nobody can foresee when that can happen to a player or a colleague.

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4thand1's picture

March 24, 2018 at 01:11 pm

You're right Dobber, these guys train like nothing we could imagine at an early age. By the time they hit their 30's , they've been at it 15 years or more. I guess that's why we think 30+ is old. Hell I'm 60 and it takes me longer every day to get out of bed,lol. There are few that can keep up the pace after 35 and take a beating every Sunday.

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Thebearsstillsuck's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:20 am

I don't think it's all about savings this year. Graham was all set to go back to New Orleans by everyone who is usually on top of this stuff. Back to a qb he knows, a team that should have been in the NFC championship game if not for a ridiculous play, and a team that just had a amazing draft. So the only reason he came here was money. And it must have been a lot more, because he's made a bunch already.

I never wanted TT to sign all the big name guys on day 1. I wanted more Wilkerson prove it type deals, more Tramon Williams and mid level type stuff. Ironically, moves like he tried last year. They just didn't work. And it was too little, too late. I hate the Randall trade and don't understand how Cobb is still here at his salary. I like the Wilkerson deal. Happy Tramon is back. Not sad to see Burnett go. He was the Aj Hawk of the secondary. I see the Packers as "buyers" this off-season and I like it for the most part so far.

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dobber's picture

March 24, 2018 at 10:15 am

" I wanted more Wilkerson prove it type deals, more Tramon Williams and mid level type stuff. Ironically, moves like he tried last year. "

I tend to agree with you. These are the things that we as fans have been hoping for more of over recent years. The signings that raise the talent floor of your team and grant depth that allows those younger players on cheap deals to grow into contributors rather than having it forced upon them. Even an unmotivated Wilkerson is likely better than Dean Lowry, and the payoff if he's at the top of his game could be outstanding.

"I hate the Randall trade and don't understand how Cobb is still here at his salary."

The Randall deal doesn't bother me. Did it create a hole? Perhaps...but can you really create a hole in a pass defense that was as bad as the Packers were last year? It's like that T-Shirt I still have from college that's so thin and beat up that I sometimes put a finger right through it. I'll complain about the hole...my wife asks which one is the new one.

I'll be curious to see, though, if the decision to retain Cobb is a function of what McCarthy and Philbin are planning in their ballyhoo-ed playbook rewrite or if it was nothing more than an age decision. I will say this: I don't think the Packers had the leverage to force a sensible restructure on Cobb.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

March 24, 2018 at 10:36 am

Tend to agree Dobber, but it's my understanding that the negotiations with Aaron's agent have barely begun. Cobb's contract could be still be renegotiated later to entertain Aaron's needs.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 24, 2018 at 12:39 pm

Do you think GB would gain some leverage with Cobb if they signed Jordan Matthews particularly if it for a reasonable amount?

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dobber's picture

March 24, 2018 at 02:15 pm

Potentially, yes. I suspect it's as much about what he (meaning his representation) thinks he could get on the open market if he forced the Packers to make a roster decision on him as anything else.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

March 24, 2018 at 05:19 pm

I didn't think of that... I would expect it would send a signal. Still wondering how they will use Montgomery this year though, too.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

March 24, 2018 at 05:20 pm

The dreaded duplicate post!

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Since'61's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:40 am

Give Gute a chance. He's been good so far. Worst case scenario, add some pieces this year and then finish the job with big cap space next year and go all out in 2019. Thanks, Since '61

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Johnblood27's picture

March 24, 2018 at 10:04 am

^^^ THIS^^^

the roster massage was never going to be a 1 year job.

Things are actually set up for this year to be a bit of a patch job with the next 2-4 years being the building and payoff years.

Lets hope that is what sold Murph on Gute as "The Man".

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dobber's picture

March 24, 2018 at 10:11 am

My greatest fear going into FA was that Gutekunst would want to start out with a huge 'bang' and make his mark by swinging for the fences repeatedly and in a haphazard way. I actually think his restraint has been admirable. I know it must feel kinda like a kid in a candy store.

I think he's an intelligent guy: he located a proven performer at arguably their greatest position of need (Graham) and a high-upside, low-risk signing of a player who could dramatically improve the denfense (Wilkerson). It cost him a player that likely would not have returned after 2018. He's picking at other positions of need now by locating veteran help that will allow him to be a little more free in the draft. I wouldn't be surprised if he picks up a value player who gets cut at some point between now and June 1 to help shore up the right side of the OL (think Jahri Evans).

I won't say that this has been his "plan" all along. I think you can only plan in general terms with 31 other teams taking their swings and the unpredictable nature of players and their agents. I will say that he's been following some general scheme, though, that's needed to be adjusted as he's gone along. My bet is that he looked at that stockpile of picks in the draft as saw THAT as his greatest team-building capital (given a relatively uncompetitive amount of cap space and the need to sign QB1)--whether by trade or player selection--and has been angling that way all along.

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Since'61's picture

March 24, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Dobber - I agree with you 100%!!! We need better players and veteran experience. Gute has added both, at 3 positions without breaking the bank. Graham is better than any TE we had on the roster, Wilkerson is a solid player with NFL experience and Williams & House add veteran depth to our CB position group. Good job so far, let's see what's next. Thanks, Since '61

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 24, 2018 at 01:16 pm

This year so far Gute hasn't really spent much. He cut Jordy and used his cap space to sign Wilkerson and Graham. Mind, he did take on a cap responsibility for Graham in 2019. Now he's dipped his toe in for Twill.

It seems to me that Gute has done quite a bit to improve this team while using a modicum of resources so far.

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flackcatcher's picture

March 24, 2018 at 07:55 pm

I agree. So far BG has been a nice surprise as GM. He's not afraid to sign in this market if thinks he can get value. I don't know things will turn out, but it is clear why so many inside 1265 wanted him as GM. Every day we see why the Packer organization rose up in revolt against Murphy actions. Looks like the Packers dodged a major bullet after all.

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John Kirk's picture

March 24, 2018 at 04:47 pm

This article reads like an elongated version of recent posts by Andrew Lloyd Peth or ALP. He got absolutely hammered for this viewpoint, and for getting a little rowdy over trying to defend his position against the tide of angry downvoters.

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dobber's picture

March 24, 2018 at 04:58 pm

You'll have to point me to that post. ALP is mostly about cutting broadly now and sucking it up for a rebuild year in 2018. This doesn't read that way to me.

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John Kirk's picture

March 24, 2018 at 11:31 pm

Did you mean 2019, dobs?

Yes, he wants to cut broadly but he's mentioned the cap situation being far better in 2019 so we shouldn't be adding big contracts this season...wants to save that go for it stuff for next season. He thinks this is a throw away year to ramp up for next and adding anything on a year we aren't going to win makes no sense to him.

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al bundy's picture

March 24, 2018 at 07:22 pm

I say the pack play hardball. Spend the money on fa, tell Rodgers agent, hey we wanted you at the table you held out, we spent the money improving the team, nothing left in cookie jar, suck it up and play out the contract. Ps is he hurts his collarbone again his worth goes into the toilet so ball is in your court.
Two years from now great trade bait for a low first qb and our future restarts. This guy is not taking u to the sb.

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Samson's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:08 pm

I think Gute has pretty much done what he can to this point. -- His hands were definitely tied by TT's ineptness the past few seasons in free agency and the draft.

Now I'm just hoping Gute can also be a much better drafter. He's got the chance to move around a bit and just maybe pull off some great moves to truly improve the depth of the roster.

Hint: If Gute makes a few trades during the draft and the Pack end up with ZERO picks in the 7th round, GB will benefit.

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Tony Baloney's picture

March 24, 2018 at 09:21 pm

Ron Wolf hardly ever drafted based on need. He would take the best player on the board. TT chased defensive backs and LB's the past few years. And it those drafts were only so-so but not what you should expect.
It was time to step aside.

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John Kirk's picture

March 24, 2018 at 11:33 pm

The year Ron went need draft and took 3 CB's only one of them could play.

I think we should just need draft 12 CBs in the hopes we find 3 or 4 rather than need draft a player or two at all the positions we need. :)

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