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For Packers, Old Habits Die Hard

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For Packers, Old Habits Die Hard

This past week, two Green Bay Packers mainstays moved on to the next chapter of their careers.  Clay Matthews to the Los Angeles Rams and Randall Cobb to the Dallas Cowboys.

A year ago, we were just getting used to the idea of Jordy Nelson not being on the Packers roster for the first time in 10 years.

General manager Brian Gutekunst has shown that he won't let nostalgia get in the way of keeping his roster fresh with younger talent.

Note: Cobb's case is unique in that he's only 28 years old, but injuries have limited his production greatly over the past two seasons.

Whether that younger talent will pan out better than keeping those veterans around remains to be seen. 

No one is mistaking either Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Equanimeous St. Brown for Nelson or Cobb, but it's too early to tell if opting for youth was the best decision.  Based on the Oakland Raiders letting Nelson go after just one season and that Nelson hasn't found a new team yet, it would seem that the Packers made the right call in that case.

Green Bay added two young edge rushers early in free agency and that all but spelled the end of Matthews' time with the team.  

As fans, we get attached to star players and it's hard to watch them playing for another team but we also have to hope the team is doing what's best to get them closer to a Super Bowl.

In fact, moving on from key players is not new in Green Bay.  Brett Favre, Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Julius Peppers and John Kuhn are a few to name.  They join Nelson, Matthews and Cobb as players that went on to other teams after Green Bay opted not to return them.

In looking ahead to after 2019, guys like Bryan Bulaga, Mike Daniels and Mason Crosby could be next.  The draft will likely have a lot to do with how those situations play out, but we have to prepare for the next wave of talent to come in.

Bulaga will only be 31 but has battled injuries for the past few seasons.  Daniels isn't yet 30 and would seem to have a few good years left in him.  Crosby turns 35 soon but kickers can often play well into their late 30's and early 40's.

There are only 6 players currently on the Packers roster that are 30 or more years old.  The youth movement is back in Green Bay.

The biggest factor is finding players the team can bring in on rookie deals that can give them the same or better value.  Daniels and Bulaga are going to be looking for big money deals and after this season's spending spree, the Packers may not be in position to throw big chunks of cash at aging veterans.

Faster, more athletic and versatile is still the way to keep your roster deep and effective.  In that process, we'll probably be saying goodbye to some more long-time players soon.

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Pulse of the Pack podcast.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (49) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Daren726's picture

Gute’s MO is to fill in the holes with the best option and then focus on building with young, upcoming talent and draft picks. It’s refreshing and we are not used to it. I like where we are headed, except for TE, but if he drafts one or two I’ll shut up and enjoy.

The TKstinator's picture

Plus we have to give Tonyan a chance.

Coldworld's picture

Maybe have a scheme and calling that actually uses TEs effectively too: blocking as well as catching.

Bearmeat's picture

No they don't. they'd have had to if Jimmy wasn't retained. now? nope. The only difference between this year and last is a new coaching staff and no Kendricks. That's more exciting than coming into 2018, but hardly worth getting all jazzed up for. I expect Big Bob to sit on the bench. Again. Ugh.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Rodgers is hesitant to throw to TEs because he avoids throwing to the middle of the field.

vj_ostrowski's picture

All else being equal, LaFleur's #1 job is to get him to consistently use and see the benefit of the intermediate middle of the field/dump-offs and outlets

sam1's picture

Rodgers has to quit worrying about his stats and legacy is why I believe he doesn't throw in the middle and constantly out of bounds! Also I think a lot had to do with wanting McCarthy done and gone!

Skip greenBayless's picture

Sam, I personally think you are much better at your opinions on numerology.

Dash

Coach JV's picture

I think there are two reasons why AR has been avoiding the middle of the field...

1. We haven't had a guy who could go over the middle in recent years. Jordy could do okay in the slot, but being a deep threat, he wasn't used there enough.
2. MM couldn't figure out how to scheme the middle of the field open. His thing was to rely on a big TE, like Jermichael, to just bump and bruise his way to the catch.

We haven't had a guy, and MM didn't know what to do without one.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

Big year for Tonyan and I think he is up to the challenge. Has talent and should have played last 3 games last year.

dobber's picture

Growing up on the dairy farm, my dad always used to say, "you can have favorites (among the animals), but don't get too attached." We all knew that those animals were only there so long as they were productive. In many ways this has carried through to my sports allegiances: I have favorites, but they all have a limited shelf life. When someone else can do the job better, it's time to move on. Remember them fondly, but be forward-looking.

Bearmeat's picture

My favorite was Jordy. Man... that sucked watching him go. But it was past time.

tincada's picture

And so why are they hanging on to Jimmy G? If anyone is past his time it JG.

freddisch's picture

former Wisconsin farm boy. My dad said the same thing. Applies to many things in life

The TKstinator's picture

Sun’s out...

stockholder's picture

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. -JFK. While we all had the highest appreciation for favorite players. The packers must CHANGE. The Quote says it all. We just must get better. Better on Defense. Better on offense. The change has begun. Don't get stuck on what you want. Get better for everyone.

Bearmeat's picture

Ok... Mr. Behnke. There are some serious bugs in the CHTV Android platform. My responses above make no sense because when I clicked "reply" it was to different posts.

Also, there's a text size problem. It takes a good 10 seconds for the site to switch from desktop to the phone size....

Tundraboy's picture

Yeah the app could use some work. I use a browser if I want to comment inline. Otherwise,as you pointed out I never know where it's going to show up in the thread.

Another strange thing iis that when I'm in the browser I can no longer access the sections for the blogosphere and the podcasts directly.

Jersey Al's picture

Tundra, from the browser, you are right about the 2nd part - seems like you can only read articles.

Tundraboy's picture

No worries. Benefits far outweigh the minor issue.

Jersey Al's picture

Bear, your responses above seem to make perfect sense to me. Anyway, are you using the CHTV App or going thru a browser on your phone? I have an Android phone and I am not seeing these issues.

Jersey Al's picture

the site and the app are going to get a redesign this off-season, but I don't see the issues you are describing on my Android when using the App. I

Bearmeat's picture

Weird.... it's showing up differently on my phone than the desktop. Just checked desktop and it's fine...

RCPackerFan's picture

We have officially entered a new era in GB.

The Gutekunst era.

We had the Wolf era and the Sherman short period which led us to the Thompson Era. Under Thompson when he first came to GB he completely overhauled the roster. He took a roster that made a lot of poor decisions in FA and drafting and turned it into one of the best teams in the leagues for about a decade.

Much like Thompson, Gutekunst has also taken over a roster that lets be honest, was trending downward after missing on the last few drafts, and not resigning some key players.

In the last 14 months ish, Gutekunst has begun to make his mark on the roster. He let go long time Packers Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Clay Mathews. He was at least in on the firing of long time HC McCarthy. Just think about what those 4 men have meant to GB over the last decade or so. They have meant a lot to GB.
Gutekunst is making the hard decisions, but honestly they have been the right ones.

We won't know for a few years exactly how good the LaFleur move is. We won't know for sure how his drafts and FA moves are for a few years either.

But looking at what he has done thus far I like what he has done.

In his first year, he went out and signed Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Tramon Williams, Byron Bell, Muhamed Wilkerson. Then during the season when he needed help at positions he went out and signed guys like Breeland, Campbell, and Pleasant.

Then during the year he went out and brought in guys who could be future players. He signed Nico Siragusa, Natrell Jamerson, and Allen Lazard.

So far this year, he has brought in 2 Edge players in the Smiths. He also brought in a Safety, and an OL. Easily the 3 biggest weakest positions from a year ago.

While we don't know exactly how these players will fit into GB, what I love is they all are younger players (26ish) and are ascending. The Smiths should give us an actual presence on the Edge that we really haven't had since Mathews was more in his prime. Both are flexible players that will give Pettine a lot of options with where they line up. Amos should be a big time upgrade over Brice. Turner is a bit of a wildcard. Never a full time starter, but started a lot of games last year. Should be the top candidate for RG.

The best part about making these moves is that Gutekunst has set himself up well for the draft. He no longer HAS to draft for a specific need. He can purely take the best player available.

That being said, don't be surprised if he has his eye on the future with these picks. Daniels, Martinez will be FA's next year. At pick 12, perhaps he takes Oliver or one of the Devin's. It would make sense.

The next month is extremely important for Gutekunst. He has to nail this draft! I like his first draft, but if we want to get where we go, having higher picks in each round and 2 first round picks for this draft are very important. If we want a Saints type of turn around, then we need to have a draft that equals their 2017 draft when they took Lattimore (pick 11), Ramczyk (pick 32), Williams (pick 42), Anzalone (pick 76).
Packers pick in very similar spots during this draft. Picks 12,30,44, 75. They currently also have 2 picks in the 4th round (114, 18) and 2 picks in the 6th round (185, 194). This is a huge draft!

We are in a new era and this offseason is critical to finding the next core for the future!

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

Great contribution RC!

RCPackerFan's picture

Thanks

porupack's picture

RCPacker:

<<Then during the year he went out and brought in guys who could be future players. He signed Nico Siragusa, Natrell Jamerson, and Allen Lazard.>>

I'm glad RC included mention of this overlooked method of finding players. This won't make spash, and barely is even noticed. But I always thought that it was a sneaky way to get extra picks; target other teams who took 'value' picks in the draft to build development players behind solid, but aging starters. Watch their preseason games, and scour their practice squads and steal some of their Oline or CB projects.

RCPackerFan's picture

There are some really interesting connections with these players.

Nico Siragusa was drafted by the Ravens where Milt Hendrickson came from.

Natrell Jamerson's last DC in college was Jim Leonard who played under Pettine.

Allen Lazard was signed by the Jaguars after the draft. During cut downs he was cut and then was put on their Practice Squad until the Packers signed him. He was there where Nathan Hackett was the OC until November.

I think Nico Siragusa and Natrell Jamerson really could be guys to watch.
Nico was a 4th round pick in the 2017 draft.
Natrell was a 5th round pick in the 2018 draft.

Jamerson also is intriguing because he played in a very similar scheme in college.

Definitely some guys to watch.

Lazard is an intriguing guy. 6'5" 225 lbs and ran his 40 at 4.55.
Could he be a guy they maybe try to bulk up and play a hybrid WR/TE type of position?

All 3 guys I am looking forward to seeing what they do this preseason.

Mike Wendlandt's picture

I was excited when they brought Jamerson back into the State. He started out in Madison as a corner and kick returner, got hurt, moved to safety where he was extremely solid with D'Cota Dixon, then dominated the Combine and Pro Day. He reminds me a lot of Shields and Tony Brown.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, me too.

I really think he could be a guy to watch out for that hybrid CB/S role.

Coldworld's picture

How good a returner? NFL viable?

CheesyTex's picture

RC -- Nice take.

Re "If we want a Saints type of turn around..." IMO it was pure luck to find Kamara in the 3d round, and he cemented their draft as special.

Hope the stars are aligned for Gute in this year's draft. With needs at so many positions, he (Pack) desperately needs a premier draft. A little good luck, for a change, wouldn't hurt either (think Cole Madison).

RCPackerFan's picture

thanks,

I really hope Gutey nails this draft. 1-2 play making players can really change the team. We need more play makers.

Barnacle's picture

The number one improvement in GB is a new HC. With better play calling, clock management, player utilization and a real STs coach we would have had a lot better record last year.

Our players were good enough last year and realistically could have beat a few more playoff teams, except for bad coaching.

4thand10's picture

I can role with this, because we had a chance at the Vikings, Rams +a couple more.

Spock's picture

The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" and "what WILL you do for me" game. As fans we all have players we love for various reasons, but we need to remember that this game needs to be played to win. Sometimes that means losing a fan favorite and gaining someone else. Ideally that new person will become a new fan favorite and massive contributor to the fan's team. Turnover in roster is always a pain/gain situation. It is one of the many reasons so many of us are emotional about our favorite sport. I used to think the off season was pretty boring but now I enjoy the many (usually completely wrong, lol) speculations on what will happen in FA and the draft! This year in particular, as a Packers fan, is very interesting and filled with a lot more excitement than past off seasons. It's a great time to be a Packers fan!!! All the moves make for interesting reading. I can't wait to see what Gute and company do in the draft. Go, Pack, Go!

lowcsp's picture

Watching the packers in the 70s an 80s we never had this problem I couldn't wait to see who left that meant we might get someone who could play

Tundraboy's picture

Yeah but they also let go of some of the ones who could.

Michael Nault's picture

i couldn't agree more..

porupack's picture

Jasone, I kind of missed the connection between your title and the article. Isn't your article about an old habit (retaining old, fan fave players) that seems to finally died away? Just friendly q for you, or maybe its just me.

Demon's picture

I consulted Dionne Warwick on the psychic friends network. They told me that the Packers should select Te Hockenskn.

Also told me that I am currently on the right life path and that you guys are full of crap.

4thand1's picture

We (some of us) watched the great 60's players retire and move on. Not to many from the 70's, lol, or 80's for that matter. The 96 SB team unraveled pretty fast, except for Brett, remember how crazy that got after Aaron came to town. Donald Driver got to retire a Packer, which was great.

albert999's picture

Get BURNS if we can!

Skip greenBayless's picture

" The youth movement is back in Green Bay"

?? Was it ever gone? TT year after year and year always had one of the youngest teams in the NFL. He was notorious for turning over the roster constantly and replacing old with new. What Gutey is doing is no different than what TT has done ever since he took over as GM. TT takes over and gets rid of Wahl, Rivera etc and his biggest oldie? Brett Favre for a young Rodgers. What I want to know is when does Gutey make his move on replacing Rodgers for "his guy"? If Rodgers is "his guy" he isn't a great forward thinking GM like Ted was drafting Rodgers with his very first pick even though he didn't need a qb at the time.

If it's not Boyle or Kizer than I expect his first pick in the draft will have to be a quarterback if he expects to live longer than another two years as our GM. John Dorsey and Elliott Wolf understood this learning and soaking up all they could from one of the greatest in GM's in TT and are now thriving and already a super bowl contender with their shiny new young quarterback in Cleveland. Will Gutey? or is getting rid of an hold habit going to be his downfall? Stay tuned.

Dash

Demon's picture

You almost got it right there Dash. Your statement should have been: learning and soaking up everything they could from one of the greatest GM's Ron Wolfe...........You know the one who IS in the HOF. the one who righted the Packers after 2 decades of losing football.

Bryan Chisholm's picture

That trade up scenario for Allen would give the packer faithful a true shot of Gute and what he's about. Most fans were begging for Clay and Randall to get cut, now that it's happen, some seemed shocked or disappointed. I really look at the Redskins game for an example of current Cobb, and I remember that game being the straw that broke the camel's back. I thought Clay wouldn't be a bad depth piece though. Seeing how the Legion of Boom and Falcons were just so much physically better than us in the playoffs a few years back, demanded that Green Bay gets faster, younger, and more athletic... Seems like Ted was not interested in this at all, sticking with predated draft measureables for a ever-changing crop of talent. Gute seems to have a different opinion, and it's refreshing.

Point Packer's picture

Who's is Craig Jemmings?

ILPackerBacker's picture

There are two reasons why Kamara is mentioned all the time as a lucky draft pick, game changer, big deal and that Jones is not.

One large reason is now stalking basketball refs.

The other is nagging injury..

tincada's picture

Curious that there is no mention of RBs. A hole sorely in need of filling IMHO.

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