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Free Agent-To-Be Morgan Burnett a Top Schematic Fit for Mike Pettine

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Free Agent-To-Be Morgan Burnett a Top Schematic Fit for Mike Pettine

For a team whose newly-hired defensive coordinator's principle is built upon the foundations of versatility and flexibility, retaining a player such as do-it-all safety Morgan Burnett seems like a must.

When you think of a player on the Green Bay Packers' roster that fits the mold that Mike Pettine, who was just hired as the successor to Dom Capers Tuesday night, is trying to instill, Burnett instantly comes to mind.

Burnett, 28, has played in a variety of positions for the Packers over the course of his eight-year career, but even more so in his last three seasons. When not playing in his natural strong safety position on the back end of Capers' defense, he's been deployed as a nickel cornerback and more popularly at inside linebacker.

His endeavors as an extra body in the box for run support in Capers' official "nitro" package have been a major attributing factor in why Burnett has been such an efficient tackler. Prior to 2017, Burnett has either led or finished second on the team in tackles in five out of his last six seasons.

He's the perfect component for someone such as Pettine.

Pettine runs a complicated scheme that, when mastered, could pave the way to efficiency -- something the Packers haven't exactly flirted with in their last two seasons. It's also mostly occupied by veteran players that are capable of implementing his philosophy. He employs a variety of different looks that requires players to master both the 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes and those plans typically change by the week.

The constant changing and constant understanding of each individual task is why Pettine's defenses have found success during his years as the New York Jets' defensive coordinator from 2009-2012. In those seasons, the Jets finished 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th in overall defense, as well as 1st, 6th, 5th and 2nd in pass defense -- an area in Green Bay that radiates with the need for improvement.

Morgan Burnett (42) didn't record a single interception last season for the first time since 2015 and played in just 12 games - also his lowest since 2015. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)

To Pettine's credit, he also had primary playmakers during his stint with the Jets and brief 2013 season with the Buffalo Bills, which also netted him a fairly impressive amount of success.

Between cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie manning down each perimeter and defensive lineman Shaun Ellis creating significant pressure to the tune of 6.5 sacks that season -- somehow, not his most impressive year numbers-wise -- it would seem impossible for any coordinator to fail with that level of talent.

That isn't to say Pettine would be walking into a disaster in Green Bay just because he doesn't have a future Hall of Famer in his secondary.

The Packers sport one of the league's top defensive line duos in Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels, an inside linebacker in Blake Martinez who was tied for the league-lead in tackles in 2017, a Pro Bowl safety in Ha Ha Clinton Dix and a promising couple of cornerbacks with Kevin King and a rejuvenated Damarious Randall.

And hopefully, Burnett.

Burnett is the second-oldest player in the Packers' secondary behind cornerback Davon House, but that doesn't exclude him from possibly being the wisest. A versatile scheme needs versatile players, and Burnett brings every facet of the word to the table.

According to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette following the Packers' loss to the Detroit Lions in their season finale, Burnett said he hadn't engaged in any contract talks with the team. That isn't to say sometime within the next week-and-a-half that changed, but as it stands, Burnett is set to become a free agent in March.

Burnett is one of the reasons why the Packers were able to get so creative with their defensive looks under Capers, and after drafting Josh Jones in the second round of the 2017 draft, he brings qualities similar to that of Burnett to a defense coached by Pettine. Pettine, of all coaches, may be just the right guy for the job to get the most out of the second-year Jones.

Last time the Packers hired a new defensive coordinator, Capers led the unit to being ranked 1st and 2nd in takeaways and yards allowed per game in 2009.

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV and a contributor/analyst for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (89) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Nice article. Burnett turns 29 this Saturday. I don't know to whom Burnett's agents would have spoken until the shake-up resolved. TT probably wasn't in a rush to sign an older player, just HCs and younger guys.

Interesting that GB just named Whitt defensive passing game guru, I mean coordinator. Probably a meaningless title to justify a salary increase and make it harder for teams to hire Whitt away in the future, and curious since Pettine is known for the intricacies of his defenses. Whitt probably needs to study it to become familiar just like his players will have to. Not sure how Darren Perry feels about it, but after the interviewing is over, looks like he finished behind Whitt, now known publicly. Guessing MM made this promotion, not Pettine. Unless it was Murphy/Ball.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I'm surprised Perry has a job in GB, let alone had a chance at DC...

Coldworld's picture

I would think any such appointment was at least discussed with Pettine. If one accepts that Whitt is a good player developer then Pettine would be foolish to let him go. The question becomes what really is the role he now has.

As far as Burnett is concerned, 29 is not old. I think one reason he may be a prime candidate to resign is that he appears not only to be versatile but one of the smartest players. Pettine will need that.

The TKstinator's picture

I’d think at 29 the Pack could offer a two year deal to 42.

“Complicated scheme” might be a problem, but Pettine did say he’d “scale it back” if the players aren’t sponges. That will be interesting to see.

Coldworld's picture

Also saw a comment on PFF that he spent last year in Seattle looking at their very simple D which stated that he planned to simplify his approach in some ways going forward.

croatpackfan's picture

Again, he was hired by Seahawks as defensive consultant, not as pupil...

CJ Bauckham's picture

He didn't say he was a pupil. We know what he was. Consultants look too.

Since '61's picture

TK - I wonder how much Pettine will scale back his defense when he finds out some of the Packers defenders are rocks as opposed to sponges? Thanks, Since '61

HankScorpio's picture

If he's retained his M.O., he won't scale anything back. That's not the way he does things. He starts things fairly basic and adds from there.

He's said there isn't a whole lot of "graduate level" stuff in his playoff. He adds "complication" based on matchups he thinks his players can exploit.

The TKstinator's picture

61: I wonder that too!

dobber's picture

You can still break plenty of windows with rocks...

Tarynfor12's picture

Hope it doesn't go this far...
http://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cFVXDGoXcC

Finwiz's picture

"Rocks as opposed to sponges"......

Love it! Hopefully he speaks softly, and carries a big stick. (Club)
He's going to need it with this group.

dobber's picture

My guess is that Burnett will balk at two years. He's at that "last good deal" stage in his career...I would guess he's looking for 3-4 years. That's not to say anyone will give it to him, but offering only 2 (unless it's a pretty sweet deal) might force him into free agency...then all bets are off.

croatpackfan's picture

You can offer him 4 year deal with no guarantee money for 3rd and 4th year... That means you can just release him after 2 years with no dead money...

The TKstinator's picture

Could be. We’ll see!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Do we have any scissors on the team?

Since '61's picture

Resigning Burnett will be a matter of how much for how long. He has never been great in pass coverage but has been effective against the run game. The Packers may feel that Josh Jones will be a better fit for Pettine's defense with a lot more upside than Burnett since he will be only be a second year player in 2018.
In that case the Packers could sign an experienced FA safety with a season or two left to mentor Jones and HHCD in Pettine's system.
Given the pathetic state of the Packers defense everyone should be expendable except Daniels, Clark, Martinez, King, J. Jones and HHCD. Keep Adams and Beigel as they may still have some upside. As for the rest we can be last in 3rd down and red zone defense with or without them.
Thanks, Since '61

Nick Perry's picture

LOL...I guess we were thinking pretty much the exact same thing around the same time Since '61

Since '61's picture

Yes Nick as usual. Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

Ouch, but yes.

dobber's picture

My thinking on Burnett, prior to the hiring of Pettine, was that the prospects of his returning to GB were tied strongly to the DC they hired. I'll be honest, I don't know that he's any more of an asset than he was before. Statistically, the Packers were much better defending the TE position (except for Greg Olsen) than they have been in recent years. Was that due to Burnett or due to better ILB play?...or a combination of the two?

I've begun to subscribe to your "last with him or last without him" mindset with this defense, but with one caveat: if we think that Dom was holding this defense back--and their play really fell off as the year went by--who's to say that this same personnel group couldn't rebound in 2018? I'm not saying top-10, but close to middle of the pack. There are some players that have been much-maligned here that will have to come back because their loss creates additional holes the Packers will struggle to fill---CMIII is one of them. I'm on the fence on Burnett.

My thought all along was that Jones was drafted to be Burnett's replacement, and I still think that's what he'll ultimately be. But Jones has a long way to go to be a reliable defensive piece. I think Pettine will have to make a strong case to bring #42 back. If it's going to take what sporttrac is projecting ($11M/yr), they're better off riding with younger players and investing that money in their pass rush or in CBs.

holmesmd's picture

#42 is one of the few leaders on the defense an MM loves the guy! I can’t imagine that they let him go. I predict they offer him a 3 year, cap reasonable deal with a lot of incentive clauses and limited guaranteed money. If Burnett is highly regarded by Pettine, it becomes much more likely that he’s retained. I would imagine that Gute values #42 quite a bit. I really like JJ but he’s not nearly ready IMO. Now the kid has to learn an entirely new defense which really makes it feel like another rookie season for him & King. Burnett is like a coach on the field and is the glue that holds the back end together or at least have them less bad than without him! I hope & predict that #42 remains a Packer!

snowdog's picture

IMO Burnett should stay . we have been trying to plug that TE across the middle for years . Keep Burnett . Burnett at 3yrs , 9M sounds right , especially with a FA coming in with a similar skill set and cost . I like the thought of another safety . Jones will be perfect for Pettine to mold into a new scheme without resetting from Caper's .
Keep Burnett at 3K a year.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

3 yrs/$9M or 3 yrs/$27M?

croatpackfan's picture

So, you say let Randall, Lowry, Dial, Perry, Clay, Odom, Gilbert, Brice, Brooks go?

Also, I thought Pipkins show some promise too. What with Herb Waters Joe Whitt called new Sam Shields?

Wow. And than how you plan to build team. You'll need some good vets there. Do Packers have enough Salary Cap space for massive FA signings. Are we sure that all those FA signing will be better than 1 or 2 year players Packers already have.

What with the constantly complaning on Dom Capers. It looks like he was top DC, just did not have players to play with...

Intersting observation...

RCPackerFan's picture

"Given the pathetic state of the Packers defense everyone should be expendable except..."

My question about this, how much does our current players improve solely on the scheme change? Meaning, how do we really know who is and isn't expendable. Now there are obvious players like Fackrell, but guys like Mathews, Lowry and others could simply improve greatly from having the scheme changed to fit their talents more.

Pettine is known for adjusting his scheme for fitting the players he has. He tries to use his strengths and attack the opposing offenses weaknesses. I truly believe that Pettine will get more out of the players in Green Bay then Capers was able to.

Now they need upgrades no question, but I think the simple scheme change will do wonders for the current players.

holmesmd's picture

Perry & CMIII are expendable?! I’m not sure about that! Clay should re-structure and probably move inside. Perry needs to learn to stay healthy because he can be dominant when he is. Perry also just signed a monster contract so he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

OrganLeroy's picture

Adams & Beigel shouldn't even be in the conversation..they're Rookies!!

Duke Divine's picture

He gone!

Nick Perry's picture

According to Sportac.com Burnett's calculated market value will be a contract of about $45.7 million over 4 years, around $11.4 million a year. IMO that's an awfully lot of money for Burnett.

What they think they'll get from Josh Jones will be a deciding factor too. Drafting Jones was Thompson's answer to Burnett's future contract. If Jones made more of an impact in 2017 I wouldn't even hesitate...Let Burnett walk and spend it elsewhere. But Jones didn't do much outside of week 3 against Cincinnati so that's a bit of a gamble. There's also the play of HHCD in 2017 that would make me hesitate letting Burnett walk.

The Packers have enough overpaid "Older" guys on the roster now. They've overpaid a bit for guys like Nick Perry and Davante Adams because IMO they almost had to. I would let Burnett walk and go with Jones, at least if Sportac's numbers are close to correct. With needs at TE, WR, RT, RG, OLB/DE, and CB the Packers don't need to pay Burnett money like that.

Since '61's picture

Nick - $45 million is too much for Burnett. Half of that for 4 years sounds about right to me, especially with Burnett's injury history. Let him walk and coach up Jones. He has more upside at this point than Burnett regardless of the money.
The bigger issue is HHCD. Can he return to his 2015-2016 form or is his fog a permanent state? The Packers could sign a less expensive safety in FA as a backup in case HHCD remains in a different place. Thanks, Since '61

WKUPackFan's picture

With all due respect '61, Burnett's lack of availability is vastly overblown. Excluding his 2010 rookie season, Burnett has played in all 16 games in two seasons, 15 games in two seasons, and 13, 12, and 11 games in the other single seasons. That is about as available as a NFL player gets.

dobber's picture

When Burnett was playing next to MD Jennings and sub-par FS, he didn't look all that good. That's understandable. One crappy safety will usually drag his running mate down. He looked better those last couple years when HHCD was 'ascending'...the whole defense struggled this year with HHCD 'descending'.

Until this season, when Burnett has not played, you could see that his absence was a problem for the defense. This season? Well, they bottomed out and it really didn't seem to matter which chickens were running around out there with their heads cut off in the secondary.

IMO, the key player in that secondary is whomever is manning the FS spot. Whether it's HHCD or someone else, they need to get much better play out of that position. I think it will be hard to get value out of Burnett on a new contract.

Finwiz's picture

Leroy Butler said it again last night.....the safeties are key to Pettines defensive scheme. You're going to need reliable players back there that know there assignments. Evidently he's pretty much a detailed planning guy that lays out each players assignments on a weekly basis, and adjusts it for the opponents. Then he drills players to have their assignments become routine and habitual. This sounds like much more of a hands on coach than Capers, but who really knows, we weren't in practice, so who am I to say?
When you boil it all down, as much as I'm not a fan of Burnett, they may have to show him the money and bring him back for a year or two. I wouldn't overpay though, and that's where it becomes tough. At what point do you cut negotiations and let him walk?

holmesmd's picture

I agree Dobber but it’s hard to be impactful when they line you up 30 yds off the ball! I think HHCD was very frustrated with the way he was used and the way his teammates responded to the adversity of 2017. You could hear it in the tone of his interviews at the end of the season. MM all but confirmed this during his end of the season presser. HHCD will be a very good FS for our defense, especially under Pettine!

WKUPackFan's picture

spotrac's current list also shows that Burnett is the #1 free agent safety available. The next four are: Reggie Nelson, T. J. Ward, Tavon Branch, and Nate Allen. It would be difficult to argue that any of those players, or any others on the rest on the list, are anywhere near as good as Burnett. The only younger FA anywhere near the top who is decent is Kenny Vacarro (26)

It is doubtful that Burnett would command $11.4 million per year from any team. However, he is going to get a lucrative contract somewhere and, barring other players being released, there is really no one else out there worth bringing in to replace him.

dobber's picture

If Burnett gets to free agency, all bets are off. I agree: $11.4M seems way high for a guy like Burnett, but you never know what money will get thrown at him, and a couple teams are certainly flush with cap space. Problem is, he and his agent know that, and any deal he signs with the Packers in advance of the feeding frenzy will have to buy out his ability to test the market. His salary in 2017 put him in the top handful of SS in the league...to hit that in 2018 would take a significant raise.

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/2017/average/strong-safety/

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Here's the thing I see about Burnett. He is a good SS, way better than Church, probably not Chancellor level IMO. But he also can play slot CB pretty well. I didn't think he was a rousing success as a hybrid ILB, but he can play that. He even played some boundary CB and didn't get torched.

Pettine loves match-ups, and making adjustments. Burnett is the one guy you can really move around a secondary. A chess piece if you will.

What's a chess piece worth?

Finwiz's picture

There is absolutely no way in hell I'd pay 11 million for Morgan Burnett.
Those kind of "funny-money" numbers are reserved for upper echelon players that intercept balls, and return them for TD's (Nick Collins), make plays in the red zone, TFL's, sacks....things like that. This is not a top tier safety.

rdent's picture

Dobber, one of those teams that are flush with cap space is Cleveland.

Bearmeat's picture

It's too much. We have promising players behind him and plenty of needs elsewhere. He's been hurt a lot and he's 29 at a position that ages fast.

Thanks for the solid (but unspectacular) play for years, Morgan. Get us a good comp pick will you?

lou's picture

Agree Bearmeat, he has done a solid job on the field and per all reports represents the team well off the field. Unless he can be retained for just above the league minimum based on his years of service as a fall back option you have a decision that resembles A.J. Hawk who they kept way past his time. Both were solid vets but neither could produce "splash plays" that were game changers. Like Hawk, thank him and move on.

snowdog's picture

Solid . We need that .

lou's picture

Totally agree snowdog, that pretty much sums up the defensive side of the ball they were anything but solid. However, at 29 and the numbers people are projecting you are back to the A.J. Hawk decision tree. With Whitt having total control over the passing game his opinion should carry a lot of weight on who stays and who goes either on the roster or what defensive back positions.

RCPackerFan's picture

I would like Burnett to return. He gives the defense flexibility, and veteran leadership. For a team that lacks veteran leaders losing Burnett would be another blow.

But there is the business side of it. Can they afford to keep him?

It will be interesting to see what the new DC and new GM do with Burnett. If they try to make him a priority or not.

stockholder's picture

If TT was GM. Good Bye. This is Guntehurst call. After Adams contract, it's 10 mil.a year, or he walks. He can play for 4 years no doubt. But I think Jones is the future. And they would have signed Burnett by now. Time to move on.

RCPackerFan's picture

And that is where we simply have no idea what Gutekunst will do now as the GM.
Also with Pettine as the DC will he want to turn Jones into an ILB, or keep him as a Safety?

I would say Jones is the future but it all depends on how they view Jones.

I'm not saying he will be gone, I'm not saying he will be back. Just saying it will be interesting to see what happens.

dobber's picture

If I had to guess, I think that despite his athleticism Jones looks like he's strictly a box safety/ILB at this point. He needs to really grow to fill a role like the one Burnett filled in 2017. It could happen. I'm skeptical that Jones will be able to grant the flexibility in 2018 that Burnett did in 2017.

RCPackerFan's picture

The problem with Jones was they had him practicing to play the ILB/S hybrid position. Then basically as soon as Brice went down they ended up moving him strictly to Safety.
Jones was at his best when he was playing in the box.

That's where I'm wondering what Pettine has planned for him.

holmesmd's picture

I love Jones but have not seen anything to suggest that he’s “the future”...yet!! He wasn’t nearly as good as Burnett last season and now the kid needs to learn a new defense! I would pump my brakes a bit and see how JJ develops. It took Collins 4 years to break out and he’s the best Packer safety I’ve ever seen besides Butler;)

rdent's picture

Stockholder, I noticed a post a week or so ago, a person who regularly seen Jones play in college and wrote to not get hopes up on Jones, has the measurables but not a football player. Like scouts used to say "looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane." Although he was was picked in the 2nd rd. to be the future I am going to wait and see what he does next season before I would put eggs in that basket.

nostradanus's picture

I predict the Packers will let Burnett test the market, he's been a bit banged up the past few seasons also which doesn't bode well for signing a big contract at 29 years old. While I like Burnett, there are plenty of guys like him out there that the Packers could get cheaper and younger I'm sure. I expect the Packers to bring in a few veterans that have been in the Pettine system (like Tramon Williams), this would he make the transition smoother also, kind of like renting a player-coach for a season.

dobber's picture

I've also seen some of the reports that have linked a TWill to a reunion with Pettine in GB. I think that's a good way to shepherd some of the younger players, especially if someone like Rollins starts playing safety. He'd come pretty cheap and, at his age, one-year deals are likely (his one-year deal with the Cardinals was $2M).

My question is: can he still run? He's never been a burner...

RCPackerFan's picture

I am curious to see what happens with Rollins. If he can come back and play, do they keep him at CB or do they move him to Safety? And does scheme changes simply make him better by playing techniques that better fit his skillset?

He also could move to safety and might be even better there. Capers had Hyde playing CB when it was proven that he was a better safety. Will Rollins be better at S then CB?

OrganLeroy's picture

Tramon Williams ran a 4.4 when he was here in his prime!

rstain99's picture

Two words Hometown discount, otherwise thanks good luck in Cleveland or wherever. Never been a big Burnett fan. Too many games sitting on sideline. MM next guy to hire strength and conditioning far too many issues. Maybe they can get Brady guru whackjob Guerrero Bill would love to see him somewhere else.

WKUPackFan's picture

Burnett has only missed 14 games in six seasons. As noted above, he has played all 16 games twice and 15 games twice.

AR has missed more games in past six seasons than Burnett. Perhaps you'd like to claim Rodgers has "too many games sitting on the sideline".

dobber's picture

With this team, ANY games on the sideline are too many for #12... ;)

HankScorpio's picture

After reading Jason Wilde's article in the WSJ (based in part on an interview with Jim Leonard, who played under Pettine for 6 years), Burnett seems like the kind of guy that Pettine would deploy as a weapon to attack offenses. Not too long ago, Burnett was used that way by Capers.

Leonhard's comments also suggest to me that way too much is being made about how "complicated" things are under Pettine. As does the SI piece from Greg Bedard back when Pettine was HC at Cleveland.

http://host.madison.com/wsj/sports/football/professional/packers-jim-leo...

holmesmd's picture

House isn’t big enough to play safety and certainly not box safety. The guy gets hurt a lot at boundary CB so I don’t see him having the physicality of being able to play centerfield!? Brice, HHCD, Jones, and hopefully Burnett are a solid group and certainly are fast enough.

OldTimer's picture

As much as I would like a veteran player in the secondary, I don't think that the packers should spend anywhere near that much for Burnette. I don't doubt that some team will overpay for him, but it shouldn't be us. We need to develope younger, faster players in the secondary and spending that much would limit their playing time. Maybe they could play House as a safety. He seems to relate well to the group, and has been through defensive transitions in the past. He would cost a lot less and would probably be open to a shorter contract period as well. Hopefully in a year or two the true long term answer would be apparent. I am hoping that is Jones, but I fear the transition will slow his development for most of the next season. His mind wasn't playing nearly as fast as his body his first year.

Handsback's picture

Gutsey will have some major decisions to make and it appears that Burnett is one of them. I hope they can keep him. He's solid, not all pro but solid, and shows some leadership value. With Green Bay's kiddie corp of players, having a grey beard in the locker room won't hurt.

HankScorpio's picture

I often marvel at the disconnect between the theory that the Packers need more veteran leadership acquired via FA and that the minute an in-house veteran has a bump in the road, he should be jettisoned.

If the Packers followed the advice of many on this board to dump Nelson, Cobb, Matthews and Burnett, they would be missing out on one heck of a lot of veteran leadership on both sides of the ball.

Maybe it is as simple as "the grass is always greener on the other side"

WKUPackFan's picture

I marvel at that also, and further marvel at the people who want to free up a ton of cap space without any thought as to the lack of available talent to spend that new-found space on.

dobber's picture

Many of the same people are also saying that there are already way too many holes on the roster to fill in one off-season.

RCPackerFan's picture

doesn't it feel like these are the types of people we have to deal with...

https://media.giphy.com/media/sCDOxA0iGay1G/giphy.gif

mjbrogno's picture

I'm leery on the DC hire. With the current players a complicated system is a recipe for disaster. There were to many blown coverages in Caper's system. Recently, I read a great article that a basic defense with minimal in game adjustments is the right one to run to maximize a players performance. Less chance for blown assignments. The major problem with Burnett has been staying healthy.

jimtalkbox's picture

There's a great article somewhere (I can't find it) about Pettine describing his defense. The idea that it's "complicated" is overblown. It's meant to appear complicated to an opposing OFFENSE because it will have various players lining up in weird spots to confuse a QB.

He described it as very simple for the players within the defense. All they have to know is their role on any given play and what technique to use. That's it. You do your one job and let everyone else do theirs.

Handsback's picture

MJ you have brought up a good point. The one thing everyone misses about Capers is his schemes. They are many and used them when he had the personnel. Pettine's system isn't like Capers in that regard. I really don't expect to see Psycho/one down lineman scheme in Pettine's playbook. His system is more of using more DBs in the box to take out any crossing patterns.
I'm probably not doing it justice, but Pettine's defense won't be as complicated as Capers.

4thand1's picture

After Hayward and Hyde, someone will overpay for Burnett they always do. They Packers won't match if the offer is ridiculous, unless they get rid of cap space somewhere else. It means cutting vets, but we need experience too. Such is the life of a GM in the NFL.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't think we have a ton of free cap space. An earlier article mentioned $28M, but sportrac has us at $23.68M and overthecap at $21.9M. Sportrac only shows 48 players under contract and we have 51, so subtract 3 x $500K for min contract guys. (Both already assume a $9M cap increase to $178M). Easy to spend a fair amount of that. Maybe we get something ($4.2M) back from Martellus Bennett, and we probably lose about $1.25M when RJF makes his termination pay claim, which he can't do until February by NFL rule.

Brooks, Evans, House on one year deals might be $7M or $8M. Maybe $3.5M for the draft considering we will draft higher in each round. (Note that 4th through 7th round picks cost almost nothing under the rule of 51). RR will cost something. Allison and Whitehead will add $300K under the rule of 51. Joe Thomas is an RFA, but I wouldn't tender him at $2.746M, and the low tender of $1.797M is just right of first refusal and is still too much imo. Tenders count against the Cap when March FA period begins even if Thomas gets cut in Sept. So, Thomas will be a UFA I'd consider at considerably less than that, perhaps $1.4M, if at all. Janis at vet min on a qualified contract adds maybe $80K under the rule of 51.

Anyway, I can get us down to maybe $10M or $11M in free cap space lickety split, and I haven't signed Burnett or extended AR.

Anyone desirous of dipping into FA probably can get one or two moderate ones; otherwise, they're going to have to pare back some of our veteran leadership. The cap savings targets are in order: CM3 ($11.3M) Jordy ($10.2M), Cobb ($9.6M), Bulaga ($5.15M). Certainly one can ask these players for pay cuts or give them extensions that reduce 2018 cap hits. Heck, you can even reduce AR's cap hit in 2018 if you want to structure it that way. Give AR a $60M signing bonus (or option bonus) over 4 years and you could easily get AR well under a $20M cap hit for 2018.

egbertsouse's picture

Packer D has Daniels and Clark. The rest are just JAGs and are expendable. I’m not saying don’t sign a few of them, I’m just saying I wouldn’t shed tears if any of them left.

4thand1's picture

You're kidding. Martinez, King, Jones,Randall all good young talent. You'd be the first to be crying. Call Pettine for a sponge.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

And Dean Lowery has been improving to still hard to tell on him but he has been progressing he's always reminded me a little bit of Aaron kampman.
I wish I also could have seen more of that Bryce guy Clay Matthews is still good for just third-down situational pass-rushing but he would have to take a huge pay cut the problem with trying to sign Morgan Burnett is it the Packers are probably off from just a two or three-year deal but some other teams going to offer him a five-year deal and that's where the problem comes in he's going to take the 5 year deal over a three-year deal wouldn't you? Why someone would offer him a five-year deal at 29 years old is beyond me but some team will do it

holmesmd's picture

Burnett is a family man and really likes being a Packer. He’s had some success with business ventures off the field. He has young kids in school. Don’t underestimate the desire to remain on franchise where you’re used to being in the playoffs. He certainly could take a hometown discount as some of our other players have the last few years. If so, I would imagine that deal gets don’t before the FA deadline. If he gets to FA, then I agree that he’s probably gone:(

packattack13's picture

Speaking of good fits for Pettine's defense, a couple of guys which would bring experience in his system

Mario Williams: getting up there in age and hasn't been very productive of late but he is available. He didn't even play this past year, did he retire? He had one of his best years under Pettine in 2013. I think Pettine could get the most out of what he has left.

Tramon Williams: He is turning 35, but hey Terrance Newman is still playing good football at 39. Pettine wanted Tramon as a free agent in 2015 and got him. He actually played well this year in Arizona, ranked 9th overall cornerback by PFF. Could probably sign him on a one year contract for about $3.5 million.

If you guys know any other players which have played under Pettine and are available leave a comment

NMPF's picture

After the upcoming cuts/restructuring of quite a few overpaid and underperforming players the Packers are projected to be somewhere around 50M under the cap. Taking a good chunk of that to add veteran depth at the back end of the roster should be priority 1.

Archie's picture

As most here feel, MB is solid but certainly not a difference-maker. Maybe we should unload both HHCD and MB and let Pettine start over at S. I'll never be able to figure out how HHCD made the Pro Bowl last year. He is our new AJ Hawk as far as I'm concerned.

I am quite excited about all the personnel changes at 1265 but I would have been even happier if the broom had swept MM and his coaching selections out as well. MM is TT's guy, we need a fresh start. For that matter I'm not enthralled with keeping TT in the building unless nobody is going to listen to him. If MM produces another poor season i.e., no playoff berth, what do we do then, fire MM and all his coaches and hire a new HC? We should have Just gotten it over with. MM's offensive scheme sucks and he proved he can't develop a back-up QB. Those two things were were touted as his supposed strengths.

Big question now is whether Gutenkunst can pick players better than TT? Sure hope so. If not, we will be replacing the GM again before we know it. The good news is that Gute was high on most team's list. Undoubtedly he gives a good interview but were any of our draft picks based on his recommendation? If so, who? They never tell you that. Ditto Wolf. TT was so closed mouth we have no way of evaluating the skill of his top assistants. If you just go by the last 5-7 drafts, it has been a horror show. Either TT didn't listen to G&W and made his own picks or he did. If the latter, we are in trouble. We will know in 2-3 years. Of course, if Gute is a bust, kiss off the rest of AROD's career.

Mark Murphy proved himself a liar on at least 2 counts. One he said he would look outside the organization for the best qualified candidate. He didn't. Second, he told us he was keeping the Harlan-Wolf business model in tact i.e., GM had 100% control over all football operations. He renegged on that too. Gives me no faith in him or his judgment.

Despite my seeming negativity, I feel the Pack is better off with the recent changes compared to the old status quo because it gives a chance to get better. But I just don't like half-way measures. Slow to hire, quick to fire is my motto. Murphy practices the opposite.

CJ Bauckham's picture

Reportedly, Gutekunst's draft evaluations on several players were looked at as part of his interview process. There's no doubt in my mind that every in house candidates' draft evaluations were on hand for review during their respective interviews.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

The bottom line here is obviously one we have to evaluate the players Number 2 people are going to have to restructure their contracts to see how much money we have available for free agents Jordy Nelson Clay Matthews Bryan bulaga Randall Cobb are going to have to restructure their deals but we also have to remember that we have to re-sign Aaron Rodgers for his remaining years which is going to be a five or six year final deal we're going to have to get some veteran leadership not these 34 35 year old guys unless they're a freak like a Julius Peppers cuz we have holes all over the place We need another Edge rushing and a fast linebacker and safety as Morgan Burnett will probably be gone and I don't think Josh Jones will be experienced enough to handle that position. we're also going to need a number one wide receiver because will probably lose Randall Cobb so we'll have to get a number one wide out to go along with Davante Adams and move Jordy possibly to the slot. I wish we could have seen more of Geronimo Allison but McCarthy refused to play him and we need to decide what we're going to do with Ty Montgomery do we put him as third running back or do we leave him as a wide receiver or do we play them as both? I feel better about our running back situation with Jamal Williams and Aaron Jones. But I still feel we have to draft another running back if anything to have on the practice squad and try to draft another three down back and obviously we have to address the backup quarterback position as well as we're going to need a right tackle Bulaga can play as a backup but he cant be a starter anymore he's been injured way too much and with the huge pay cut he may not even play for the Packers but whay i also liked about the Packers as they had JC tretter he could play any position but I don't know if they have a utility guy like that anymore. We also have not been able to fix the tight end position I really thought last year we had it fixed with Martellus Bennett Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers as a third tight end but we are right back where we were and we have not had a tight end since Mark Chmura and Keith Jackson. I don't know if we need to take a chance and Jimmy Graham for a couple your contract I just don't know how we're going to fill all these holes it's just too many it's going to take us to three years to get back on track and then we have to remember Aaron Rodgers is going to be two or three years older so we're going to have to draft a quarterback in the next year too it's just one screwed-up mess this should have been done like I said 5 to 6 years ago. I do know that we need new trainers we had to change our offense of line up 12 times this year more than any other team were the Vikings have had their same offensive line since week 5 I believe the Packers are on the right track though I'm glad to see Ted Thompson is not the GM I'm glad the new GM Brian G is going to hopefully be aggressive in free agency I'm glad that Philbin is back help out offensively and I believe this new defensive coordinator from the Browns will get things going on our defense the problem is trying to fill in all the holes for 2018 and having a great draft I wish they would have done these changes seven years ago at the very least 6 years ago I feel bad for Aaron Rodgers that we have wasted 6 years of his playing ability.

Packer Fan's picture

If Pettine thinks he can fit him in, then resign him. This article highlights one of the issues of the Packer in previous years. The team was always young. That means there were few players between 5 and 10 years of experience. Yes there were some, but usually starters TT wanted to resign. You need veterans to play complicated schemes, to control young players and to provide needed depth.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

When free agency hits on Mar 14th the packers bettet act on that day or other free agents will say the packers are all just talk and will sign somewhere else.

OrganLeroy's picture

You're not serious, right? That's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard! Free Agency is about 1 thing, the money!

Archie's picture

Matthews
Jordy
Cobb
Bulaga

I'd be OK with keeping any of these 4 willing to accept a 50% pay cut. If we lose all 4, so be it. But I don't think we will. Maybe Cobb because he is healthy and still young but I think we all know he isn't special enough to be a 10MM/yr WR.

Archie's picture

Matthews
Jordy
Cobb
Bulaga

I'd be OK with keeping any of these 4 willing to accept a 50% pay cut. If we lose all 4, so be it. But I don't think we will. Maybe Cobb because he is healthy and still young but I think we all know he isn't special enough to be a 10MM/yr WR.

Allan Murphy's picture

Wow Packer fans have no ideal what you have in this DC Mike Pettine is one of the best . Ijust hope they let him pic players he want's too he made top 10 D for last 5 years with three differnt teams .

Barnacle's picture

A “complicated scheme” with “constant” changes” and lots of “versatility”. Wow, no wonder MM picked this fellow from Cleveland. Good luck to us!

At least we well have some high draft picks by the time whoever the heck is in charge fires McCarthy?

So here we are hiring demoted Cleveland personnel, while Cleveland raids our brain trust. Then Murphy sets up our administration like some public college with a committee of executives and managers all on equal footing.

This is a good example of how not to run a business.

No wonder the excellent DCs rejected Green Bay.

cheesycowboy's picture

Isn't Russ Ball in charge of contract negotiations and now has Murphy's ear? Was TT or Russ who actually let Lang, Hyde, Hayward go? They both are still on the payroll.

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