Going "All-In" - Some Objective Criteria

Going "all-in" might be largely subjective, but there are some reasonably objective standards that can be applied. 

Going "all-in" might be largely subjective, but there are some reasonably objective standards that can be applied.  Although a general manager almost always could have done a little bit more, there is a clear continuum with regard to how aggressively a GM is building a team.  As a working definition, going all-in means assembling more talent for a given season or a set of years than a team would normally be able to do.        

Three main ways of going all-in occur to me: 1) the way a team structures, re-structures contracts or extends players; 2) the way a team handles their draft picks; 3) the way a team uses free agency.  Let us look at each in turn.

CONTRACTS:

Pushing cap hits into future years is the primary way to get more proven talent on the field for a given set of years.  For the last decade the Packers have structured their contracts so that the large cap hit numbers start to approach the AAV in year two and exceed it in years three and four.  The Packers usually just convert base salary and roster bonuses into signing bonuses on an as-needed basis.  If the team starts using option bonuses, void years, and guaranteeing money in the out years, that would be much more aggressive than anything the Packers have done to date.  Those things and just the sheer amount of cap space the Packers elect to generate will tell fans how all-in the team is for 2021 and beyond. 

A current example of going all-in is Pittsburgh.  The Steelers just re-structured Ben Rothlisberger's contract.  He had a $41.25 million cap number for 2021.  First, they persuaded him to take a $5 million dollar pay cut (from $19 million to $14 million).  Then they turned every possible nickel of his remaining cash into a signing bonus.  Because 2021 was the last scheduled year of his deal, the Steelers added four (count 'em, four!) void years.  Since the Steelers arguably did all that they could with Big Ben's new deal short of a steeper pay cut, the Steelers did not need to know the exact number for the 2021 salary cap, whereas it looks like the Packers are waiting to see how much cap space they need to generate before they make any additional moves. 

The restructure generates $15.34M in additional cap space in 2021 for Pittsburgh.  Here is what Rothlisberger's deal looks like now according to Overthecap.com (and it looks nothing like any contract the Packers ever reached):

Year Base Prorated Cap # Dead Savings
2021 $1.075M $24.835M $25.915M $35.175M ($9.265M)
2022 $0/Void $2.585M $10.340M $10.340M $0
2023 $0/Void $2.585M N/A $7.775M ($7.775M)
2024 $0/Void $2.858M N/A $5.170M ($5.170M)
2025 $0/Void $2.585M N/A $2.585M ($2.585M)

Rothlisberger has a lot more mileage on him at age 39 than Rodgers has at age 37, including four more seasons as a starter.  Given Rodgers' statements that he wants to play into his forties, the Packers are looking at a set of years (known colloquially as a "window") but the exact number is unknown.  Rodgers' willingness to continue to play and his ability to defy the ravages of Father Time are uncertainties that affects the Packers' overall decision-making.

The Packers will soon make additional moves to get not jusr get under the salary cap but by enough to position themselves to retain some of their own UFAs, RFAs, and/or to sign outside free agents.  How much space they generate will be telling.

Another way to go all-in is simply to retain players that otherwise might not be kept.  Preston Smith and Dean Lowry have been discussed a lot.  The team could demand pay cuts, for example, or just bring them back.  While it is easy to assert that a day two or day three draft prospect would be better in 2021 than Lowry, one might bear in mind that third-rounder Montravius Adams was unable to supersede Lowry in four years, and fifth-rounder Kingsley Keke has been unable to supplant Lowry in two seasons.  Another way would be to extend players the Packers might not otherwise have taken that risk on.  Turner, for example, will be 32 when his current contract expires.   

Objective Criteria:  How much cap space will the Packers wring out of players currently under contract?  They need to generate $23 million MORE in cap savings at a bare minimum, which does not allow for signing their own UFAs, RFAs or any outside players.  Ken Ingalls suggests that the Packers need $24 million more here.  However the Packers go about it, here is my chart summarizing various levels of aggressiveness:

All-in $ Saved How Many And Which Players Do Not Return?
Low: $24M All UFAs and all RFAs are lost; no outside signings.  The extra million signs all of the team's ERFAs
Med: $36M Linsley, Jones, Williams, Lewis King + Taylor, Ervin, M. Adams, Austin, Harrison, Winn; RFAs Tonyan, Lancaster, Sullivan, Redmond, Greene, Boyle (Kirksey/Wagner) P. Smith, Lowry, Jackson
High: $44M+ Only a few starters lost and most are retained.  Most of the players lost get replaced with suitable UFAs

* Subject to any increase in the salary cap limit.  These numbers assume a $180M cap limit.

Under the medium level of aggressiveness, that would mean about $12 million to spend.  Tonyan ($3.3M), Sullivan and Lancaster ($2M?), Lewis ($2M?) seem like good bets, and that would leave a bit under $5 million.  The Packers might be able to sign Williams or King for that cap number, perhaps with some change left?  The other names probably each cost about $300K more than a UDFA or late draft pick (using the Rule of 51).  The team should probably generate $1 or $2 million more if needed to retain some of the RFAs and low end UFAs while mixing and matching the names they want to keep.  Tagging Jones might mean keeping just Tonyan and Jones.  How many of their own UFAs and RFAs the Packers retain is fairly subjective, but keeping more rather than fewer would seem indicative of trying to win in 2021.

DRAFT PICKS:

It is very difficult to tell whether a team drafted the best player available or if it drafted for need.  By need, I mean immediate need, as practically every position could become a need in the long term.  Drafting a player with a higher floor or who is more ready to play than a more talented player probably should qualify as going all-in, but it is largely pure opinion.  For example, I distinctly remember being relieved when the Packers drafted Bubba Franks with the 14th pick in 2000.  I was pretty sure he would block pretty well and catch a reasonable number of passes right away, while not thinking he would be the second coming of Tony Gonzalez (or later, a Gronkowski).  Some decisions like drafting Jordan Love and to a much lesser extent a player who would have to learn a new position like Rashan Gary are fairly obviously decisions with the longer term in mind.  Except at the extremes, who the team drafted is largely subjective in terms of going all-in.

Trading draft picks for veteran players is much easier to identify as going all-in, especially trading future draft picks for current NFL players or future picks for current draft picks, and to a lesser extent to move up in the draft (recall the Saints trading a future first to move up for Davenport).  Since the Packers in my opinion have a two to four-year window, it is still important to acquire young, low-cost, players with talent via the draft.  If one thinks the window is just 2021 and 2022, then the Packers should be more aggressive with their draft picks. 

Verdict:  So far, there have been no trades of picks for established players, either at the beginning of the season or just before the trade deadline, which suggests a less than aggressive mode.  The drafts have been a mixed bag in terms of aggressiveness.  In Gutekunst's first year, he happened to select more players who played positions at which the Packers needed immediate help than coincidence probably would suggest is likely (CB, CV, TE, and WR, WR, WR in rounds 4-6), and then moderated that tendency in 2019 and even more so in 2020.  I would not rate this aspect of the Gutekunst tenure as very "all-in" on the whole to date; he has probably been about average.  It remains to be seen what the Packers do in the 2021 draft.

FREE AGENCY:

In 2018, GM Gutekunst decided to buy four players he hoped would be starters or significant contributors in Graham, Tramon Williams, Marcedes Lewis and Muhammad Wilkerson plus another player he probably hoped would not be a starter in Byron Bell.  He also acquired street free agent Bashaud Breeland four weeks into the season and traded Pipkins for Antonio Morrison.  GM Gutekunst bought four more starters in free agency for 2019, which overall has paid off quite well.  In 2020, the Packers signed Funchess, and replaced Bulaga and Martinez with probable downgrades in Kirksey and Wagner.  UDFAs are usually depth players at best, but Gutekunst has been very active in terms of acquiring players.  

The team also has several restricted free agents who are players of varying ability but who probably are more ready to play in 2021 than the general run of the mill UDFA.  No doubt the Packers will retain Tonyan one way or another, although using anything less than a second round RFA tender or reaching a deal for a year or longer could get risky.  Their other RFAs like Lancaster, Sullivan, Greene, Redmond, and Boyle are probably more ready to play now than late round draft picks and UDFAs will likely be, so it will be interesting to see how many of these players the Packers keep and how much risk they accept in their attempts to retain them.  The Packers may elect not to tender most of them, letting them test the market or reaching a one or two-year deal with them.

Verdict:  The 2018 moves were rather moderate given the deficiencies in the roster.  Graham at $10 million was significant but not quite a blockbuster move.  Williams and Wilkerson were both mid-money and fairly low risk moves, while Lewis was for modest money and one year.  Bell was a bandaid.  The Packers certainly patched holes but without being truly aggressive.  It was McCarthy's last year, but I do not want to speculate about how his presence might have affected Gutekunst's decisions.  2019 was clearly an aggressive year and those four deals were all back loaded as to their cap hits.  The holes filled by those signings were glaring needs.  2020 simply replaced departing players with lower cost players, other than Funchess.  Still, due to 2019, I would rate signing outside free agents as above average in terms of aggressiveness and going all-in.  One indicator for 2021 is how many of the RFAs and low-end UFAs do the Packers retain.

CONCLUSION:

I do not believe that the Packers have been close to all-in since Gutekunst became general manager, nor do I think the Packers should have been extremely aggressive in prior years for two reasons.  The first is because the roster initially had too many holes to fill when Gutekunst became the general manager.  2018 and 2019 were about mini-reloads.  The other reason is because the team's window was long enough to allow the new GM to build the team using traditional means with a moderate amount of aggressiveness overall.  The Packers should get more aggressive as Rodgers ages since the window will close when he retires or becomes ineffective.  

At the latest, it should be time to go all-in when his crystal ball tells Mr. Gutekunst that Rodgers has two or at most three seasons left of being a top quarterback.  So far, either that has not yet happened or, despite back to back 13-3 seasons with losses one game shy of Super Bowl appearances, the Packers are not inclined to ever get seriously aggressive in their management style.    

 

 

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Comments (52)

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Guam's picture

March 07, 2021 at 06:23 pm

You are the voice of sanity and reason as always TGR. I agree that Gute has taken a balanced approach to roster building, blending current needs and future development. It is an approach that frustrates me as I prefer more of a "win now" approach. My concern is will teams like Tampa Bay (who did go "all in" this year) always have a bit more talent in their "all in" year than the Packers will have, resulting in the Packers rarely winning Super Bowls? Tampa will certainly have more down years than Green Bay, but maybe more championships too.

I have no scientific or evidentiary basis for my concern that "all in" teams will just manage to outpace the more balanced Packers, but I don't think it is an illogical concern. Very thought provoking article and I appreciate your well researched approach to a tough question. Thanks TGR.

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joefan's picture

March 07, 2021 at 10:44 pm

I don't think it's any surprise that the Buccaneers outpaced Green Bay when you consider the moves that they made.

They acquired Tom Brady, Gronkowski, re-signed Jason Pierre Paul, re-signed Suh, drafted Winfield, and more.

The Packers signed Rick Wagner and Christian Kirksey. Those weren't necessarily bad moves. Bulaga played 10 games and had a pff grade of 61 with the Chargers. Kirksey struggled to play, but I'm not sure this defense would be where we want it to be with Martinez. Basically any of the Buccaneers linebackers are better than the Packers.

The Buccaneers had a better draft for sure in 2020. They got Whirf in the 1st round and Winfield in the 2nd.

The Packers drafted a quarterback prospect in the first and a decent running back in the 2nd who never got a lot of playing time. Not many of Green Bay's picks really helped the Packers win in 2020. That's really what makes the difference to me.

And I'm convinced as long as the Packers follow this conservative approach, they will always be one step behind. Because some other team will make moves to improve their team for the current season. The buccaneers made moves to win in 2020. The packers made moves for 2021 and beyond.

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joefan's picture

March 07, 2021 at 06:33 pm

I agree that Gutekunst never went "all in." I saw the 2018 offseason as an attempt to keep the Packers competitive with a lot of the old regime still under contract. In 2017, the Packers started the season something like 4-2 before Rodgers got hurt and won some close games. They still looked like a playoff team. I imagine Gutekunst thought they'd be back as a contender with Rodgers playing a full season for 2018. He tried to address some holes with Jimmy Graham and Wilkerson, but the reality was that the team just wasn't very good in 2018 and massive change was coming.

I think after Cobb and Matthews contracts expired there was an opportunity to start rebuilding the team a little bit. Since Matthews wasn't going to be the future, they basically swapped him out for Zadarious Smith, and they also did the same with Nick Perry. Gutekunst had probably already planned to rebuild the defense once he traded away Clinton-Dix during the season. 3 of the 4 free agents signed in 2019 were for defense. I never saw this as going "all in" as much as it was an attempt to rebuild a depleted defense. Then they drafted high on defense again in the 2019 draft.

The 2020 offseason was the complete opposite of going "all in." Right now I'm not concerned as much about going "all in" as I am with not wasting draft picks on developmental prospects. Everyone knows there is no money for free agency. The Packers really have to focus on the draft to stay competitive, and I'm not sure that they can. I'm really hoping they got their future building out of their system in the 2020 draft because the 2021 draft needs to be all about the 2021 season. If not, they're going to get passed by some other team again.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 07, 2021 at 06:43 pm

To be clear, I think it has been too early to go all-in or something closer to that end of the spectrum. The 2018 team still had MM and some holes. Gutey spent $5M on Tramon and Wilkerson, $2M on Lewis (all three on one or two-year deals only) and $10M on Graham. That's just putting buckets under the worst leaks.

2019 makes sense to me. Gutey bought four long-term, 4-year starters for good-sized to big money. He had a new HC though, so the aggressiveness he showed in free agency seemed fine to me.

2020 seems odd. The 4 FAs did well. He hit on Jaire, Jenkins, Savage, and it was clear that Gary belonged in the NFL at any rate. Lazard and MVS did enough to look promising. IDK, when a GM brings in 7 starters and a couple of contributors in the space of just two seasons, one might think he'd go for it a little bit more in 2020. But no. Draft is a mystery until one listens to Murphy's recent presser where he said Gutey is building a championship team while building for the future at the same time. Ugh.

I didn't advocate for extreme measures. I assumed Gutey would get some immediate help in the draft, perhaps trade a 3rd to 7th rounder for a veteran who can be plug and play. I would have acquired an IDL though it may be that a CB #2 (or a new Def. Coordinator) was actually needed.

So, I would like to see the team retain as many of its players as possible. Linsley would be nice to have back but that's a merit issue: 30 years old with back problems is a non-starter for the money he will get. Do they need to retain a guy like Redmond? Depends on what they think of Black and Scott. Might even get one in the draft.

Anyway, I think a nudge in 2020 towards getting over the hump was warranted in 2020.

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joefan's picture

March 07, 2021 at 10:54 pm

Well, it's too late for last year. We're now in 2021 and who knows how the NFL will play out. I do think the Packers got a little lucky with their schedule like in 2019 and maybe over achieved somewhat. I say that due to the fact then when they face a really good opponent they struggle and lose big time.

I agree they should've done more in 2020. However, the "all in" argument is a distraction from the real issue, which is Jordan Love. They didn't have to do anything extreme like restructure a bunch of contracts to squeeze in another free agent or trade a bunch of picks away for a wide receiver. They could've drafted based on needs for 2020. Instead they drafted a potential Rodgers replacement. It was a terrible draft because it barely improved the current roster.

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Coldworld's picture

March 08, 2021 at 08:33 am

I see 2020 as the remaking of the offensive roster in the image LaFleur wanted plus hedging against the risk expiration of contracts would lead to losses on the O line, at RB for example. That was probably wise.

The move to resign Bakh was fairly aggressive given age and amount and the offer to Jones could be characterized as leaning that way too. Both illustrate the concern about expiring contracts for key players. I suspect D Adams’ and Alexander’s future are also big factors in shaping the approach.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 08, 2021 at 05:27 pm

The move to re-sign Bakh was aggressive. His structure was not quite as aggressive as it could have been as he will receive a ton of cash in 2021.

Signing Clark was just a good idea, but getting him to play for just $2.1M in cash for 2021 was aggressive. And kudos to him for accepting the fairly slow cash flow.

These were two items that were in my first draft of the article. Since that draft rivaled War and Peace for length, they got the ax. I did enough drafts of this article that Jersey Al wondered if the article was just going to sit in the to-be-published queue forever.

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PeteK's picture

March 08, 2021 at 08:34 am

A very difficult road to maneuver and understand. Smiths, Amos, and Turner in 2019 , in my opinion, was all in. The10 picks in the draft will be a combo of filling needs and future. A key to all of this is the managements feelings on our young O linemen that we drafted. Two major needs are T and CB then comes everything else. Perhaps a clearer picture is coming soon as the new NFL season is days away. For me this is a very interesting time of the NFL year.

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Coldworld's picture

March 08, 2021 at 08:36 am

I would say that is a pretty astute summation. CB is the obvious gaping hole. OT could be if they don’t see Jenkins as a tackle or have doubts over the depth, but I get the feeling they are less perturbed than we are.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 07, 2021 at 07:27 pm

Pittsburgh is going to take a shot in 2021. Tampa Bay did a lot in 2020 and probably tries again in 2021. Here is what TB did:

1) They gave Brady $50M and every nickel is guaranteed.
2) They sent a 4th round pick for Gronkowski and then paid him $9M.
3) They used the franchise tag on Barrett.
4) TB re-signed 31-year old JPP for $25M over 2 years, $20M guaranteed.
5) TB re-signed 33-year old N. Suh for $8M, with every nickel guaranteed.
6) TB traded a 4th rounder to move up to 13th in the draft to get Wirfs.
With the 45th pick, they selected and hit on Antoine Winfield, a 16-game rookie starter (rather like Jenkins who went 44th in 2019). They did some depth things like signing LeSean McCoy and CB Ross Cockrell.
7) A week before the trade deadline they traded a 6th to the Jets for NT Steve McLendon (one year rental), who started the next 6 games for TB and played 21 snaps per game in their four playoff games. TB's DL was pretty good even without another rotational guy. McLendon played 20+ snaps/game even after Vea returned. McLendon would have been perfect for GB. Cheap and just a 6th rounder. If he can get snaps with Vea, Suh, Gholston, he could have commanded snaps in GB.
8) TB signed Antonio Brown on Oct. 27 for $1.25M for the remainder of the season. All Brown did was get 60 yds/game (483 for TB) which over a 16 game stretch = 960 yards, and an 85.8 PFF grade. Nice pickup and a risky one.
Dec 18 they signed Punter Justin Colquitt to the PS. In January TB signed RB CJ Prosise and ILB Deonne Buchanon to the PS. Prosise did nothing but Buchanon played in all four playoff games. Gute did the PS moves and was active in pursuing anything that was dirt cheap, and he did find some guys though none of them got the time I thought they might have.

So, TB parted with two 4th rounders, a 6th, Paid: Barrett via tag; paid JPP depsite age and just decent recent production, paid Suh, paid Brady and Gronk, and drafted for need in moving up for OT Wirfs knowing Brady can't move.

TB and Pittsburgh's window both look to be shorter than GB's appears to be with Rodgers. Thus, their all-in efforts should be more extreme than GB's. If Linsley, Jones, Jamaal, King, Lewis plus some of the RFAs sign elsewhere, it will be difficult to replace them. GB can try through the crapshoot of the draft, internal development, and with whatever money that can be scraped up for free agents. Since I think the window is still 3 seasons (AR by coincidence is signed for 3 more seasons), perhaps longer, each one of those players should be considered carefully.

So, keep the team as intact as is reasonable.
If the draft goes well, if TC looks promising, consider a nudge.
If the team is well positioned in week 8, consider a nudge prior to the trade deadline.

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packer132's picture

March 07, 2021 at 08:09 pm

Thanks for the great article and insight about the levels to consider! GPG

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Swisch's picture

March 07, 2021 at 08:48 pm

It's fascinating to see what the Bucs did last season, TGR, and I appreciate very much the breakdown.
The one idea that seems really doable with all of our draft picks would be to exchange a couple of them to move up for a player who could contribute significantly right away and perhaps be a starter for years to come, or even a star -- especially at cornerback or the interior defensive line.
In a similar way, trading late-round picks for current players who are solid and fit urgent holes in the roster seems like a good way to go at times.
Signing guys like JPP and Suh seems so risky, and even Gronk would have been really risky without Brady -- and Brady, though less risky, is going to decline one of these years.
I'm way against diva receivers. In addition, any acquisition at that position has to be evaluated as to how he may fit in with Davante and our other receivers in terms of temperament and talent. It's a delicate balance with a finite number of targets per game.
As has been mentioned in these comments, a quick and shifty slot guy like Cole Beasley (who may also return kicks and run the jet sweep) seems like a good fit as an added dimension.
When a team wins the Super Bowl, it seems like everything they did prior was the right thing to do, perhaps brilliant.
It seems the Packers front office would be really smart to look at what the Bucs did, but then to discern what they think will work for us and what won't.
For us fans, it's great material for discussion as related to current free agents and players who are reasonably available in the draft.
Again, great stuff, TGR.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 07, 2021 at 10:01 pm

A bunch of teams have been extremely aggressive or all-in for the last few seasons. Philly, NO (though NO might have been a referee's whistle away) and the Rams come immediately to mind. Philly misjudged Wentz. Goff isn't that good, and even genius offensive minds need a QB, hence Stafford. No doubt Gute has watched what all the teams have done and how they have fared. Tampa Bay looked a little shaky at times as well.

As noted in the article, the Steelers wrung every nickel out of Rothlisberger so they did not need to wait to see what the cap limit will be. GB appears to be waiting. That suggests to me that they only want to do the minimum and will let a number of current players walk.

Who knows, perhaps the cap will be much higher than expected and some of the hard choices won't have to be made.

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Fabio's picture

March 08, 2021 at 02:05 am

Congratulations on the TGR article !!!
A little reflection of mine ......
I am someone who would like to see some aggression from BG to improve D in consideration of the fact that Rodgers is getting old and generally when Qs get older they necessarily need strong Defenses and good Running backs.
Then I think about wanting to go "all-in" ...... and PHI and NO come to mind ..... then TB comes to mind. Well TB won SB so it's not debatable? I do not believe. In my humble opinion, I remember that, had it not been for arbitrage that were ridiculous, TB would have already lost against NO in the first round Play Off !!!!! So when I hear everyone taking TB into consideration or as a reference I feel a little smile ......
I believe, as with many things in life, that the truth often lies somewhere in between. This clearly does not mean that Green Bay has always done the right thing with its choices, but neither does it mean that others have necessarily always done better.
I think this season, for general team problems and not for its absolute value, bringing back P: Smith, Jones and Williams is a mistake because of the urgent needs in CB, ILB and help to Clark.
The money we are able to free must be used for one of these positions.
Congratulations again for the article, for those who know very few these aspects it was very very useful.
Greetings from Italy
GPG

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stockholder's picture

March 07, 2021 at 07:21 pm

Theres a lot to agree with here. But it's time to ask Questions. The Packers have avoided the ILB and DL in their drafts. Were a far cry from Gilbert Brown, Santana Dotson, Sean Jones and Reggie White. And the 2010 defensive unit; of Picket, Raji and Wilkins. As long as the praise keeps coming in. Don't expect anything to change. It's been protect the Franchise. Rodgers is the strength of a team. And yes Rodgers has been God sent. But Clark needs a Partner. It's not about drafting a GUY! It's about getting the RIGHT GUY! The biggest failure now is they can't Afford "That RIGHT GUY". Wolf went against the odds. TT didn't. Maybe he just didn't like Free Agency. But what disturbs me is expecting every guy to be the missing piece. And the problem all along has been what Gutes avoided.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 07, 2021 at 07:21 pm

Put the best team on the field that you can without mortgaging the future. I’m not in favor of blowing holes in the lineup just to get money for something else.

In 2020, our personnel was good enough to go to the Super Bowl but we shot ourselves in the foot too many times. Stay the course.

I also wouldn’t assume that we’ll just keep riding Rodgers as long as he is playing well. That’s not the way it worked with his predecessor. It’s been 10 years.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 07, 2021 at 09:09 pm

Time again to butt heads, old friend. It isn't about blowing holes in the roster. It is about how much risk to assume by extending players or just shifting cap hits into 2022, '23 and '24 in some cases so as to have enough money to keep current players.

ERFAs: Cost is $120K to 190K more than a UDFA. Lazard, Nijman, Taylor and Ramsey. So tender all of them. By all means bring in competition. Cost is about $600K.

RFAs: Tonyan (638 snaps), Sullivan (729), Lancaster (352), Redmond (340), Greene (324), Boyle (22). That's 2406 snaps played. By all means assess each player (Greene always gets hurt, Black/Scott can replace Redmond) but think carefully before Gute decides not to tender some of these guys.

Once the elite OC signs elsewhere, GB can't replace him in free agency or via the draft. Moving Jenkins to OC and inserting Runyan at OG is a downgrade on a team likely to be missing Bakh for quite a while and without Wagner as a security blanket. Ditto for Jones. It remains to be seen if Dillon can replace Jones. No one would pay Dillon $12M if he were a UFA in March. King wasn't good, but it will take $ or a high pick to creditably try to replace him. Rookie RBs don't do the little things Jamaal did.

There is nothing wrong with taking out a judiciously sized mortgage. And GB is going to have to do it, and probably the principal and interest will be higher than many here will like.

GB will ride AR for as long as possible. This Love affair with Love is beyond my comprehension.

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PF4L's picture

March 08, 2021 at 01:32 pm

I like how your mind works Greatreynoldo.

I may not agree with all, but most i do.

King is a liability that has to go,,,,now.
In my mind he cost the Packers big against the Bucs.
I'll be so bold as to say he shouldn't be a starting corner for any team in the NFL who wants to be taken seriously.

I think we also agree that going all in means the same to both of us. Improving your team's talent on the field, for now...not in the future.

1st)..we spend the 12th pick on a position player we had no need for. Worse yet...he was a project who was converting positions. Position: Bench
.
2nd).... We give up a 1st and a 4th for a player to sit for 3-4 years.
That didn't have to happen yet, it wasn't urgent, but Gute was obsessed with this kid dating back to 2019. Position: Bench
So......that's two drafted players we (could have had) that they won't have on the field until Rodgers retires. The opposite of wanting to win now. More like.....we're moving on.
.
3rd)...Then we draft a running back to sit on the bench in the 2nd round. Again...was not a urgent need. Not until jones is gone. Running backs are everywhere. Position: Bench
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Then draft a another tight end to throw on the pile, a tweaner in the 3rd round. guess they don't have a lot of faith in Sternberger.
.
I hear this..."lets not mortgage the future" all the time.
I'm not sure people understand what that means.
Mortgaging the future usually has to do with trading multiple high round future draft picks, or committing to much money to present contracts.
Nobody saw Covid coming, but Gute wasn't shy on spending over 240 million on free agents. That's a lot of lettuce, especially when you consider an NFL teams salary cap is 198 million.
.
So improving your team, or going all in to draft players to win now...is NOT mortgaging the future. All those players you COULD have drafted to play now, you keep those players for future years, you don't send them back to the draft.
Hence....that has nothing to do with mortgaging the future...more accurately, you're improving the future.
.
Good post Reynoldo...
I always said....i'll ride with Rodgers until his last day.
That other thing....is beyond my comprehension also.

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PeteK's picture

March 08, 2021 at 09:35 am

It's an interesting debate that was acerbated by a disappointing ending to the season. However, a young QB with raw talent that needs to be refined and nurtured while apprenticing under an aging master, while knowing that a winning team will not have the draft capital to acquire the most important position in football. That's a chance that I agree with especially since the ILB that most wanted was adequately filled with Barnes & Martin.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 08, 2021 at 01:07 pm

I don’t really see much disagreement, TGR, except for your belief that we’ll ride Rodgers until we can’t. That would mean the Packer Braintrust made a colossal blunder drafting Love, and this bunch doesn’t really remind me of our 1980s management. I think they know what they’re doing.

Imagine this scenario: The Packers fall just short in 2021, again. We have the usual bitching about the defense and the WRs. Then the Packers trade Rodgers and move on from Adams, resulting in extra draft picks and FA money. We draft that superduper WR and put a better defense on the field. How much worse off are we in 2022 than we are right now?

That’s why I don’t want to borrow against the future; we could have a very good post-Rodgers team.

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PF4L's picture

March 08, 2021 at 01:44 pm

" I think they know what they’re doing."

They thought the same thing my man.

If Love doesn't pan out. Gute will be known as a epic failure who drafted for the future while having a MVP HOF QB and a handful of Pro Bowl players and one very weak link (King). The big question is...does Gute even know King is the weak link? Maybe now he does, but now.....is too late, the damage is done.

He put his career in Jordan Loves hands. Not the smartest way to go out.

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PeteK's picture

March 08, 2021 at 04:56 pm

Remember King was good last year and then went back to his usual oft injured self last season. Love will probably need more than one preseason for us to properly evaluate him.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 08, 2021 at 05:45 pm

Oh, man - it is more fun to butt heads!

On Love, I am just looking at the probabilities regarding late first-round picks at QB. Actually, more have been pretty decent than I thought. I don't like the pick, but taking a shot at any QB the GM thinks might have a chance to be a franchise QB has prevented me from issuing a rant about it.

It is not unlike the Gary pick: I wrote that it was an awful pick - unless it works. During the snap count articles towards the latter part of the year, I remember writing that Gary is blossoming right before our eyes. He has a little way to go, and he has to be really good for 2021 and 2022 to justify the 12th pick, but probably not a good idea to double down on criticizing that pick!

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Leatherhead's picture

March 09, 2021 at 10:04 am

TGR.....you want to talk probabilities?

Make a list of all the QBs who have won a Super Bowl after their 38th birthday. Cross check that list with all QBs who won their second Super Bowl ten years after the first. The probability of Aaron Rodgers winning another Super Bowl is pretty slim.

Gutekunst has two years remaining on his deal. If he’d like an extension, he probably needs more than “we have a really expensive 40 year old QB that we keep getting close with”.

They didn’t draft Love so he could sit on the bench for four years. My gut feeling is that we’re going to take another shot this year with Rodgers, but if we fall short then we’re going to make changes.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 10, 2021 at 06:23 am

LOL. What does 10 years have to do with anything?

Unitas won a championship in 1958 and a SB in 1970 at age 37. Close, but arguably no cigar.

No QB whose last name starts with the letter "L" has ever won a super bowl. No Jordans for first name either.

No QB drafted 26th has ever won a SB.

4 QBs over 38 won a Super bowl. Peyton, Warner, Brady and Unitas.

15 QBs drafted later that 26th have won a SB out of 55 tries.

Only 9 QBs have won a Super Bowl more than once. So if your QB wins one, should the team dump the bum?

Only 34 of the gajillion QBs drafted have won at least one super bowl.

14 QBs who won at least one MVP for a season have won a SB.

HERE'S THE GOTCHA:

Every QB who has won at least three MVPs for a season outright have won more than one super bowl. That makes Rodgers a lock!

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Leatherhead's picture

March 10, 2021 at 10:30 am

I'm a little disappointed by this response, TGR. I've come to expect better.

Do you really believe the central point was the 10 year thing? Or was it that we aren't likely to win another Super Bowl with a 38 year old QB who hadn't been to The Game in over a decade?

Then the list of spurious, unrelated data points. "The Letter L"? No 26th pick? No Jordans? Come on, Man.

But at last you settled down and started making some better points and asked a good question. That's more like it, TGR. I'm going to have to ponder some of that , especially the points you made about QBs drafted after #26 winning Super Bowls. There's probably more to that picture than meets the eye.

Facts don't lie, but they don't tell the whole truth, either. Especially when they aren't entirely accurate. For example, your group of Peyton, Brady, Warner, and Unitas

Unitas was the backup QB when the Colts won in 1970. I watched that game on our new color TV we'd gotten that Christmas (we were kind of poor, and we had a perfectly good black and white). Unitas was a backup that season, while Earl Morrall won the MVP. In The Game, Unitas got a little bit of mop up time. He completed three short passes. So yeah, he won a Super Bowl.

Maybe I should have said "LED his team to a Super Bowl". That applies to Unitas, and to the Manning example as well. Manning, as many of us can recall, opened the season looking pretty....not so good. He got "injured" and Brock Osweiler took over. Manning 'came back' in time for the playoffs.

But the story of that team was their overwhelming defense. #1 in the league. I wouldn't say Manning "LED" his team to a Super Bowl.

Warner? That's a swing and a miss, I don't see Warner as winning a Super Bowl at 38. He won when he was younger, and he was a good QB for a long time, but I don't see a win after 38.

Which brings us to Brady, and Brady alone, and that's why he's the GOAT.

....if I'm the GM, trying as hard as I can to hang onto the best job in the world and getting paid millions of dollars to do it, then I would have to know that it's entirely possible the Rodgers window has already closed, and that my contract is up in two years.

Aaron Rodgers is going to be our QB this year, and he's going to be given another chance to win it. He'll have good blocking, a run game, a star receiver and several other good skill position players, and hopefully a better than average defense.

But if we fall short again, then the writing on the wall tells me that I might need to make a change, because doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is nuts.

Gutekunst could say " I'm going to go with Love, and I'll use the money I'll save and the draft picks I can get to put a stronger team around him. " I think that's easier to sell to his boss than "Well, we'll try the same thing again next year with a $40 million/year QB who is 39 and hasn't been to The Game in a long time.

So, that's as clear as I can make it. You are one of the people here who rarely disappoint me, TGR, I don't really regard it as "butting heads" as much as I see it as using a diamond to cut a diamond to give it a better shape. You challenge my assumptions and make me think things through. and present a more coherent argument. I appreciate that.

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PF4L's picture

March 08, 2021 at 08:23 am

@leatherhead.......

If our personnel was good enough to go to the Super Bowl, then...why didn't they?

Was it because the personnel didn't play good enough?

Who shot themselves in the foot too many times....was it the personnel?

Based on that...couldn't it be possible, we didn't have the personnel to go to the Super Bowl?

Did the 2011 15-1 Packer team have the personnel to get to the Super Bowl?

Did the 2014 Packers have the personnel to get to the Super Bowl?

If you answered yes to all....again. why didn't they?

I know!! I know!!.....is it because there were too many mistakes....from personnel?

Hot Take: Giving up 4 easy TD's to the Bucs due to very poor execution.... is not...shooting themselves in the foot. It's bad play from personnel.

Bottom line Leatherhead...

If your personnel doesn't execute and gives up too many easy points. that's failure to execute, that isn't shooting themselves in the foot.

The Seahawks throwing a pass that got intercepted to lose a Super Bowl instead of running Lynch is more likely classified as....a team shooting themselves in the foot.

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Coldworld's picture

March 08, 2021 at 08:41 am

I would say that the coaching was the biggest single factor in that game. LaFleur and Pettine were both out coached, but Pettine’s calling and personnel usage in the first half directly led us to lose.

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PeteK's picture

March 08, 2021 at 12:11 pm

Yes, the defensive positioning, attitude, miscommunication by a veteran coach and player with seconds left before the half is beyond my comprehension . Also, to a greater degree vs the Niners the year before when they figured out that Preston couldn't get off a block and pushed him around like a rag doll.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 08, 2021 at 09:54 am

A fumble by Jones, one of our best players, became 7 points.
An interception by Rodgers, one of our best players, became 7 points.
Rodgers , one of best players, overlooking an open Lazard, cost us four points.

It’s not a lack of talent, it’s failure to execute the basics. Our personnel, in 2011 and 2014 and 2019, was good enough. We just failed to execute when we needed to. So we agree on that. I call it shooting ourselves in the foot, you call it something else, but it isn’t a lack of talent on the field.

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Guam's picture

March 08, 2021 at 07:54 am

LH: Your first two sentences are the fundamental issue. If the Packers aren't willing to mortgage their future and other teams are, will the Packer's personnel actually be good enough to get to the Super bowl or will the Packers keep falling just short? I fear it's the latter.

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Lphill's picture

March 07, 2021 at 09:23 pm

Heres some facts , Tom Brady never was on a team with a defense ranked below 10 th in the leauge , he threw 3 interceptions against the Packers and won , he threw only one TD in the super bowl and won , Aaron Rodgers has played with a defense ranked below 10 th , 14 seasons and went to the championship game 3 times and lost , the point is it was all on Rodgers because of the defense , when they won the super bowl it was a defense ranked in the top 10 and how great it was to see the defense making plays to keep the pressure off Rodgers . Rodgers has done great things with a bad defense to support him but he can't do it all , Imagine Rodgers with Tampa's defense ?

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Oppy's picture

March 07, 2021 at 11:53 pm

How many points did the Packers offense score off of those 3 turnovers -that the defense provided-?

Enough blame to go around, to put it solely on the defense is silly.

Bottom line, better team won.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 08, 2021 at 01:15 pm

IMO, we were the better team. We had more yards on the ground, more yards in the air, a fewer turnovers.

Once again, despite all that, Brady got the job done, on the road, against a quality opponent. And that’s why he is the GOAT, and Rodgers isn’t.

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fastmoving's picture

March 08, 2021 at 04:32 am

AR had way more weapons than Brady nearly every year. AR was never that good in the play offs like at his SB run. Acually he had some really medicore playoffs and that as 15 Percent of the cap. He did not carry the Packers on his shoulders enought. Others are better when it counts. But thats the thing....if we win its all AR and if we loose its always the fault of everyone else. The D lost, the weapons, the managment, the coach. Just blame everyone just not the QB.

Most of the last 10 SB winners had worse Ds than the Pack.

But in the End we won way more than everyone else, in the last 3 decades. Besides NE. Tampa lost 20 years pretty hard and was lucky one time. How can the neandlerthal thinker like Shill, even mention such a team in the same sentence like the Packers? Can you imagine the 20 years crying from the smarties when the season is over on November over and over and over and over (20times) again? Or Dallas, where they go all in every season?

Like always was Thegreatreynoldos take pretty good and like always no facts, just fake from the "wasting my time with complaining crowd" like Syphill, just embarrassing.

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flackcatcher's picture

March 07, 2021 at 09:57 pm

A well reasoned and thought out article TGR. Two points. To expect Mark Murphy to get up say; "game over man, game over" while at his presser is nuts. His comment about how Gutekunst operates, has been SOP for Packer GM going back to the Wolf era. Gutekunst and his front office has been very good, and lucky in their drafts and free agent pick ups since 2018. From both Murphy's and Gutekunst's comments in their pressers, it is clear the Packers are trying to widen their playoff window. I'm pretty bleak on this beyond this upcoming season. The Packers have too many contracts expiring with open position holes past 2022. But as we have seen to date, counting Brian Gutekunst not to rebuild in short order is a very serious mistake.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 08, 2021 at 12:33 am

Jason LaConfora:

"Tom Brady and Bucs have been exploring options to extend his deal and create cap space. Objective is to do what he can to help retain great players and build foundation for more success, I'm told."

Brady has a $15M base salary, a $10M roster bonus, and earned $3.375M in incentives. TB has an enormous number of UFAs (25!), one RFA, and four ERFAs. Big names in the UFAs: Chris Godwin, Shaquil Barrett, Levonte David, Gronkowski, Suh, Antonio Brown. OTOH, they have OT Donovan Smith, OLB JPP, OC Jenson, all with no dead money and big cap hits due to cash and who are young enough to extend, along with TEs Brate and OJ Howard ($6M cap numbers, no dead) and WR Mike Evans. They can do some work with those players' contracts and TB is $11M under the cap already.

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nostradanus's picture

March 08, 2021 at 06:45 am

The Packers are a great NFL story. Small market team, no Fat Cat owner meddling and throwing around his money.

They have been a model of judicious spending and consistency these past 30 years and during that time have had one of the most winning records in the NFL. They have also won two Super Bowls and played in three.

All this while keeping the franchise stable and safely nestled in little Green Bay.

I love the way the Packers do business and wouldn’t change a thing.

Let the Lions Vikings and Bears squander their money. They have 0 super Bowl wines in the past 30 years!

That is all...

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PeteK's picture

March 08, 2021 at 08:53 am

I agree, reading some comments you would think that we had a losing season. With some financial maneuvering and some luck in the draft, we will be positioned as well as any team in the NFC to compete for a championship again.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 08, 2021 at 05:52 pm

The big thing so far about Gute is that in rounds one and two so far he has drafted some real plus players (a difference-maker in Jaire and two (?) more in Savage and to a lesser extent Jenkins, with Gary a possibility in 2021). TT may have found more gems and solid picks in rounds 4 and 5, but the sample is still small for Gutey.

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joefan's picture

March 08, 2021 at 12:31 pm

That will disappear once Rodgers retires. The organization has ridden the coattails of Favre and Rodgers. Look at what happens when Rodgers is hurt. They become the browns.

Even with Rodgers, the Packers haven't been to the superbowl for 10 years. So they're already 1/3 of the way through a potential 30 year drought.

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PeteK's picture

March 08, 2021 at 05:05 pm

I'm probably too old to go through that again. You never know, Love seems to have a coachable personality, has some mobility, and throwing 32 TDs with only 6 INTs is impressive stats even for backyard games.

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Oppy's picture

March 08, 2021 at 08:24 pm

Hundley wasn't ready, but I remember when Matt Flynn stepped in and started for an injured Aaron Rodgers in a 2010 game vs. the New England Patriots @ a certain Gillette field, a place where the Pats had a win streak of something like 26 game win streak (looked that one up to verify :) )

The packers didn't win that night, but Flynn and the Packers offense gave Brady and Belichick all they could handle and then some. Honestly, it was that game and that performance that turned around the Packers season that night an started the Packers on the path to their eventual super bowl victory in Dallas.

You may also recall another game where Matt Flynn stepped in for a healthy-scratch Aaron Rodgers vs. the Lions in a season finale where Flynn set the all time Packers record with 6 TD passes and a filthy number of yards with a ridiculous completion percentage to boot.

Imagine, all that being done by a QB who couldn't hold down a starting position anywhere else in the NFL, in an offense that was supposedly so poorly designed that it could only be successful when a HOF caliber QB like Rodgers was doing all the work.

Go figure.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 08, 2021 at 08:34 pm

IIRC, Flynn hurt his elbow and wasn't quite the same after it. Russell Wilson was pretty good.

I've been open to paying Boyle to return. People think I am nuts because GB has a first round QB in the wings. Still, what matters is can the backup play and win a game or even a few games. I haven't seen Boyle for quite a while and have never seen Love play in the preseason or regular season, so just going off of what the media folks and guys who observed practice thought. Their opinion is crystal clear and without any ambiguity. Boyle was much better at least in September of 2020.

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Oppy's picture

March 09, 2021 at 01:16 am

No disagreements with anything you've said here. Backup QB is always going to be important. For what it's worth, as you mention that Boyle is a more competent back up QB than Love at this point and should be considered to be brought back, I agree. I would also say that Craig Nall was a probably a more competent option in 2005 than Rodgers, who was very much a work in progress (oh, those Tedford mechanics.)

I am simply pointing out that it's not automatically the dark ages as soon as Rodgers exits stage left as the OP seems to indicate, and that despite all the hoopla, you don't necessarily need a HOF QB to win in the NFL.

Side note, the Packers are in better position to transition from a HOF talent to... someone more human? and still compete and win than they have been in the last near 30 years, due to the current offensive system employed.

When the time comes, the time comes, and you move forward.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 08, 2021 at 10:52 am

I get the impression that many of you think it is possible to “out-talent “ the other 31 teams, and that the most talented team wins the Super Bowl. I don’t think it works that way.

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PeteK's picture

March 08, 2021 at 12:32 pm

It is the greatest factor, but coaching , team unity, and perseverance are also very important. Which is why the loss to the Bucks was so painful for me because we came back from 18 down with a chance to win in the end and add another historical win to help erase the last two debacles. Sorry to bring back that nightmare yet again.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 08, 2021 at 01:32 pm

I think character is more important than talent.

When it’s the fourth quarter, and you’re hurting, and it’s cold, and the refs are screwing you, it isn’t your talent that will carry you; it’s a question of will.

We had our chance, despite everything, and we were first and goal at the 8 with a chance to tie. And we failed. To me, that doesn’t scream “Lack of Talent”.

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flackcatcher's picture

March 08, 2021 at 03:33 pm

Gute went through the great collapse in Seattle as Ted's pro personnel guy. Watching Lafleur get out coached in back to back NFC champ games must be grating on him to no end. And Lafleur is not Gute's guy, he didn't hire him. I'm wondering if Gute is temped to go the Tampa Bay route. Lafleur's contract is up and his inexperience did cost this team. With a small window left, can the Packers afford to be patience with their current head coach. I would keep Lafleur, but we all know what happened to this organization after 2014. Gute's got to be wary...

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PeteK's picture

March 08, 2021 at 05:21 pm

Usually, ,talent gets you there, but add character and you have a superstar. A team does not come from 18 pts down in the 3rd quarter without character. The miss throw to Adams that they have connected on dozens of times just left me with my head shaking, some things are just unexplainable. Look at the Saints the last few years, and if anyone should receive divine intervention it should be them.LOL

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HankScorpio's picture

March 09, 2021 at 05:47 am

I hate the notion of going "all in". Except in the case where you have a great QB with the end in clear sight. It's such an important position. If you have it covered playing the odds means doing all you can each year without "robbing" cap or picks from future years. Take 2020 for example. In the end, I think the single biggest reason they fell short was Bahk's injury. If Rodgers had been kept cleaner, I think they score enough to win that game. You can't account for that in the NFL. All you can do is hope injuries don't derail things. So if you go "all in" and injury does derail it, you are limited in your ability to recover the next year since you used cap/draft on the year that was derailed.

I really don't know how that applies to the Packers. This time last year, the fashionable talk was how to rid the Packers of the albatross around their necks that was Rodgers. One MVP season later and you wonder if he's got another 3-5 years in him. Of course, the presence of Love on the roster is yet another complication in that. The value of competent QB play on a rookie deal is another time to consider pushing a bit more on the table. But you won't know that until year 4, at the earliest.

Tough choices for Gute. And no real right or wrong choice until hindsight lets the 2nd guessing begin in earnest.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 10, 2021 at 06:43 am

Hank! I am telling you the right answer - not all the way in, but maybe close to next year. In the meantime, do enough so only two elite players exit this team in Linsey and Jones.

[I agree about Bakh - he takes care of JPP by himself and GB shifts help to RT so AR gets more time.]

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