Green Bay Ignores Sound Contract Structures in Free Agency

The Packers free agent signings suggest that the team wants to win now. 

The contract details have been published for the four major free agents the Packers have signed so far.  The front office used several devices all designed to allow the Packers to sign more and better free agents than its available cap space might have suggested.  

There was no real attempt to guard against the albatross contract by hewing to safer contract structures.  It makes me wonder if CEO Murphy and GM Gutekunst foresee labor strife in 2021.  That could mean no season, a shortened season, or an uncapped year. It makes one wonder if the Packers feel that they need to win in 2019 and/or 2020 and to do that a serious and immediate infusion of talent was necessary.  

Let's look at some metrics for these four free agent contracts.  The table below shows the signing bonus for each player and the percentage of bonus to the total value of the contract.

Player SB Total $ %
Turner $9M $28M 32.14
Preston Smith $16M $52M 30.77
ZaDarius Smith $20M $66M 30.30
Adrian Amos $11M $36M 30.55

None of these meet the benchmarks I previously suggested.  Signing bonuses in the 20 to 25 percent of the total value of the contract is a good target.  None of these percentages are good.  All of these percentages are in line with Green Bay's usual practice, which I have condemned.  All the guaranteed money comes from the signing bonuses in all four contracts except for a $1 million dollar roster bonus in 2019 in Adrian Amos' contract.  The Packers did include roster bonuses in the second and third years of all four contracts.  I would classify all of the roster bonuses in the second year of each contract as virtually guaranteed.

Another metric is the percentage of the first-year cap number to the second-year cap hit.

Player 1st Yr 2nd Yr %
Z. Smith $7.25M $17.25M 42.03
P. Smith $6.00M $13.50M 44.44
B. Turner $4.25M $7.60M 55.92
A. Amos $5.90M $9.40M 62.77

I looked for at least 70 percent but 60 percent is acceptable if the player is a young, reasonably proven player and has no significant injury history.  Adrian Amos checks the box for the lowest acceptable mark.  ZaDarius and Preston Smith do not come even within shouting distance of a reasonable benchmark: those are awful percentages. 

The workout bonuses are unusually high in three of the four contracts.  ZaDarius Smith has $750,000 workout bonuses in each of the four years, while Preston Smith follows at $650,000, and Adrian Amos at $500,000.  Billy Turner only got $350,000 workout bonuses.  I do not know if I should read anything into those high numbers.  It does seem like the Packers want to increase the size of workout bonuses in their contracts: Adams, Rodgers, and Bakhtiari all have $500,000 workout bonuses.

There might be another factor in the large increases in the cap numbers in year two of these contracts.  The CBA has some special provisions regulating overly large signing bonuses in relation to P5 salary if the contract has years that extend into seasons that will be covered by a new CBA.  The 30% rule also limits how much larger a cap number for 2021 can be than the 2020 cap number.  That explanation is long and unnecessary for the point of this article. There is no rule forcing the Packers to use excessively low first-year cap numbers.   

We can also look at the cap savings to dead money ratios by contract year.  Reaching a ratio of 1:1 is a modest milestone, and higher ratios are preferable. Here are the ratios after year one, two and three.

Player 1/2 year - Dead $ 2/3 year -Dead $ 3/4 year -Dead $
P. Smith 1 : 8 -$12M 1 : 1 - $8M 3 .125 : 1 - $4M
B. Turner 1 : 8 - $6.75M 1 : 1.2 -  $4.5M 2.6 : 1 - $2.225M
A. Amos 1 : 7 - $8.25M 1 : 1.2 - $5.5M 2.87 : 1 - $2.87M
Z. Smith 1 : 6.7 - $15.0M 1.07 : 1 - $10M 3.15 : 1 - $5.0M

These ratios (cap savings to dead money) convince me that all of these contracts are at least two-year deals barring something catastrophic such as a career-ending injury.  The sheer size of the dead money hits after each player completes just his first season are substantial in all four cases and quite large in two or three of them.  The one-year out will be bad. 

There is an out after two years since all four contracts have reached close to 1:1 ratio.  Preston Smith is shown above as having $8 million in dead money, so his cap savings is also $8 million.  Amos has $5.5 million in dead money so his cap savings is somewhat less, here $4.55 million.  I would classify those as relatively painful outs.

Most fans are familiar with the one, two and three-year out formulation listed below.

Player 1 yr out Cash/Dead 2 yr out 3 yr out
Z. Smith $22.25M/$15M $34.5M/$10M $52.5M/$5M
P. Smith $18M/$12M $27.5M/$8M $39.5M/$4M
A. Amos $14.15M/$8.25M $20.8M/$5.5M $28.1M/$2.75M
Turner $11M/$6.75M $16.35M/$4.5M $22.15M/$2.25M

I do not get a sense of what the cap savings are for each player using this formulation.  I do get the rough sense that these contracts have outs after two seasons but they are fairly painful ones.  

The Packers made no effort to hedge their bets in free agency by using conservative contract structures.  It seems apparent that the overriding consideration was to sign as many free agents as could be crammed in under the Packers available salary cap space.  Strangely enough for one who is often accused of being obsessed by the cap, I do not have much problem with this strategy.

Good talent at the 3-4 outside linebacking position rarely hits the free agent market.  When it is there, I would advocate for the team to go get it and hang the cap (at least if the team is not set at OLB already).   

The Packers had a dire need at safety and Coach Pettine likes to have good safeties.  I do not see how the Packers could have gone into 2019 with a just an okay free safety in Williams and a rookie from this draft, or Raven Greene.  I liked Ibraheim Campbell, but he is injured still and is not under contract.  The notion of moving a player from corner to safety is filled with uncertainty, especially since it is unknown whether the Packers are even considering such an option, and even among pundits and fans, there is no consensus which player should be moved.  

I am pretty neutral on the Billy Turner signing, but I have to admit he was not a player on my radar before we signed him and I have yet to watch any film of him.  The main reason I cannot greet his acquisition with acclaim is that I think the Packers could have filled the right guard position through the draft without using a day one pick. As it happens, there is a decent chance the Packers will select an offensive lineman in the first or second rounds anyway.  A couple of those candidates could be tackle-only types but most of them could cross-train at right guard and tackle.

ZaDarius Smith has the third highest AAV among 3-4 outside linebackers and the seventh highest among all edge rushers.  I do not expect him to have the third most sacks or pressures, though it would be nice. 

Contract structure is just a tool.  Ultimately, if the players GM Gutekunst signed stay reasonably healthy and play about as well as a reasonable person could expect, then contract structure will not matter.            

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Comments (117)

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Old School's picture

March 14, 2019 at 03:46 pm

If we didn't want to win NOW, we wouldn't have extended Rodgers' contract and we'd have gone with a new coach, new QB, etc. A rebuild.

It's been very clear to me since he was hired that Gutekunst plans to win with Rodgers. He also understands that if we miss the playoffs for the third straight year....two under his watch....that his seat is going to get hotter.

Really critical year coming up. We'd better hope we have good luck with injuries, officiating, and t he bounce of the ball.

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Bert's picture

March 14, 2019 at 06:53 pm

Also gotta hope that MLF and his staff can have a very short learning curve. I think that's the big question. MLF has to get the team going in the right direction very quickly. Difficult task for a rookie HC and a young staff.

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Rak47's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:37 pm

The defense is in it's second year under Pettine so they will improve and the offense should be fine as long as they can run the ball effectively and as much as LaFluer and Hackett stated they would.

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4thand10's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:42 pm

BG is entering year 2 as GM, not year 3.

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Bert's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:59 pm

While I agree Rak I think that there is more than just Pettine and the defense and running the ball effectively. MLF has to set the tone for the entire team. That's a tough job for a rookie HC. Expect some hiccups along the way. The first year may be a bit up-and-down and if MLF is the HC we all hope he is, I would expect an upward trajectory once everybody gets their bearings and starts moving in the same direction. This may take some time. Still lots of work to do.

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John30856's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:40 am

And why would you not want to win with Rodgers? Sheesh

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Samson's picture

March 14, 2019 at 04:06 pm

Too many numbers based on an unpredictable future.

But I will add to your last few words. -- If GB wins then "contract structure will not matter".

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The TKstinator's picture

March 14, 2019 at 04:11 pm

Funnel them into the Hot Gates where numbers count for nothing.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 15, 2019 at 06:16 am

No ‘300’ fans out there?

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BamaPackFan's picture

March 15, 2019 at 11:16 am

BTW, They did all die in the end. Not a plan I want for the Pack, But I get the concept of going for broke.

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BamaPackFan's picture

March 15, 2019 at 11:13 am

I am a fan of the history. That battle plan and execution was heroic and brilliant. Yes, I liked the movie too.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

March 16, 2019 at 12:20 am

The original 300 was better!

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HankScorpio's picture

March 14, 2019 at 04:18 pm

And many reports had Mark Murphy set to hand over the GM reigns to the guy that negotiated those awful looking numbers.

I'm really losing confidence in the front office braintrust in GB. I've seen nothing from ML that makes me doubt him yet, mostly because they haven't done anything. But he was hired by Larry, Moe and Curly so if I had to place a bet now, I'd go with him being Shemp.

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Hawg Hanner's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:47 pm

These numbers are not that bad. Dead cap really drops and if you want out down the road it is less painful. And cut the crap dumping on Murphy

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HankScorpio's picture

March 15, 2019 at 07:07 am

Of course dumping contracts becomes less painful as they mature. It cannot work any other way. But the cap number on the two edge rushers jumps about $10 mil from this year to next. That's a hefty cap increase for the same talent. That's bad cap management.

And why do you think Murphy should be immune from dumping on? He's inserted himself into football operations more heavily lately. The Packers are on their first back to back losing seasons since pre-Wolf. if you want to feel good about the organization from top to bottom, that's your choice. You're welcome to it. But there is plenty of reason to think something is amiss. Concluding the issue starts at the top is not "crap".

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John30856's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:40 am

yes it is crap

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ILPackerBacker's picture

March 15, 2019 at 04:12 pm

yes nothing says crap like holding the boss accountable for the product

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Coldworld's picture

March 15, 2019 at 05:59 am

Lol, couldn’t agree more on the myth of Russ Ball and the reluctance of people to accept that his influence on the team in recent years is a large part of why we are where we are. Seems people have bought into the mantra that he is a contract genius after constant repetition though.

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HankScorpio's picture

March 15, 2019 at 07:13 am

The 'genius' of front-loading contracts with tiny cap numbers is met by big cap jumps for the same players. You have to carve out more room for the same players. If you decide some of those players are not worth carving out space, the alternative is super-sized dead money hits. I've long argued that dead-money should not influence roster decisions in the moment but that doesn't mean I think dead money is not a bad thing. It is. It needs to be avoided. The way to avoid it is at contract negotiation time by doing as James suggests in the article--keep the SB down as much as possible while avoiding large out-year guarantees. That's the art of contract negotiations. Ball's "art" looks like kindergarten finger paintings

Run-away inflation is as bad in caponomics as in economics.

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BamaPackFan's picture

March 15, 2019 at 11:27 am

Your assertion is mostly true. However, these are replacement contracts. Perry's cap hit will clear after this year. I assume Clay will either leave, or take a lower contract in GB, and Amos is a replacement for a contract we would have had to give to Ha Ha. I think we got better players for the same or less contract hit. Of course they have to play well to make it a good move, but I think the money part mostly washes out after year 1, with younger, more reliable players.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 11:58 am

The point is that there is no plan B with these acquisitions. Gute is banking on them actually performing at fairly high levels. If they don't, GB will have to take good-sized dead money hits or suffer underperforming players.

I like the players (save Turner who I don't know yet). I didn't think the Packers really could compete in 2019 absent big jumps from young players already on the team and a stellar draft. Just insufficient talent. Now, my view has changed. Need a play-maker on offense, a true receiving option to pair with Davante. aR won't play forever. These moves have high risk.

So be it.

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Holecrap's picture

March 14, 2019 at 04:28 pm

On the bads news front, the vikes re signed two top d players keeping the team intact. Both opted to take less money to stay put. Now thevikescan concentrate on o line and not spend draft picks on defense. So the pack got better so did our foes.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:04 pm

I'll take Aaron Rodgers over Kurt Cousins. Vikings have a RB that can't stay healthy and lost their backup Murray. Vikings stayed good on defense and lost offensive "power". Vikings lost Sheldon Richardson.

The Lions are the ones that signed Trey Flowers to a $90 mil contract.

Bears are signing HHCD to replace Amos.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:20 pm

"Bears are signing HHCD to replace Amos"

So everyones hero Gutey gets taken to the cleaners again. Just think about what this guy did and people are applauding him. He traded away not one but TWO former first round safeties in Dix and Randall and both would be immediate upgrades over anything they currently have. We get Kizer a disaster career loser backup who will be out of the league after this year and then we have to pay out the ass for a safety the Bears didn't even want. Yeah, Gutey is knocking it out of the park so far. Had Gutey simply done nothing and kept Dix and Randall he would have been a thousand times better off. Cleveland improves with Randall and Chi improves with Dix over Amos. Worse yet, 95% of the people here think he's God because he "not Ted". It's madness I say, madness!!

Dash

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Adorabelle's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:40 pm

With Mr. Dix I think it is a case of he could be a good player for this team if he wished. But he didn't wish to anymore and had appeared to have given up on the Packers of Green Bay. In his last partial season in Green Bay he was on pace for about 50 tackles in the season and then In Washington he was on pace for over 100. He seemed to be done with Green Bay.

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mamasboy's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:00 pm

Adorabelle, if he was so great, why did Washington let him go? Did he seem to be "done" with Washington, as well? With the exception of one season with the Packers, Dix was absolutely NOTHING special. He didn't "WISH" to be a Packer? HAHAHAHAHAHA!

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mamasboy's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:47 pm

Mrs. Dash, Amos was the 8th rated safety in the league last year according to PFF. Monica Lewinski's preference,Clinton Dicks was allowed to leave Washington. If he was such a big addition to the team, wouldn't they want to pair him with Landon Collins next year and make their defense impenetrable? One would think so. We came out far better than the Bears did, in this little safety swap. With all of the bad asses on the Bears defense, he'll be treated like the team bitch, when they realize he doesn't want to hit.Good riddance,loser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Skip greenBayless's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:56 pm

Dix wanted out of Green Bay. He was playing half ass on purpose. I have two unnamed sources which I won't disclose that know what the deal was. His play in the end days of GB was totally intentional. I am telling you the Bears got the better deal and it's not even close. Dix is all in with the Bears. The Bears almost got the equivalent of an Earl Thomas. Dix is a man on a mission again. He's going to make the Packers pay. Gutey got played by Dix and by Randall/John Dorsey. I know everyone wants to look at PFF. Believe me, nobody in Chicago is crying over losing Amos. He was considered the weak link on the defense. The Bears are making all the right moves. The Packer unfortunately are not but the fans won't realize this until half way thru this season when they see Aaron Rodgers is still the same Aaron Rodgers of last year only getting worse. It's not going to be pretty. The only thing that keeps me going is the fact Mike Pettine is still there.

Dash

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The TKstinator's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:56 pm

And I have seven unnamed sources that told your two unnamed sources they were just kidding when they gave you that “information”.

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LeotisHarris's picture

March 14, 2019 at 09:56 pm

Excellent work, TK. A lot of people are saying ol' Dash has been frequenting soothsayers and psychics again because he's lost his visioning mojo. When one resorts to unnamed sources, well, just remember what former VP Dan Quayle said: "how said it is to not have a name, or to be unnamed, how true that is."

And, Dash, we all know your fiber-rich diet keeps you going, and going and going. Please leave Mike Pettine out of it.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 15, 2019 at 05:44 am

Where there is smoke, there is fiber.

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mamasboy's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:13 pm

'' The bears almost got the equivalent of Earl Thomas". HAHAHAHAHAHA. That proclamation in itself shows that you're one of the attention seekers in this comment section. Making a mindless statement in an effort to get a reaction. I'm going to ignore your posts from now on, so I don't fuel the fire. Please Mrs. Dash spare us.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:22 pm

Rash Diprock you act like Gute got nothing for Dix. Washington gave up a 4th rounder for HHCD you aren't factoring into the equation. That's a lot to give up for a half a season of mediocre safety play.

The Bears are signing safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. HHCD is a cheap 1 year rental that's not a great estimate to Chicago's faith in his abilities.

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The TKstinator's picture

March 15, 2019 at 07:25 am

Pretty silly for Wash to give up a 4th for a guy who played half a season and then didn’t even want to retain.
Score that one as a pawsitive for Gute.

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stockholder's picture

March 14, 2019 at 09:03 pm

Dash everyone was surprised he was let go. He even said he doubted he would be back. The Packers were not going to reward insubordination. MM lost his job because of it. The Packers had 2 yrs. of losing. WE had BAD players. Anyone that remembers Starr, knows what happened in his final years. Gute made these moves to level the playing field. The changes bring Hope. The money spent will inspire other players. The make-up of the team became more about winning, then negativity. This team is BROKE. It needed Fixing! Only good players can fix it. Players that stay on the field. We don't have enough yet. The changes show this team wasn't as good as expected. Right moves don't win ball games. Good play does. Arron Rodgers may still be the same. But the players that he depended on for so long, are Gone! Changing the scenery can only motivate him now. A-Rod on a bad day , is still the king of the hill. No one will push him off. And that OL better make sure it doesn't happen this year. The league got tougher. We need to be tougher. The right path is GOOD DEFENSE. Not waiting for players was Gute's right move. And thats exactly what he must do in this draft. The draft and Development is not the right fix. It's Reload and conquer.

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Adorabelle's picture

March 15, 2019 at 01:48 am

Mr. Clinton-Dix has ball skills and might do well in Chicago with all that talent hounding the passer in front of him. He is a cheap "worth a shot" buy for that team. But the Packers of Green Bay need more physicality and someone who wasn't going to give up if things didn't go how he liked, so he was not wanted here.

Mr. Amos does not appear to intercept the ball often but he is known for hitting and tackling and the Packers of Green Bay sure need some of that. The Chicago Tribune writer said the Packers will come to appreciate his toughness, intelligence, love of the game and earnest contributions. In Chicagoland he was not worth the money paid in Green Bay for him - but the needs of this defense is different than of the one there.

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Adorabelle's picture

March 15, 2019 at 01:59 am

"Dix wanted out of Green Bay. He was playing half ass on purpose. I have two unnamed sources which I won't disclose that know what the deal was. His play in the end days of GB was totally intentional"

Wait , wait just wait a moment. You are saying you know for sure he was playing bad on purpose and you wish the team had kept this player? You really hate the Packers of Green Bay don't you?

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Since'61's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:54 am

Dash is just desperately trying to remain relevant. Reality or facts have no place in his world or his comments.

"You must look at facts because facts look at you." Sir Winston Churchill

Thanks, Since '61

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Demon's picture

March 15, 2019 at 09:02 am

You make some pretty bold predictions there Dash. Boyle is the next Packers HOFer, Perry going to stay healthy and be productive, Brice is the next Nick Collins, now Clinton Dix is a man on a mission.

What is it like living in your fantasy world? You are so far out of touch with reality its laughable. The best part of course is when you come on here and state that you and old school are the smartest here. I have to assume that you are now suffering from the same form of dementia that your man crush TT has.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

March 15, 2019 at 11:18 am

White Tornado, did you ever notice the smartest people here are always the ones getting run down constantly here? There's a reason for that. The smartest ones are the most honest and do not sacrifice honesty and integrity over being just a fan of the Packers. Old School in my professional opinion, is THE smartest guy here currently followed by me. It used to be the late John T. Kirk followed by Taryn. Taryn has since become very quiet but she has nothing to prove anymore after years of getting slammed. Her prediction of Kyler Fackrell was legendary. She has hall of fame status. Nothing she says or does matters anymore and I think she knows that. She has nothing to prove. Her legacy is solidified. Old School is also on a legendary trajectory to hall of fame status and I think you all know this as well. Not everyone can be great like a few of us are but you can at least have a little bit more respect for those people rather than belittle, mock and tear down. None of the four mentioned get paid. Please keep that in mind. Kirk was one that left and I suggested a GoFundMe but nobody seemed to care. The last thing you want here is Taryn, Old School and Dash leaving. Without us the Packers are winning the super bowl every single year. You're welcome!!

Dash

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The TKstinator's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:34 pm

“Without us the Packers are winning the super bowl every single year”

If that’s true, why would we want to keep you around???

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Demon's picture

March 15, 2019 at 02:51 pm

Just another idiot with a keyboard.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 15, 2019 at 10:04 am

"His play in the end days of GB was totally intentional."

And exactly why he's so delusional. No loss, his play never was any good. Talk about waste of a draft pick.

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4thand10's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:52 pm

no way...Ha Ha can't tackle and he's not fast...Randall might make Cleveland a little better ..and that's a very big "might" but he did not make Green Bays defense better. None of these signings puts GB in cap hell long term and I believe makes the team much much better.

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albert999's picture

March 14, 2019 at 09:55 pm

Sorry Riproar
cobb slow and always injured
hahahahaha had 50% effort most of the time and gave up when he could
he just forgot cameras are always rolling
Amos has much better engine

Uncle Albert

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packrules's picture

March 15, 2019 at 07:37 am

Dash, have you actually watched the Packers the past couple of years? I didn't think so...

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Demon's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:34 am

I said right from the start trading Randall was a mistake. He was completly over with MM and Capers.

McCarthy didnt want him so Gute traded him. Another of the "highly successful coach" failings.

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John30856's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:42 am

you really don't know what it is you are talking about

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gary g's picture

March 15, 2019 at 11:58 am

If you really think DIx is better than Amos you should seek mental help. Your a joke.

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TXCHEESE's picture

March 14, 2019 at 04:46 pm

The Packers are in the upgrade mode. The days of middle of the road FA acquisitions to fill depth are gone for now. They had little choice but to spend on good talent. Last year outside of Graham, they went with late season free agents, and that got them nowhere. Until the upcoming drafts begin to fill the talent void, the only reasonable way to maximize AR's next 2 -3 years is to spend big. While these are expensive contracts, they're not a total albatross, unless injury strikes. These are all young players that may have their best years ahead. I'll take that any day over a Graham, Bennett etc.

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Lare's picture

March 14, 2019 at 05:01 pm

I think the key to the contract structures is the fact that these players have stayed fairly healthy throughout their careers so far.

As we saw with Perry, Cobb & Matthews, having a lot of money tied up in injured players kills your chances of winning, especially if you don’t have much quality depth on your roster.

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 14, 2019 at 05:16 pm

Instead of labor strife they might simply be anticipating a big bump up in the cap after the new labor agreement is signed for the 2021 season. And all of these guys are 25-27 right now, which means they won't be too old for their contracts to be viable in four years. These are also all guys who have proven to be at least average NFL players already (really, all above average on the D side of the ball). So the floor is solid, and the ceiling is higher. Risky? A bit. Horrendously risky? I don't think so.

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Lare's picture

March 14, 2019 at 06:37 pm

The draft is always a crapshoot, you never know how college players are going to respond to the higher level of conditioning, scheme and talent that is required at the NFL level.

TT always spurned signing other's FA's and instead concentrated all his resources into re-signing his own players. That's fine when the players continue to be productive, but kills you when they're not.

What Gutekunst did here is to sign young, ascending players that have shown the ability to stay healthy, available and productive. That allows him to eliminate the draftee variables and to fill in the gaps & add quality depth in the draft.

I'd predict that this not only improves the Packers dramatically this season, but also for future seasons.

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Adorabelle's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:34 pm

I agree with most of all of this argument. The draft IS a crapshoot but thus so is free agency. You never know how players react to a new system, a new city, a new contract. You hope that these young players not only play well but even improve. A team should always be looking to add as many good players as they can afford. With free agents you just have to hope you are signing Reggie White and Charles Woodson and not Jeff Saturday or Martellus Bennett,

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4thand10's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:56 pm

Your right, and I think they are going to be productive with Clark and Daniels and possibly Wilkerson in the middle.

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PeteK's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:07 pm

On that note, Za Darious could play end in some defensive configurations because he's 275 lbs.

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Community Guy's picture

March 14, 2019 at 05:23 pm

great work and analysis. i see the 2 Smiths as having a minimum of 3 year contracts. the theory regarding the new labor agreement is not something i had thought about.. i would be curious to read or learn more on the topic from the GB management perspective and the players' perspective.

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4zone's picture

March 14, 2019 at 05:58 pm

The release of Perry was not designated as a post June 1 release so the Packers ate all the dead money this year instead of kicking the can down the road. All our FA's contracts are light for the first year to counter how they released Perry. In year 2, Perry will have zero against the cap, enabling the Packers to take advantage of that cap room.

If ownership truly sees an abnormal, truncated or terminated season in 2021, these contracts make perfect sense. If not, it leaves the door open to cut losses after 2 and 3 years if necessary. And most importantly, we can now use our draft to both strengthen the current team while building for the future like we used to.

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sonomaca's picture

March 14, 2019 at 09:06 pm

Not to mention, we don’t know what other teams were offering. Perhaps these were, “take it or leave it” deals. If the agent’s saying, “you’ve got 10 minutes or he’s going to Cleveland,”. Just say yes!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 01:29 am

I don't think Perry has anything to do with the structure of these 4 players. GB and Ball has been using extremely low first year cap numbers for at least 10 years.

Remember Peppers had a $3.5M cap hit in year one, which TRIPLED in year two to over $10M in 2015 and 2016.

Same old, same old.

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4thand1's picture

March 14, 2019 at 06:30 pm

Jordy cut by Raiders.

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Lare's picture

March 14, 2019 at 06:46 pm

Loved Jordy as a player in his prime, but that's two teams in two years. Like TJ Lang, he needs to read the handwriting on the wall.

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sonomaca's picture

March 14, 2019 at 09:09 pm

Disagree. Jordy could really help the young guys, teach them about the nuances if Rodgers’ game. Plus, could still make some contribution in field. Maybe 35 passes a year.

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albert999's picture

March 14, 2019 at 09:56 pm

They pissed Jordy off
He’s not coming back

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Skip greenBayless's picture

March 14, 2019 at 11:56 pm

I bet Jordy clicks his cowboy boots and heads back to his family farm in Kansas with his wife Dorothy and dog Jordo.

Dash

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 14, 2019 at 06:50 pm

Sitton was released as well.

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rstain99's picture

March 15, 2019 at 09:35 am

I like Josh Sitton, spits nails plays thru pain stick him at right guard move Billy to tackle, we must bring back Breeland he is key, hopefully he I not pissed off he was nor first day FA signee. This would give us great flexibility at draft time. Lewis signing makes me think no Fant or Hock in Green and Gold

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PeteK's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:10 pm

Nobody else picked Breeland up.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

March 14, 2019 at 06:52 pm

They have some nerve I tell you what!!

Dash

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John30856's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:44 am

take him back on a 1 year contract

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Since'61's picture

March 14, 2019 at 06:45 pm

TGR - I think that you have made an excellent point about the upcoming CBA negotiations in 2021.

It is possible that there will be a protracted work stoppage. There are several major issues that will need to be worked out and I think both sides are very far apart. Of course things could change between now and then but I don't think either side has made any moves towards negotiations yet.

It may be that the Packers accounted for a work stoppage in 2021. In any case these are solid signings for the Packers and as long as these players remain healthy I expect that the Packers will benefit work stoppage or not. Thanks, Since '61

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 01:35 am

I like the players, hate the structures. Liking the players is more important than the structure.

I've been reading mostly snippets about the new CBA. I hesitated to speculate because in truth until push comes to shove one can have indications but no one really knows how those negotiations will go. Murphy might know what other owners seem to be thinking, but what do the players want?

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cuervo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 06:24 am

Didn't the salary cap increase by a large amount after the last CBA? My guess is that's what the Packers and any other teams are thinking will happen again, work stoppage or not.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:09 pm

Not in the first year, and it surprised the hell out of the owners and union. They even had to amend the agreement using a side agreement just to make the draft work in 2012.

The 2011 cap was $120M and the 2012 cap was $120.6M. The $600,000 didn't pay for the slotting increases in the rookie wages, so a side-agreement was reached altering the CBA for a year just so teams could sign the draft picks.

The cap went from $120.6 to just $123M, another disagreeable surprise to the parties.

I think the NFL might have hit its Zenith as to growth. There is gonna be a fight over the pie if it settles into its current 6% growth rate.

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Since'61's picture

March 15, 2019 at 09:07 am

TGR - some the issues that I am hearing include the number games both preseason and regular season. The owners want 18 regular season games the players won't go for it it. Plus the players want only 2 preseason games.

Other issues include the salary cap and the amount of revenue sharing between the owners and the players. There are also issues about player safety, pensions, funding for players with long term and/or permanent injuries resulting from NFL play, etc. I'm getting all of this second and third hand so I don't know how much is accurate at this point. Also, there will be plenty of posturing by both sides until they get serious and sit down to hash it out.

Nothing would surprise me including a long drawn out work stoppage. Remember that except for their insidious greed the owners don't need the money (they have plenty already). I could see some NFL players going to the AAF in a long work stoppage to get by until the new CBA is settled. Time will tell. focusing on the draft for now. Thanks, Since '61

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:12 pm

I am one place removed from your sources. At least half of what I base my take upon is from Jason Fitzgerald and Joel Cory, along with some tweets by players.

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Since'61's picture

March 16, 2019 at 09:47 am

My sources are colleagues who consult on CBAs. Some have been on the owners side and some have been on the players side in the past.
At this point their information isn't any more accurate than anyone else. I have subcontracted a few of them in the past when there have been unions involved with my Merger and Acquisition consulting work.

The rule of thumb is that the bigger the pot (of money) the bigger the fight for it. That is why there is the expectation of a work stoppage in 2021.

We'll see. For certain, the rumors and innuendos will fly until the deal is done. Thanks, Since '61

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Qoojo's picture

March 14, 2019 at 06:49 pm

There was a report that polled FA players, and GB was a less desirable location. Given the record the past two seasons, and uncertainty of a new coach and system, there is no guarantee that they will improve. Put all that together and you get that GB might need to pay a premium to get some FAs.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 15, 2019 at 02:45 am

The city of GB is why players don't want to be Packers. The population is 96.5% caucasian. There isn't a night life. It's the idea of going out to a small town that's cold in WI that FAs don't like. Once players come to WI and realize that they have a dedicated fanbase and are treated like celebrities their attitudes change.

GB offers Rodgers, a state of the art training facility. A GM that tries to create a healthy locker room atmosphere. A sold out stadium with a waiting list for season tickets. Contracts always seem expensive initially especially at a premium position.

Rodgers contract extension of $110 million seemed huge. Flacco got $120 million over 6 years. Tre Flowers and Dee Ford have contracts of almost 90 million compared to that the Smiths seem cheap. It'll be interesting to see how these players live up to these contracts.

NE had the same "popularity" ranking as GB in that article. They aren't paying a premium for FAs.

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Qoojo's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:19 pm

True. But Patriots are winning. Winning helps get some discounts. Once GB starts winning again, it will make things cheaper.

I was surprised to see where the new guys ranked on highest paid packers list. All top 10. I wouldn't have expected it for the new OG (forget name) and Amos.

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kevgk's picture

March 14, 2019 at 08:50 pm

that stat is just meaningless in nominal money. I would be more interested in highest paid packers by cap percentege or relative wealth.

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Flow49's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:51 am

Rodgers was on a pretty cheap deal when Flacco got paid. He didn’t get his $110 mil extension until a month after Flacco.

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Flow49's picture

March 15, 2019 at 10:34 am

And the sky is blue

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bigspiker's picture

March 14, 2019 at 06:54 pm

Does it mean that they expect their biggest contract to be retired in two years and that they will have a player in that position that is still in their rookie contract? Just a thought...

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scullyitsme's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:16 pm

Sounds like the players have representation also, it’s a supply and demand game, players want more money early, they don’t want the kind of contracts this article stated for the exact reasons it gives. Who wants a contract that says a team can cut you after a year without much of a penalty? That’s either a bad player that has to take it, or a bad agent that lets their player sign it. Also as mentioned before it’s Green Bay. I love it, most players when they get here love it, but you have to get them here first.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 01:46 am

Very true. I did however just write an article showing that Chicago and MN don't pay nearly as much in signing bonuses. More mixed results but those teams pay less in guaranteed money and even then the guaranteed money they pay falls off the contract in year one and two because they consist of roster bonuses in year one and two or guaranteed base salary.

In Green Bay, it is much harder for the team to cut a player after two years than it is in MN and Chicago.

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scullyitsme's picture

March 15, 2019 at 10:09 am

I’m all for saving the packers money, as long as we can still get the players.

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HankScorpio's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:04 am

" Who wants a contract that says a team can cut you after a year without much of a penalty? "

The players that don't want a contract with a cap number that makes them a target. For example, the jump on Za'Darius Smith from $7 to $17 mil puts a target on his back in yr 2. It plants the seed that he's not worth the cap price. The contract structure says they cannot cut him due to dead money hit.

So he'll be cut in yr 3 when that structure balance allows him to be cut. Unless he develops into one of the best defenders in the NFL, his $20 mil cap hit in 2021 means he signed for 2 yrs, not 4. The Packers will be faced with replacing him with about $6 mil in cap savings and $10 mil in dead money. The same thing applies to a lesser degree with the other 3 additions.

I'm willing to predict right here and right now that all 4 are gone in 2021 with $27 mil (ish) in dead money. That is, unless the CBA changes things as James mentions in the article.

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scullyitsme's picture

March 15, 2019 at 10:17 am

It’s free agency, my guess is one will be a dud, one will work out great, and the other two will be decent. That in my mind will be a big win. Here’s hoping. You can be mad about the contracts if you want but we are much better off now then we where a couple days ago. If you want to be mad, level it at our drafting the past few years rather than the contracts we signed this year to make up for it.

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sonomaca's picture

March 15, 2019 at 10:49 am

That gives them two years to find replacements, but at least they have a chance to win over next two years. The NFC North was a powderpuff division for years. A cakewalk for the Pack, which is why Ted’s no FA strategy resulted in many division titles but only one SB.

Things are different in the North now. None of the teams are weak sisters. The worst thing that could happen to GB would be if the team became a bottom-dweller.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Agree mostly, Sonomaca. I suspect that Gute/Murphy focused on 2019 and 2020, figuring that 2021 is going to be weird.

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sonomaca's picture

March 15, 2019 at 01:24 pm

They’re not the only ones. Lots of unusual FA contracts. Here’s the thing: let’s say no 2021 season. That means Rodgers has two seasons ahead and then, who knows.

Try to win the SB in next two years. After that, it’s all a great unknown.

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SterlingSharpe's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:35 pm

In the end, the only thing that will matter is how well will these guys play, and will their good health last?
Or will they get unfortunate injuries a la Muhammad Wilkerson, which is just bad luck.

These players are just entering their prime peak years so as long as our scouts are right about them, it's better than drafting college guys as that is a total crapshoot. See Josh Jones. See Orren Burks. See Jeremy Thompson, etc. Rare for those rookies to come in and make an NFL team better right away. You don't find many Jevon Kearse, JJ Watt, Von Miller, Khalil Mack types.

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Lare's picture

March 15, 2019 at 05:43 am

As you say, hopefully these new players can continue to stay healthy.

I would be much more optimistic about that happening if the Packers had a different strength & conditioning staff.

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John30856's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:46 am

oh come on their conditioning program is just fine

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sam1's picture

March 14, 2019 at 07:45 pm

Sure a wide variety of opinions here and all but for one guy makes sense. Who knows what the future holds, except negativity here shouldn't be one. I think the future of the Pack looks pretty dang bright vs the last 2 years. And it seems the departures of Lang, Nelson and Sittion all being cut appear to be the right decisions!

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John30856's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:47 am

totally agree Dawg!!

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Packer Fan's picture

March 14, 2019 at 09:03 pm

Sorry, but I like what Gute did. We had Ted T driving the franchise in to the ground with poor drafts and a coach that lost his edge. We had over $30 mil to spend because there was no up and coming player on the roster to spend it on. Spending big bucks on Matthews and Cobb on the down hill side of their careers will just keep the roster short of talent. You can do all the analysis you want but these new guys fill holes and makes the roster better. This is the risk versus reward game that Gute, Murphy, Brandt and Lafleur are betting on. Yes there is a chance they will miss, but I prefer them swinging for the fences while we still have Rodgers around.

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Since'61's picture

March 15, 2019 at 09:12 am

Absolutely agree. What is the money for anyway. Spend it and try to improve the team. TT kept plenty of cap space and where did he get us and more importantly look at the miserable roster he left behind. Thanks, Since '61

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Packer Fan,

It sounds like you're disagreeing with me, but I think your comment distills the article down to its essence pretty well, except for ignoring the risk. I noted the risk but concluded it is worth it.

I just wish we had dumped Cobb and CM3 after 2017, and refrained from the dubious from the moment it was announced signing of Graham so Gute could have spent $65M and fired MM a year earlier as well.

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PatrickGB's picture

March 14, 2019 at 09:12 pm

These players are relatively young and fill positions of need. The cap goes up every year. The clock is starting to tick for Rodgers. Gutekunst’s latest move makes sense.

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albert999's picture

March 14, 2019 at 09:59 pm

At least we have young energy that will mix well with the new coaching staff
We haven’t seen energy since McCarthy was late for a Thanksgiving dinner

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LeotisHarris's picture

March 14, 2019 at 10:07 pm

When is Ed Wood going to weigh in on these contracts? He's the scribe here who understands numbers and odds and whatnot. How does online sports betting view these deals? I'd say Ed's even better than Tgr with the ciphering and goes-in-tos. We want Ed!

A lot of people are saying Gute utilized an Amway-like system of distributors, coupons, quit-claim deeds, writs of adverse possession, front-end loading, labor strife anticipation, the Davis-Bacon Act, and a metric crap ton of elbow grease to make these contracts work. TT would have just let Russ Ball do it, and we all know RB can barely count his fingers and toes.

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marpag1's picture

March 15, 2019 at 03:54 am

Ball has been with the team a long time. When is the last time that the Packers were in cap hell?

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marpag1's picture

March 15, 2019 at 03:51 am

Contract numbers are like combine numbers. If a safety can play, no one will care if he ran a 4.63 forty.

When has anybody been signed in free agency and someone did not think that he got overpaid? That’s never going to happen so long as players are inclined to accept the highest offer.

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HankScorpio's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:09 am

"Contract numbers are like combine numbers. If a safety can play, no one will care if he ran a 4.63 forty."

That's only true when the league institutes a combine numbers cap.

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Lphill's picture

March 15, 2019 at 05:43 am

Dix should have been gone after the way he played the 2 point conversion in Seattle. He was absolutely horrible on that play which cost them a SB appearance.

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dobber's picture

March 15, 2019 at 07:31 am

Wait...I thought it was MM's conservative play-calling that cost them that SB appearance...

...no, no, it was Bostick on the onside kick...

...oh, wait, it was Burnett sliding down on the INT...

...uh, hold on, it was going for 3s rather than 7s in the first half...

...sorry, it was blown coverages in OT...

...I'm so confused.

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John30856's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:52 am

LOL, great points

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Since'61's picture

March 15, 2019 at 09:13 am

It's been a while but it's time for another cookie for Dobber!!!
Thanks, Since '61

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Tundraboy's picture

March 15, 2019 at 10:30 am

It was the first dam breaking moment as I recall. I remember feeling as if it was like watching wile e coyote or Sylvester. Complete with a thought balloon over McCarthy's head saying "Oh No!"

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Well, GB did get rid of Bostick, Burnett, Peppers, HHCD, and MM, eventually, but probably only Bostick got the ax for his performance during that game. I suppose MM might have been due to the usual delayed reaction that the GB front office generally displays.

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Spock's picture

March 15, 2019 at 06:38 am

It looks as if the vast majority of commenting here look at this as the price of getting good young talent while it's available to fill needs with proven talent. Seems like a consensus that if they play well and stay healthy-which appears somewhat likely given the players low injury history [crosses fingers]- these contract numbers will look fine down the road. I agree with this and I am excited to see how the draft will go as well. I thought Gute's first draft was pretty darn good (as far as we can judge a draft only one year out). If he can nail this upcoming one this year could be really fun! Go, Pack, Go!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:14 pm

Hi, Spock. For me it is also because it was mostly OLB talent. WRs, safeties, DTs, pretty much everything comes on the free agency market every year other than QB. Get OLB talent whenever the getting is good.

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Spock's picture

March 16, 2019 at 09:22 am

Hi, TGR. I enjoyed the article and (as always) learned more about the cap contracts from you. Nicely written.

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John30856's picture

March 15, 2019 at 08:55 am

A lot of the comments, as is always the case, are negative and all knowing.
I agree, Go Pack Go and chill on the over analyzing lol

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PeteK's picture

March 15, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Why do we have to rehash that Seattle nightmare again. Especially a few days after we signed a few solid young players. Also some people have to constantly dump on Mm and Thompson. They were great and gave us many winning seasons. So lets look ahead to the draft where we have 4 picks out of the first 76.

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