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Mike Daniels Release Shows the NFL is a Results Business

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Mike Daniels Release Shows the NFL is a Results Business

Ladies and Gentlemen, if we have learned anything over the years, it is that there is no loyalty in the NFL.  We simply have to accept that notion at face value and move on.  

The release of Mike Daniels this Wednesday is just another example of the effects of maximizing player productivity in a salary cap centric sport.  Simply put, Brian Gutekunst did not belive Mike Daniels production was worth his salary.

It is not easy to say this but, the Packers absolutely made the right decision by choosing to part ways with Mike Daniels.  Daniels is on the wrong side of 30 and was coming off an injury-plagued season which led to a dip in his production.  He was scheduled to make over $10 million in the final year of his deal and was in a position group filled with young talented players on the rise.

Releasing Daniels should give Packer Fans optimism because this move shows a clear vote of confidence for players like Dean Lowry, Tyler Lancaster, Montravius Adams, and Kingsley Keke.  Let's not forget that the Packers still had around $8.5 million in cap space before the release of Mike Daniels, so it wasn't like they had no other options.  

Additionally, the Dean Lowry contract extension only incurs a 2019 cap number of just over $3.64 million which would have left the Packers with around $5 million left in cap space.  This means Brian Gutekunst could have absolutely kept Mike Daniels for the 2019 season if he believed he could have made enough of an impact.

What to Look for Moving Forward:

The release of Daniels allows the Packers to start taking care of the current players on their roster that are up for new contracts and are on the right side of 30.  Even with the 3-year $20.345 million of new money given to Dean Lowry, the Packers still have about $14.3 million in cap space.  

This gives Brian Gutekunst a significant amount more salary-cap flexibility to look to resign players like Kenny Clark, Blake Martinez, and Kyler Fackrell, as well as target any players who are salary cap casualties who can make a last-minute upgrade to the 2019 roster.

I believe there could still potentially be some last-minute roster movement before the 2019 season begins.  

I believe that Kenny Clark and either Blake Martinez or Kyler Fackrell will have a new contract before the start of the season and that we will see one more significant player released before the end of training camp.  

The move to release Jordy Nelson last season and Mike Daniels before the Packers first training camp practice shows us that no one is safe, and Brian Gutekunst will do whatever he has to do to get younger and create salary-cap flexibility.     

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David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Lare's picture

The Packers will be fine on the DL with Clark, Lowry, Adams, Lancaster, Keke, Brown and the other rotational players added in free agency and the draft.

Besides the salary cap savings, this also frees up a roster spot for a younger player that may not have made the final roster otherwise.

Hawg Hanner's picture

Nice article but would also mention that trade attempts apparently failed and rather than keep him in camp they let him go early so he could have some options open.

Tarynfor12's picture

Now that the dumpster fire of a defense has essentially been emptied, not to discount the better play of some on an individual basis though not as great as some blindly believed it to be, this defense has no where to go but up based on what has been witnessed.
I have personally never felt more optimistic going forward than I do now even after saying I'd hold back any thoughts until they actually begin game play.
Just knowing that the excuse ride many were given is over,how can one not feel ' optimistic ' however not ' blindly. '

Nick Perry's picture

"we will see one more significant player released before the end of training camp."

IMO Graham is safe and probably Tramon Williams. IF Crosby was one of the possible players I'd hope the replacement they have in mind is someone OTHER than Sam "Fricken" Ficken.

I suppose they could cut Bulaga or Taylor BUT they finally have a little depth. There's that and Billy Turner is a better Guard than Tackle so I'd just soon hang onto B Bulaga. Bulaga is really the only one that would add some decent coin to the cap by cutting him (About $6.7 million). But at the end of the day, I definitely prefer Bulaga at RT over anyone else currently on the roster... I sure Rodgers does too.

If they REALLY want to add more to the cap, Taylor akes the most sense but only gains you a tad less than $3 million in cap room.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The money/cap casualties are limited: Bakh ($5.8M), Bulaga ($6.41M), Linsley ($2.8M), Taylor ($1.725M), Clark ($1.675M), Martinez ($2.025M) make no sense.

Taylor ($1.725M in cap savings) makes little sense. GB would have to bet big on Jenkins and a backup OG (McCray/Patrick?).

Crosby ($3.45M) isn't that good of a kicker, but the bet would be pretty big on someone else.

Tramon at $3.65M is probably the 2nd string FS, and the nickel or dime back. I doubt it, but not wholly out of the question.

Fackrell: $2.025M seems very unlikely. Donnerson? Roberts?
Allison: $1.6M in savings. Seems very unlikely.
Marcedes: $1.55M savings. Yeah, maybe, but doubt it.
Spriggs: $1.13M savings. Possible.
Kizer: 915K savings. Possible.
Trevor and Vitale: 720K not enough $ really.

If GB cuts someone else significant, it is more likely to be a "Name" guy than a money issue. Most of these guys would have to get clearly outperformed by someone in training camp, and even then it is still a risk.

[All Cap Savings recalculated to reflect savings if released/waived today - mostly that's workout bonuses which have been paid by now by the Packers.]

Lare's picture

If anyone I'd think it could be Crosby. He was the 23rd ranked kicker in field goal percentage last season yet one of the higher paid kickers. He's 34 years old and currently injured, not elements that are high on Gutekunst's list.

cheesy_buffalo's picture

If you take out his one horrific game against DET he jumps all the way up to 6th or something like that. Crosby is still a damn good kicker and I guarantee that if he is cut he will be a Bear in less than 24 hours.

ILPackerBacker's picture

how is he when you remove every kickers worst game?

Rak47's picture

I agree, how many years have the Packers been looking for a competent punter since releasing Craig Hentrich? Gute may have finally drafted one some 20 years later.

Hawg Hanner's picture

Look how hard it is to get a kicker. Bears wish they still had Robbie Gould.

Qoojo's picture

I think the packers are a better team with Daniels on the team, but that's without considering the price. I suspect that his release was more about a potential future deal to keep a younger rising player, not just Lowry.

So in the end, the story is 100% correct. The packers evaluated if Daniels projected performance this year is worth the difference in pay relative to his replacements/backups, and his release is the answer. He didn't get enough pressure last year, injured or not. Lancaster was a good surprise last year. Passing situations, the packers now have the smiths, and young talent.

sam1's picture

Doubt Tramon goes, to good for the young backs not to gain experience from and his steady play. Also can play multiple positions. Most likely last year in league this year though!

Tarynfor12's picture

There comes a time when the veteran experience becomes a hindrance to the young who are trying to play in the game of today and not yesteryear. The longer you keep old veterans around, the more you tell the young they can't/aren't learning and is detrimental even when they are/do.
Cut the cord isn't just about CableTV.

sam1's picture

You are all wet on Williams, guy still flat out plays!

Tarynfor12's picture

He's not a QB where age can be overlooked these days....the more one defends keeping a player at this age, the more you're saying the youth can't. The talent of the youth should be demanding the release of the aged even if they can still play some.
This is a part of why Daniels is gone..the youth on the DL pushed that envelope.

sam1's picture

No money like the too early Rodgers contract did!

Lare's picture

Williams is 36 and at $6.4 million is a little high priced to be a backup. The Packers have Brown, Jackson & Hollman at backup CB and Greene & Jamerson at backup S.

It's tough to let go of fan favorites but sometimes the team has to do what's best for the team.

MarkinMadison's picture

There was a lot of smoke swirling around Daniels for a while. I don't know if the injury really calculated into anything - Detroit guaranteed him almost $8M. Remember the MJS article looking at the height of DLs a few months back? Daniels has been a great player for the Packers, but I suspect his money is going into Kenny Clark's pocket.

porupack's picture

Yep, Lowry and Fackrell, and MAdams gets GB right up there in dline roster talent with Chigo, Minnepo and Detro. By golly, we can match them now.

Lots of proven production by Lowry and MAdams to back up this move. And a year of dip in production is clear proof that it is MDaniels' declining talent and physical ability, and 30 is bankable facts for proof that he can't rebound. Better to save money than possibly be wrong.
And, the favorite reason for high expectations are suddenly not; "contract year" and "chip on shoulder".....such reasons MDaniels would certainly be sooooo motivated in his contract year. Oh, I guess it isn't "extra motivation" afterall as so often mentioned here.

I think fellow posters may conclude I'm a bit skeptical about saving money, and cutting Daniels.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

LOL. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself about how good you are at spending other people's money.

I am moderate about spending my own money and really frugal with other people's money.

Coldworld's picture

I don’t like it, but the cost of the retooling of this roster is such that it looks like something was necessary if we are to retain Clark and have a realistic option to retain others.

I like what was done with the Smiths and Amos and I recognize that one can’t have it both ways. Most people accepted that Daniels would have a lighter load this year and likely wouldn’t be back either because that boosted his performance or because he would get injured. I was among the former.

It seems that the Packers took the view that Daniels would be doing even less than assumed by me and that others were ahead of my expectations. Well they work with the players and that is their job, so I respect them acting decisively according to their beliefs in order to provide cap flexibility. Now we will see if they were right.

The question I asked myself is, had Daniels gone to PUP/IR with his foot, would it have undermined my optimism for the season. Honestly I have to say that I think we have enough talent that it would have been overcome without a lot of difference. I guess the Packers concluded similarly and then decided to act to free space under the cap.

Maybe we should use some to look at Riddick. Maybe there is a safety out there (Jones got burned twice in two plays today), who knows.

croatpackfan's picture

I believe Packers pick 5th year option for Kenny Clark. With that in mind I believe they will extend Blake before Kenny, maybe some other player too.

Bo Hunter's picture

Need to get Clark and Martinez locked down for the long term, need to see another solid year from Fackrell before pissing away Millions on him like Perry. Love Mike Daniels and what he did for the Pack but his position had run it’s course on the D-line, hopefully the young bloods are ready to turn it loose and make their own names in Green Bay lore. Go Pack !
Bo Hunter

stockholder's picture

The money has to go to Clark. You just can't say enough good things about him. I also believe that the packers need to stop with Daniels. The cap is in good shape. And it's important to honor as many contracts as the packers signed. The early release of players will be the biggest problem coming in the owners/nfl agreement. Fire sales suck. No way clubs should over -pay for players. The money has become more important, then the super-bowl to some. Daniels is now so-ooo motivated. He and others should have shown more motivation. A player wanted to play for a winner!! (priority #1) Daniels has just shown playing for a winner isn't important. The money is, and was. It was his responsibility to show that he was superior in every way. He didn't.

IceBowl's picture

I liked M Daniels. He FOUGHT for the Pack.

I liked B Favre. He FOUGHT for the Pack.

I like ARod. He fights for the Pack.

Sentimentality can lose more games than it can win. Ask J Montana.

But we cannot fight the reality of the business.

Holecrap's picture

They got rid of him for one reason, cant afford him after Rodgers broke the bank.
Tom Brady who should be the highest paid QB hands down has taken less money so the team would not have to be in this position.
They just called up Kendricks to be a TE for them to replace their guy who will miss 4 games. Easy to do when you always have cap money due to your big guy taking less and helping the cause.

Coldworld's picture

I’m betting Kendricks broke the bank. We just signed a running back and a DT. I think the world is still turning though.

kedrowiczr's picture

Isn't that the case in any business? Why should the NFL be any different. Lets look at the end of last season when there were 20,000 no shows at Lambeau. Your getting paid a very healthy amount of money to put out sub-par results = released.

BoCallahan's picture

“...there is no loyalty in the NFL.” MD made more than 35 million in GB. That sounds pretty loyal to me. Every player knows and accepts the system, that they may not make it to the end of the contract. It is for this reason they seek to get as much guaranteed or front loaded as possible. MD was paid generously for his services and now he will collect millions from the Ford family. It has NOTHING to do with loyalty. The Pack did show loyalty by releasing him early and giving him an opportunity to get acclimated to a new team.

meatstyk's picture

Too that same theory didn’t apply to Matthews and perry and possibly bulaga. 3 oft injured players who were kept around too long

MidWestMike's picture

Hmmm. They should cut Graham, hard to see him adding any value to the Packers at this late stage in his career.

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