My Training Camp Wish List

Yaaaay, Football season has officially returned!  Friday, the NFL and NFLPA finally reached an agreement that will bring football back in what we all hope will be a safe environment for players, coaches, executives, (and maybe/possibly/hopefully/unlikely…. fans in the stands).  Both sides agreed to a more stringent health and safety procedure amid the Covid-19 pandemic as well as a revised training camp, and salary cap implementations over the 2021-2023 seasons (basically until the new TV deal is reached) that will cushion the league from the financial losses that they will ensue from this league year.   Now that the season is upon us, here are some realistic wishes that I have between now, week 1, and the foreseeable future.

  1. The rookie class is diligent for the next three months of practice, drills, and meetings so that they can succeed in a specialized role during the home stretch of the season. 
  2. That the second-year players really start to find/build upon their respective niches and become reliable, impact players for years to come.
  3. Try to win at all costs: With the salary cap taking a significant hit over the next three calendar years the Packers are going to have to make some tough decisions following the 2020 season.  With this in mind it is absolutely essential to spend (some of) the $8.6ish million-dollar cushion that they currently have should a need arise or an impact player become a cap casualty and hit free agency.  A 1-year deal with Taylor Gabriel, Snacks Harrison, Timmy Jernigan, or someone of the like would not be the worst thing in the world.
  4. Hope for a third and fourth receiver to emerge: Believe it or not, I think this will happen one way or another.  I could realistically see Devin Funchess evolve into a capable 2b or number 3 wide receiver once he is comfortable in LaFleur’s system and I have always been the president and CEO of the Equanimeous St. Brown hype train.  I just love ESB’s skill set, the way he runs routes, his hands, and his confidence catching an Aaron Rodgers back shoulder bullet.  If for some reason neither of these players step up (including MVS and Reggie Begelton) then I think it is definitely within the realm of possibility that Gutekunst adds a player like Taylor Gabriel.
  5. Extend the Packers on the final year of their deal:  With the salary cap taking a plunge over the next three seasons, it will be essential for the Packers to make decisions on players entering the final years of their contracts sooner rather than later.  Personally, I would look to extend David Bakhtiari during training camp by offering an extension with a significant signing bonus that will allow 2021 and 2022 to be team friendly years.  I would then follow this same recipe with Kenny Clark and wait until the end of the season to make a decision on Kevin King.  This approach would hypothetically keep the Packers $8.6ish million cap cushion in tack for the 2020 season. (If they don't add anyone the Packers could use it in-season (trade or emergency), for extensions, or carry it over)
  6. Hope Christian Kirksey stays healthy! Christian Kirksey’s game film is quite impressive.  He is a high motor inside linebacker who never gives up pursuit of a ball carrier and has a knack for making big plays.  So how did Gutekunst get such a bargain of a deal on him in free agency? Because of his fatal flaw; staying on the field.  If Kirksey can stay on the field, the Packers have instantly found their missing puzzle piece on defense, an athletic inside linebacker who provides security and stability to the middle of the field.

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

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Comments (19)

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Bure9620's picture

July 26, 2020 at 07:06 am

I think EQ emerges as a good 3 or 4, he was my favorite of the 3 drafted as well. Solid player and Rodgers built some trust with him.

I do not see them resigning Bahktiari unless he takes a home towner. .....This offense is less spread...less pass happy and less reliant on tackles on an island like MM offense. He would also be 30 when his deal starts...the Packers cannot afford him however the market will be changing for all teams as the cap plunges in the coming years...

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Tundraboy's picture

July 26, 2020 at 07:23 pm

I'm all in on ESB as well. As for Bahktiari, you raise a great point and I'm not so sure extending at big $$ is the best thing for the team,but he is a great Packer team player. And not a whiner. Don't like letting those go.

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Guam's picture

July 26, 2020 at 08:04 am

"#3 Try to Win at All Costs". While I agree with this philosophy, it is pretty apparent that the Packers do not agree at least concerning 2020. You don't spend your 1st and 4th draft choices picking a guy who likely won't play for at least two years and don't resign veterans like Bulaga, Williams and Veldheer and then claim to try to be winning at all cost. The Packers are in the middle of a rebuild and while they will have a shot at a SB this year, they did not push all their chips into the middle of the table for 2020.

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stockholder's picture

July 26, 2020 at 09:05 am

1. No Rookie will help the team this year. It's just not going to happen. 2. Yes- Next Step! 3. Win at All cost. Not Happening. It's a miracle they still have 8 mil. Just spend that on a extension. 4. Rodgers will find his special angel. No additions coming. 5. No way they sign Bahk. It's just not going to happen. And it would be a cap mistake if they did. Big changes are coming to this OL. Bet Wagnor gets cut! And they decide to keep Linsley first. 5. The whole defense must stay healthy.

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Bure9620's picture

July 26, 2020 at 09:18 am

AJ Dillon will help the team likely in the second half of the season, but likely no one else, unless Deguara shows he can play that H-back role and block, which there is a learning curve to in the NFL. I could maybe see him being a true FB on maybe 15-20% of snaps

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NickPerry's picture

July 26, 2020 at 09:34 am

Now I HAVEN'T read everything regarding the salary cap in 2021-2023 and the ramifications clubs are going to have to navigate through. BUT how much money are the Packers really going to commit to a great PASS blocking LT when they clearly want to be a running team? And how much do they want to commit and how much salary do they want to push back to 2022 & 23 to that LT when he'll be in his 30's then?

Same could be said for King except how much do you commit to an injury prone CB who struggles in zone coverage?

Clark is the MUST sign of this entire FA group IMO.

So IF the Packers are going to keep Rodgers past this year then you really have to wonder how they afford to sign pretty much anyone. IF Jimmy G folds again or Cam Newton flames out in NE, then just how much can the Packers get for Rodgers in a trade from teams who are a Aaron Rodgers away?

Gute created this with the selection of Love. Had he moved up to draft a WR or at least drafted say Tee Higgens or Michael Pittman who went EARLY in round 2, then I'd say he was ready to ride with Rodgers into his 40's. He passed on Patrick Queen, Pittman, Higgens, Blalock, or ANYONE who could help GB win THIS year.

IMO things in GB are going to change drastically in 2021. Between this pandemic and the 2020 draft class it's looking more and more like reality than possibility.

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stockholder's picture

July 26, 2020 at 10:03 am

IMO things in GB are going to change drastically in 2021. Exactly!! Not to mention who wants out.

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dobber's picture

July 26, 2020 at 03:26 pm

"IF Jimmy G folds again or Cam Newton flames out in NE, then just how much can the Packers get for Rodgers in a trade from teams who are a Aaron Rodgers away?"

Seattle just gave the Jets two #1s, a #4, and an average starter at S for Jamal Adams and a #3. If Seattle will deliver that much for a top 10 safety, what's a top 10 QB worth?...big contract or no? You need to ask: do the Seahawks think they're just a S away from winning the whole thing? Maybe in a year when nothing is for certain, you can take that chance, but Seattle still isn't the best team in their own division and they could get passed by Arizona if some of their picks pan out. A terrible deal, IMO...almost as bad as Khalil Mack.

The problem with trading ARod next off-season, though, is that the cap relief doesn't really come until 2022. They only get about $5M in relief on the 2021 cap. What's more, the 2021 draft is looking more and more like a weak one, especially if there's little or no college football in 2020.

"Gute created this with the selection of Love....He passed on Patrick Queen, Pittman, Higgens, Blalock, or ANYONE who could help GB win THIS year."

Couldn't agree more, Nick. An "all-in" move for the Packers with that #1 pick would have been to grab the best 5-tech, ILB, or CB on their board, or to deal that pick for an impact vet at a position of need. The Love pick, IMO, signals the end of the ARod window, and maybe it will turn out to be a shrewd move. If BG was riding the assumption that there wiould be--at best--an abbreviated season in 2020, he played the future card. If that wasn't his approach, well, he might still get lucky after all.

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stockholder's picture

July 26, 2020 at 06:16 pm

IMO it wasn't a future card. Is Wagner the future.? I don't believe Gutey takes 3 OL if it was. I can understand Kirksey. But Goody left with Martinez. So ILB had to be rebuilt. And if you look at the possibilities of Bahk and Linsley Leaving. A Rb was not the better option per 2nd rd. Or TE in 3. As great as that may turn out. He's spent 16 mil. in Free Agency. And only 8 mil. left to sign Clark. No matter how you cut it, this team got patched. It's on Pettine and A-Rod this year. A fan favorite or two will have to leave if not more. Luck has nothing to do with this.

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Tundraboy's picture

July 26, 2020 at 07:25 pm

Yes. Clark is a must sign. Our best young player and the character type you look for.

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Oppy's picture

July 26, 2020 at 08:04 pm

Maybe the Packers don't keep Rodgers past this year.

That's a whole lot of money in one bucket.

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Stroh's picture

July 26, 2020 at 09:13 pm

You always put money into an All Pro LT. If you have an elite passing QB like Rodgers you're especially willing to pay a pass blocking LT. You might consider cutting costs at RT(see Bulaga) but not LT. If the Packers weren't going to keep Bahktiari the only reasonable thing to do is trade him now and get a couple very high draft picks. You not going to let an All Pro LT with 5+ yrs of top level play remaining leave in FA and accept only a 3rd rd comp pick for him. You clearly haven't learned a thing in the past decade!

You pay gamechangers when you have them. Sign Bahktiari and Clark would be a given. The only reason its not is the coming reduction of the salary cap due to Covid19.

Jones loses out simply because RB are to easily replaced. If he accepts a deal similar to Ekeler he might stay around. King and Linsley have value because of the position they play, but probably not enough to keep them if/when they get to FA.

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nostradanus's picture

July 26, 2020 at 10:16 am

Yes David, the NFL is headed into uncharted waters with all that has transpired over these past months. It sounds like teams and their fans are in for a bit of a re-set over the next few seasons and the teams with the best front office and coaching staffs will be the new Big Dogs on the block.
I think the Packers are actually positioned pretty well for this challenge!

*The Packers have quite a bit of emergency funds and continue to invest it into ventures that will continue to reap future benefits. Mark Murphy has had great foresight on this area.

*Russ Ball continues to be one of the best at working the salary cap and keeping the Packers from crashing into salary cap hell.

*Brian Gutekunst is a young GM who isn't afraid to go out and get the talent he needs to compete and stands by his convictions. He's not afraid to face scrutiny whether it be star players, fans, coaches or the media.

*Matt LaFluer is a young, dynamic head coach who was 6 & 0 in the NFC North and led his team to a 14 & 4 record and a game from the Super Bowl in his first year! He is only going to get better.

*The Packers have also positioned themselves for the future at QB and the post Rodgers era with the drafting of Jordan Love, which now could happen sooner than expected with salary cap ramifications.

Packers fans and NFL fans are in for a strange NFL season and a stormy and uncertain NFL future. I believe the Packers are positioned just fine to weather that storm.

Now lets get ready for training camp and some football!

Go Pack!

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Duneslick's picture

July 26, 2020 at 01:34 pm

One thing no one has talked about is the cut in salary cap, lets say to 175 million, and its effect on what the salaries are for the free agents and players. Less teams will sign free agents and they will be signed for less. With less money to spend the cost will have to go down

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Since'61's picture

July 26, 2020 at 02:55 pm

I think the first thing the Packers need to be concerned about is players opting out for the season as Tardif, the RG from the Chiefs has already done.
This may not happen until or unless another Packer(s) become infected with Covid-19 either during TC or during the season. We could lose a few players to COVID-19 and a few others could decide to opt out. That would wreak havoc on the roster especially when you add in usual attrition just from playing the games.

If Covid infections and opt outs increase as the season goes on we could be watching preseason level games for much of the season.

As for the cap considerations they will need to be dealt with on a season by season basis as more information becomes available. The league needs to plan for the worst case scenario which to me includes empty stadiums, rosters diluted by Covid, opt outs and football injuries and the possibility that by this time next year we still may not have a vaccine for Covid-19. Can the league endure another season or two of an unchecked virus? What becomes of the draft, the salary cap, the league after 2-3 years of this? Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Thanks, Since ‘61

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murf7777's picture

July 26, 2020 at 09:09 pm

This isn’t the early 1900’s, the advanced technologies we have now is light years ahead...there will be vaccines by year end or early next year. The world will have this under control and will be a one year issue. Sure some lingering issues, but nothing of this magnitude. Of course, we will be dealing with the salary cap and financial issues for a few years, but so will all teams.

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Stroh's picture

July 26, 2020 at 10:01 pm

I don't see too many opt outs in the NFL. Too many players have a very short window to set themselves up for financial security. Much different than basketball and baseball where a decade long career is normal and contracts are guaranteed.

The league survived World War II, Vietnam, 9/11 and the resulting war on terror. Even the Packers are very well equipped to handle a season like this without fans. A second year might be testy but they would survive.

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marpag1's picture

July 27, 2020 at 01:32 am

The weird notion that "the cap will take a hit and therefore we need to sign big money contracts right away" does not make sense.

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JenniferMurphy's picture

August 06, 2020 at 06:57 am

Great discussion!

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