No More "Last Dance", Pack Built for the Future

Green Bay chooses to reload, not rebuild.

So it’s training camp week.  What a difference a year makes.  Remember last summer?  A long offseason drama starring Aaron Rodgers came to a dramatic conclusion when the MVP signal caller mended fences with the front office and reported to camp, surrounded by TV cameras and panting reporters.   

After a cryptic Instagram post from both Rodgers and Davante Adams, which featured a photo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the words “Last Dance”, there was the general perception that the team was pulling together all of its key players for one last run at the Super Bowl.  Whatever the outcome, most observers expected a major rebuild in 2022, beginning the Jordan Love era at quarterback. 

Funny thing though.  Somebody forgot to tell the front office they were supposed to rebuild.  Upon watching their quarterback play another season at an elite level, winning his second straight MVP award in the process, the team decided he was simply too good to trade.  They broke the bank, making him the highest paid player in NFL history for the second time.  After signing the four year extension, Rodgers pronounced he would be a Green Bay Packer for the remainder of his career.   

However, much to the shock of Packer fans, myself included, that sentiment was not shared by Adams.  Most of us assumed that Rodgers and Adams were connected at the hip.  A package deal.  The All Pro receiver would either be extended or franchised, and their incredibly productive relationship would continue.  We were stunned to learn that Adams wanted out of Green Bay, and General Manager Brian Gutekunst, convinced Adams would hold out if franchised, accommodated his wishes by dealing him to the Raiders.   

 Undaunted, Gutekunst refused to put the team in any phase that might be considered “rebuilding”.  He used the money budgeted for Adams to help bring back All Pro inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, and corner Rasul Douglas.  Then he tapped the free agent market, bolstering his defensive line with veteran Jarran Reed, and at least partially replenishing the receiver room by bringing in Sammy Watkins.   

When you look at the roster that will take the field for camp this week, Packer fans can safely say the team has erased any trace of a “Last Dance” mentality.  This team is built to contend not just this year, but for the foreseeable future.  Elite tackle David Bakhtiari is under contract through 2024.  He was expected to be available to start training camp, with the hope he was fully recovered from the knee surgery of a year and a half ago.  However, Bakh will start camp on the PUP list. He is eligible to be activated at any time. Elite corner Jaire Alexander has been extended through 2026.  Fellow defensive back Eric Stokes is in the second year of a four year rookie deal, with a team option for a fifth season.  The Rasul Douglas re-signing keeps him in town through 2024.  The Packers have exercised a fifth year option on safety Darnell Savage, so he’s in green and gold through 2023. 

At running back, Aaron Jones is under contract through 2024, although his $20 million cap hit in 2023 will need some massaging.  His running buddy AJ Dillon is in year three of a four year rookie pact.  Defensive line standout Kenny Clark is signed through 2024, but as with Jones, Clark’s current deal calls for monstrous cap hits over the next two seasons and will likely have to be pushed further out. 

Then there is the infusion of young, exciting talent like rookies Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt, Christian Watson, and young veterans such as Jon Runyan, Royce Newman, Josh Myers, TJ Slaton and Josiah Deguara.   

Which is not to say there isn’t work still to be done.  Elgton Jenkins is entering his final year.  The front office is likely to slow play his extension until they see how well he returns from knee surgery around midseason.  Ditto for tight end Robert Tonyan.  Safety Adrian Amos will be a free agent after the season.     When the curtain comes down on 2022, the Packers will also have decisions to make on Mason Crosby, Allen Lazard, Dean Lowry, Marcedes Lewis and Yosh Nijman.   

But those calls are several months away.  It’s training camp week.  This team is a Super Bowl contender, and is set up to be so for at least the next three years.  The wild card, of course, is how long and how well Aaron Rodgers will play.   

Oh, and if Jordan Love turns out to be the real deal, the fun may never end.  

-----------------------------------

Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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6 points
 

Comments (37)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Spock's picture

July 25, 2022 at 06:59 am

The wild card, of course, is how long and how well Aaron Rodgers will play." ...in the playoffs!

0 points
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NickPerry's picture

July 25, 2022 at 07:07 am

Personally, I think Gute has done a pretty damn good job building for the future while still putting a team CAPABLE of winning a Super Bowl on the field the last few years. Obviously, the SB part hasn't quite worked out but assembling the talent for the future and keeping the Players he's needed to keep in GB has. Gute has been outstanding in that capacity. Gute always seems to be keeping one eye on the future.

Right now, depending on who you talk to or what you read the Packers are still one of the favorites to make it to the SB from the NFC. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. But I like where this team is and that's not just me being a "Homer". The Defense is excellent as is the running game. They've addressed the ST BOTH on the coaching staff and through the draft and FA.

Hey, maybe this team can get there this year the "Old Fashioned" way...Playing great defense and running the football. Maybe it takes another year for the Watson's and Doubs to become what we hope they could become by the end of the season this year. Either way, this team will be good, possibly great for a few years yet. Thanks Gute.

7 points
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dobber's picture

July 25, 2022 at 07:59 am

I agree. Take away the three graybeards (Crosby, Lewis, and Rodgers), and this is a young and talented roster. Of course, those three are still core players, but the roster management has been mostly good by BG.

5 points
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stockholder's picture

July 25, 2022 at 07:34 am

People change. And so do professional football players. So Let's look at whats in the bank. Rather than the charge card. While many continue to bank on Gutey. He does make mistakes. And I believe; if Coach LeFluer did not speak up. ( HIs Wanting to Keep Rodgers! ) Rebuilding Was priority one.
The rewards should be passed around. But the glory in this Article, is only going to Gute. And when that praise goes to one person. Teamwork breaks down and separation is the result.
While many veterans have renewed their careers in Green Bay. They still “replaced" revolving doors and failures. So it’s really a No Brainer to bring them back. Or gamble on others, to bolster the roster.
The Last Dance mentality, was erased when Rodgers signed his deal. That players wanted to come here because of him.
But "making sure money is in the bank for them”. Is now on everyone’s mind! And the future depends on it!
With Age ,injuries, and big contracts. How this only can only work out. Is the draft! And that means replacing Love. ( Real deal or not ) The wait is over!! They can’t pay mediocrity.

-10 points
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The_Baloney_Stops_Here's picture

July 25, 2022 at 10:37 am

Yawn

1 points
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Oppy's picture

July 25, 2022 at 04:34 pm

Did you get those knee pads autographed by #12?

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

July 25, 2022 at 11:39 pm

If only you were the GM, every draft would be better than the '74 Steelers.

0 points
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RCPackerFan's picture

July 25, 2022 at 07:58 am

I simply view this team as built for now and the future. As long as Rodgers is with the team, we have a chance. As far as the future, it depends on what happens with Rodgers and Love.

This is a critical training camp/preseason for Love. This is his 3rd year. The first year was an odd year, which we might as well consider it a redshirt year. Last year was almost like his rookie year. This is the key year. He should have the play book mastered now. This is the pre-season that will determine his future. No matter how we want to view it, we need him to be good. Whether it is for him to stay on the team or for him to be traded, the better he is only help GB.

There will be questions that will need to be answered in the offseason. But I'm not worried about those with this season about to start. We have the talent and I'm excited.

Our OL will have a lot of new faces in there, but I have full faith in our OL coaches and getting them ready for whatever positions they want them to play.

Our DL is deeper then ever. Our LB's as a whole might be our best group in a long time. Our trio of CB's are going to cause problems for most offenses and our safety's are with any tandem in the league.

Our team is stacked, loaded and ready to go both this year and the future.

Lets enjoy the ride!

I think our offense is going to be geared around the RB's this year. We have Jones and Dillon who I think are going to be a huge part of the offense. I would not be surprised if Jones leads the team in targets this year. I think both RB's have over 1000 yards from scrimmage this year.

A lot of talk about our WR's is about how we no longer have Adams. But not much talk has been about the WR's we do have. Lazard is a guy to really keep an eye on for taking a big step. He is a big target who catches with ease. Cobb is a slot target who is going to be Rodgers trusted go to guy in key situations, 3rd downs and in the redzone. Watkins if healthy could be our poor mans Adams. I don't think he will be the true number 1, but I think he is going to do well in our offense. Our rookies I think will make an impact on the offense. While it will take a while for them to really flash, i think they will contribute a lot. Don't be surprised if Watson is better then advertised and makes a bigger impact then what some think.

6 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

July 25, 2022 at 08:03 am

The MVP of the Packers without doubt is Gutey. What he has accomplished in the short years at the helm have been spectacular. Time will determine whether players like Love, Watson & Doubs were successes or not. However, if just 2 of those three pan out it will further solidify Gutey being exceptional. I'm glad Gutey is running the show for the Packers.

8 points
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mrtundra's picture

July 25, 2022 at 08:16 am

How can one be mediocre when he hasn't played? Love played one game for us in KC and a handful in preseason. That is not enough to call him mediocre. It took Rodgers a couple of seasons, after Favre went nuts, to hit his stride with the Packers. I'd say we give Love more of a chance, to show what he can do, as our starting QB, before we bring up talk of trading him or cutting him. I was all in on Love, being our starter, when it looked like Rodgers drank the Brent kool-aid last year, and it looked as if Rodgers had played his last game in Green and Gold. The same goes for Amari Rodgers. He played almost exclusively on STs. He had maybe 5 plays from scrimmage, on offense, last season. Hardly enough to judge him. Let him play at the WR position, solely for this season, and we'll see how things change for him. We have lots of rookies and Kylin Hill, to cover STs, this year. GO PACK, GO!!!

10 points
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packer132's picture

July 25, 2022 at 08:17 am

Nick: You penned my thoughts better than I could have expressed. Gute has brought in some key free agents while looking to the future with some very good draft picks. Alexander, Gary, Savage, Jenkins, Runyan, and Dillon. The 2nd year players could make an impact this year (Stokes, Myers, Newman, Slaton). On paper, the 2022 draft should be the best in years. Rosters turnover about 20-25% every year, and no GM will make a perfect call on every player. I have seen experts ranking the 32 NFL General Managers, and Gute has been in the top 10. There are 8-10 teams in each conference who are very evenly matched. Winning usually comes down to a few key plays, turnovers, and coaching decisions. I rooted for the Packers during the down years, but this year I will be excited to watch this team win many games. I am optimistic about a Super Bowl.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

July 25, 2022 at 08:20 am

For me, this is the year that LaFleur has to come of age as a coach and assert himself, taking the pieces clearly assembled for his system and showing us how he can mold that raw material into a Super Bowl while he still has Rodgers. This year the D and ST should at least hold their own. Over to you Coach.

4 points
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HarryHodag's picture

July 25, 2022 at 08:24 am

I think the biggest question marks remain on the offense. The top two linemen are questionable with leg injuries. There is no right tackle as of today. The center was lost most of last year due to injury and his replacement is playing elsewhere. Never forget that Rodgers and the running backs don't do much without a top-tier offensive line.

Tight end, a key position in Matt LF's offense is wide open. Name the starter on opening day? Wide receiver, well, that has been talked to death. So the offense is a question mark.

However, for the first time in more than a decade, the defense looks rock solid, although depth at outside linebacker/rusher is a bit thin.

I think all of us are expecting more out of special teams. One key question is whether Crosby still has it. The snapping/holding situation last year cost him and the team at least two losses because of bad ST play.

Overall, the Packers look to contend again and that is a tribute to many, including Gute. But a rash of injuries, especially on offense, could lead to a less than expected year. But if the defense can become elite it will be difficult for the Packers not to contend for the Super Bowl.

8 points
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murf7777's picture

July 25, 2022 at 08:34 am

To me the Packers are built to win today, not the future, unless of course, Rodgers plays high level to his mid 40’s or Love becomes another HOF QB, which is highly unlikely that lightning strikes three times. They’ve extended many contracts to move dollars down the road that will prevent them from signing some of their better players in the near future. That’s ok since Rodgers time is limited and most on this board wanted the “win now” mode.

If you look at how much salary cap space they have in 2023 and 2024 (in 2024 they are 4th least amount per OTC) they are towards the bottom of the league. Realistically, we have a two year window to win the big one.

2 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

July 25, 2022 at 11:46 pm

Agreed. If Love is on the team next year it probably means Rodgers retired and it will be time to expect some growing pains for 2-3 years if they're lucky.

0 points
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mjbrogno's picture

July 25, 2022 at 08:45 am

With a much improved defense and a definite upgrade in our special teams play, the Packers looked to be solid to start the season. The gut wrenching loss to the 49ers apparently opened the eyes of the brass as what needed to be addressed and fixed for this season. Yes, losing Adams will hurt, but let’s remember, defense wins championships, GO PACK GO!!!!!!!!

2 points
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jvole's picture

July 25, 2022 at 09:57 am

Hopefully Rodgers doesn't try to heave it to Las Vegas and Davante's couch during the next playoff run.

4 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

July 25, 2022 at 10:23 am

"This team is a Super Bowl contender, and is set up to be so for at least the next three years."

This is a true statement and is true because Rodgers is the QB and his being the QB is the only reason the Packers are considered one of the favorites to win the SB. Though the result hasn't matched the prediction for 11 years and counting. There seems to be a trend.

Every year we listen to and read the same phrases, This is the best team we've had since _____, mentioning any others is pointless since the one mentioned blankets the others, and is proven wrong yearly because the seasons end near exactly the same. The only change is in the stat numbers and personal accolade of ONE.

There is no denying that the Packers are a relevant team to make the playoffs because of the lack of true Division rivals, but what are they without Rodgers. The answer is maybe ( with luck) a playoff team, and certainly not an SB favorite or contender.

Yes, this team will get its wins, and MLF might be praised for another cloned win total, and many will say their happy with the ride while screaming the team is SB bound until it doesn't materialize,

GO PACK GO has got to end with an SB appearance, at least, before the Rodgers deemed favorite/contender years expire in three years or less unless Love isn't the hoped-for heir, and Rodgers plays until he's ____.

Super Bowl or Bust while we have Rodgers, embrace it, because when Rodgers is gone, the mantra may just be Bust, and even the 'ride' won't be fun for a while again.

-3 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

July 25, 2022 at 10:45 am

The 'ride' is always fun. Sorry you don't get that.

1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

July 25, 2022 at 11:00 am

If I didn't enjoy the ride, I wouldn't watch every game. It's the ending of the ride that's disappointing and for too many rides now.

-2 points
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T7Steve's picture

July 25, 2022 at 11:14 am

Yah, after Bart till Brett was a tough time, but, it allowed me to get to more games and some where very fun.

3 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

July 25, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Actually, Dickey was a good QB but the O line was shakey and the D was poor to awful during his stay.

1 points
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mnbadger's picture

July 25, 2022 at 12:50 pm

you're being too kind to Dickey's offensive line play. He was a very talented, but immobile, sitting duck. GPG!

1 points
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T7Steve's picture

July 25, 2022 at 01:29 pm

Dickey was great! He would score on anyone in three or four plays and leave the D on the field the rest of the time. Got to go to the first Monday Night game at Lambo against Washington, and it took a long time for another MNF game to out score it.

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

July 25, 2022 at 04:32 pm

if one factor - a SB caliber QB - gets you in the SB conversation...

IF Rodgers is the ONly reason GB is considered a Sb threat...

Then Why, oh why, wasn't Detroit a SB contender all the years that the SB winning QB Matt Stafford was on their roster?

IT TAKES A TEAM TO WIN THE SB!!! Get it?

Some TEAMS have even had sub-par QB when they won it. The best QB in the league in any given year doesn't win it automatically.

The GBP have a deep and talented roster full of impact players on offense and defense. The coaching staff has proven themselves to be competent in the regular season and they need to take a step forward in the playoffs. The ST have been abysmal and the GB management has taken a big step to fix that.

QB isnt the only reason GB is a legit SB contender.

You stand corrected. unarguably.

1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

July 25, 2022 at 06:51 pm

Honestly, take Rodgers away and put Love in, and you're telling me the Packers would be considered a favorite or contender for the SB,? Please stop.

-1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

July 26, 2022 at 05:41 am

You just don't get it, and you never will.

You are not worth my efforts.

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

July 26, 2022 at 12:02 am

Have to agree with Taryn on this one. Stafford is no Rodgers, he came close to tying a record for interceptions returned for a TD last year and had a few red zone boners as well. And anytime you have two of the top 10 players on defense you probably have a punchers chance.

0 points
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Oppy's picture

July 25, 2022 at 04:45 pm

The defense is seemingly stacked, the OL is good (even with key health questions on Bakh and Jenkins), the backs might be the best 1-2 punch in the league (and they have legitimate depth behind them), and the WR room, while mostly unproven, has potential to grow.

A good-not-great QB should give this team a puncher's chance, especially with the offense they should be employing post-Rodgers (should be employing as of two years ago, but I digress.)

This team should be doing well if Rodgers gets hit by a bus tomorrow. It's actually built for success during transition.

0 points
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Bearmeat's picture

July 25, 2022 at 06:28 pm

There are weaknesses on this team just like there were on the 2020, 2014, 2021, 2011, 2007 and 2003 teams. Hell, just like the 95 and 97 team too.

Can the team finish in January? Is it "less" weakness than in 2020? I'd suggest history says "no" to the 1st question and reason says "no" to the 2nd. But time will tell. I'm gearing myself up for another playoff gag session personally.

-1 points
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T7Steve's picture

July 26, 2022 at 07:41 am

Enough with the negativity. It's never over till it's over. You can bitch after the 49er loss, everyone did. Unless you're actually a Bears fan. That would explain it.

0 points
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Bearmeat's picture

July 26, 2022 at 08:55 am

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool us 11 times since 1992... shame on everyone. The Packers, their defense, their special teams, but ESPECIALLY their MVP QBs have not played well in the playoffs by and large since the renaissance in 1992. Rodgers gagged in 21. He gagged in 11. He played poorly in 20 in the 2nd half especially.

And we expect that to be different in 22... how? Sorry. I don't buy it. I'll be skeptical until proven otherwise. We have a wilting flower for a QB in crunch time. A very highly paid wilting flower.

0 points
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T7Steve's picture

July 26, 2022 at 09:28 am

I agree, and there are even more times and other players/coaches you could mention. We have to learn from history to avoid repeating it. That doesn't mean you have to get stuck on it. Don't you think it's worth rooting for taking the next step rather then being able to say "I told you so"?

0 points
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Bearmeat's picture

July 26, 2022 at 09:43 am

Don't confuse the Taryn style "I told you so" with the sad acceptance that the principal actors have not changed, so the result is not likely to change. I don't like it. I won't run around screaming "toldjaso" if/when it happens. I just am not excited about 2022 Packers football generally. A bit. I guess.

I was a bit more excited about 21 Packers football. And extremely excited about 2020 Packers football. That TB game broke me in many ways. I believe it was the end of the Rodgers era, just like the 14 loss was the end of the McCarthy/Thompson era. We just didn't know it yet.

0 points
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T7Steve's picture

July 26, 2022 at 09:59 am

Ok, sorry about the "I told you so" remark but, they fixed previous mistakes and found new ones to fix. They're smart and want to win too. This is a tough league. I choose to believe they can find the answers/weaknesses and fix them so they can dictate to the other teams. I root for them to have fixed them, and prove it, and don't think getting rid of an MVP or finding someone else will help fix problems.

1 points
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Bearmeat's picture

July 26, 2022 at 10:06 am

I understand that. From where I am coming from, selling high on Rodgers (and Bakh and Adams) was the move towards the future post-2020 choke. We could have had like 4 1st rounders to re-stack the team... Then Rodgers generally turning out to be exactly the diva he promised he wouldn't be after the summer of Favre just made it worse.

But those choices were made by those in power and I don't have any control over them. So I will root for my team like always. Longtime CHTV'ers like Dobber, Since61, Oppy, NP, RC, and many others will note I've not been around much the last year or so. This is why. I generally don't like to be a stick in the mud and spray my eeyore on others. But it is how I feel.

0 points
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T7Steve's picture

July 26, 2022 at 10:18 am

Glass half full or glass half empty. To each his own. When you go to Vegas or any casino if you think you're going to lose, you're going to lose. If you think positive that you're going to win, you probably will still lose, but, have allot more fun doing it. They don't build high rise casinos by paying out winners.

0 points
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