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Packers Decisions on Veteran Players Will Determine One of Two Things

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Packers Decisions on Veteran Players Will Determine One of Two Things

The Packers Have Decisions to Make:

As we await the start of the preseason schedule to provide a much more accurate assessment and realistic expectations of the 2019 Green Bay Packers, there are some veteran players the Packers will have to make tough decisions on when shaping the week 1 roster.  

All of you who follow the Packers, as well as the various media outlets that cover them (credentialed or otherwise), know which players could be called into Brian Gutekunst's office to receive their walking papers.  

Personally, I believe releasing these veteran players in the last year of their respective deals when the Packers have approximately $8.5- $8.9 million in cap space (top 51 number according to over the cap and spotrac.com) does not serve much of a purpose, simply because you would still have the flexibility to make upgrades to the roster, and because these veteran players will ultimately come off the books in 2020.

If the Packers still decide to release any one of their four veteran players with expiring or expendable contracts it will signal one of two things; one, that the Packers want one of their young players to develop by seeing first-team reps during the season to see what they have; two, the Packers believe they have drafted a ten year starter who can exceed the production which that particular veteran is currently capable of giving them.  

If any of these four veteran Packers are released before week 1 it will not be because they were a "cap casualty".       

Highlighting the Candidates and Their Future Replacements

1. Brian Bulaga supplanted by Egleton Jenkins: If anyone does end up getting cut before week 1, the most likely candidate would most likely be Brian Bulaga.  Let me be clear in my assessment of Brian Bulaga, when healthy, he is a premier right tackle in this league but injuries along with the wear and tear throughout the course of his career have taken their toll on his body.  

Despite his talent and production, the biggest problem throughout his career has been staying on the field for a full season.  

With the acquisitions of Billy Turner and Egleton Jenkins to the offensive line, Brian Bulaga will have to prove he can still protect Aaron Rodgers against premier pass rushers in this league.  If Bulaga proves to have regressed or lost a step, look for him to potentially receive his walking papers.

2. Mike Daniels being supplanted by Kingsley Keke:  In a league where pass rushers and interior defenders are at a premium, the Packers, in all likelihood, will not have to make a choice between Mike Daniels and Kingsley Keke.  

The only way I see Mike Daniels not making this roster is if his injuries from last season slowed him down to the point where he is rendered completely ineffective.

3. Joshua Jackson/Kevin King replacing Tramon Williams:  I believe this is another case of where Tramon Williams could provide a lot of value to a young secondary as well as to a struggling and unproven special teams unit.  I could see Williams contributing in both the return game as well as in punt blocking and coverage packages during special circumstances.

Finally, I just do not believe Josh Jackson and Kevin King will both be ready to provide more production at the cornerback position in 2019 than Tramon Williams.

4. Mason Crosby being replaced by Sam Ficken:  I realize this potential transaction is receiving plenty of traction in certain circles because Mason Crosby ranked 33rd among kickers in accuracy this season but the reality is, I will not believe this has a chance of happening unless Crosby completely implodes during the preseason and Ficken lights up the Lambeau Field uprights.  

I know we cannot discount the fact Crosby played a large role in the loss in Detroit, but that should not negate the fact he was otherwise a reliable kicker.

Predictions:

At the end of the day, when all of the dust settles, I predict the Packers will end up keeping Brian Bulaga, Mike Daniels, Tramon Williams, and Mason Crosby.  

Sound Off:

Let me know your take on which veteran players you believe the Packers will keep and whether you believe it is time for us to see what the young players can do at these key positions.  As always, I look forward to the debate and the discussion.  

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

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 (63) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

4thand1's picture

So you're saying they could all get their walking papers but won't.

David Michalski's picture

Correct, I’m essentially putting to rest that none of the vets on the last years of their deals will be cut or should be cut.

jannes bjornson's picture

None of these guys will walk. Tramon got his bonus cash and Jenkins is not an OT. He's breathing down Taylor's neck. The question mark is Spriggs and his ability to show up.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I doubt Jenkins is breathing down Taylors neck, Jenkins is the likely the RG.

Nick Perry's picture

I really don't think the Packers signed Billy Turner to sit on the bench, I think he's the Packers RG week one. I'm also on the Jenkins train but it may not happen by week one. I do believe though Jenkins takes Taylor's job at some point in 2019. He's just a better Guard than Taylor AND he brings some "Nasty" to the O-Line.

The Packers lost their "Nasty" when TJ Lang left.

fthisJack's picture

best case scenario would be having a young guy step up and create the possibility of a trade instead of an outright release. i would think Daniels and Bulaga have a mid round trade value or acquire another player to fill a hole.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I thought Lane Taylor has shown some fire on the field over the years?

Jenkins is more talented than Lane Taylor. No way to know yet if he is or will be a better player. I agree that Jenkins should be better than Taylor given time.

Coldworld's picture

The idea that Jenkins, a college center, would start the season at tackle, let alone start and give the team the confidence to let Bulaga go is laughable.

If Jenkins can make it as a tackle, the only scenario where he is a day one starter this year is so awful as to not bear thinking about.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

IF Bulaga is let go, who impresses more? Spriggs or Jenkins? Gonna have to be a hell of an impressive performance from either of the two to do that.

David Michalski's picture

Hey, but some people think he could go. I say he stays for the simple fact Turner can’t play tackle nor can Jenkins.

I was simply showing how I thought things would shake out if the team thought Bulaga lost a step and they decided to move on from him.

Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

Turner can't play tackle? I believe he's played all 4 G and T positions in his pro career. Reports are he played well for DEN in 4 games as a backup lsat season. So many other news outlets project Turner replacing Bulaga at RT next year. There are also many articles prior to GB's signing saying the Broncos should keep him at RT.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I watched condensed versions of the four games Turner played at RT for Denver. He would be a significant downgrade from Bulaga.

That makes sense. If teams thought Turner could play like a top 5 RT, he would have gotten more than $7M/year.

GLM's picture

There must be something to Turner's game the Packers like, because it seems they went right after him, when it appeared like he wasn't even on the radar screen of free agent O-linemen, so to speak.

jannes bjornson's picture

He is a guy that call pull into space from either LG or RG.

Coldworld's picture

Friends in Denver thought he showed well as a tackle last year, albeit one that needs some polishing. Denver wanted to keep him on their line, which pushed up the price. I still see him as a guard who may offer tackle capabilities.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I was trying to remember, but perhaps a comparison between Turner at RT and Don Barclay pre-injury? Turner wasn't a turnstile as a RT, but he just isn't as good as Bulaga. Turner seemed to give up a lot of ground towards the pocket even when he didn't give up a pressure.

Bear's picture

Jenkins is considered to have slow feet per various scouting reports.
CONS: Despite listed size, doesn't play like he has overwhelming physical or athletic traits. Not explosive out of his stance and doesn't attack opponents with an aggressiveness that threatens their run fit off the snap. Can struggle to reach quicker players in zone schemes due to slow feet. Not a finisher. Needs to show more aggression and leg drive to latch and stay on defenders, too often doesn't sustain his blocks.

Turner is better at the guard position and has the reputation as a turnstile at tackle.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

^i think we need a healthy and effective Bulaga to start this year.

WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

Turner played well last year for DEN when they needed him to fill in at RT. He struggled in MIA b/c he just didn't have enough high level competition in college to prepare him for the NFL. He was always going to be a developmental player. While Turner might be better at guard right now, that doesn't mean he can't play RT if needed there, this year or next.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I thought McCoy was a perfect choice for a ZBS, but Gute chose Jenkins. Both were highly rated and which was better was a close call. Jenkins was selected 44th and McCoy went 46th.

dobber's picture

Let's not forget that Getsy coached the offense at MSU. My suspicion (and I'm not the first to say this) is that he was a key part of that selection.

Coldworld's picture

Jenkins is an interior player. He is a center learning guard at the pro level. I don’t want him starting in September for that reason. I do like the pick and particularly his ability to provide a true back up at center.

I believe he will be a starter but not yet. That said I do not see one iota of a basis for believing that he has potential at tackle in the NFL. Love to be wrong, but I think that if he does it’s a way off absent dire emergency. Let him learn guard and the center’s knowledge of the system here (it’s a cerebral position) first.

David Michalski's picture

Sorry guys, although the team believes Jenkins could play anywhere on the line but for the purpose of my point, I think they would put Jenkins at RG and Turner at RT. Again, I think Bulaga ends up being the day 1 starter at RT week 1.

jannes bjornson's picture

Keep up the good work.

Coldworld's picture

That’s more likely, although I hope Spriggs will genuinely compete this year (optimism) and i’d love Nijman or de Beer to show potential.

Nick Perry's picture

I would think if there was EVER a system Spriggs could flourish in it would be this offense. I mean I know he was Mike Maylocks #5 Tackle in the draft that year, but it was his combine that really pushed him up teams draft boards.

Let's hope all the work in the weight room pays off and he keeps gaining strength to go with the abilities his feet have. I'm there 100% with you on Nijman...

Lare's picture

I think players like Bulaga, Daniels, Williams, Crosby and Graham have a lot better chance of being let go after this season than before or during this season.

The Packers have brought in players that can replace them in the future but I doubt if that happens this year.

WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

Many of those are not signed thru next season, so it's not a matter of letting them go. It's a matter of not re-signing them.

MarkinMadison's picture

Crosby v. everyone who gets cut. I think he could be gone. Whole lotta dough for a guy who looked shakey last year.

sam1's picture

Chicago would scarf him up in a heartbeat! [Crosby}

dobber's picture

If he gets outkicked by Ficken and they keep Crosby, don't you worry that Ficken would get snapped up in a heartbeat?

Keep the players that give you the best chance to win. Don't worry about where the players you cut go.

Coldworld's picture

If Crosby is beaten he needs to go. At his age, better a year early than late and its coming inevitably in the relatively near future regardless of contract. At this point, if Ficken wins, let Chicago have Crosby.

Bure9620's picture

3 of these are actually plausible and really would not shock me. Most scouts believe KeKe is still Very raw and nowhere near ready to supplant Daniels, do not see that one. Montravius Adams or Lancaster would almost be more likely here, and not them either.

jannes bjornson's picture

If they want to win, keep seven on the defensive front and set up a furious rotation. That's why the eagles won it all.

MarkinMadison's picture

I don't get the KeKe hype. Dude gets picked in the 5th round and now we're talking about him knocking a Pro Bowl player off the roster? Please. Let's at least see him in a practice with pads on first.

Coldworld's picture

He is a great prospect, but so many seem to be in denial as to the time taken by most players to reach their potential. I’d love him to contribute this year, but Daniels is still the man.

stockholder's picture

I never liked the decision to release any veteran before the start of the season. Any Veteran! I can see them keeping all four. Even Lewis. It would be foolish to pull the trigger and cut them loose. We only have room for just so many. Their replacements will struggle. Who can the Packers "Depend on" is the answer. They should not use the cap savings as an excuse.

Dzehren's picture

Come on- Bulaga’s replacement isn’t even on the current roster. Obviously 2020 draft priority.

GUTE drafted strength of draft which was defense.
1. No way Bulaga is cut.
2. No way 2nd rd pick Jenkins is a tackle in 2019.
He’s a long term Starter @ LG or RG. He could start at some point in 2019 @ guard or center. What folks miss is he’s an impact plug & play player at center or guard which GB has been missing in recent years.

dobber's picture

I agree on C in the sense that Linsley becomes a FA after 2020 and will turn 30 prior to the 2021 season.

MarkinMadison's picture

I think that is pretty darn likely.

Coldworld's picture

I’m crossing my fingers that his eventual replacement is on the roster: Nijman.

Packer Dave's picture

Keep 'em all.

Next year a ton of money comes off the books and I bet we go after two more big FA and extend Clark. Draft a tackle RD1 and this team is sitting pretty, especially on D.

AR gets one more ring.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

It is very hard to see how GB will be able to sign two more big FAs. Unless you mean Martinez and perhaps Lowry/Allison/etc.

Coldworld's picture

I think the point is that while money comes off, they spent most of that gain on the Smiths and Amos based on the cap structure as I understand it.

dblbogey's picture

" I just do not believe Josh Jackson and Kevin King will both be ready to provide more production at the cornerback position in 2019 than Tramon Williams. "

A healthy Kevin King would easily outplay Tramon. He's a very talented corner.

David Michalski's picture

That would be a great point if Kevin King was ever healthy.

Coldworld's picture

A healthy King will play outside. He is still relatively inexperienced there and needs to grow too. Williams backs up the entire secondary other than box safety. So while I like King, simply not accurate.

Beans And Cheese's picture

The only way you see any of these guys walk is if they are traded for an inside linebacker. The kicker can lose his job in Pre-season easily if he is still of but the others are needed and valued! No trade - No Go!

ILPackerBacker's picture

Clunker of an article. Not everything can be top of the line but some things are noth ings.

Bulaga is one of premier RT in the NFL but will be gone if he lost a step?

Bulaga HAS ALREADY lost a step, he was never a premier RT and he is still a level above his replacements and/or potential replacements.

Write some article in advance for days when you don't have time

David Michalski's picture

Metrics show Bulaga when healthy is a premium right tackle. My point was if anyone were to get cut it might be him. Like if he goes down with a 4-6 week injury during the preseason the Packers could revisit keeping him. Like I’ve said, there are camps out there that believe these vets should be cut. I personally don’t believe any of the vets should.

porupack's picture

David, Nice article addressing the part of fan base who calls for cutting one of those 4 vets.
You were quite clear in your article that you believed the 4 should, and would be kept.

Not sure how your article was so misunderstood. Anyway, you graciously responded several times to re-emphasize your belief the 4 should be kept.

Coldworld's picture

He was perhaps TE best RT in the league! when healthy he still rates in the top 5 I believe.

I have zero sympathy with the cut Bulaga camp. Some things are just ridiculous. That said, there is precious little happening. Would you prefer silence to that to which you responded?

Bryan Chisholm's picture

Hard to see Jenkins taking over at RT out the gate (his 1st year). I know it only means so much, but Bulaga posted the 6th highest grade ever by a tackle last season, while Bahk came in at #1 three years running. I don't think the Packers are in a hurry to break up that tandem.. I mean, he JUST turned 30. If Jenkins makes it past Bulaga, Turner and Madison.. we either seriously whiffed on Turner and Madison, or got a absolute steal in Jenkins.

Lphill's picture

Daniels stays but I don’t think he gets a new contract the draft is always deep in defensive linemen plus the Packers are pretty deep in the D line right now in fact it can be one of the best in the league .

DragonSilk's picture

It's hard to believe Bulaga strays healthy for 16+ games. They'll have to use extra roster spots just in case. If his injuries have slowed in the slightest he'll be gone.

I predict Daniels will be gone. It's not just Keke, but also Gary's ability to create inside pressure that'll make him expendable. He should even have some trade value.

Since '61's picture

I don’t expect that any of the 4 players mentioned in the article will be released. What is the benefit to the Packers for releasing them?

Without Bulaga the OL is weakened and Rodgers has less protection than with Bulaga playing. Yes he may get injured but that is true for every player on the team.

With the addition of the Smiths and Gary to our front 7 Daniels is exactly the type of player you want on the DL to leverage his experience and create more opportunities for the pass rushers and himself to make plays. None of the younger players are ready to step in and play at Daniels level.

Why chuck Tramon Williams? He can be like a coach on the field for our young secondary, especially early in the season. Plus he can still play.

Crosby should be kept because he knows how to kick in Lambeau in bad weather and that can be a huge factor if the Packers have any home playoff games if they get that far.

I understand that the NFL is a young man’s game but there is no substitute for experience especially when the experienced players can still play at a high level. And each of these four players are still solid NFL players at their respective positions. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ‘61

porupack's picture

Since61,
Right with you and David on all points. Can't see building cap space only to create a new weakness or vulnerability. Some redundancy is good planning. Keep all 4.

Only way I would cut one, is if the money saved was enough to lock up one MDaniels. He was loyal, consistent, a leader and team player and produced despite a poor cast around him. Pay that man and keep him in GB if possible. Negotiate now, and make a sacrifice elsewhere if needed to keep that one mean disruptor on the DL.

Turophile's picture

While I don't see any of the four you mentioned going before the end of 2019, once the season is over there will be changes.

Just as early 2019 saw the end of Matthews and Price, the end of the 2019 season is probably the end for B.Bulaga, T.Williams, M.Daniels and possibly Crosby.

I'd guess Jimmy Graham is also gone if he doesn't make a jump in production this year over last year. I'd expect either a different veteran TE or another draft pick there (in the first four rounds), in 2020. I'd also expect a starter-level RT in the first two rounds, assuming Spriggs never ascends to starter-level.

Just as a sidenote, Graham is a $12m player in 2019 (there would be a $3.66m cap hit if released after 2019, with an $11.66 salary that year). Daniels is currently a $10m player, and Bulaga is currently at $8.3m. A huge chunk of money freed up if they are released, to go alongside the big headache of replacing them.

While some young guys already on the roster might be possible future replacements, there will be a lot of starter-level reps that other players will have to fill .

There is some depth at CB, a young and talented TE taken this year, with the possibility of Keke and Lancaster helping to fill in on the DL along with the hybrids (Z.Smith, P.Smith, R.Gary), but the Packers may revisit the safety position again, in 2020.

So, the 2020 draft could easily be something like, OL, S, TE, DL, even CB. Maybe a QB and RB get taken later. ILB probably comes into play somewhere, with urgency if Burks doesn't pan out, and with a later pick if he does.

Sol's picture

Even with the extra salary cap flexibility you would get, they should probably keep them all for depth, depth and more depth you never know when the injury bug will strike. It’s not a battle it’s more like a campaign. The only exception I might make is Mason Crosby I’ve never been a big fan because he always seems to be whining, he is getting up in years and it might be time for a change. I know I will catch some grief for this but my opinion, is just that an opinion that doesn’t carry much weight.
I might be stepping out on a limb, but I think we are going to see good things from Cole Madison. When he came out of college it seemed all they talked about is his wrestling experience and how quick his feet were for a big man. I guess he just looks like a bruiser to me and I wish him well with his NFL career.

Madfan's picture

Here is how I'd rate the four for returning/staying:

Bulaga -- Very high. I said that after the draft Bulaga was the winner. Despite age, salary and past injuries, there is no apparent replacement. Turner is a possibility, but not yet proven. Spriggs is a backup with an increasing salary. I know very little about Light. Jenkins is a 2020 slotted starter at an interior position after one year of learning and getting stronger. Perhaps he replaces Linsley in a year or two. That leaves who?

Daniels -- High, but not re-signed after 2019. I see Pettine wanting to use the 3-technique differently and Daniels doesn't offer the versatility desired. But, Pettine doesn't have a player ready to step in. Keke is largely an unknown until we see him in a regular season game. My guess is that he will take one or two years to develop. I still think Gary may ultimately replace Daniels as Pettine revises that position.

Williams -- Moderately high (>50%). Unless age suddenly catches up, Williams' veteran presence will help stabilize the defensive secondary for 2019. He could be an in-season trade, if King shows recovery from injuries and Jackson challenges Williams as the #3 CB. But again, nobody has shown he is ready to take over after Alexander and possibly King. Jackson will need to make a jump in order to push Williams down and out.

Crosby - Moderate to low (<50%). If another kicker out competes Crosby, I can see Crosby being cut. A trade would be interesting, but teams will wait to get him at a lower salary.

DragonSilk's picture

With Bulaga the only question is health. Even if he misses a game or two if injuries have not diminished his play he's the starter through out the year.

Daniels has been playing above his weight class his whole career. There's too many options for Petine to scheme without him. He's still recovering from something, so even at 99% of himself he's gone. I love the guy, but no more than Jordy or Cobb or all the rest that were forced out over the years.

There's too much youth in the secondary to get rid of Williams. One more year for him.

Unless Crosby just falls apart in preseason or camp he'll make it. Even so they need to keep a few kickers on speed dial.

IceBowl's picture

I guess I'll go with my logic, which is not contract based, but skill based.

I don't believe M Lewis stays. The Pack has younger, more versatile players that can do what Lewis can do, and more. (Unless he can fill in as a T)

He is good at what he does, but it is just too one dimensional for the O.

Jack Vainisi's picture

As it stands today no players on the roster are ready to replace these four at an equal or higher level.

Given their obvious objective of getting back to the playoffs this season, creating more salary cap space is a distant secondary objective.

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