The Packers Filled Needs in Free Agency but Are They a Better Team?

The Packers signed two free agents on the first day of free agency but do these moves make them a better team?

The Green Bay Packers signed ILB Christian Kirksey and OT Rick Wagner as free agents to replace Blake Martinez and Bryan Bulaga. The Packers filled some urgent needs, but are they a better team as a result of these signings? And how do these moves change the long-term outlook for Green Bay?

At inside linebacker, the Packers let Martinez go and added Kirksey. Kirksey has a bit more speed than Martinez which is good because Martinez’s lack of elite speed is one reason the Packers decided to let their former ILB go. This is reason for hope.

The biggest concern about Kirksey in recent seasons in his inability to stay on the field. The 6’2”, 235-pound Iowa alum has played in only nine games in the last two seasons total including just two in 2019. In 2018, his season was cut short due to a hamstring injury. Last year, a chest injury ended his campaign prematurely.

The two seasons before that, Kirksey put up similar numbers to Martinez by making a lot of tackles. Kirksey was credited with a team-leading 148 tackles. In 2017, he made 138 total tackles which placed him second on the team, just behind teammate Joe Schobert.

If Kirksey is healthy, he should be able to provide the Packers with roughly comparable play to Martinez and his edge in speed may help the run defense a bit when all is said and done.

The bigger area Kirksey helps in, however, is the salary cap. The Packers signed Kirksey to a two-year deal worth a reported $16 million. Martinez ended up costing the New York Giants $30 million over three years. This gives GM Brian Gutekunst more money to play with to add additional talent to the team.

The Packers also signed offensive tackle Rick Wagner who spent the last three seasons in Detroit after signing a five-year deal with the Lions in 2017. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin grad’s play didn’t match his high salary and he was released by Detroit last week before landing with Green Bay.

Injuries have also been a problem for Wagner. He missed four games last season and three in 2017.

Wagner is a better run blocker than pass blocker. Still, he only allowed three sacks in 12 games last season and committed just three penalties (all holding calls). His high salary from the lucrative deal he signed in 2017 made him expendable to the Lions.

Over the past three seasons, Wagner has not played at the level Bulaga sustained when he was healthy. But again, the big difference is the salary. The Packers signed Wagner to a two-year deal worth $11 million. Bulaga got a three-year, $30 million deal from the Chargers.

The bottom line is that these two signings don’t greatly improve the Packers over where they were a year ago. Kirksey may be a slightly better fit in Pettine’s defense than Martinez was if he’s healthy while Wagner hasn’t played near Bulaga’s level of play in a few years.

But the Packers did benefit from these signings. Obviously, they filled immediate needs that the departure of the previous players created. Since both players were signed to two-year deals, they aren’t long-term commitments so if things don’t work out well, the Packers won’t be stuck with much dead cap space or a player they can’t use on their roster. These players can be bridge starters who allow rookies time to learn and develop before they are able to assume starting roles.

In addition, signing Kirksey and Wagner saves the Packers cap space which allows Gutekunst to add additional free agents or to make a big trade this offseason. The Packers still have money to acquire a tight end, wide receiver or defensive lineman to improve the team before the training camps (hopefully) open in July.

The bottom line is these two moves get an incomplete. The health and performance of these newly signed players plus what other moves these economical signings allow the Packers to make will determine whether these were wise moves that made the team better or mistakes that caused the team’s talent level to slide.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (107)

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Lphill's picture

March 19, 2020 at 02:45 pm

Awful signings, an oft injured linebacker and a guy who couldn’t protect Stafford, Gute let us down big time.

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:12 pm

These signings are a gamble. What happens with the money the team saved may be the key. Thanks for commenting.

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CoachDino's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:40 pm

Yes, Bulaga is better than Wagner. I wouldn't say the signing is risky, Wagner is proven, a stud a few years back, it won't be like going from Bulaga to Light. I think signing Bulaga for 3 years 30M with his injury history is Riskier.

Gute had a plan in 2019. Sign Turner to be your 2019 Guard and then have him compete for the 2020 RT position. Though many of us have said no way do we want Turner out at RT it doesn't mean Gute deviates from the plan, process, the mission.
Turner competes with Lane Taylor and Wagner for the Tackle or Guard positions. Odd man out is the back-up. In 2021 you determine who sticks. Turner/Lane/Wagner after you determine who your 2021 center situation is. You then can cut Turner and save big, keep Wagner as the back-up to the 2020 OT draft Pick, You just replaced your 2019 C, RG, RT at around 25M for 10M and could be even better, much younger. Gutes is playing Chess while the rest of us are playing checkers.

Kirksey isn't Blake Martinez's replacement. Kirksey is BJ Goodson's replacement. Martinez's replacement is in this draft - between rds 1 and 3. Patrick Queen Early - Logan Wilson Rd 3 (Also Dye and Gay -riskier) OBL. The situation will determine if Kirksey or the OLB is the only LB in a certain set.

IDL Late or in FA I'm in on snacks...

CB -1st rd if you can get a stud but always open to a guy if he's the best player on the board. CBs are becoming like QB's in how important they are -(Ok exaggeration) but teams have 3 to 4 on the field at a time compared to one QB - - just saying

WR Rd 1 through 3 depending on how the board falls. Keep an eye out for FA that can step in this year as a vet on a 1 -2 yr deal. Hoping the Market crashes on Sanders and Anderson or look to the next level down. Lazard and EQS could be your 2/3 or 3/4. get a slot speedster who can return kicks and punts later in the draft.

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:58 pm

The only thing I disagree with is that Kirksey will replace Goodson. In the short term at least, Kirksey will replace Martinez unless a first-round stud falls to the Pack at 30 (and you mentioned some good ones) and they are ready to start right away. Thanks for a well stated comment.

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CoachDino's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:36 am

Thanks - You make a great point- Stepping in year 1 at that position is not easy, hence the FA signing being so valuable. Thinking more of a weening in process. The DC uses 2 ILB personnel in a good chunk of defensive sets. There are two openings in 2020 with Goodson and Blake gone. The kid may have to start immediately in 2 ILB sets and then take over the single LB sets, in coverage focused sets when and if he develops. Unfortunately, there are no average or above coverage linebackers on the roster. Kirksey is reported to be serviceable but not the solution. I also make the assumption that they can adjust "job descriptions" to a point to optimize the 2 ILB positions to the roster they have. It might be a silly assumption. I have no idea how it works behind the door.....
Hopefully, Burks can do something to manage the learning curve. Thing is Burks had limited snaps on defense and Tye never saw the field other than ST. Burks had a similar injury as Kirksey as far as a Pec issue.

All that said - might be the last thing they do - made sense to me and it's that time of year.

Go Pack

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Stroh's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:12 pm

I guess you'd rather sign a couple FA then not be able to afford Clark and Bahktiari extensions! SMH...

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:15 pm

Yours is a key idea, Stroh.

If people want to play the games on March 19, no, I don't think this is a better team right now.

I look forward to playing games in September.

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packerbackerjim's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:37 pm

From your lips.....

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:55 pm

There will be a #1 or #2 pick dedicated to OT and the other pick will more than likely be a WR. The three pick ILB or CB. I would try to get another pick in round one and use 2021 picks to do it. They will get some comp picks next year.
Stay ahead of the viqueens and try to secure a couple of blue chips, like Ted did with Raji and Matthews, vs guys that may show up in 3-4 years and then bail to another team. Reload and get to the Big Game.

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Stroh's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:01 pm

The Raji and Matthews draft happened last year when they got Gary and Savage.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:05 pm

Stay aggressive, Stroh. You have Rodgers for three years, maybe four.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:54 pm

Maybe two, considering how his contract is structured.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:13 pm

Stop.

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CoachDino's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:58 pm

or trade down for the right offer. The strength of this draft is how good the top 100 or so are compared to the past drafts. The top 20 aren't the strength of the draft. would you give up the 30th for 40, and flipping 3rd and 4th rd picks? you come away with 40, (your own 60), 73, and 110 maybe.. That would be a steal for the pack....

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stockholder's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:34 pm

I would not be shocked to see Bahk go. It's been pointed out on National TV; he raises his back Foot. (When going to pass protection. )

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:58 pm

On obvious passing downs, next.

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JerseyAl's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:33 pm

You're going to let a Pro Bowl left tackle go because he raises his foot? What?

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Leatherhead's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:52 pm

There will be teams interested in Bakhtiari that will be able to offer him a lot more money than us.

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:10 pm

I think they'll be forced to try to extend him rather than wait.

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stockholder's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:45 pm

The foot issue was pointed out because it generates MORE SPEED to Pass block.(SET UP ETC.) He was having trouble. When it was pointed out. (SF.) I wouldn't let him go because he raises his foot. I'd let him go because of age, protection, and " Salary". Much like Bulaga, he isn't getting faster. If Gute doesn't extend him now, It may signal the end to Bahk.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:31 pm

Lphill....I'm sure Gute will be calling you personally to apologize for not being up to your standards. While you're on the phone with him, maybe he can explain the salary cap to you.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:58 pm

Explain Graham.

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Timeout's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:48 am

LPhill, You should consider changing your name to; Dead Horse Beater...

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splitpea1's picture

March 19, 2020 at 02:47 pm

Oh, come on. The point wasn't to make them a better team, but to fill holes for future flexibility and allow time for rookies to develop. You answered your own question in two of the last three paragraphs. I did like one of the previous articles about Kirksey, though--this defense needs all of the leadership it can get. Before last season, I don't think we had any at all.

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JerseyAl's picture

March 19, 2020 at 02:53 pm

"You answered your own question in two of the last three paragraphs." And? Posing a question and then analyzing and answering the question is kind of the point of such an article.

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splitpea1's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:09 pm

"And" you felt the need to nitpick on a small segment of my comment? "And" I offered my response to the author's question in the other two sentences.

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JerseyAl's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:12 pm

And you started with a dismissive "Oh come on." That was the trigger.

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splitpea1's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:30 pm

I started off that way because I thought the premise of the article was kind of silly for the reasons I gave in my comment. It just seemed pretty obvious to almost everyone that the Packers were giving themselves flexibility with these moves and were rightly concentrating on trying to improve the team through the draft...and maybe another free agent signing down the road.

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JerseyAl's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:42 pm

Well, "it's like anything." Just because you have made up your mind that the answer to that question is obvious, doesn't mean others might have another view and then we can all discuss. That is pretty much the point of every article here - stimulate discussion - not shut it down as "silly" because you are sure your opinion is right. I hope that made sense.

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splitpea1's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:06 pm

Look, I don't dislike you, but I'm beginning to. I'm not trying to shut anybody's opinion down, discourage discussion, or anything else you feel like falsely accusing me of. I offered my opinion of the article and the reasons for it, and if you don't like, so be it. I might add that you seem pretty sure YOUR opinion is right plenty of times, too.

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:29 pm

It's his site, splitpea.

And he's very hands-off, all told.

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splitpea1's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:17 pm

Yeah, I thought so. But I'm not one of his lap dogs and I didn't appreciate being picked on for a rather innocuous comment. All the stuff that gets said here, including some authors who can't seem to express themselves without resorting to potty mouth, and he decides to single me out? I think this guy just had a bad day at the office and needed to vent...or something.

I do enjoy reading your comments, by the way; they're more measured and well-thought out than most.

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:34 pm

I'd LOVE to have a day at the office at this point...

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:01 pm

This ain't no Staten Island guy.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:13 pm

There are many true nit-pickers here but Jersey Al certainly isn't one as far as nit-pickers go.

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splitpea1's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:51 pm

He is this time.

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Coldworld's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:32 pm

Now Al, you are getting technical on us!

Demovsky wants to bring newly released CMIII back as an ILB! What do we think of that?

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JerseyAl's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:36 pm

You sound like my wife...

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stockholder's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:37 pm

I never thought he should have left.

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:37 pm

I don't see Clay Matthews as willing to accept a lot less money to return to Green Bay. If he does and will take a one-year deal, maybe.

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Lare's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:11 pm

I think Clay is more interested in his hair than he is in playing ILB.

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:13 pm

He can definitely add leadership and I agree, these are short-term commitments for players who can fill a need for the moment. We shall see what Gute does with the money he saved. Thanks for commenting.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:03 pm

He's lost his burst, it happens, but he can still be a situational rusher from the Edge. Probably end up with the Chargers.

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:28 pm

Not advocating for a resigning, but he missed 3 games in 2019 and still played about 60% of the snaps with 8 sacks.

At least in 2019, he was still a viable player.

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murf7777's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:16 pm

14-15% pressure rate and 8 sacks in 13 games doesn’t seem like lost his burst. If reasonable price he provides limited play very good pass rush!

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 20, 2020 at 02:16 am

They had Donald, Brockers, Fowler and lattimore in addition to Clay for pressure. Wade Phillips let him run free. He did not engage OTs much and when he was in space for coverage he was toasted. He took a mean blast to his jaw and still only missed three games. He will not play inside. He will want to stay on the West Coast.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:17 pm

If you believe Matthews can bring leadership then you haven't watched him during his Packer years. Matthews is not and never has been a leader.

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Thegravedigger's picture

March 19, 2020 at 09:35 pm

I heard. And i cant remember where i heard it. So dont quote me. But i heard he is the opposite of a leader and was a big part of all the negative vibes in 17 and 18.

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Thegravedigger's picture

March 19, 2020 at 09:35 pm

I heard. And i cant remember where i heard it. So dont quote me. But i heard he is the opposite of a leader and was a big part of all the negative vibes in 17 and 18.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:09 pm

The team isn't better and it isn't any worse really though the game play that both Wagner and Kirksey could/hopefully provide still needs to be seen.

If these moves were looked at like those of coaching personnel, the League/ Team FO's wouldn't allow them to happen because it isn't an upgrade in job but a lateral move.

The only benefit with this is like the writer mentions is a financial savings which so far and one I believe, it's use that some might envision which has already begun with some players in their vision having already been scooped up elsewhere, will more likely evaporate more and quicker as the new league year moves on.

But be assured that Gute will certainly make a couple of more moves that many will deem sufficient to boast as great as like the belief that all who come to GB are instantaneously such, even if by simple default.

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:14 pm

It will be interesting to see what those moves are. Thanks for commenting.

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:12 pm

On a side note, Rams continue to clear salary. Todd Gurley and CMIII let go...

https://www.profootballrumors.com/2020/03/rams-to-release-clay-matthews

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:15 pm

In 3...2...1....Let's bring back Matthews to play ILB.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:28 pm

CMIII in the middle. Hmmmm......certainly has more football instincts than Oren Burks. Not sure what he has left in the tank though.

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mamasboy's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:42 pm

Don't forget Jordy. We need him back too!

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:15 pm

LOL. Jordy's retired.

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tincada's picture

March 20, 2020 at 07:51 am

He signed with the Bears.

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Thegravedigger's picture

March 19, 2020 at 07:30 pm

We might as well make him defensive tackle. Cus hes definitely not gonna cover anybody as an ilb.

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:16 pm

Yeah, will be interesting to see where they land. I don't think either ends up in Green Bay unless it's at a very low salary. Thanks for commenting.

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CAG123's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:40 pm

Wow they must really believe Goff isn’t part of the problem.

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BoHunter's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:29 pm

I’m hearing that Gute is not going to resign Valdeer. I think this is a HUGE mistake!! Valdeer loved playing for the Pack and filled in perfectly when Bulaga couldn’t go in the Seahawk playoff game with 20 min notice he was starting on the hot corner. Come to your senses and resign Valdeer BG !!!!

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:35 pm

I also wanted to see Veldheer back but once Wagner was signed, that became unlikely. He's probably asking for more money than the Packers were willing to pay. thanks for commenting.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:10 pm

Veldheer should be looking at retirement., especially after the new CBA.

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murf7777's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:13 pm

Heard it thru the grape vine.

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Lare's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:44 pm

NFL teams need to build through the draft. They use free agency to find starters that they were unsuccessful in finding in the draft.

Of all the FA signings this offseason so far, how many of them were by losing teams last season?

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:05 pm

Most because those are the teams with the biggest need usually. Agreed you build through the draft and supplement through free agency but the Packers have some more needs to fill that rookies may not be able to help with in 2020. We shall see. Thanks for commenting.

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Switchcuzz's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:43 pm

Ya I don’t understand why the author wouldn’t add that neither of these players will count against the Pack in comp picks. Which i thought was a big factor with both signings. Couple mid round picks next year.

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Demon's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:46 pm

Just saw the Rams released CM3 how long til Pack fans are begging Gute to bring him back?

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4zone's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:00 pm

NOOOOOOOT!

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flackcatcher's picture

March 19, 2020 at 09:48 pm

YESSSSS!! (heh heh heh..... :-)

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:12 pm

Not long I'm sure

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:12 pm

In FA it all comes down to price. If we could get CM3 on a low contract and put at ILB why not?

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CAG123's picture

March 19, 2020 at 03:58 pm

The Packers never really stood a chance in FA with so many bad teams strapped with cap space and throwing money around we were pretty lucky to get what we got I mean every potential dlinemen target got paid big bucks. At this point I’m hoping they can get Suh who’s very good against the run and still warrants enough respect as a pass rusher to make life easier for players around him just look what he did for Aaron Donald in 2018 and Shaq Barrett last year. I’m willing to bet without Suh he probably drops 4-5 sacks.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:11 pm

One of the biggest flaw that teams have with FA. They fail too often to recognize that the stats and play of a player is directly a result of others playing with them.

The play and stats drop way below what was expected based on the money paid. Possibly number one reason FA is more a bust than an award for teams and most high dollar signings really don't make the difference for the team that signs them.

Unless the team already has a good number of Grade B and better already, the signing falls flat and hurts the team more than it helped.

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CoachDino's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:09 pm

Great Point. Good teams look for guys who should be better with new surroundings. Preston and Smith are the two big ones. I bet we see a step up with Wagner... Kirksey stays healthy and he will be much improved over last year's shortened performance.

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:13 pm

Doubt they could afford Suh.

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CAG123's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:55 pm

He signed a 1 year 9 million dollar deal last year he’s affordable

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splitpea1's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:41 pm

Pass. I don't think the Packers like Suh, stemming from some unsportsmanlike incidents in Detroit games way back when. I'd be highly surprised if the Packers were interested.

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CAG123's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:57 pm

They’d be pretty dumb to not consider it that was years ago if Suh can help them win now he’s worth a shot all that other stuff is water under the bridge.

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PackfanNY's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:02 pm

The only thing the current FA signings by the Packers has done is plug holes. They weren’t signing Bulaga or Martinez. Neither player was worth what they got. This is a salary cap league after all. What they have done is they now have reasonable replacements giving them time to find long term solutions in the draft without reaching.

So today they are not better. Though, Gute will need a hell of a draft to get this team over the hump. Tall task as it stands today. Gonna have to wait to see the final product.

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dobber's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:11 pm

Tom Silverstein's comments amounted to the Packers' FA class really being players like Keke, St. Brown, Sternberger, Sullivan, and others who were role players (or injured) in 2019, but could step into featuerd roles in 2020.

As you say: it's a draft and develop league. They need to make good on the young players on the roster.

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Timeout's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:59 am

Gary is another player that should step into a feature role in his 2nd season.

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Samson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:03 pm

"but are they a better team?...

There's not a person on this planet that can accurately answer the question.... Even the wannabe GMs that roam this site.. Gute has done well in two short years.. I'm leaving it up to his expertise & only laughing at the dire comments from the peanut gallery.

There's a long ways to go before season 2020... My pre draft prediction --- GB --- 15-5 in season 2020 with a four game win streak to end the season.... Booyah!

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:23 pm

I can and proved last season when most were looking at and expecting at best a 7-8 win season, I said 10 at least based on players, schedule and relying on the hope that other teams would be hurting at game time. And I BET on it....big.

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Samson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:45 pm

You haven't a clue ... and I doubt anyone cares what you may think. --- Have a good day.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 19, 2020 at 07:11 pm

The best thing about many of my comments is how easy it is to get you and others to react exactly how I expect you to.

Proof to my ability to see things coming because of my 'realistic' and 'common sense' views of all things that I wish to take part.

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Samson's picture

March 19, 2020 at 07:15 pm

So you're admitting to being nothing more than just another social media "troll"... Guess what?.... Everyone already knows that.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 19, 2020 at 11:39 pm

Not at all...but I'm great at getting you upset. The easiest thing to do here and that proves how ignorant you and others are to what happens and what you think you know because of your everything is great that they do in GB's FO mentality.

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CoachDino's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:28 pm

I get your point as you can't predict the future with 100% accuracy on a consistent basis with all the variables that go into it. The posts are for fun first off - no one's being paid. or should we - to your point again... The crux comes down to how you measure
"better team" when as a GM you make the decisions and as fans, we debate moves, strategies, performance, etc... How would you base your decisions? Using that answer answers why you did it and if the team will be better. That said - As we all now -
"Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results"...
(But they still get the commission..lol)
I'd question whether a guy who predicted the Pack would perform as well as they did should be considering that a positive. The odds were not in favor of that, many things (variables) went the packers way along with great draft, FA signings, etc...

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Lphill's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:25 pm

Gute dropped the ball with this signing. Burks will be the starter God help us!

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Lare's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:11 pm

Whatever you say Dash. Over and over, and over...........................again.

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murf7777's picture

March 19, 2020 at 08:28 pm

God help us when jordy became our starter in year 4.

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Lphill's picture

March 19, 2020 at 04:32 pm

The best available middle linebacker is Clay Mathews bring him back, and he can cover too.

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:11 pm

Not sure he'd come back to play ILB and whether he'd take a one year deal for what the Packers are willing to pay. If he would, I wouldn't mind seeing Clay back.

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Thegravedigger's picture

March 19, 2020 at 07:36 pm

He couldnt cover when he was 25. Or 28. So hes not covering at 34. One hook and go route and he will be 8 yards behind the reciever if he even turns around at all.

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dobber's picture

March 20, 2020 at 09:18 am

People lose track of the fact that CMIII seemed like a savior at ILB because the players he replaced on the field were just plain BAD. Plus, his spending time in the middle put a much better player on the field (Peppers) for more snaps. Even though CMIII rated as less than average at ILB, the net positive changes to the defense were meaningful.

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wildbill's picture

March 19, 2020 at 05:38 pm

Looks like kinda of a push, until you factor in the money, which makes these moves a plus for the Pack. Both Martinez and Bulaga were/are warriors and will be missed but no way could we have afforded their new contracts. Many posts, here and other Packer sites, act like this team has low talent and needs upgrades at many positions. Don’t get me wrong we need to upgrade some positions but we were 14-4 last year! Sure no way we really beat KC on the road if Mahomes plays but we were a very good team. Yea SF ran all over us but we won several games last year in which people ran at will and KC gave up well over 6 yards a carry in the Super bowl and still won. In both SF games our offense sucked until the games were out of hand. Upgrade our DL and give Rodgers some added weapons and no way does SF handle us like that again. In Gute we trust!

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GilMartin's picture

March 19, 2020 at 06:55 pm

Very well said. Thanks for the comment and the level-headed analysis

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Adorabelle's picture

March 19, 2020 at 07:36 pm

Signing Wagner is like signing Bulaga after the 2017 season. Then everyone would have said he was an oft injured decent tackle. And everyone hated Martinez and didn't want to pay him, right? So whats the complaint? There was no way the Packers were going to give either of these two players the money they got. This season it appears the Packers are bargain shopping. There may probably be a cheap TE and WR coming to town yet as well but no big contracts this season it seems.

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greengold's picture

March 21, 2020 at 11:53 am

Prudence. The Packers are making their best signings as possible, knowing their cap was tighter than many, far tighter than the top half of the NLF, and carefully discerning which players will add the most bang for the buck.

Can't really argue with that. These are the realities of having a top team. They shored up ILB and RT with Kirksey and Wagner, both players are UPGRADES in run stop and outside zone blocking respectively. HUGE for GB to land those two players at the prices they were able to agree on. Not only did those signings bring solid talent to both need positions, at great value, but they helped open more opportunities in the upcoming draft.

Now, GB can hit WR at BOTH 30 and 62, without worrying about ILB and RT. They could take a flyer on a dynamic S like Chung or Dugger early. The possibilities are endless now, with a very deep pool of talent at WR to add instant starters after 30 if they so choose.

This is going to be a wild ride to see how they bring this Lombardi Trophy home, but I like their moves thus far.Very smart work by Gutekunst & Ball.

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Cartwright's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:02 am

With the money saved on these signings it sets Gutie up to sign an offensive weapon. The two positions let go RT and ILB were replaced, the TE position was let go and not replaced. Sternberger is still unproven, I expect a signing here to replace Graham. The Jared Cook like Ebron James is still out there, the longer he stays on the market the cheaper he gets. This would absolutely be an upgrade and give Rodgers another reliable pass catcher to throw to besides Devante Adams.

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Cartwright's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:18 am

With the money saved on these signings it sets Gutie up to sign an offensive weapon. The two positions let go RT and ILB were replaced, the TE position was let go and not replaced. Sternberger is still unproven, I expect a signing here to replace Graham. The Jared Cook like Eric Ebron, a former Lion 1st round draft pick is still out there, the longer he stays on the market the cheaper he gets. This would absolutely be an upgrade and give Rodgers another reliable pass catcher to throw to besides Devante Adams.

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MichaelRobert's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:25 am

Absolutely loved it!

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ShawnO's picture

March 20, 2020 at 09:05 am

Going back to the old TT days... Rely on getting better from Rookies and Coaching..

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greengold's picture

March 21, 2020 at 12:42 pm

I couldn't disagree more.

Ted RARELY was a player in FA, and he should have been many times. The bigger picture points to a need to be careful with their signings this offseason, as they have greater restraints than most teams in the NFL.

BUT THEY WERE STILL PLAYERS!!!! That NEVER would have happened under Ted. Add to that, THEY SIGNED 2 PLAYERS before 11 am on THE FIRST DAY!!!! Again, NEVER would have happened under Ted.

Gutekunst made the big splashes last year, and at the time, some still wanted more. He has a team that was in the NFC Championship game, and you don't get there without already having a well stocked roster of top talent. His challenge now is to keep that talent, and being cavalier about signing huge $$ players usually hurts more than it helps in such positions. We have top 5 talents at LT, NT, RB, RB and more all needing to be re-signed after this season, or extended this season.

Gutekunst did such a great job of adding VALUE, that there is still room to add more FA talent, but the prices drop as more time passes, which will help him. He's no dummy. The guy is a great steward of this team, both fiscally, and in talent scouting and acquisition. Built a good staff. Watch him work... it is really a thing of beauty.

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greengold's picture

March 21, 2020 at 12:23 pm

I believe the moves make GB a BETTER team.

For as much as I love Bulaga, Wagner is no slouch, and Wagner offers incredible instincts and speed to search out and destroy 2nd level defenders in the run game. Bulaga did not give us that, making this move a better scheme fit. A couple notches under Bulaga in pass pro, but, maybe LaFleur is going with a heavier emphasis on the run game for 2020...

Kirksey is a heat seeking missile in run stop - readily SHEDS BLOCKERS to disrupt plays at the point of attack or in the backfield. He ranges far better than Blake could, and he is quite good in zone coverage in the middle. To me, he was possibly the most complete package at ILB in FA, Littleton, for all the fluff, allowed a HIGHER QB rating when targeted than Kirksey in Littleton's Pro Bowl 2018 season... Think about that.

And.. when is the last time you saw Blake Martinez shed a block??? I mean, the guy was often caught in the wash and was only able to become a part of many plays after the gains had already been made.

There will be a big difference in coverage over the middle. Kirksey's 2018 season was cut short Week7 with a hamstring injury, but, had 5 PDs and 2 INTs in just those 7 games. Blake Martinez had 5 PDs and 1 INT in his last 32 regular season games - TWO full seasons.

I'm excited to see what both players bring to both LaFleur and Pettine this season. Can't wait to see the speed on D and coverage in the middle (it's been F'ing forever), along with the mauling on O.

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greengold's picture

March 21, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Hey, as a side note: THANK YOU, AL, AARON, COREY, ANDY, MAGGIE and all the wonderful staff here at the CHEESE!!!! Gil, nice job on your article!!! You're work is helping me to keep my sanity through some deep schmutz... and, I appreciate all of your efforts, rockstars all 'ya!!! - Timo

Toast to you! CHEERS!!!

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