Gutey Told Us This Offseason Wouldn't Be Like Last

With less spending power in 2020, the Green Bay Packers haven't made the same splash in free agency that they did a year ago. And GM Brian Gutekunst told us it would be that way. 

The first few days of the NFL's free agency period in 2019 started with a bang for the Green Bay Packers. Of course, as we all remember, they would go on to sign Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith to bring some new life to the edge-rusher position. They'd add Billy Turner for some stability on the interior offensive line and Adrian Amos would help provide reliability to the safety position. 

For us Packer fans, after years of former GM Ted Thompson largely staying quiet during free agency, watching Brian Gutekunst make these aggressive acquisitions to address positions of need was certainly a breath of fresh air. And even better, the moves paid off. 

Now with the 2020 free agency period in full swing, once again, the Packers have some holes to fill on this roster. However, despite being connected to players like Cory Littleton, Joe Schobert, and Austin Hooper, the Packers have instead decided to let Bryan Bulaga walk and replace him with Ricky Wagner. While also bringing in Christian Kirksey to help fill the need at inside linebacker and re-signing Marcedes Lewis at tight end. 

I think it's fair to say that most would classify Wagner and Kirksey as value signings. In Kirksey's case, he is coming off of two injury-riddled seasons where he had played a total of just nine games during that span. While Wagner appeared in just 12 games in 2019 and to put it simply, he's just not the same player Bulaga is. But if both players can bounce-back and play to their potential in 2020, Wagner's cap hit of $4.8 million and Kirksey's of $5 million, will look like great deals. 

While all of us would love for the Packers to make three or four splash signings every year, that just isn't realistic, and right now Green Bay is bargain shopping looking for deals. However, we shouldn't be surprised by this. In an offseason press conference, Gutey told us that the 2020 free agency period wasn't going to look like 2019:

"We're not going to be able to do what we did in unrestricted free agency like we did last year. I think that's going to be very difficult just with the restraints that we have."

And those "restraints" that Gutey is referring to, is the cap space. The Packers just don't have the same spending power that they did a year ago and even with the few moves that they have made, they are already low on spendable dollars. 

Now, keep in mind that this doesn't yet take into account Will Redmond's deal but it will illustrate the point. According to CPA and Packers' salary cap guru, Ken Ingalls, taking into account the top-51 players, Green Bay has $12,637,274 in cap space available. But they also need money set aside for the incoming draft class, so now that number drops to $10,606,978.

However, not all of that is spendable. Ken sets aside $7.5 million for in-season spending, so if the Packers want to sign a player mid-season - as they did in 2019 with Jared Veldheer and Tyler Ervin -  they are able to do so. They also have to have money for their practice squad, as well as the 52nd and 53rd players on the roster.

Add all of this up, and according to Ken, that's $10,556,000 that the Packers need to keep available. Meaning, Green Bay has an estimated spendable salary cap of just $50,978, which is now less with the Redmond addition. 

With that said, of course, there are ways to free up more money. They can extend Kenny Clark or David Bakhtiari which will lessen their cap hits in 2020. They could also decide to move on from Lane Taylor and that would save them roughly $4.5 million in cap space. Or they could convert some of Za'Darius Smith's 2020 bonus. 

So while there are a number of ways that they can create more cap space, at this point I wouldn't be holding my breath for any major signings. Instead, any new additions will likely be middle-tier free agents like Kirksey or Wagner. Or someone like Lewis who only costs a few million dollars. 

Gutey told us that this offseason wasn't going to be like the last, and it hasn't been. But that doesn't mean that they still can't make improvements and put themselves in a better position to attack the draft. 

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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Comments (64)

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taarons420's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:13 pm

Do NOT sign any FA's.
Let Williams go.
Should have let Lewis go.
Accumulate as many draft picks as possible (future picks especially)
Resign Bakhtiari.
Resign Clark.
Get Sternberger, Savage, Gary, Keke on the field as much as possible.
Let Jones go after '21.
Let Williams go after '21
Let Linsley go after '21
Let King go after '21
Draft a QB in '21 (so he's ready for the push in '23/'24.
Aim for 2023 or 2024.

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dblbogey's picture

March 20, 2020 at 06:24 pm

Agree with most of it actually. I'm glad they kept Lewis, but play Jace and Tonyan much more. Tramon can still give you cheap, capable depth.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 20, 2020 at 07:12 pm

The Packers, in January 2018, hired a new GM and extended Rodgers contract. We then passed on good QBs in the draft.

It shouldn’t take a genius like Norman Einstein to figure out that the plan is to win with Rodgers. Not rebuild around somebody else.

Now, Gute’s contract runs through the end of 2022, so it makes no sense for him to be planning a push in 2023. Nor does it make sense to load up on rookies to win a couple of years from now. Additionally, Rodgers contract has an out following the 2021 season when he’s 38 years old.

Bakhtiari and Clark will attract offers from other teams that have a lot more money. We can tag one, but not both. All the guys you want to release after 2021 are free agents following this season.

So basically, I think your plan has some problems.

Here’s mine. Since we’re trying to win with Rodgers, we should improve the defense and the run game. This worked for Denver with Elway, it worked again for Denver with Manning, and it worked for New England with Brady over the Rams two years ago. This will work for us, too, if we follow the plan.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 20, 2020 at 08:46 pm

GB is in win-now mode. In 2023, ZaDarius, Preston, Amos and Turner will all be gone or need replacing.

It is a 3-year window.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 20, 2020 at 10:32 pm

Maybe three years. Maybe two. But our best shot is this year, before we lose Bakhtiari, Clark, Jones, Williams, King and Linsley.

IMO, if we don’t win this year then we need to shift our focus to the post-Rodgers transition.

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Lare's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:14 pm

I know some people are gnashing their teeth waiting for a big signing, but the point is the Packers won 14 games last season so they don't have the glaring holes as other teams.

You build through the draft, not Free Agency.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:45 pm

We were waiting for a DT free agent signing, but no go. Gutedkunst probably looking to the draft. There are some good big guys: Leke Fotu, Benito Jones.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:30 pm

Maybe they can find another Jerel 'Worthless' Worthy or that other piece of crap a couple years before who never made the field, Justin Harrell while omitting others prior, between and after. Heck, it looking like we blew the #12 selection and now we're back to the bottom. Get the arms stretched out for the reach picks that you will all proclaim awesome fits.

Faith should absolutely be high.

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dblbogey's picture

March 20, 2020 at 06:26 pm

You're giving out negative vibes.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 20, 2020 at 06:41 pm

Truth/Reality is most often see as negativity because most people don't like to hear such. They're most comfortable in lies and fantasy.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:53 pm

You build around a Franchise QB.

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taarons420's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:16 pm

So we need to get a new one of those.
The one we have is outdated.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 20, 2020 at 02:51 pm

"but the point is the Packers won 14 games last season so they don't have the glaring holes as other teams."

Are you actually thinking/saying/typing this with a straight face.

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taarons420's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:15 pm

That's the problem...
Gute's drafts have been less than stellar.

Also - this team may have won 14 games... but it was not a 14 win team.
That's an 8-8 roster that got lucky.

Rodgers is a middle of the pack QB right now.
The OL has taken a hit.
The skill position group (RB/WR/TE) as a whole is bottom 5 in the league.
The DL has 1 guy.
OLB looks good but lacks depth.
ILB is a giant "?".
1 good corner.
??? at S.
Poor special teams.

Unless the unthinkable happens and we draft a player who can contribute in a big way as a rookie or the unfathomable happens and Gary or Alexander or Savage or Sternberger or Lazard turns into a genuine star... this team will need a lot of luck (again) to just get back to the postseason, let alone actually compete with elite NFL teams (SF).

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:22 pm

Is your real name Chicken Little?

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Guam's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:05 pm

I'm thinking this may be DASH reincarnated...….

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JerseyAl's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:17 pm

Hmmm, antennae are raised...

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packergal's picture

March 20, 2020 at 06:34 pm

Hello Al,

At the risk of being derided and laughed at, unlike many, I actually enjoyed some of Dash and then Mannix posts.

Sure he wasted time fighting with posters versus making a concise point, but some of his posts were actually informative and entertaining.

Yes, it is your site and you are the ultimate arbiter!

In conclusion... with GO PACK!

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Lphill's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:31 pm

Lare your saying the run defense which cost us a trip to the super bowl is not a glaring need? You enjoy no name running backs having career days against the Packers? It sounds like it .

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Archie's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:26 pm

When the Pack spent big money on FA 2019, it signaled that the money would not be there in 2020 to sign other teams' big free agents but just as importantly, their own. Hence the exit this year of Bulaga, Graham, Fackrell, Martinez and maybe Tramon. This, of course, will result in two or three compensatory picks for next year.

Next year will be another year the Pack will be quiet when it comes to signing FA from other teams because they will have many of their own big ticket players to sign e.g., Bak, Clarke, King, Linsley, Jones etc. So maybe 2022 we will be a player again in FA.

Having said all that, I sure would like to get the Claymaker back at a club friendly price and let him finish his career where he belongs - in Green Bay.

My other wish is that we had an extra pick in top two rounds of upcoming draft. Maybe trade away Linsley for a #2.

There will be some DT available in bottom of R1 this year, maybe even an OL will make to pick 30. RB is certaily a possibility as well, as is ILB. TE is not likely but WR looms large.

Maybe we trade up in R2 to get a WR or DT or ILB or RB or OT i.e., whatever we don't grab in R1. Personally, I'd like to see a double dip at WR. But a big time DT will be attractive to Gutey/Pettine give last year's achilles heel. Will be real interesting to see how Gutey engineers the draft this year. Maybe he trades out of R1 and trades up in R2 from pick 62 and ends up with a couple picks in the low 40s.

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egbertsouse's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:30 pm

I figured they wouldn’t go all in for AR’s last couple years. It’s not the Packer style. A leopard can’t change it’s spots. I anticipated a return to frugality this year. Boom and bust is Elway’s style, not Gute’s.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:48 pm

Frugally not winning the big Game over the past ten years.

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Archie's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:09 pm

NFL system is clearly designed to reward boom/bust approach. Pack is as all in as they ever go. They have done all they can short of creating long term cap hell or trading away future premium picks. Are you advocating they do both?

1 - long term cap hell .... a little late for this year. Maybe next.

2 - trading away future premium picks - this is a deep draft class so trading away next year's #1 and #2 for a high #2 and high #3 this year might be worth it. With a #1, two #2s and 2 #3s we could add 5 really good rookies. Then next year, we set up cap hell and go get a couple of top FAs to offset loss of top 2 draft picks. That would be all in!

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taarons420's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:23 pm

Take your scenario #2 and flip it.

Trade AWAY this year's 1 for a 1 and 3 next year.
Trade this year's 2 for a 2 and 3 next year.
Use two 1's, two 2's and three 3's next year to move up and get Lawrence.
Sits for a year behind Rodgers.
Dump (or trade) Rodgers after '21 season.
Lawrence starts in '22.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:18 pm

Agree, but for this part but won't deny it a possibility.

"Use two 1's, two 2's and three 3's next year to move up and get Lawrence."

This may not be necessary as GB, based on the moves and what they can't do and the likely hood of them not drafting any day one impact players, the schedule, another year older Rodgers, a defense that cannot adjust, they look to be a 6 win team, which based on their play during last season should have totaled, and when injuries hit perhaps even 4.

The Packers will never win another SB with Rodgers because they don't draft day one impact players, they mostly make lateral moves instead of upgrades. Every year, even with the success that some believe it to be, the flaws that are always plain to see but incredibly always ignored come to light and send them home ass spanked by the much, much better team or the ineptitude of the HC, DC and the players they thought would perform.

The 'As long as we have Rodgers' mantra doesn't strike the fear in opponents anymore and IMO is the reason the better FA's won't come to GB until pass their prime. For the disbelievers, look back at whom we got, when we got them and how little each has contributed. Not to dismiss that Rodgers character may be a bigger part especially since his demands, like Brady has, haven't resulted in wins that matter to endure the demands of a prima donna.

This team was in a recession last year but the falling was covered up by others faults. This season the recession will be undeniable and all will see it, unless, the season is cancelled.

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Lare's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:31 pm

I just looked outside, didn't look like the sky was falling yet. But I like people who are consistent, you always know exactly what you're going to get.

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Johnblood27's picture

March 20, 2020 at 06:00 pm

predicting a drop from a 13 win season doesn't exactly take Nostradamus.

Likelihood of improvement - slim

likelihood of less wins - more than slim -
Especially after GB FA losses and bargain stopgaps acquired thus far. Lets get another good draft like last year, 2 all-rookie performers + more - at positions of need like WR, DL, ILB or OL and there is a pretty good chance of being +,- 2 from 13 wins.

think it through, its not rocket science.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:40 pm

"The 'As long as we have Rodgers' mantra doesn't strike the fear in opponents anymore and IMO is the reason the better FA's won't come to GB until pass their prime."

Z. Smith, P. Smith, A. Amos were all past their prime? Didn't realize that. Thanks for the update.

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Tarynfor12's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:22 pm

The Smith bro's will take a step back and that alone makes the defense worse and places more burden on a secondary that still needs something to be desired. The DL is also sub par and that is taking a toll on Clark who is likely eyeing the much larger paycheck elsewhere.

GB don't really do anything to make players want to stay, unless it's over paying or extending contracts for unworthy players like Nick Perry etc. Clark should already have been extended. Big money needed for Bakt and Clark and please, don't give me the home town discount bs. Even Rodgers doesn't buy into that crap no more in commercials.

Let's not even get into the offense. Wake up. Last season was the perfect storm as to luck and it isn't coming back again soon.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:32 pm

"The Smith bro's will take a step back and that alone makes the defense worse"

Thanks for clearing that up with actual facts as opposed to looking into your infallible crystal ball. I appreciate it.

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murf7777's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:56 pm

Are you and taarons420 bro’s?? I’m filled up already with tarynese.

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dblbogey's picture

March 20, 2020 at 06:29 pm

Interesting at least.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:44 pm

I'm a little concerned they haven't re-signed Tyler Ervin. He was a godsend for the return game last year. I can't imagine it would take much to get him signed. But I might be wrong.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:49 pm

No urgency with WR/PRs in this draft.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 20, 2020 at 01:58 pm

Still.....if he's affordable, seems prudent to go with the known quantity. He completely transformed the return game last year. Even got in a few plays from scrimmage as well.

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dobber's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:24 pm

Takes two to tango. Might be dabbling and waiting to see what his agent can dig up.

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Packer_Fan's picture

March 20, 2020 at 02:41 pm

Something has to happen. More needs yet no money. Like veteran DL, WR, DB. Let's look at the OL with the Wagner signing. You have three starting level guards. You signed a backup center to a two year contract. The draft is deep in tackles and with only a two year deal with Wagner, it probably will happen. So you have an over abundance of depth and holes everywhere else. What do you do? You gotta jettison some extra depth and use that to fill the other holes. My thoughts were to release Linsley. Just saying

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PackFlip's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:31 pm

Ya I'm down with cutting Linsley with that cap saving and maybe restructuring Taylor. Then there's some wiggle room to look for an affordable DL and maybe a cast-off WR.

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Guam's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:00 pm

I would prefer cutting Taylor to Linsley, but your point is correct. That backup OG money could and should be used for a starting IDL run stuffer. $4.5 million from Taylor would allow signing a reasonable mid-range IDL. Kirksey will not be enough to stop the run without IDL help and this draft is not deep in the IDL category. There are a couple that could help, but the Packers would have to get lucky and have the draft fall right.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 20, 2020 at 08:09 pm

Projections are that we might have a shot at the #3 DL in the draft.

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stockholder's picture

March 20, 2020 at 08:56 pm

Ross Blacklock? 21yo, 9 TFLs, 29th percentile athlete. // If Gute takes a DL after letting Wilkins or Lawrence go by last year. /// He will only put a rope around his head. /// Gary's development could have Gute hanging by a thread. // Besides Fotu is a better DL///

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Guam's picture

March 21, 2020 at 08:43 am

Blacklock might be available, but I wonder how much he will help next year. Somewhat like Clark who was drafted at 21 years old it make take Blacklock a couple of years to mature. I think the Packers might be more in win now mode. I would prefer a veteran IDL but that would require cutting Taylor or Linsley.

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albert999's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:11 pm

Everson Griffen is leaving the viqueens
Theres are run stuffer right there
GO GET HIM GUTEY

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PackFlip's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:32 pm

Will cost a premium. Obviously he walked away from the Vikes cause he wasn't being compensated.

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JerseyAl's picture

March 20, 2020 at 03:36 pm

Where is LpHill to tell us how dumb Gute was for not throwing big money (that they don't have) at the top free agent inside linebackers?

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Guam's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:04 pm

LOL! Hopefully LpHill is getting over his disappointment. You can't sign/draft 'em all.

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Lare's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:24 pm

I think he's over on the Raiders site telling them they're going to be a Super Bowl team after signing Kwiatowskiwicz.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 20, 2020 at 04:30 pm

He's Bipolar, Taarons420

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Lphill's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:34 pm

Yes Al , Gute dropped the ball , I guess you also enjoy watching no name backs have career days against the Packers, did you not watch the championship game? Well it will be worse this season .

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:48 pm

Not sure who has the biggest crystal ball (in their minds)...Taryn or Lphill? Neither has even a remote concept how the salary cap works. But I'm sure they'll disagree. Over and over...and over...and over

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JerseyAl's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:58 pm

LP, I'm sorry to say, you are living in an alternate reality. You seem to have no idea what a salary cap is and the restrictions on the Packers this year as well as some BIG expiring contracts coming up in the near future. If' you're not willing to educate yourself on that (articles here and elsewhere have explained it all), then you just sound horribly uninformed by making the same clueless comment over and over. We all wish we could have the best free agents - some years, it just can't be. This is one of them. Please come to that realization and stop with the "Gute blew it" ridiculousness. He can't blow what he was just not able to do in the first place. Come on, man...

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taarons420's picture

March 20, 2020 at 06:37 pm

I agree.
Gute has done a good job in FA.
His blindspot is the draft... which is concerning.

Draft 1 - One legit (though slightly overrated) cb, a punter, a long snapper - YUCK
Draft 2 - a solid guard, a safety with potential, and some special teamers - YUCK
19 TOTAL PICKS... 3 contributors, a punter, and a long snapper.

And now he's picking at the bottom of each round.
Fingers crossed that he'll be able to find even 1 player that helps the team in 2020.

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Lphill's picture

March 20, 2020 at 09:00 pm

Amazing most of you think Gute is God, even Rodgers wanted number 44 from the Bears, let’s depend on Oren Burks to stop the run, other teams in cap hell like the Bears , Vikings and Cowboys managed to make some nice signings , so enjoy watching Pettine play 2 down lineman and Oren Burks trying to stop the run.

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JerseyAl's picture

March 20, 2020 at 06:47 pm

I guess you missed this the other day, so allow me to repeat:

"24 Bears players are free agents in 2020 and 30 in 2021. Those "big money" signings will be playing with a bunch of Semi-Pro guys. Great way to build a roster, right? Cowboys had 10M more in cap space than the Packers with 24 free agents this year and they've already lost four top free agent players and seven in all. More to come. Just to sign Amari Cooper. More great strategy, right?"

Second point. Understanding the reality of the situation does not mean one thinks "Gute is God" it merely means not living in some fantasy world where there are no parameters and anything is possible.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

March 20, 2020 at 05:57 pm

I would like to see Tyler Ervin and Danny Vitale resigned for next year. Ervin gave a huge boost to the return game while Vitale is a versatile weapon at FB. Maybe Lane Tayler can be traded for a late round pick which would free up some money as well.

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JerseyAl's picture

March 20, 2020 at 06:57 pm

vitale is gone - Patriots.

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stockholder's picture

March 20, 2020 at 07:44 pm

Everybody was afraid when the packers signed Williams. We needed him. I'm hearing and seeing the same fear with CM3. We need him. I don't care if you guys leave me a 100 dislikes. Cm3 will solve more problems then some draft pick. The fear and garbage that he will let some SF run by him is garbage. Not to mention Character assassination. He's a leader Full of Pride. .I get the press thinks Murray is the second coming of Ray Nitscke. But he hasn't played a down in the NFL yet. Mathews has, and he will do as he's told. He's affordable. its just short sightedness on Gutes part, not to grab him for the same money he paid Williams. Leadership is never given,. It must be earned. This team will be further ahead if they don't get locked into drafting Defense. They won't if they sign CM3.

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The_Justicar's picture

March 20, 2020 at 08:48 pm

Wasn’t Williams making $5 million per year? The article says we currently have about $50,000 in spendable cap space. Could cut Taylor to make room though.

But seems to me you are blaming Gute for not already signing Matthews to a deal. We don’t know 1) that Matthews even wants to play here anymore, 2) will want to play ILB for any team nor 3) that he is willing to play for some low league minimum that you think we can sign him for.

More likely he will first look for any suitors who will pay him more and let him play his preferred position.

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stockholder's picture

March 20, 2020 at 09:12 pm

Blame? Not yet. Gute has shown he's able to do things early. You could be right on all 3. He might want to stay in a warmer Climate. Will see.

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NickPerry's picture

March 21, 2020 at 03:46 am

"This team will be further ahead if they don't get locked into drafting Defense".

Totally agree with this SH. You've been saying this the whole offseason and I give you a "Thumbs-Up" every time. This year IS the year the Packers must start to build the offense back up through the draft. This draft is loaded at positions the Packers MUST add to. They can draft a RT and WR in the first 2 rounds and probably help themselves this year and especially next.

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flackcatcher's picture

March 21, 2020 at 05:41 am

Would not be surprised if Gute went heavy in offensive linemen first in the draft. The need is that great across the all OL portions. Boy wish I could get a peek at the Packers draft board...

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BBlake's picture

March 21, 2020 at 03:41 pm

I agree with going OL early. I don't know if the Packer's need there is so much from a talent standpoint, but unless you have rookie starters they are very expensive positions to fill.

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flackcatcher's picture

March 21, 2020 at 06:18 pm

Yup. The nasty little secret in Packerland was how thin the roster was overall. Hence, I don't see Gute dealing away early choices. OL is a perfect example of the personnel problem the front office faces. Right now they have only two quality backups in Patrick and Taylor, that's it. Outside those two and last season's starters, everyone else is a developmental player carried on the active roster to protect the team. Except for Bahk and Jenkins, I think every one of last years starters on the OL is in danger of being Cap Causalities this year and next. Probably for the roster overall. Glad I'm not Gute...

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PatrickGB's picture

March 20, 2020 at 08:00 pm

I think that what is done, is done. Perhaps there might be a token move or two. But gutie did well last year and that will be how we run this year. I expect that the team will do well.

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