It had been a while since we heard from Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, who spoke to the media Monday occasionally provide answers of substance to a barrage of lingering questions.
Let’s break it down.
This was a bit of surprisingly optimistic news on the Aaron Jones front. It’s worth noting that the franchise tag for running backs will likely be lower than expected this offseason. Still, it would take a chunk of change for the Packers to make this work. Green Bay usually doesn’t utilize the franchise tag, but Gutekunst said he’ll evaluate it on a case-by-case basis.
While it would be great to have Jones back, franchise-tagging him would only delay the inevitable. The logic here has to be that they feel having Jones back for one more go is critical for their title chances.
Best guess? I still believe the Packers opt to let Jones walk in free agency, and some other team gives him a massive payday. Most Packers fans have accepted this fate already, so it will not be surprising if it goes this route.
Let’s go with a big shocker. Look at the Packers’ current situation: in salary cap hell, with a roster constructed to win right now, yet seemingly a couple of pieces away with the potential to lose more key players this offseason. Conventional wisdom is that roster cuts would essential in getting under the magic cap number. One move that sticks out is Preston Smith.
Smith really regressed in 2020. Perhaps it’s an outlier; he has been an outstanding player. However, the caveat is that Smith was outperformed by Rashan Gary, a younger player on a rookie deal in the same position. That makes Smith a cap-casualty candidate whose departure could save Green Bay roughly $8 million.
But Gutekunst’s quotes suggest otherwise.
He still seems smitten by Smith, and you can’t blame him. But this seems like a numbers game, and Smith is countered by better, younger, cheaper talent at the same spot — all the ingredients for a cut. Gutekunst’s vote of confidence saying they “certainly expect him back” would suggest otherwise.
Best guess here? It’s hard to see the Packers, who desperately need to dig out cap space, keeping Smith at that number with how Gary looked last season.
Savvy move here by Gutekunst. No need to name specific players, but a question that had to be asked nonetheless.
This move will shape the Packers and the potential for how things look beyond this year.
The easy move is to restructure Rodgers, turn roster bonus money into signing bonus money, and stretch it out thin over the next three years for added space this season. Doing so would show a serious commitment to Rodgers for the rest of his current contract and create speculation about what they’re going to do with Jordan Love. Rodgers is coming off an MVP season, and nobody is questioning whether he will be the Packers quarterback next year. He absolutely will be. The question we’re starting to circle around regards 2022. A restructure shows confidence to ride with Rodgers for the years to come.
This is the toughest one to predict. I’ll go with the Packers, ultimately restructuring Rodgers’ contract and crossing the awkward bridge that could lie ahead after 2021.
This sounds like fluff, no? All reports say there has been minimal contact, if any, between the Packers and Corey Linsley on a potential contract. Linsley said this last week:
Linsley was a stud and a well-deserved All-Pro in Green Bay. It all comes down to the financials. Centers of Linsley’s caliber are difficult to find. And with the Packers looking incredibly thin at offensive line to start 2021, bringing back Linsley would produce a huge sigh of relief. But it doesn’t appear to be likely.
Most likely, Linsley walks and gets a healthy contract from another team with more cap space.
The Packers have plenty of decisions to make with the official start of free agency looming in a couple of weeks. One would think a lot of the above questions will have concrete answers within the next 10 days. Buckle up, everybody. This roller coaster has a foggy ending to it.