Packers GM Brian Gutekunst met with the media for a season-ending press conference on Friday. As he left the podium and made his way out of the room, an intrepid reporter noticed something fall out of his pocket. She was kind enough to share it with me.
GUTEY’S WINTER TO-DO LIST
- Give Matt LaFleur a little gift to mark four years on the job. It’s a comfy new chair for behind his desk. It has lumbar support, is easily adjustable, and, best of all, it’s heated, so you can keep that tush nice and toasty on cold winter mornings. Actually, the heater is preset to always remain on. There are five settings — we’ll keep it locked on two for now and revisit the settings around mid-October.
- Aaron needs time to sort through things, but before he leaves town, grab a bowl of chili at Chili John’s with him. It’s probably the last thing Aaron would want to put in his mouth — a subtle reminder that the culinary options in the Fox Valley are not necessarily the tastiest nor the healthiest. Perhaps it’s time to strongly consider riding off to his next great life adventure. That probably means something completely outside of football. But if he decides the embers are still burning, I’ll find a suitable landing place, likely in the New York metropolitan area, where the culinary scene is unmatched.
- The truth is that Jordan has to be the starter in 2023. I basically put my career on the line when I made the pick. But if Aaron decides to return and wants to play here, I’ve painted myself into a corner, and I MUST find a team willing to part with a first- or second-rounder for Jordan. Anything less will get me run out of town. Maybe pick 34 (Houston Texans), 36 (Indianapolis Colts), 40 (Carolina Panthers), or 41 (New Orleans Saints). Yeah, I could sell that.
- Figure out what to do with David Bakhtiari. I told the press I hope he’ll be back, and I meant it. Love everything about this guy, one of Ted’s best Day 3 draft jewels. Ideal teammate, hard worker, and among the best in the game when healthy. It’s those last two words that resonate. Could rework his deal to get his cap number to something we can live with and pray that his knee doesn’t blow up, but how many weeks can we count on him being there? Gut says to cut bait and trust that between Zach Tom, Yosh Nijman, and Elgton Jenkins or pick 15, we can put someone at left tackle for the next 5-7 seasons. I erred in keeping Aaron here one year too long, keeping David may have the same result.
- Prepare varying levels of good-bye parties for the following players: Adrian Amos, Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Dean Lowry, Jarran Reed, Krys Barnes, and, sadly, Mason Crosby. We’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul for too long. It’s time for an organizational salary cap reset. Those not deserving parties but whose lockers will also be emptied: Royce Newman, Jake Hansen, Tyler Davis, Dallin Leavitt, and Eric Wilson.
- Figure out a way to bring back Aaron Jones. That game-altering fumble against the Detroit Lions should give us some wiggle room on working together to bring down that onerous cap number. The Jones-Dillon combo would be Love’s (or Aaron’s) best friend. At the same time, Keisean Nixon should buy one of his departing teammates’ homes. He’s not going anywhere.
- Scour the league for a productive tight end. I mean, right now the depth chart reads Josiah Deguara. End of list. Whether it’s Aaron or Jordan, this position has been a black hole for too long. And if it’s Jordan, a reliable tight end could be his best friend. There are some tantalizing free agents, but we may not have the dough for guys like Evan Engram or Dalton Schultz. But maybe someone like Hayden Hurst, Austin Hooper, O.J. Howard or Mike Gesicki. Could just say screw it and draft the Mayer kid from Notre Dame at 15, too.
- Finally, while I’ve given Matt full freedom regarding his staff, I will strongly encourage him to revisit his trust in his defensive coordinator. Virtually every pick I’ve made has been to address that side of the ball. The talent is there. If he remains loyal to Barry, I’ll quietly ratchet up the heat on that desk chair to three…maybe three and a half.