Hi everybody from sunny Orlando. Let's dive right in. I thought the same thing. I think it reflects two things: One, Williams played surprisingly well for a player his age last season, and the Packers had a certain level of desperation after all the top CBs went off the board and their shot at Fuller didn't work. Williams is a really springy athlete, sort of a CB version of Donald Driver, so he might be the rare, rare player who can play pretty decent CB at his age. But age is brutal and there's always the chance he could hit a wall soon. That said, I can't blame them for signing him if that's the price it took. He's played in GB, played for Pettine in Cleveland, and is a great guy to have in the locker room. He probably was as good as any option out there.
James is an interesting player. From what I can, he's not as effective a deep safety as he would be as a slot guy, so if they drafted him I'd think he'd be their nickel corner, and they'd use him as a blitzer from there too. At least right now it's looking like they'd probably have to trade up to get him, but you never know, a lot of smokescreens and uncertainty always accompany the pre-draft process. But the nickel position is so important, it's basically a starter, and lining up near the middle of the field plays a big role in the run game and as a blitzer, along with coverage. So if they think he can be a real difference maker in that role he very well might be worth trading up for. My opinion on whether they should do it or not isn't worth much, I have no expertise in projecting players from college to the NFL and basically haven't seen him play anyway. I'll be asking a few scouts about him over the next month, so I can offer what they have to say as we get closer to the draft.
Wouldn't be surprised at all if they kicked the tires, though whether they'd make a hard push is the bigger question. I'm sure they'd have concerns about the locker room. I also doubt they'd be willing to pay much. He's scheduled to make $12.5M, which is why the Cowboys are going to either cut him or get him to take a pay cut. Would it be worth paying him half that? I could see it.
I wouldn't think he'd do it grossly so, like, for instance, Brady, whose wife from what I've read routinely makes $30M or more a year. Rodgers became the highest-paid player in the league at his last contract but in my opinion could have easily squeezed more money out of the Packers. That suggests he might do it again. So I'm thinking his new deal will be worth $30M a year or a little more with a lot, lot of guaranteed money (maybe $100M?). I'd think that would be a pretty fair deal for both sides.
Nothing more as far as info on free-agent visits, but FWIW, my guess is he'll sign at least one more veteran CB, maybe even two, and then draft two as well. That's just a guess. Outside looking in, it's a coin flip on whether he goes DB or pass rusher with his first pick, in part because of the reason you suggests. So much also depends on what he thinks of James and Jackson at CB, for instance, and Davenport and maybe even Landry at outside rusher, and whether Chubb gets within striking distance because of the QBs and maybe even Nelson at G possibly going in the top five. I'm sure he'll play his thoughts on those things as close to the vest as his former boss, Ted Thompson.
I'm sure a lot is on the line for him. From what I can see and have heard, things worked about the way he hoped with Gutekunst getting the job and all three FB guys (MM, Gutekunst and Ball) reporting directly to Murphy. With that comes plenty of responsibility and accountability. But I'm not sure you can put a record as make or break, because you never know what the circumstances will be. But the expectations should be high, so the bar is high.
Sorry about the delay, had to attend to something for a minute. There's some truth there, Hayward especially has thrived, though Thompson also is the one who allowed him to walk in free agency. There's a pretty strong argument the coaching staff erred by playing Hyde at CB instead of full time safety. Thompson erred in letting Hayward walk, though I have to admit that at the time I understood why he let him walk and thought it was the right move. Looking back, CB is such an important position, you just don't let decent ones leave. Hayward didn't play as well with the Packers as he has in SD, though injuries played a part in that too.
It actually seems to me that the safety position is making a comeback because of the need for guys who can cover but also help on run D, and as possible slot guys in the nickel or dime, or even in an LB role. Burnett and Honey Badger got the deals they did for a reason. Burnett isn't young anymore and has had some injury issues the past couple years. He's a real pro and all and can help run a defense, valuable qualities for sure, but he's not a playmaker and then there's the age. Honey Badger hasn't been the same since his injuries -- he's had both knees reconstructed, if I remember right. Still a good player but not the field tilter he'd been early in his career.
There probably was some of that. Things happen incredibly fast in free agency, and I'm sure it seems even faster if you're sitting in the captain's chair for the first time, as Gutekunst was. I got the sense that what surprised them was the cost -- they'd set prices on guys going into free agency and pulled out of the running when the price went beyond that, and the price got too high on a lot of guys. I have to think that going in they thought they could sign one of those top CBs or maybe one of the WRs (Watkins or Robinson). The move for Fuller felt like a Hail Mary after all the other CBs fell through. They had nothing to lose going after Fuller, but the odds of the Bears not matching were almost zero.
From what I can tell, McCarthy really really likes him because of his toughness (playing through injuries) and the versatility you mention, though I also question whether it's really that valuable, especially now that they have a couple real running backs. If I were the Packers I'd have asked him to take a pay cut, but my best guess is that they think if they did, Cobb would refuse and then they'd have to be willing to cut him, and they think that even if they're overpaying him they still need him. Having Graham to pair with Adams should help Cobb, as will Jones at RB if he can stay healthy. Cobb is a good player and has a good chemistry with Rodgers when plays break down, which is a big part of the Packers' offense. He's quick but not super explosive -- not a Percy Harvin-type for sure -- as you point out. He's a small target, so throws to him have to be right on the money, just not the catch radius of bigger guys. I see both sides and there's room for reasonable people to disagree, but I'd have gone for the pay cut if I were the Packers. That said, maybe playing with Graham and Adams will open things up for Cobb and he'll be more productive this year.
He did seem to be. It's a looser atmosphere than at the scouting combine and much, much looser than during the season. I don't think the coaches have that much responsibility at the owners meetings, a few meetings and the coaches breakfast. Murphy and Gutekunst I think had more to do, but even then, the owners meetings aren't as hectic as the combine.
My apologies, I like to go longer on these chats but have other duties to get to here on the final day of the owners meetings so time to end this one. Thanks everybody for coming by, we'll go longer next time. As to the question, if you're talking about the first-round pick, my general feeling is they should pick where they are or move up, but not back unless there's a really, really, really good reason to. They don't get the chance to pick this high very often, and the farther you move up in the first round, even a few spots, the more your chances for finding a really good player increase. Of course there's still a big element of luck, and picks even in the top 10 and five can bust at a fairly high rate. But the chances of finding a difference maker go up as you move up the ladder in the first round, and they need a difference maker badly. So if I'm them I'm probably not moving back, even with all those needs. Thanks again everybody for taking the time to come by and share your thoughts/questions. Sorry if I didn't get to your question but try again next time and hopefully I'll get to it. Take care everybody.