Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Pete Dougherty answers readers' questions at 2 p.m. (CST) Thursday.

    Any chance we go after Eric Berry?
    Late start today because the Packers had an introductory press conference for their four new free agents and GM Brian Gutekunst, just ended. Let's dive right in. I'd think they're at least monitoring it, but I'd guess the price would have to get pretty cheap to get them to bite. He's 30 and missed almost all of last season because of a torn Achilles. He'd definitely bring intangibles, and he was a once top-end talent. Just not sure how much he's got left in him. Just guessing, but I'm thinking the price would have to be under $5M, maybe even more like the $3.5M range, to interest the Packers. Don't know if his demand will be low enough to drive the price down that far. But he'd be a pretty risky signing, Achilles is a bad injury for longevity, he could decline really fast.
    Any update on Breeland signing and if he stays would he play corner or safety?
    Nothing I've heard or read on Breeland. I'd think they'd want to bring him back, either as a backup corner or as you suggest maybe to move to safety. I'd think his price won't be real high, he's coming off a season in which he had a bad offseason injury that kept him from going to training camp with anyone, then had a groin injury that cost him some games during the season. I'm thinking he could be had on a short-term deal for maybe $3M.
    Is clay Matthews coming back?
    I'd think chances are very, very slim. He'll probably get an OK offer elsewhere to be a rush specialist. I have to think  he'd like to play for one of the Los Angeles teams, that's where he's from and lives in the offseason. Then I saw a tweet today that the Rams are interested in him. Bet he ends up there. Just too expensive for the Packers after they signed these four guys this week.
    I like they are so young only upside.
    That makes them different than the Bennett and Graham signings the last couple years. Those guys were stars but also older and in decline, and ended up turning out poorly. These guys -- the two Smiths, Amos and Turner -- are younger. Turner is the oldest at 27, the others are 25-26. There's still a little upside with these guys, though none of them has been a star, either. The Packers paid a lot for them, there's no getting around that. Definitely paid the early free agency premium.
    I keep thinking that a move up with the 30th pick is more likely than the 12th. Make sense?
    More likely, I'd definitely agree, but these things are tough to predict because the teams don't even know what's going to happen draft day. The FA signings give Gutekunst more flexibility in the draft, especially the first three rounds, to maneuver around and to draft best player and not having to worry much about need. I'm still guessing they'll sit and pick at 12, that's a pretty high pick. With 30, who know what they might do there? Up, down, sit and pick, I'd think they're all in play.
    Hi Pete and Ted Thompson we hardly knew yee as wow the Packers sure didn't stick their toe in the water of free agency as usual as they sure took the proverbial "NesTea Plunge" and made a nice splash on Tuesday! Of the four FA's they got how would you rank Z. Smith, P. Smith, Amos and Turner in the order of their importance and contributing to GB in 2019 and do you think they'll still keep Clay Matthews at this point in time but for (less) money? Thank you.
    Tough to separate the two Smiths, they seem like they're similar caliber players. I talked to a scout yesterday who said Z Smith is the more physical of the two and played inside some, P Smith is a little more the pure edge guy. But if you go by the contracts, they coveted Z Smith. Amos is a big signing because they were so weak at safety. Sounds like he's a very smart, assignment-sure guy with decent ability. The three defensive guys will all be starters, so they're all going to play big roles. And the Packers are paying Turner $7M a year, they didn't pay him that to be a backup, so I'm thinking they see him as their starter at RG, though Gutekunst wouldn't say where he's going to play in his press conference that ended about a half hour ago.
    Call me crazy but I think CB could be in play at #12. Jaire looks solid but you cannot rely on King at this point. Jackson doesn't seem ready. I would still prefer an OLB myself. Everything being equal - what position do you feel is of greatest need at # 12?
    I don't think it's crazy, CBs are almost as valuable as pass rushers these days, you need so many of them to match up with the spread passing games and to weather injuries. Just not sure if there's a CB -- Greedy Williams or whoever -- who'd be the best player on the board at 12.
    Gute really created some flexibility for himself with his FA moves. Do you think he still has some moves to make especially along th OLine? I’m not wowed by the new guy as a starter but like his versatility as a backup. Any starting guards realistically put there?
    I wouldn't rule out him taking one of the OL -- Jawaan Taylor, Jonah Williams etc. -- at 12. Guessing any of them could start at guard as a rookie then replace Bulaga at RT in 2020. I'd bet against them signing another possible starting guard in free agency.
    Do you think the Packers might go tight end since thay have partially addressed edge rusher
    If they think Hockenson or Fant is the best guy at No. 12, there's no reason not to take him now. The one thing I'm unsure of is whether these signings actually changes their draft board. I read a book about Belichick that described his scouting system in Cleveland, which I'd assume he still uses. One of the factors that went into a player's grade was how he compared to the players at his position already on the roster. That meant to some degree need was baked into a player's draft grade. Don't know if the Packers grade similarly, but you'd think need somehow or other affects draft grades, either overtly like that or subconsciously. Anyway, long way of saying, if they think Hockenson or Fant will be the biggest difference maker of the players available, they can pick him and know they haven't left their pass rush in a complete lurch. That said, I'd still consider OLB a big need, and if there's a potentially excellent one there they should take him.
    Good start to FA. I hope Pack doesn't reach for TE now that they addressed DL. Strength of the draft is in DL and Edge LB . Would love to see a slight trade up for White at LSU ! The kid is a blue chipper and would give us a thumper with range ! I would even consider the CB from LSU and move Jackson to Safety . D wins !
    White can really run, 4.42 40, explosive guy. Position value is slightly less at ILB, but if they think he's a star they'd have to take him at 12. But I don't know if they think that. Not sure they'd move for an ILB.
    There was a lot of debate last season about whether the talent on the roster was good enough, with some suggesting the issue was coaching and others believing the team wasn't good enough. Did this week's signings (couple with the decisions to release Nick Perry and non-tender a starting safety) give us an answer?
    Yes, it did. Pretty clear that Gutekunst thought the roster needed upgrading. I'd call this a modest upgrade and big price, but it's one they probably had to do. Rodgers is 35, doesn't leave time for a slower, even one-year rebuild.
    Can someone please explain to me the obsession with cap hits at this time of year? I get that the cap is a finite resource and a dollar spent on one player is a dollar you can't spend somewhere else. But it seems there's entirely too much conversation about a move being good or bad based on "overpaying" or "not getting good value". There is more cap space than there are good players available, so if at the end of the day you've improved your team and you're still under the cap, what difference does it make if you've payed a few extra million dollars to do it? Games are won with the players on the field, not by who got the best grade on free agency signing day.
    The cap still matters, and as you point out, there's more cap space than good players, so what happens is guys get overpaid, and if you do that on several guys and push the money into future caps, then you can start having a problem. Look at Minnesota. The Vikings have no money and are cutting guys and reworking contracts, etc. If you can do pay-as-you contracts, where the average salary and the cap costs are about equal every year, that helps a lot. But even with those deals, if you sign a FA to a sizeable deal and end up cutting him after a year or two -- and that happens a lot -- then the amortized bonus of future years accelerates and you take a sizeable dead-money hit. Do that with several guys, or with one huge contract (Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham) and then it really does cut into how much you can in future years. Teams learned the hard way in the '90s and early 2000s, when free agency was new, that you can't keep kicking the can down the road forever, you'll end up in cap jail. So the cap still matters, especially if you have structure deals where the cap hits are small the first year, as the Packers did.
    Hi Pete,
    Thanks for your time. Lots of bashing of Thompson here for his Free Agent activity but wouldn't you say he was fairly aggressive when he took over the roster. Signed Woodson, Picket, Manual and others. Some worked out, some did not but like today the roster needed a talent upgrade. I still think you overpay by being active in the first couple days of FA but I think TT's real downfall was not picking up the low price veterans (Vonnie Holiday, Vernon Davies) when they were on the market at a resonable price.
    Can't disagree with what you say. He signed a decent number of FAs his first two or three years. The first year he went for quantity (and low price), didn't get a lot of help. I think he got Woodson the next year after his market proved to be softer than expected. You're right that you pay a premium to sign guys in the first couple days, the Packers surely did with the guys they signed. But ultimately, Thompson almost totally bagged free agency and was so dependent on the draft but was handcuffed some because he often had to draft for need because he didn't fill any roster holes with even mid-level free agents.
    I'm not a Crosby basher, but his 2019 cap figure is the third highest in the league and his performance hasn't matched that ranking (#24 in accuracy and a Detroit fan favorite). If they cut him, subtracting dead money still leaves enough cash top savings to pay in the top ten for a replacement. Is this the year that the Packers bring in meaningful camp competition for kicker? Or maybe at least get a renegotiated deal?
    No sign of a renegotiation for Crosby. I'm thinking they'll bring competition to camp, or at minimum for the offseason, but I doubt it will be a veteran who cost any money. Maybe an undrafted guy. But you never know. Maybe they really like a guy in the draft and will take him, and maybe cut Crosby. I doubt that will happen but you never know.
    Overall I am pretty happy with the moves Gute made. There are no insane contracts that will hinder the team going forward but he added depth at key positions and freed himself up for the draft. Do you think they have any more moves planned or will wait for the dust to settle and see who is available in a week or two? Maybe a slop receiver or an ILB?
    I'd think they'll still a couple guys on the low-end cost range. Maybe Breeland, maybe Wilkerson. Who knows who else might still be available at next week and at what price?
    Did you get a sense from anyone in the building that the team was going to be this active in free agency? I saw reports that they were going to target a passrusher. I didn't know they were going to get two, a safety, and an o-lineman.
    Not this active. Gutekunst definitely signaled in interviews at the combine that he was planning to be active and thought he could upgrade the roster in free agency, but I never guessed he'd sign four guys basically right out of the gate. That's the surprise, is that he paid the early signing premiums on four guys.
    So, with all these Free Agent signings, set me straight, do the huge signing bonuses not figure into this years salary cap? It doesn't seem to. Looks like the cap charges for this year for each of the F.A. signings fall way short of their overall 4 year averages ? Clear this up for me please.
    The signing bonus is spread evenly throughout the contract. Z Smith signed a four-year deal worth and received a $20M signing bonus, so for cap purposes it counts $5M on each year of the deal. So that's why they were able to keep his cap number low this year. He received a lot of money -- the $20M bonus, plus a $1M base salary, $750,000 workout bonus and $500,000 roster bonus -- so he's happy to sign. But he counts only $7.25M against this year's cap, because only $5M of the signing bonus counts this year. The downside is, if for whatever reason they cut him after the season, the rest of the signing bonus accelerates to the '20 cap, so he'd count $15M in dead money against the '20 cap. If they cut him after the '20 season, then he'd count $10M in dead money on the '21 cap.
    Pete,
    Seems like Bell could have been had at a cost of one the the Smith's. If you were in win now mode wouldn't that have been a better investment?
    If they were in total win-this-year mode, yeah. Interesting argument on whether they'd have been better off to sign him and only one of the Smiths either way. One possible problem was that Bell's signing took a few days, his market wasn't as robust as he'd hoped, and the Packers probably had to make quick decisions on the Smiths without knowing for sure what Bell's price was going to be. Or maybe they thought they could find a back in the draft, and that they needed multiple pass rushers if at all possible. But it's an interesting question. I get it when people point out that RBs to a decent degree are interchangeable in this league, but I'd still argue that the special ones (Gurley when healthy, Elliott, Bell) really make a difference, especially for a team that wants to run like LaFleur has emphasized coming from the Mike-Kyle Shanahan scheme.
    I like the Amos signing. He's not a field tilter but he is solid and reliable. That's a big step up from what he had at that position last season. I'd like to see them bring Cambell back on a cheap deal but still wouldn't be surprised if they draft a safety somewhere in the first few rounds. How do you view the position?
    That's what they did, they paid a premium for a really, really solid guy, because that position was a disaster for much of last year. At least when they moved Williams back there, they didn't give up plays over the top anymore. Campbell tore his ACL in November, so he's kind of iffy. The minimum for coming back from that usually is nine months, and it's usually more like 10 to even 12. So I'm not sure he'll even be able to practice in training camp, depends on how his rehab goes. So I have my doubts about whether he's a viable option, but we'll see. And yeah, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they took a safety high. Not at 12, looks like there are no safeties in play that high. But from the No. 30 pick overall on, I'd think safety is very much in play.
    Hey Pete. Thx for the chat.
    Think there's any chance GB takes a look at Bortles?
    He did play for Hackett, so that makes you wonder. But with the money they've spent already, I don't know that they'd be willing to pay much for a backup QB, there's only so much money to go around. So I'd guess no on him, and that they're going to let Kizer and Boyle slug it out for the No. 2 job, maybe draft a QB in the later rounds or sign an undrafted rookie.
    Pete, it's my guess that the Packers draft more for the offense in this draft, after plugging some holes in the D. Maybe even a RB in the first 3 rounds.
    I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I see RB as a high priority. Aaron Jones just isn't durable enough to be a 15-carry guy, he won't last the season, we know this after his two years in the league. Williams is a solid back and tough guy, but if they want to really run the ball, they need a better pure runner to split time with Jones. If I were a betting man, I'd bet they take one in the first three rounds. Of course, I'd have bet the last two years that they'd take a pass rusher in the first two rounds and was wrong.
    Seems like everyone from the Ron Wolf tree (Dorsey, Schneider, now Gute) seems to be willing to use FA and trades to build the roster. What made Ted Thompson lean so heavily towards draft and develop? Did he get burned by FA early in his career or something? No disrespect to Thompson, he got us a SB. Just curious why he is the outlier.
    Yeah, interesting how that turned out. I think it was just Thompson's nature. Just as simple as that.
    Pete although expensive I love the signing of the two Smith's and Amos. I must admit I knew nothing about Turner 3 days ago, I've read all I can the last two days and I find myself wondering what they were thinking? 3rd round pick, couldn't stay healthy, cut, cut again, finally made a team in year 3 and played in 16 games in year 4. By all accounts he didn't play well. Might be a decent backup or a low level starter. Don't they have several people in the building that already fit that description? A $7M APY with a $9M signing bonus is not what you pay for a backup. I can't help but think they were bidding against themselves and no one else was going to pay that much. What am I missing here? Thanks
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