Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

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

    Yeah, he's the head scratcher as far as I'm concerned. They're paying him $11M in cash (not cap) this year, and an average of $7M. I talked with a couple scouts this week who didn't see it, just didn't think he was worth anywhere near that money. From what Gutekunst said about him today, they liked that he can play both tackles and both guards, and that he has good feet, so he's a good fit for the outside zone run scheme where the guards have to be athletic enough to get out and block LBs. So that must have been their thinking, that he showed improvement last year and he's a good fit for LaFleur's system. But I wondered the same thing you did after I talked to these two scouts.
    Nick Perry: The Packers will have to eat $11 million in dead money regardless if he stayed on the team or not. For the extra $4 million in cap savings they got by cutting him, they could’ve kept him as a player. In other words, for $4 million or so they could’ve gotten a pass rusher potentially as good as either of the Smith’s. Even with Nick’s injury history, that seems like a pretty good deal, especially in view of what they’re paying their new free agents. Am I missing something? I don’t get not keeping Nick around at that price.
    Our Tom Silverstein made a similar argument, and it has merit. But push to shove I disagree. Too big a risk of throwing good money after bad. He's sustained at least one significant injury every year but one. So it's almost a given he's going to get hurt, either not able to play or significantly diminished if he could play through it. So then the money is wasted. Better off biting the bullet and taking the dead-money hit now, and putting that $4M cap savings back in the pile and finding some other use for it in my opinion.
    How often, if at all, will Z.Smith and P.Smith be asked to cover a tight end or drop into a zone for pass coverage ?? I guess do they have the capability and experience doing that at all ?
    I would think that's part of their job description. Z Smith played in a 3-4 in Baltimore, so he's done it some. Not sure about P Smith and what their defenses have been the past four years. Both will primarily be rushers, but OLBs have to cover some in Pettine's scheme. I think they're both on the bigger side for a 3-4 OLB, so it's not their strength.
    Pete: Thanks for the chat. With the moves made yesterday in FA, if the Packers were able to draft an OL and a TE in the 1st or 2nd round, might they then look at severing the relationships with Bulaga and/or Graham? Conversely, relative to Graham, will the new offensive system place a greater emphasis on the TE "receiver" position? I've wondered whether McCarthy game-planned away from the TE in recent years due to the overall lack of talent and/or ever-changing faces following the injury to Finley in 2013. Even thought he's slowed down, Graham is still an awfully big physical target.
    With Graham I don't see how they'd cut him after the draft, because they owe him a $5M roster bonus in the next couple days. So if they then cut him after the draft, they'll be throwing that money away. They could do that with Bulaga, he doesn't have an early roster bonus, so releasing him would save $6.6M.
    Several years ago when Teddy Bridgewater blew out his knee the Vikings traded their 1st rd. pick to get Bradford. Didn't work out very well but I thought the GM sent a message to the team and their fans "we're all-in" this year. Did Gute just send the we're all-in this year message?
    Kind of, though I wouldn't call this an all-in move. I'd say he's just not taking a rebuilding year. He didn't sign any special players. I'd call it all-in if he'd gone after (and paid) Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham, or traded for one of those pass rushers who was franchised, plus made some other moves. But he definitely signaled that he's not taking a year to build up the roster, that he wants to give the team a real chance for as long as Rodgers is the QB.
    The team now seems poised to choose any position player of their choosing at #12 especially, and maybe at #30 as well. Do you believe that any sort of institutional bias may preclude the Packers from taking certain position players with those choices? They really need a TE of the future, slot receiver, and RB - not the typical choices for them to draft early. However, they may be able to secure the best player at a certain position and one that they truly need. What does your gut tell you, BPA, trade down, other?
    If I had to bet right now, I'd bet they sit and pick at 12. History shows you still have a decent shot at getting an excellent player there -- it's still not great odds, but better than even a few spots later, and not that much worse than top 10. Gutekunst has had only one draft, so we don't have a lot to base a guess on his biases, other than he likes tall receivers. I have to think he'll draft the player he thinks has the best chance of being special, regardless of position.
    Pete, Being in Green Bay you must have some inside info on Mathews and Cobb status--what do you hear my good man????
    No inside scoop, though I'd say the chances of either returning are slim to none. When asked about Matthews' returning, Gutekunst said this: "I think Clay’s a great player and he can play for any team in this league. So, if that comes, he will help somebody if it’s not us."
     
    Sure sounds like he doesn't think Matthews will be back. I'd think Cobb's odds of returning are about the same.
    Good Afternoon Pete. It seems like several of the new UFA signees the Packers added, have much higher salaries in the later years. Does that mean that the Packers effectively signed them for less years and would plan to cut/extend them depending on performance in the first couple years?
    The way to look at all these deals, no matter what they say on paper, are one- and two-year contracts with team options thereafter.
    Pete, I appreciated your commentary today about the GM or Murphy being in "win now" mode.....but for the Packers, (or most teams) shouldn't that be the case every year? I mean the team has several 100 million in reserve. It's not Murphy or Gutekunst's money there's no billionaire owner to answer to. They have a SB quality QB, and top flight players at WR, LT and one or two other spots. Why wouldn't they spend the money they have to win now? Maybe they spent a little high on 1-2 of the guys,...but maybe they didn't. I know if Ted was still running the ship we'd still be waiting for our first bargain signing but the cap room would be intact. As a fan, I can tell you, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about their 2021 cap room.
    It should, but it's also semantics, because there are degrees of going for it. They're always trying to win the SB but under Thompson they also never were willing to compromise future caps with contracts. As Rodgers gets closer to the end I can see them being more willing to do that. Look at New Orleans. They really went for it last year (traded a first-rounder to the Packers this year to draft a pass rusher last year, spent big backup QB money and I think a draft pick on Bridgewater for a just-in-case Brees had to miss a few games. They just did a contract restructure with Brees that means he counts $21M on the 2020 cap and he's not even under contract, so if they pay him, say, $25M in '20 (assuming he's still their QB), he'll count $45M against the cap. They are really, really going for it now. Just like Tampa did when it won the SB in the early 2000s, then had to tear down the team almost immediately thereafter. So there are degrees of going for it. My thinking is, the Packers aren't taking a rebuild year and are willing to start pushing more money into future years because Rodgers' timing is running down. But I get your point, Thompson probably should have had an offseason or two at least somewhat like this -- not every year, but once or twice -- but he was just so anti-free agency. He didn't adapt when the rest of the league did.
    I hate to complain about free agent signings, but why give $16 million to ZaDarius Smith when you could have gotten a better (and slightly younger) player in Trey Flowers for about the same price. Packers overpaid by at least $4 million a year. Plus this is a deep draft for edge rushing so you could have just signed Preston Smith and then gotten another edge rusher in the draft and used the Zadarius Smith money to plug other holes on the roster. Not impressed with that signing.
    OK, we've gone long but this is going to have to do. There were more questions than ever today, I got to only a fraction of them, so if yours didn't get answered, remember we'll do this again next week, so try then. You raise a point very much worth talking about. Flowers seemed to be considered the best rusher on the free agent list, at least according to media reports. One of the scouts I talked with yesterday brought up unsolicited that he didn't Flowers was that good and that Detroit overpaid in a big way, and that Z Smith was at least as good. So beauty is in the eye and all that -- different teams and scouts see players differently. Agreed that they overpaid for Z Smith, for both Smiths really, and I understand your skepticism. They paid prime-player prices for above average players. They improved moderately at a high cost. But I see why they did it, and I think it could end up being worth the premium for two reasons. One, as we've already talked about, it frees them in the early rounds of the draft to go strictly for talent without feeling like they left themselves with nothing at OLB. They're at least covered at OLB if not great. Drafting for talent over need improves the odds of hitting on a difference maker. But the other thing I'm really curious to see how it plays is if they draft an outside rusher early also. I think back to the Seattle teams of a few years ago, they didn't have a Von Miller-Aaron Donald-type guy, but they had six or seven pretty decent rushers (Michael Bennett was a cut above that), rotated them and came after QBs down after down with fresh guys who were solid players. If the Packers draft a good rusher, they might be able to do something similar. Not saying they'll be as good as Seattle was, but Clark and Daniels are decent inside rushers, the two Smiths are OK, and Fackrell (or, who knows, Donnerson?). Add a high pick and they could end up with five or six guys who each has 5 to 10 sacks. I'm really interested to see if this is how it turns out or I'm all wet. And with that, we'll call it another chat. Again, way too many questions to get to more than a fraction, but try again next week. Until then, take care.
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