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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.