Hope everybody is staying safe and healthy. Let's get right to it. If you're talking real difference makers, then the position almost doesn't matter. If you're talking adding a good player, I'd probably say receiver (or tight end for that matter) on offense, and probably inside linebacker on defense, though D-line would be a close second for me. That's the opposite of what you had on defense, but it's a close call either way.
I'll be curious to find out Funchess' contract. He is another big but slowish receiver -- he ran 4.71 at the scouting combine before his draft. I don't know if they see him as a guy who's definitely going to be the rotation, or just added competition there. His contract should give some indication of their thinking. The way they can get better is from improvement from within -- one or more from the group of Sternberger, St. Brown, Lazard, and Valdes-Scantling on offense, Gary, Savage, Burks, Keke on defense). They also can get better by hitting on a draft pick or two. And free agency isn't finished, you never know who they might end up signing, what opportunities might pop up on the trade market. I'm not saying any or all of those things will happen, but at least some of them certainly could.
Drafting a CB in the first two or three rounds isn't a necessity but would not be a surprise. Sullivan played OK last year, he's a viable backup but I don't think you'd want to go into the season with him as your No. 3. Hollman is still very much an unknown. Maybe they're waiting until after the draft to decide whether to re-sign Tramon Williams.
Anything and everything is in play, including canceling the season. But I really don't know what the odds are, seems almost impossible to even guess. We just don't know how things are going to look a month from now let alone in four or five months.
For starters, Bakhtiari has a better injury profile than Lang and Sitton, both of whom had chronic back issues. Also, the reason they cut Sitton was that he became a locker-room cancer after the Packers told him they weren't going to do an contract extension with him during training camp. And finally, left tackle is a premium position, good ones are really hard to find, and he's one of the best. I'm sure he'd be happy to sign an extension that has a lot of guaranteed money. And if he signs an extension this offseason or early in the season, then he'll transfer the injury risk for 2020 from himself to the Packers.
OK. As I'd said in these chats leading up to free agency, I thought he'd sign backstop guys at ILB and T, which he did -- he spent a tad more on them than I might have guessed, but not much. Now when he drafts at those positions the rookies won't have to come in and start unless they're ready to. But I did think he'd sign a TE or maybe WR in the $6M to $11M range too, which he hasn't done. That would have put some stress on the team's budget/cap but would have been doable even with Clark, Bakhtiari and maybe Jones looming. He signed Funchess but the contract's value hasn't been reported yet, so it's probably on the cheap side. I still wonder if he'll sign a bargain DL to help play the run before it's all said and done.
I would think most positions will at least be on the table at No. 30, though my best guess is it will be a WR, ILB, T or DL. I'm not sure I'd say any one of them is more likely than the others. Maybe Gutekunst will move back into the early second round, like he did in '08, when he moved from No. 30 to No. 38, picked up a fourth-round pick and selected Nelson. Then he could use that fourth-rounder to move up in either the second or third rounds for a guy he really likes, or exercise the pick.
Funchess reportedly ran 4.50 on his Pro Day after running 4.71 at the combine. That's a really big difference. I don't know the surface they run on at Michigan, but the thing with the combine is the surface is the same for everyone. So I'd put more stock in the combine myself. Yeah, guys can have a bad day for whatever reason, but they get to run it twice. The game tape matters more, though. I think Jerry Rice ran like 4.67, something like that, but he's the best receiver ever.
He had 26 touchdown passes last year and 25 the year before, so I think there's more to it than that. He's had two of his lowest completion percentages the last two years. And he's clearly not as mobile as he was a few years, that was pretty obvious last year. All that said, yeah, he's still capable of playing great football, he still has exceptional arm talent. He can't carry a team like he did in say '16, but he's still an upper-echelon QB, just needs a little more help than he used to.
That's what I'm thinking. Again, Funchess' contract (especially the amount guaranteed) will tell us a lot about what the Packers are thinking, whether they see him as a likely starter or more as a rotational guy. His production has been a little erratic and he's had big drop issues, but he did have 63 catches and eight TDs in '17.
An earlier question asked how the Packers can get better, another way is that Rodgers and the rest of the offense improve in his second year in LaFleur's system.
There's still the draft too, which we won't know how much that helps any of these teams until they're playing games. On paper the moves by everyone in the division have been underwhelming. I'm sure the Bears are thinking that Foles can help them being reunited with DeFillipo, who was QB coach in Philly when they won the SB. But I'm not even positive he'll be the starter. The Vikings have shed talent but have a lot of draft capital. If I were them I'd be most concerned about the defense, because some of those key guys are get older, they could start declining on that side of the ball unless they draft well. I don't know what to make of Detroit. Maybe the Lions will surprise, though outside looking in it doesn't look great. But the Packers have plenty of questions too.
I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty lukewarm on the idea. Guess it depends in part on what they think of Boyle, also on whether they use a pick in the first three or four rounds on a QB. Not sure what kind of deal it would take, if he'd just accept the minimum.
I guess it's a possibility, I'm surprised they haven't released him to pick up the cap room (I think it's like $4.6M they'd gain), but they don't owe him a roster bonus this spring, and if he gets hurt in the offseason working out on his own, they're not on the hook financially. So it's not like they have to make a move now. They signed Wagner to be the fallback at RT, so Taylor would be more of a backup to their backup plan. Though maybe they're holding on to Taylor in case they don't draft a tackle. I still have to think he's eventually going to get released, but I don't know that.
Those are a lot of big questions that the league has to be checking into. I don't have any good answers. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is a former attorney and very good on matters like that, he's written that the players can make a pretty decent argument they should get paid, though of course none of knows how that would go. I don't know when the league would have to make a call on postponing or canceling the season. I just don't have a good guess for you.
Yeah, IMHO. Doesn't Rice usually finish highest amongst all the receivers on those list of best players of all-time?
I don't know, it's always an advantage to have extra picks, there's such an element of luck in the draft, so the more picks you have the more chances you get at hitting on a good player. He can also use some of those extra picks to move up in the second or third rounds, too.
A lot of people have asked about J Taylor on previous chats, too. It's not a crazy idea, though I still wonder if it's a little too much a luxury with their other more acute needs. There is a good logic to the argument, though. First, the run game is so important to LaFleur's offense that you don't want everything to go downhill if Jones gets hurt, which as the backfield is currently constructed is a real possibility. And between Jones' injury history his first two years and the injury risk at that position, that's important. Also, if they're really concerned about paying Jones a second contract -- recent history isn't very good concerning second contract with RBs -- a first-round RB would protect against having to re-sign next year. I still think other positions (ILB, WR, DL, T) are more likely at 30 (or if they trade back) but Gutekunst might agree with you, especially if he thinks one of those backs is special.
I would think it will make a difference. It will be hardest for teams with new head coach, a new coordinator or a new QB.
A big thanks from all of us to you, Lou, and everyone working in health care during this dangerous time. We're lucky to have all of you.
There are so many of those guys available, you never know who they might like. Harrison and Suh jump out as guys who used to be high-end players but might be had at a bargain price to fill a niche role at this stage in their careers.
Going into free agency I would have guessed he'd get more like $12M, but it seems like the deep draft at WR has depressed the WR free-agent market. I thought Hooper was a more plausible target than Anderson, because Hooper is a pretty good blocker and thus a good fit for the offense even if he's not a top receiver at TE. I can't say I ever heard enough about Anderson to think he'd be worth $10M per year. It seems like teams make more mistakes paying WRs in free agency than any other position.
This will have to be the final question, have some phone calls to make. But thanks to all for coming by and sharing your thoughts and questions, hope it provided at least a little respite during these strange and isolated times. As for your question, the risks of signing RBs to second contracts are real, as we've seen with Gurley and David Johnson, among others. I come down in the camp of extending him, mainly because if they do it this offseason or in camp I'm thinking they can get him at a very palatable price -- maybe $7M in real average (not new years, which would be higher). Do that and look to get two or maybe three more good years out of him. The risk with RBs is real, so there's a decent argument for not doing it. But he's such a good player, especially for this offense because of his receiving skills, that I'd take the chance at that price if he'll take it. With that, we'll call it another chat. Just want to say thanks again to all for coming by, far too many questions to get to them all, so if I didn't get to yours please try again next week. A special thanks as always to our subscribers, you make our work possible. And best wishes to you all during these difficult times, do everything you can to be safe and healthy. Until next week, take care everybody!