OK everybody, let's get right to it. I'm not sure what to make of it. Could be a combination of several things. One, it's a lot of guys in their early 20s, and some/many of them in that age range might not be all that engaged in the matter. Also, a lot of players might be relying on their agents for advice on the CBA, not on the team union leadership. Those are my initial guesses.
I'm inclined to think the talent level is the biggest thing, they just didn't have a lot of playmaking at WR and TE last season. We'll get a better idea of what Gutekunst and LaFleur think by observing how much they add to those positions in the offseason. Also, Rodgers can't carry the offense like he could in the past -- he still can make receivers better than most QBs, but not to the degree he did in the past, he needs more help now.
It's a long time from now, but at this point we can't rule out the possibility. In the shorter term, I'm very much wondering what's going to happen with the owners meetings at the end of this month and the draft in late April. I'm scheduled to cover the owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., but judging by the way things have been going the last couple days I'm thinking they're more likely than not going to get canceled, at least for media. That would be a big loss for fans, because there's a coaches breakfast there where all the head coaches in the league are available to reporters for an hour. Then there's the draft. They can conduct that remotely, but no dog and pony show, that would be a blow to the NFL network and ESPN. As for the games, it would be really strange to watch a game with no crowd, but we'll probably get a sense for what that's like with some upcoming NBA games, and maybe NCAA tourney games too.
It appears Littleton is generally considered the best ILB available, but I have the same question, I'm not convinced he'll be worth the big money ($12M per year?) he's going to get. Same for Schobert ($9M per?) and DeVondre Campbell. This is just my opinion, but I"m thinking they're better off signing a cheaper, stopgap guy -- maybe Kwiatkowski if his market doesn't take off, or an older vet like Trevathan or Alec Ogletree or Jonathan Bostic for just one season at a cheap cost ($5M or less) -- and drafting an ILB in the first couple rounds. That way, the rookie doesn't necessarily have to start as a rookie. Pettine doesn't use two ILBs very often -- maybe that will change some after the SF debacle, but probably not. Burks sure is looking like a bust as an ILB. He's a pretty good special teams player, so he has value there, but considering that in each of his first two seasons, when they gave him a chance to play he played his way off the field, well, that's a really bad sign for his future at ILB. You never know, maybe something finally clicks, but the odds are fairly low at this point.
Definitely could -- not saying it's likely, but if there's a guy they think is comparable to Kenny Clark available, then they should jump at him. I'm thinking that more likely they sign a cheap, big run pluggers in free agency. There should be plenty of guys like that available. They definitely need the help stopping the run
Could be a couple reasons. Maybe in Russ Balls' checking on the market for Bulaga, they found that he's going to get a contract in free agency worth more than they're willing to pay. Or maybe they think he's unlikely to get through another season injury-free, and they've just decided to move on. Probably a combination of those two things.
Given their cap constraints and bang for the buck, I'm thinking maybe the TE Hooper. Now, I don't know what he's going to cost but am guessing it will be cheaper than the top WR and top ILB.
It's a dicier issue with RBs, no question. They have him under their control for one more year, though they could always franchise tag him next year if they wanted. I'm thinking they should give it a shot and in fact wrote a column about that a couple weeks ago. Because of his injury history, I'm thinking they might get him at a decent price, maybe $7M a year or so. He was their key guy on offense last year, a very dynamic guy with the ball in his hands. The shelf life for RBs is short, you're right there, so if I'm them I'd look at it as a two- to three-year deal including this upcoming season (even though on paper it could be five or six years). They still need another RB, but he's a very good player so I think it would be worth the risk at that cost IMHO.
They have a lot of needs, but really, I think that's the case with pretty much everybody in today's NFL. It's just almost impossible to build a complete team like the Cowboys of the early '90s or even the Packers of 1996. Free agency makes it impossible to keep everybody. Greatest needs are ILB and WR but there are plenty of others. Tackle is right there there assuming Bulaga won't be back, Tight end is a big need -- Sternberger has some talent but we didn't see nearly enough in his rookie season to say whether he's going to be a good player. You can never be too strong on the DL and they had plenty of run-stopping issues, so they could use help there. I think RB is a significant need, because they don't want to be in position where their offense kind of collapses without Jones, which would have been the case last season if he'd gotten hurt. RBs are too susceptible to injury to have it all depend on the one guy, so they need another guy who's a real threat (a better pure RB than J Williams, though J Williams is a good guy to have on the team). You always need CBs in this league, too. I have to think they can get at least some help at TE or WR in free agency -- maybe one of the better TEs, or a veteran slot receiver -- in free agency. And stopgap guys at ILB and DL. But they will have to draft at WR and ILB too.
Yeah. I mean, they've had a lot of success over the last decade-plus drafting OL in the middle rounds -- Bakhtiari, Lang and Sitton were fourth-rounders, Linsley I think was a fifth-rounder. So they could get one on Day 3. But tackle has to be a real possibility in the first three rounds, and maybe we could go so far as to say there's a better chance they'd draft one in the first three rounds than not.
Yes, they talk extensively about those things. A team has all the medical info on its players. Pretty sure that's part of the CBA and players contracts. And they have injury data going back years, so they can compare how players with similar injury histories fared.
I have serious questions about that. I was talking with an OL coach and a scout in the league about that very topic a few weeks ago, and they had similar takes. Essentially, it was that for a game or two the thought he'd be fine -- in fact, that was the case last season when he played for Bulaga after Bulaga's concussion. But both had real reservations about whether Veldheer's body would hold up for much longer than a few weeks if he had to play full time. He signed with the Patriots last year to possibly start at LT, but chronic hip soreness caused him retire early in camp. So I'll take my cue from them and say it would be pretty risky to sign Veldheer as a possible stopgap, one season starter.
They might, they have 10 picks, one in each of the first five rounds plus three in the sixth and two in the seventh. Those sixth- and seventh-rounders don't move you up much. I could see Gutekunst doing some maneuvering up and down in the mid-rounds, especially if he trades out of the first round.
Yeah. I mean, Bulaga is a really tough call in my book. He played good football last year (except for the LA Chargers game), stayed healthy, plays a premium position, lots to like there. He was a valuable guy for the Packers. But guys with his kind of injury history can go at any time. Now, he very well might have another really good season in 2020, and who knows, maybe he's got two or three good years left in him. He's learned a lot about how to take care of his body. But the odds are against him, and I'd be leery of making the big investment in him, which they probably would have to do to keep him. This is a grey-area call, and there are good arguments for spending to keep him. But I see it as kind of like Matthews and Cobb last year -- a tougher call with Bulaga IMO, but a similar case. The cost risk is just a little too high -- he's probably going to do pretty well on the FA market. I would just be concerned that the next injury is the last one.
He would make a faster impact, but the question is, at what cost? I'm going to do some more research on this as soon as we finish here, but it seems like WR is one of the most over-priced markets in free agency historically. I think about the deals, for instance, that Watkins got a couple years ago and that Robinson signed with the Bears. If there's a premium for the top guys at every position in FA, it seems like the premium might be higher at WR. I have serious doubts about whether Anderson would be worth that premium. He's probably the best WR available, but if I were going to sign a WR I'd more likely look for a better bargain, maybe a slot receiver or part-time guy. That's just my take. Maybe Anderson is better than I think he is, but I'd be looking at other positions in free agency, TE for starters.
It's money, age and injury history. Bulaga turns 31 in 10 days and has had two major injuries (torn ACL, torn hip flexor) plus on-and-off back issues. Turner was 27 when the Packers signed him and his only significant injury was a broken hand. So I have to think it mostly comes down to that. It turned out that the Turner was the FA Gutekunst most overpaid for last year, you're right in suggesting that. But age and injury history are really big factors. I know the difference between 31 and 27 might not seem that great, but it's a huge difference in the NFL.
Nothing comes to mind immediately, but teams use draft visits for subterfuge. For instance, the Packers did not have AJ Hawk in a for a visit the year they drafted him, and he said he had minimal contact with them throughout the draft process that year. And I read where the Chiefs brought in all the top QB prospects in 2017 to disguise their interest in Mahomes, he was the only one of the group they wanted.
I basically asked Gutekunst that at a round table interview just before the combine. They get it mostly from talking to the agent of the player. I asked him how they know whether to believe the agent, and he said they need to be wary but that if an agent lies about those things he probably won't stay in business real long, because after negotiations they often find out whether the offers were actually made. I'm sure they trust some agents more than others.
I have not. They would save some money but he's been a very solid player for them, and especially with the possibility of losing Bulaga, cutting Linsley would be a big hit to their depth on the offensive line. Right now Patrick gives them excellent depth for the three inside spots, but if he's the starter then they've got nothing there, and what are the chances they'll get through next season as healthy as they did this year? So I personally wouldn't do it. I don't know the Packers plans, and they haven't cut Graham yet, so that's still to come. But there have been rumblings or rumors or reports of Linsley getting cut.
I thought it was really stupid of the Browns to fire Dorsey and make yet another major change. That owner is just clueless and hasn't learned anything, he just keeps firing his GM or coach and starting over. Look, Dorsey made a big mistake hiring Kitchens. He did it because this is a QB league, and Kitchens and Mayfield appeared to really have something going, so I get why Dorsey hired him. But it was a big mistake, Kitchens was in over his head. So be it. Dorsey had done enough in KC and in his first year withe Browns (including drafting Mayfield) to give him the Mullligan. I know Wolf had a longer track record with the Packers, but he hired Ray Rhodes, who was a disaster, and then fired him after one season. Harlan didn't fire Wolf for that bad hire. If I were Cleveland I'd have let Dorsey hire another coach. This owner is just a disaster. It's his team, he can do what he wants, but it's just like Washington, as long as that guy is in charge the chances of the franchise having sustained success are small.
Just looked it up, yeah, it would be an $8.5M savings. Answer remains the same as earlier.
I haven't seen anything yet to suggest the Packers think Veldheer's health will hold up as a starter. They haven't re-signed him. They signed him a stopgap backup last year, and that's what he was. Played 1 1/2 games if I remember correctly. Their costs aren't comparable either. Veldheer cost $830,000 for that half season, Bulaga will probably cost close to $10M per year on his next contract.
I don't. It's not unusual for these things to take a while, but this is longer than usual. And yeah, it is an important hire.
J Williams is listed at 213 pounds, Don't think he could put on the weight to be a FB. He'd need to get in the 235 range at least. J Williams is a good pass blocker but I have no idea what kind of run blocker he'd be, doubt he's done much of that in his career.
I'll be stunned if Graham isn't cut, and would bet against M Adams being back. If I had to bet, I guess I'd bet on Jackson making it.
Gutekunst didn't cut Nick Perry last year until just a few days before free agency, so he must be doing the same thing with Graham. I don't know what his thinking is, though one aphorism in sports personnel is don't make a move until you have to make it, you never know what might happen before then that might change your mind. Maybe that's it with Gutekunst and cutting these veterans.
OK, time's up and then some. Thanks to all for coming by, there weren't many questions in the queue when I logged on so I thought this might be a short one, but they kept coming as we chatted, so thanks to all for taking the time to ask a question or make an observation. I don't know if they could get that for Jackson, I haven't asked anyone in the league, though my guess would be probably not because teams would think if the Packers are looking to trade him after only two years and almost no playing time, then they're probably going to cut him. I don't know that, and maybe a team that really liked him coming out of Iowa would be willing to give up a fifth- or sixth-rounder for him. But my gut feeling is no. He's a guy to keep an eye on in the offseason and camp, see if he finally makes a jump. He had such a good early camp and preseason as a rookie but it's been all downhill since. And with that, we'll call it another chat. Thanks again to everyone for stopping by, and thanks especially to all our subscribers, you make our work possible. Remember you can get the Packers News app for an introductory offer of 99 cents the first month and then $4.99 a month thereafter, that's a great deal for all our Packers coverage. There should be lots to talk about next week, it's the first day teams are allowed to sign free agents (Monday and Tuesday are legal tampering days), so there will have been a ton of free agency reporting by the time we chat on Wednesday. Until then, take care everybody.