Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Submit your questions for Pete's live chat Wednesday at noon CDT.

    Pete - What do you make of Rodgers criticizing the lack of interest/involvement of his teammates on the CBA? The fact that few if any responded to him could be just economic issues on how they view the deal. I really wonder if his desire to show everyone how smart he is has worn thin with his teammates?
    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.
    In regard to the receiving corp is the problem the receivers-lack of talent, the system poor patterns/route the quarterback--poor coaching

    reply isnot a combination one has to be more prevelent
    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.
    Good morning Pete. Well our crazy and scary world keeps getting crazier and scarier and now with the Coronavirus epidemic on the news 24/7, lets hope and pray there's a resolution to it in the very near future! However, if it continues to exist 6 months or so from now that could have a very adverse effect on the 2020 NFL season. Can you imagine the Packers being forced to play their games at an empty Lambeau Field? Perish the thought and your thoughts on this and how sports events have (for now) been affected? Thank you.
    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.
    With the Packers set to move on from Blake Martinez, the rumblings suggest another FA signing. Given we played most of last season with only one true linebacker (I am not counting BJ Goodson - cuz he was more liability / situational run support), I have three questions, are the free agents like Littleton and Schobert really that much more of an upgrade? and can we fix the problem by only signing one? I am guessing they could try to fill the 2nd hole with a draft pick, but if not done with the first pick I am thinking the player will not be ready to start year one. Last question do we give Oren Burks another year before calling him a bust?
    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.
    Do you see the Packers taking a DL with one of their first few draft picks? Not sure their current roster has enough thickness when it comes to their D line. What do you think Pete?
    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
    Why aren't the Packers at least talking to Bulaga's reps? Bulaga came out with a strong preference to play in GB so you would think there might be some room for a home town discount that would at least be worth investigating.
    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.
    Hi Pete, Thanks for the chats! If you were a GM, which one player do you want to add from FA given the current salary cap? Thanks!
    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.
    I read the Packers were talking with Aaron Jones about a contract extension. Would that be wise considering the short shelf life of NFL running backs? How much longer is Jones under team control? If you were Gutey would you extend his deal (and for how long)?
    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.
    Hi Pete, love these chats. Coming off a 13-3 record and yet it seems that we need so many improvements over last year's roster. Could you speculate as to what are the greatest needs and where do you think we will get the new personnel, via draft or free agency. Thanks
    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.
    Pete, Given Bulaga’s almost certain departure don’t the Packers have to seriously consider an OT in the first two days of the draft?
    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.
    Hey Pete,

    Question about Bulaga's medical history: Are the Packers physicians allowed to speak with Gutekunst and Lafleur in-depth about Bulaga's health? I get that they would know basics, but seems like it might be a HIPAA violation if they were to get too into the weeds.

    Thanks, have a great week
    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.
    Does Jared Veldheer have enough in tank to be a viable short-term fix at RT? What drove him to his first retirement? Injuries?
    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.
    Pete, thanks for the chat. With 10 picks, might the Packers use a few to move up, not in the first, but in mid-rounds and maybe pick two WRs since the class is so strong this year?
    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.
    Hey Pete—Bulaga has been a solid draft pick and contributor, no question, Losing him is not ideal, the guy helped us win a super bowl after all. Having said that, looking toward youth and better health feels like a calculated move like Lombardi or Belicek would make. Agree?
    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.
    Hi Pete, how seriously should the packers consider a FA dart throw at WR? I’m thinking a guy line Robby ANDERSON could make an impact faster than a rookie
    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.
    I don't understand the thought process of grossly overpaying for Billy Turner (a worse player than Bryan Bulaga) and then not paying Bryan Bulaga what he's worth at a greater position of need/value then guard per se. What's your take?
    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.
    Do you have any good stories on unusual lengths that teams have used to keep secret that a prospect or free agent paid a visit to the team facility, or maybe used a secret location to meet ?
    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.
    How do GM's find out which other teams in fact made offers to free agents, and how the contract is written ?
    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.
    Have you heard anything about the possibility of Corey Linsley being cut? Cap savings of about $5m and Patrick perhaps able to do the job?
    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.
    Hi Pete! Thx for the chat. What did you make of the way things transpired between the Browns and Dorsey at the end of this year and how his top lieutenants ended up leaving as well?
    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.
    Correcting an earlier question- Corey Linsley cap savings would be 8.5m if the Packers let him go. Any thoughts/rumblings about this idea? Patrick may be able to play nearly as well at a much lower salary.
    Just looked it up, yeah, it would be an $8.5M savings. Answer remains the same as earlier.
    Can you walk me thru the Packers potential rationale of Veldheer holding up with his injury history, but yet Bulaga who just played well for 17 weeks is looked at differently with his medical history? It honestly makes no sense.
    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.
    Do you have any idea why they are delaying the hiring of a WR coach? Other than Adams the WR's underperformed (I hope it was that and not a lack of talent). Might be a very important hire.
    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.
    can J William fill the roll of Fullback for the future
    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.
    Chiming in from Hilton Head Island having escaped our NE WI weather for the month of March😎

    Any of the three players on our 53 in September? Mont Adams, Jimmy Graham and Josh Jackson?
    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.
    With free agency to begin next week, why hasn’t BG cut Jimmy Graham loose yet? Seems to me that TT usually cut veterans he wasn’t going to sign loose before the beginning of free agency so they could negotiate with other teams. Does BG have a different approach?
    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.
    can we get a 4th or 5th round pick if we trade Josh Jackson ?
    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.
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