Hi everybody, hope you all are staying healthy and safe and aren't going stir crazy yet. Let's get right to it. The scenario you state is basically what I'm thinking they might do in the next week or two. Add a relatively inexpensive run stopper ($2M to $3M maybe) and someone to help the offense. Ebron could be a possibility, has talent but his price might not be that high because he's had only one good season in six years. I wonder if RB Devonta Freeman might interest them, he's a complete back and though 28 might have something left in the tank. Maybe there's someone else they see out there, or you never know who might be available for a trade. But you never know what opportunities might come up that are unknown now.
All things considered, I still have to think they'll cut Taylor and save something like $4.6M on the cap. Turner is due a $3M roster bonus tomorrow, so assuming they pay that, Taylor is the most expendable guy. They signed Patrick to a contract extension last year to be their interior backup, so I'm thinking Taylor is a luxury they can't afford, they need the cash and cap room. Maybe they're looking to trade him, though I'd think that would be tough because teams would know they're going to cut him if they can't work out a trade, so why give up anything for him? He might not want to take a pay cut because he might think he can do better on the open market. Right now the backup RTs are Light, Leglue and Nijman, though if I had to bet, I'd bet the backup will be a draft pick.
They know Kirksey a lot better than I do -- Pettine was his coach for two years in Cleveland. So they should have a lot of insight into his strengths, weaknesses and character. I think he's more talented and explosive than Martinez but costs less in large part because of the injury history -- I think he's missed 23 games the last two years. He might be an upgrade if he stays healthy. I don't know that he will be, but he might be. I think he made several visits, so there was at least some demand for him. The biggest thing will be whether he can stay on the field.
Been asked that each of the last few weeks. It's an interesting idea the more I think about it, certainly would help the run game to have a second really good back, and it would mean they wouldn't have to re-sign Jones next year if they didn't like the cost. Would upgrade the offense and provide quality depth at a key position in LaFleur's offense -- you need multiple good backs, you don't want the offense to tank if Jones gets hurt. But it still feels like it's probably too much of a luxury unless they really, really like him and think he's a cut above the other guys on the board. I don't know what they're thinking, and there are very plausible reasons for taking him, I wouldn't rule it out. But at least today, I'm still thinking they're more likely to end up with a WR, ILB, tackle or maybe DL or TE.
I really don't think it changes their draft strategy in R1. Those signings were stopgap guys, so if there's a tackle or ILB they really like available at 30, I'd think they'd trade him. The receiver depth in the draft could make it just as likely they can get a guy they really like in R2, for instance. Now, maybe they think one of those first-round WRs is a cut above the others, and if they have a shot at him they'll snap him up. But maybe they think they can wait and will take a different position in R1 if there are guys available with similar grades.
Maybe the Packers think he fits better with their offensive scheme than he did in Detroit. They had access to the same tape PFF did, so it's also another indication that different scouts (and teams) see things differently. The offensive line coach in the league I talked to said he liked Wagner better than Riley Reiff, and Reiff has been a starter his entire career, so take that for whatever you think it's worth. It's also not a given Wagner will be the starter. Maybe a draft pick will beat him out.
ILB might be a wash or possibly an upgrade, it also depends on whether Kirksey stays healthy, which he hasn't the last two years. They got worse at RT, at least theoretically, but I'm sure they're thinking was they didn't want to make a huge investment in Bulaga because of his age/injury history. I still haven't seen the actual breakdown of Bulaga's contract, don't know how much of his deal is fully guaranteed. But if he gets hurt again he could miss a lot of games or see his performance decline quite a bit. If healthy he's clearly a better player than Wagner.
Maybe Sternberger will make a jump at TE, he was a little better blocker than expected last year, and his strength is his receiving skills. Maybe Keke contributes a lot more in the DL rotation, he flashed some ability last year. St. Brown might upgrade the receiving corps a little -- I can't say he jumped out in camp last year before he got hurt, but as a rookie he'd moved past Valdes-Scantling by the end of the year. Gary and Savage wouldn't be plugging holes, but one or both might become noticeably better players next season, which could make a difference. Lots of maybes and ifs there.
Not that I know of. Ebron did tweet something yesterday that included an Aaron Rodgers reference, so he seems to have interest in the Packers.
I"m thinking Sanders will cost too much, and he's 33 anyway so I'd be really concerned he could fall off the table at any time. Perriman from TB is interesting, he's big (I think 6-2 and 215) and though he looked like a bust for 3 2/3 years, he kind of took off late last season -- I think it was 25 catches and 5 TDs in the last five games, something like that. The question is whether that strong finish will drive up his price too much. I wondered if Taylor Gabriel would be a possibility -- the Bears cut him last month, and he and LaFleur were together for a year in Atlanta. But Gabriel missed seven games with concussions last season, that's probably a deal-breaker for GB.
I think they had to move on and force themselves to at least try to get better there. He is all the things you described plus durable, but he just didn't make a lot of plays -- plays at or behind the line of scrimmage, and turnover plays. He struggled in coverage against backs and good TEs. That position demands such a varied skilled set -- fast and athletic enough to cover in these spread passing games, but stout and explosive enough to hold up against the run. I thought the Packers were right to move on.
There's definitely some risk with Kirksey. Other teams didn't seem scared off by Gary's shoulder, and he didn't have surgery this offseason. But overall I don't think he's taken many risks. Look at the FAs he signed last year -- the Smiths and Amos all had really clean injury histories.
No, I can not explain that to you. I can't fathom why they paid so much for him. Anybody who's watched the Packers the last two years can tell you that while he was once a great player, he just doesn't have it anymore, not nearly good enough to warrant that kind of money. The Bears obviously had some information to make them think he can be worth that, but the game tape from last year tells you they're going to be disappointed. Yeah, I have to say that contract actually shocked me.
They don't have to do it right now, they have plenty of room to make whatever moves they want and do contract adjustments later. But I suspect they'll extend Bakhtiari at some point this year and lower his cap number for 2020. They don't want to go hog wild extending guys because you push too much money into future caps you can get in a jam down the road and have to cut or move on from players you really don't want to let go. But they should have a little more flexibility now as opposed to past years, because the cap is going to spike next year and in future seasons with the new CBA and upcoming TV contracts. There's some unknowns there too because of the economic fallout from coronavirus, we just don't know how the landscape is going to look when those TV and streaming negotiations commence -- the league wanted to start them after getting the CBA done, but those plans are on hold. Still, the NFL is TV's most bankable product by far, and I'd still bet heavily that the next TV and streaming deals will make huge jumps, just like all the TV deals in the past have. So the Packers can get away with pushing a little more money into future caps than they could have in the past if there's a player or two they really want to add.
Funny you point that out, an offensive coach in the league I was talking to yesterday said the exact same thing (this was in the afternoon, before the Lewis deal was announced). He said that if he were the Packers and signed Ebron, he'd re-sign Lewis for just the reason you suggest. Even if they aren't interested in Ebron, your point holds true, I'm sure they like the example he sets for Sternberger and Tonyan.
Cornerback has stayed under the radar, but in this league you need every decent CB you can get your hands on. With the way teams try to zero in on favorable matchups in the passing game, and with the high injury rate, you just can't have enough good or even decent cover guys. The Packers still haven't re-signed Tramon Williams yet, and even if they do it's a position they have to be thinking about in the draft. Kevin King's contract is up after this year, for starters.
It's really looking to me like there's not going to be any offseason work, and it could affect them a lot, that's valuable work as a team and for individuals. But it will be the same for everyone, and the teams it will hurt most are those with new coaches (or new coordinators bringing in a new scheme) and new quarterbacks. The lockout in 2011 must have wiped out OTAs and minicamps that year, but for the life of me I can't remember what that was like. I do remember Rodgers getting criticized for not getting together with his receivers for a week or two in the offseason -- a lot of QBs did that -- but then the Packers scored 42 points in their opener so that pretty much put that to rest.
I'd think they're keeping their minds open on Summers and Bolton and Burks, but I have to think they're likely to draft an ILB in the first two or three rounds too. Murray and Queen obviously are possibilities in R1, as is Baun. I hadn't read the Matthews comparison with Baun anywhere, but the more I read and heard about him this offseason the more he reminded of Matthews -- basically, guys that could play any ILB spot in a 3-4 or even 4-3. I think Matthews was a little more explosive than Baun. They ran comparable 40s -- Matthews 4.67, Baun 4.65 -- but Matthews' 10-yard split was off the charts, 1.49, which ranked among the top 10 percent of cornerbacks if I remember right. I just looked it up, Baun's 10-year split was 1.60. Sounds to me like Baun is kind of a ready-made guy for today's game, can line up all over the field, so yeah, I'd think he could be an ILB in Pettine's defense.
Not blown away by anything so far. I'm still not sure if Foles is any good despite his great run with Philly to win the SB. I know some people in the league who are skeptical about him. But reuniting with DeFillipo might help him with the Bears. They gave up only an R4 for him, so his demand wasn't great. The Vikings lost Linval Joseph but signed Michael Pierce, seems like a decent trade. I wonder if the Bears are catching Robert Quinn on the start of his decline. There's still some time left in free agency, so let's see what happens over the next week or two.
I haven't seen any reports that they made a hard pitch -- I think I read Philly was really interested but backed off because of what Hopkins was seeking in a contract extension. It does seem like Houston made a bad deal there, he's one of the top three or four receivers in the game, isn't he? And he turns 28 in June, I thought he was a little older than that. So he probably has a couple outstanding seasons left in him. The Packers already are paying Adams, and it's hard to pay two WRs huge money, but Hopkins might have been a guy worth making an exception for.
Rookie RBs can contribute a lot, though pass protection is the one thing that often keeps down their playing time. I realize Freeman is older and had ACL surgery two years ago, but I still wonder if he's not worth looking into for a season. He's 28, which is up there but not ancient, and he's a really complete back (he caught 65 passes last year), and he knows the offense, so it would be an easy transition. You'd have to look into why Atlanta's run game cratered last year, but I have to think there's a chance he's a better ball carrier than J Williams. Signing him wouldn't preclude drafting an RB. But if you could get him for $3M or $4M, I'm thinking it's worth looking into. Maybe you're right and he's about had it, and maybe Gutekunst agrees with you. But the scout I texted with yesterday thought the guy has some gas left in the tank.
Cleveland reportedly is willing to trade former second-round pick David Njoku now that it has signed Hooper. I don't know if the Packers are interested. He's heading into the last year of his contract and is due $1.7M this year. So he's relatively inexpensive but could end up being just a one-year rental.
Cutting Linsley would save $8.5M on the cap. It's plausible they'd cut him, but after losing Bulaga do you really want to lose another good offensive lineman? I wouldn't do it but guess I can see the argument for it. Still, you'd get worse on the OL at a cap savings of about $4M. You could also cut both Linsley and Taylor and play Patrick, but then you'd kill your OL depth, that would be really, really risky in my book. Cutting Taylor makes more sense to me. You'd still save $4.6M on the cap. They could do a contract extension with Linsley and lower his cap number this year if cap room in 2020 is the concern. I wouldn't do it, I think Linsley is a pretty damn good center. But we'll see, maybe Gutekunst will have a surprise in order in the coming days or weeks.
We've talked about Ebron and DT earlier. I'm pretty sure Anderson will cost a lot more than the Packers would be willing to pay, and I'd say that a lot of mistakes have been made in free agency at the top of the WR market. I'd stay out of the bidding if I were GB unless his market has cratered.
I know OBJ is really talented, but he's off-the-charts high maintenance, not sure he'd be worth the trouble and cost (financially and trade capital). I have serious doubts there. I also haven't heard or read anything to suggest he's available anyway.
OK, this will have to do it, hope this provided a little distraction for you during these tough times. I don't know that it matters, they just really need to add speed and explosiveness to their receiving corps. They've got a lot of big guys with great catch radii, but IMHO what they need is someone who's more explosive and dynamic than what they've got. In my mind it's that simple. Bigger is always better, but they need explosiveness in whatever package it comes. With that, we'll call it another chat. Thanks to all for coming by, and especially to our subscribers, you make it possible for us to put all these resources into covering this team and league. If you're not a subscriber, you can get the Packers News app for an introductory offer of 99 cents the first month and $4.99 a month thereafter, it's a great deal. We'll be back next Wednesday to chat, look forward to it, much of free-agent dust will have settled by then. Until then be safe and healthy!