Recapping My List of Potential Defensive Free Agent Signees:
Over the last week and a half, I have written a series of articles addressing how Brian Gutekunst and the Green Bay Packers should fill out their free agent board on the defensive side of the football. I created a scenario in which the Packers cut Randall Cobb and restructured the contract of Jordy Nelson to free up an extra $19-20 million in cap room, which would give them between $37-38 million to spend in free agency this offseason. Of those $37-38 million dollars in cap space, I created a scenario in which the Packers spent $32 million dollars on six different players (average annual salaries):
Potential 2018 Defensive Free Agent Signees
1. Tramon Williams-$3 million
2. Sheldon Richardson- $4.5 million
3. Alex Okafor- $1.5 million
4. Morgan Burnett- $5 million
5. E.J Gaines- $10.5 million
6. Adrian Clayborn- $7.5 million
Total Salary Cap Allocation: $32 million
Under my proposed scenario, the Packers would be left with $5-6 million dollars to spend on the offensive side of the ball. With that in mind, I have created three more ways to free up some money through the release of Lance Kendricks and the restructuring of two more contracts.
Three More Cap Related Moves:
1. RT Brian Bulaga: (2018 Cap hit- $7.2 million) Throughout his career Brian Bulaga has had trouble staying on the field. In fact, he has missed significant action in two of the last three seasons. When healthy Bulaga has shown that he is a valuable member of the Packers offensive front but his injury history will cause the Packers to add a backup tackle for depth because of Jason Spriggs’s erratic play.
Proposed deal: 3 years $15 million ($5million guaranteed, $4 million, year 1)
Packers add: $3.2 million
2. K Mason Crosby: (2018 Cap hit: $5.25 million) Before you all come off the hinges, Mason’s cap hit this year is $5.2 million dollars which in my opinion, is a bit steep for a kicker. However, I think by restructuring/redoing the deal, there is a way for Mason to earn his $5 million dollar salary while only incurring a cap hit of a couple million dollars.
Proposed deal: 5 years for $17.5 million ($6 million guaranteed, $2 million, year 1)
Packers add: $3.25 million
3. Cut TE Lance Kendricks: (2018 Cap hit: $2.25 million) Kendricks looked old and slow at times during the 2017 season. He dropped key passes, did not show much effort when Aaron Rodgers went down with his collarbone injury and did not earn the starting tight end position for 2018 after the Packers cut ties with Martellus Bennett. It is time for the Packers to have a clean break from the tight end fiasco of the 2017-2018 season and bring in some new faces through the draft and free agency.
Packers add: $2.25 million
Total Cap Additions Under Proposed Moves: $8.7 million
+ $5-6 million left over from Cobb and Nelson
A scenario in which the Packers would have approximately $13.7-14.7 million dollars to spend on free agents on the offensive side of the ball.
Proposed Free Agent Targets for the Packers Offense:
1. Resign Jahri Evans RG- 1 year $1 million- fully guaranteed
Jahri Evans was a good veteran presence for the Packers offensive line. When healthy, he proved to be a capable blocker and provided leadership to the right side of the line in the absence of Brian Bulaga. Evans veteran presence and solid play which can be obtained for around a million dollars increase his value for a team that has so many areas of the roster to address.
2. Jarvis Landry WR- 5 years $ 60-65 million ($30 million guaranteed)
When you have accumulated 400 career receptions and 22 touchdowns in 4 seasons, 112 catches for 987 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2017, and are the highest graded free agent receiver (82.0%) amongst your free agent piers (Pro Football Focus) then you have many reasons to smile.
All that is left for Jarvis Landry to do is play for a winning organization, like the Green Bay Packers, and catch passes from a capable quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. During his first four seasons in the NFL, Landry has played with the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, and Jay Cutler, and has still managed to average 100 receptions per season.
Just take a minute to Imagine the stats that Landy could put up playing alongside Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Jordy Nelson. Landry could be used both in the slot and on the outside and would instantly provide the Packers with another receiver who can make plays and bring legitimacy back to the Packers much-maligned wide receiving core.
3. Tyler Eifert TE- 1 year $3 million ($500,000 guaranteed, can earn the remaining $2.5 million in performance bonuses)
Tyler Eifert has proven that when healthy, he is a pro bowl caliber tight end who is a valuable weapon to have in the red zone. In 2015 Eifert was a pro bowl selection and caught 52 passes for 615 yards, 13 touchdowns and averaged 11.8 yards per reception. In just 8 games the following year in 2016, he was on pace to eclipse many of his 2015 statistics. During the 2016 season, he caught 29 passes for 394 yards, 5 touchdowns and averaged 13.6 yards per reception.
The bottom-line is that in order to become the player that he has the potential to be, Eifert must prove that he can stay on the field for a full season. In this scenario, Eifert will have the chance to prove his value by earning bonuses based on snap totals and his 2018 statistical totals.
4. Will Beatty LT- 1 year $500,000 ($300,000 guaranteed at signing, $200,000 cap hit)
Will Beatty could come in and provide depth at both left and right tackle in the event that David Bakhtiari and Brian Bulaga miss significant snaps throughout the season. Beatty is a professional presence that still possesses value in a situation where he needs to fill in for 2-3 games at a time.
Total Annual Salary Cap Allocations: $13.8-14.8 million
My proposed offensive and defensive free agent board would have the Packers signing 10 free agents, and using their entire $183.89 million in allotted salary cap space for the 2018 season (This also figure includes the pay scale for draft signees as well).
For longterm success in the NFL, it is crucial to find the perfect balance of building through the draft, retaining those draft picks, and acquiring free agents that fit into your system. These free agent scenarios will give the Packers the opportunity to change their culture while still continuing to build through the draft, significantly upgrade their 53 man roster, and give them an opportunity to present Aaron Rodgers with a team around him that will give him another multiple-year window to win a Super Bowl (The best pitch they can provide him with their pending contract talks).
Stay tuned for Thursday’s article when I break down the state of Aaron Rodgers contract extension talks and how both he as well as the Packers should approach Aaron’s new contract.——————
David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave