New Green Bay Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst was at the podium to kick off the NFL combine yesterday. A place he has been at numerous times scouting players throughout his career. This time was different, he was the face of one of the most storied franchises in the league. His press conference wasn’t very long, it was less then 15 minutes in length. It was quite refreshing to have GM actually answer questions, which previously wasn’t the case when Ted Thompson was charge. He answered some of the fans most asked questions, what about free agency and signing Aaron Rodgers long term.
During Ted Thompson’s tenure as general manager, Packer fans, media, and pundits all complained about Thompson’s lack of use of free agency to construct a roster. As all Packer fans have been wondering how Gutekunst will be in free agency. At the combine, he was specifically asked that question, ‘How aggressive will you be in free agency?’. The first difference that I liked from Gutekunst is he actually answered the question instead of just standing up there and saying, ‘Oh I got sizzle, I sign free agents’.
He started out answering the question by stating the obvious that there are limits to what they can do with the salary cap. But then he said something that peaked my interest and got me excited for the possibilities of the offseason. Numerous times he said that they would like to be aggressive to try and improve the 2018 football team. That is music to the ears of many Packers fans.
Whether or not that means they will actually sign a free agent or sign a handful of them, it is a step in the right direction. It tells me that they will at least be in on conversations with the free agents and the scouts and coaching staff may actually not be on vacation the first week of free agency. We it will lead, only time will tell, but it is refreshing to hear the General Manager of the Green Bay Packers talk about free agency and mention that he wants to be aggressive in assembling the team.
The other key item that came out of Gutekunst’s press conference was his mention of Aaron Rodgers contract and how they would like get an extension worked out sooner rather than later. This tells me, as we all expected, the team has had discussions with QB1 already and will be working on an extension this summer in hopes of getting it completed before the start of the next season.
There have been reports circulating on what it would cost the Packers to keep Rodgers long term and some have even suggested that he could get paid more than $40 million per year. That’s a huge amount of the salary cap to set aside for one player. Rodgers has two years remaining on his current deal but time his right for the team to lock him up for future years.
Rodgers current deal that he signed back in 2013 paid him an annual average salary to $22 million, which made him the highest paid player in the league when he signed the deal. He has since been passed over by other, including the recent 5 year deal that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo agreed to with the San Francisco 49ers that is reportedly worth $137.5 million. It is no doubt that it will be costly to sign him, as he will almost certainly be the highest paid player in the league again. Gutekunst said that taking care of Rodgers is a high priority for the team an believes that it is something that will take care of itself this summer.
Change has been happening in Titletown since the season ended and time will tell how aggressive they will be in free agency and what Rodgers will sign for. One thing is for certain, Gutekunst is looking to put is mark on the franchise and improve this team. It’s a new era in Green Bay.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag