It’s the first few days of the NFL free agency period. All is quiet at 1265 Lombardi Ave. Not this year. There is a new sheriff in town and it’s a new era. For the first time in years, the Green Bay Packers are active and in on discussions with free agents. They even signed 2 big free agents on the opening, something that never happens in Green Bay. New General Manager Brian Gutekunst was true to his word that the Packers will be in on almost every conversation in free agency, whether it works out or not. I will admit, when he got hired I was skeptical on why type of GM he would be because Russ Ball is still there and former GM Ted Thompson is still in the building doing scouting stuff. So far, it has been very telling and Gutekunst stayed true to his word on free agency, which is a breathe of fresh air for Packer nation.
Not only was Packer Nation shocked that their GM was signing free agents, they were even more shocked that he cut one of the most productive wide receivers in Packer history who was also a fan favorite. Even though fans were pretty shocked by this move by Gutekunst, they should not have been. For the Packers to be active in free agency they were going to have to make room under the salary cap by releasing some players in order to actually sign free agents. Plus, it has been well documented that they were not going to pay 3 wide receivers over $10 million. That was just not going to happen.
Now that they have signed tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive lineman Mo Wilkerson and released Jordy Nelson, what is next for the Packers?
I think now the Packers need to concentrate of their top need, which is cornerback. Granted they do need an outside pass rusher but I think they can get one in the draft. According to an ESPN report, the Packers are pursuing Indianapolis Colts free agent cornerback Rashaan Melvin. He is a fifth year corner out of Northern Illinois, and is part of the second tier free agent cornerback group. He would definitely provide the Packers with a starter opposite Kevin King, and an upgrade over the position group last year.
The cornerback market is extremely lucrative and hot right now with corners signing for top dollar as soon as the hit the market. It is being reported that Rashaan Melvin could get upwards of $10 million per year. That would come at another cost for the Packers. If the Packers where to sign him and another free agent corner (I think they need to sign 2), it would come not only at the expense of bring back Morgan Burnett, but they may have to release another player to create more cap room. That other player could be Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga or Clay Matthews.
On Wednesday, the Arizona Cardinals released safety Tyrann Mathieu. Could you imagine a secondary of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Mathieu, Rashaan Melvin, and Kevin King? Then when they go into the nickel package, Josh Jones would come in at safety and Mathieu would move to the slot. That secondary would be a complete upgrade and improvement from what we have seen in the recent seasons.
I am also expecting the Packers to draft not only an outside pass rushing linebacker but also a wide receiver. Their WR corps last was ranked as the slowest in the league. They need speed and there is no better place to get that than to find young WR in the draft, like they did with Jordy.
Also, I want to mention, I am hoping that with the picks that they received multiple picks from the Browns in the Randall trade, that Gutekunst will either move up to a top ten draft pick or trade up into the 1st round so he would have 2 first round picks.
If I was to look into a crystal ball at this very moment that I am penning this article, this would be a dream scenario and all possible. Time will tell as we have a long ways to go until the season starts but this is extremely exciting time to be a Packer fan. We have not had this much excitement and things to talk about during free agency in a very long time. Gutekunst is making his mark on this time and making the best decisions to bring a Super Bowl back to Titletown.
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