The Kyle Fuller Sweepstakes:
After striking out on his master plan for free agency, all eyes are on the Green Bay Packers first-year general manager Brian Gutekunst to see how he will pivot after failing to land his top free agent target, Kyle Fuller.
Many were filled with shock and outrage as Gutekunst unceremoniously gave Jordy Nelson his walking papers. Less than 72 hours later, his plan was revealed when the Packers signed the Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller to a 4 year $56 million offer sheet which the Bears decided to match. The Bears decision to match Green Bay’s offer has left the Packers in a precarious position as they currently have one of the worst secondaries in football and have struck out on all of the most highly sought after cornerbacks in free agency.
In today’s article, I want to provide Packer fans with hope that all is not lost. In order to do this, I will provide a scenario in which the Packers sign several under the radar free agents that will help in improving the 2018 roster. I will also show that there are still many economically valuable free agents available that can sure up the Packers secondary which will help them get back to their winning ways.
Getting the Most Bang for your Buck ????
With the release of Jordy Nelson, the Packers freed up $10 million in cap space, which now gives them a little over $18.5 million to spend on the remaining players in Free Agency. With one of the worst secondaries in football, the Packers need to reconstruct with both value and volume at the position. Gutekunst and his staff should consider allocating $15 million of the remaining free agent dollars to the defense and use the remaining $3.5 million to add depth to the offensive side of the ball.
Remaining Free Agents in the Secondary that the Packers Should Target:
With this scenario of free agent targets, I am recommending handing out larger upfront signing bonuses which will allow for lower base salaries in 2018. This will lower 2018 cap hits and allow the Packers to add as much depth as possible to the secondary and edge rushing positions.
1. EJ Gaines-CB: 3 years $17 million ($10.5 million guaranteed, $5 million dollar signing bonus, $2.5 million base salary and cap hit in 2018)
Gaines has had a significant injury history, but over the past three seasons has played a total of 37 games (12.33 per season) and has made a significant impact when healthy. His injury history has put him in the second tier of free agent cornerbacks available, and will most likely force him to take a pay cut from what his statistical value says he is worth.
2. Tramon Williams- CB: 2 years $10 million ($8 million guaranteed, $5 million dollar signing bonus, $1.5 million base salary and cap hit in 2018)
Williams rebounded in 2017 with the Arizona Cardinals and showed a dramatic turnaround in his production. He went from being graded as the 108th ranked cornerback in 2016 to achieving an 88.8 high-quality grade and being ranked as the 9th best cornerback in 2017. Williams’s 2017 production along with his familiarity with the Green Bay Packers organization makes this a risk worth taking.
3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie-CB: 2 years $10 million ($8 million guaranteed, $5 million signing bonus, $2 million dollar base salary and cap hit in 2018)
DRC was a cap casualty from a struggling Giants team that experienced tremendous turmoil throughout their secondary unit during the 2017 season. Rodgers-Cromartie possesses the size and skill set that the Packers prefer in their secondary.
With his 6’1 frame, he can match up with taller receivers, and with his speed, he can play both the inside and outside positions. Rodgers-Cromartie provides versatility by his ability to make plays in both pass defense as well as blitzing packages. A change of scenery may be all that DRC needs at this stage in his career. This signing could revitalize DRC and turn him from an average corner (77.2) to a high-quality corner.
4. Eric Reid- S: 4 years $22 million ($13 million guaranteed, $5 million signing bonus, $3 million dollar base salary and cap hit in 2018)
I know that signing Eric Reid would be controversial for some fans because of his stance with the national anthem protests, however, this would be a high value signing in terms of the production and versatility that Reid can provide for this football team. His 6’1 217 lbs frame would allow him to cover the slot, and help stabilize the middle of the field. His hard-hitting, 217-pound frame would allow him to see some reps blitzing at the linebacker position.
5. Morgan Burnett- S: 4 years $22 million ($13 million guaranteed, $ 5 million signing bonus, $3 million base salary and cap hit in 2018)
A return to Green Bay could be in the making now that the market has cooled on Morgan Burnett. Burnett has provided the Packers with versatility and stability over the years and would be valuable in helping the defense transition under a new regime. Burnett’s statistics and value should improve with the potential draft picks and free agents that the Packers could add to bolster their defensive unit in 2018.
With the remaining $6 million in cap space, the Packers can add a pass rusher, on a short-term deal and continue to add depth on the offensive side of the ball.
With these free agent signings, the Green Bay Packers can rebound from missing out in the Kyle Fuller sweepstakes, and improve the overall depth of the roster. By improving the depth of the roster, the Packers can set themselves up to draft the best available player on defense with the 14th pick in the draft. After selecting the best defender on the draft board, the Packers would be free to select the best player available on either side of the ball for their remaining 11 draft picks.——————
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