Going into the 2018 NFL offseason, upgrades across the board for the Green Bay Packers were being called for, especially after a disastrous 7-9 season that saw the team lose Aaron Rodgers to another injury.
Personnel upgrades were first to occur, as the team welcomed in Mike Pettine (DC) and Joe Philbin (OC) as its new coordinators, as well as replaced position coaches to try and get the team back to being successful.
Throughout free agency so far, the team has mostly adhered to its mantra of not dipping its toes into the free agency pool, sans the signings of Jimmy Graham, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Tramon Williams. With all three additions factored in, the team currently sits with over $13.6 million in cap space, according to Spotrac.
While this year’s draft capital will take out a chunk of that remaining pool, there will still be money left over that the team could have used in free agency to shore up positions like cornerback and right guard. This figure also does not factor in the amount that will be gained this year once Rodgers’ new contract is finalized.
So this begs the question: Does it make more sense to save money now or to use it on upgrading the team for this season?
During and after this season, GM Brian Gutekunst and contract aficionado Russ Ball will have big decisions to make for next year’s squad. Players like Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Ty Montgomery and Jake Ryan, among others, will be in need of new contracts after the 2018-19 season.
As a side note, Cobb was at the center of restructuring talks this offseason, which ended up resulting in the cutting of Jordy Nelson. It will be interesting to see if the front office believes Cobb’s value to be enough to garner an extension, and for how much.
Green Bay has been consistent in locking up its starters throughout the season for cheaper-than-market deals, helping keep the team financially afloat. If Gutekunst and Ball picked up any of former GM Ted Thompson’s tricks, let’s hope early contract extensions for below-market value remain a staple.
On the flip-side of this, why would the team sit back on its money when options were aplenty during the early stages of free agency for upgrades? The team was linked (through various rumors) to cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson, Tyrann Mathieu, and Richard Sherman and wide receivers Allen Robinson, Jordan Matthews and Sammy Watkins, among others.
If the team had signed any players in this group (and still can, as Matthews is the lone unsigned player listed), the offseason would have looked much different and very well would have resulted in signing less/cutting more players. This is playing strictly on hypotheticals right now, but it is known that the team dynamic would have been altered had they signed a different top-tier free agent.
While there were improvements made, the team had the ‘green’ to go out and add to the team, in order to get the ‘gold.’
Provided Gutekunst shows that he is not just a younger rehashing of Thompson and his ideals, the team will improve sooner rather than later. The difficult part is getting to that point where we as fans are able to realize that.
Have thoughts about the financial situation of the Packers and ways they should/should’ve handled it? Let me know in the comments below!뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23