Why Brian Gutekunst overpaid in Free Agency

Packers' LB Za'Darius Smith

Free Agency is tricky. Filling your holes in the roster is essential to lead the way to a Super Bowl and that’s the only goal a contender like the Packers can have.

Brian Gutekunst’s approach to Free Agency is clear: He wants to draft talent and so he needs to fill the biggest holes in the roster via Free Agency. An approach that makes sense, but it also led the Packers to overpay on both Smiths and Amos. At least that is what Michael Cohen of The Athletic is reporting: Za’Darius Smith was expected to sign a contract (and reportedly had offers) in the range of $10-12 Mio per year – he got 16 by the Packers.

Adrian Amos’ and Preston Smith’s expected numbers didn’t show that huge margin to the deals they got at the end, but both of them got more than their respective markets.

So why did Gutekunst do that and was it the right decision?

First, I think Gutekunst overpaid because he wanted to make a statement. The Packers under Ted Thompson have not been known for any activities in the first (or second) wave of Free Agency and so he wanted to show (also maybe to future Free Agents) that Green Bay is a team that agents have to have in their minds.

Second, I think he really liked the players he got. The personality, the will and certainly the things they put on tape must have shown him something.

So when he decided to take them to Green Bay, he wanted to make sure he got them and no one would even try to put some bigger numbers on the board. It’s a tactic that many use in bidding wars: Beginning with a pretty high offer, maybe even your limit, shows other competitors that you are willing to spend big and it leads them to not even try to get the thing (or the player). It could have led other teams with higher budgets to look for other free agents instead of trying to get the ones Gutekunst wanted.

But wouldn’t it have been better to start slow and increase the offer several times, a tactic Russ Ball uses reportedly when he deals with free agents of the Packers that they want to keep?

In case of Za’Darius Smith, I’d say yes. $6 to $4 mio is just too much for a player that has not even been a starter for a whole season. On the other hand, with his passion and his attitude he’s for sure going to help the Packers.

All in all, I would say the Packers spent much money, but not too much on four promising free agents. They need to pay back the trust Brian Gutekunst put in them – and they need to do it now. If they don’t do it, Gutekunst will face pressure both from the fans and the media. If they help the Packers win a Super Bowl in the next years, Gutekunst will be a hero in Green Bay.

Max Sachs is an international Packers fan from Germany. As a part of the Packers Germany, he tries to convince everyone around him to cheer for the greatest franchise on earth - or to start with, for American football in general. You can find him on Twitter @KaesekopfDE (the german translation for cheesehead).

5 thoughts on “Why Brian Gutekunst overpaid in Free Agency

  1. What a conflicting article “the Packers spent much money, but not too much”.

  2. That’s what free agency is all about. Overpaying for good players. The key is that we got the players we wanted and filled several key holes, so that if we draft properly and have a little luck on injuries we can contend for a Superbowl.

  3. This whole past week I’ve read the Packers had competition for the services of both of the Smith’s they signed. Obviously that would explain part of the reason the money got to where it was. Personally I WANTED the Packers to sign one of the Smiths, Amos, and an O-Linemen. When you look at this defense it’s now a defense capable of taking the team to the SB. It’s also a defense which should keep the Packers in every game. Especially early while the offense is still getting it’s footing.

    It’s my hope the Packers NOW start to focus on offense in the draft. I’m not saying ignore the defense because they still need another Safety and if Devin White or Ed Oliver is sitting there at 12, Gute might be tempted to take them. BUT Gute has really truly set himself up to take BPA in this draft after FA. GET a TE and O-Linemen with two of those first 3 picks. I’d also be in favor of moving back into the 2nd round for a WR like Debo Samuel if he’s still there. It’s TIME the offense got some help too.

  4. I agree we need to draft more on the offensive side of the ball this year. First things first we need to keep the 12th spot and draft the BPA at that time whether it be offense or defense. As crazy as it seems to draft a tight end at 12,Hochensen as great value both in the passing and blocking in the run game.Let’s get an explosive offense back in Green Bay and also look into drafting another running back who can run the ball and catch it out of the backfield and not wait until the late rounds to do so. GO PACK GO!!!

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