Brian Gutekunst… you’re a genius.
I may have questioned you, but I never doubted you.
During the offseason, the Packers general manager, and the organization in general, was pretty quiet as far as signing any free agents. Outside of a few guys Green Bay extended (i.e. David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, Aaron Jones), Gutekunst really didn’t make a splash in free agency.
Of course, he was limited by the fact that the organization was way over the cap, and pickings for big-name, impact free agents were slim.
However, he did sign a few veterans between the offseason and training camp for cheap.
So far, those veterans have made a big impact on this team’s success.
One of the biggest needs this team had to address was at the middle linebacker position. Krys Barnes looked promising last season, but he only had one year of experience – and depth behind him was limited.
So, Gutekunst pulled the trigger on De’Vondre Campbell, a veteran linebacker who played in Arizona, by giving him a one year deal worth only $2 million.
Four games in, Campbell has looked like the veteran presence the Packers have been missing since Blake Martinez left. He’s been great in the open field, solid against the run and the pass and currently is tied for sixth in the NFL with 40 total tackles.
“We’re lucky we have him,” Matt LaFleur said. “He’s definitely been productive. But he’s also been a great asset to our locker room. He’s earned the respect of his teammates. That was a really great pickup for us.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Gutekunst brought in veteran receiver Randall Cobb on a one year deal worth $2.7 million.
Maybe we should give compliments for this signing to Green Bay’s other general manager, Aaron Rodgers. I kid, I kid…
After a slow start in the first couple weeks, Cobb has really come on in the last two games. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling out due to injury, Cobb was Rodgers’ go-to receiver against the Steelers. He racked up five catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Finally, we can’t forget about Corey Bojorquez.
The Packers traded with the Rams for Bojorquez and a 2023 Lions’ seventh-round draft pick at the end of training camp in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick in 2023. Former punter JK Scott’s struggled in the weather. Bojorquez had experience kicking in the cold while in Buffalo. The trade made sense.
He’s been excellent so far. Against the Steelers, he recorded a 57-yard punt from the Packers’ own end zone which hung up in the air so long it forced the punt-returner to fair catch it.
“That was unbelievable,” LaFleur said.
So, no, the Packers didn’t make any big-name free agent signings. But Campbell, Cobb and Bojorquez have been great so far for Green Bay.
Maybe it’s time we give Gutekunst a little credit.——————
Gunnar Davis is a lifelong Packers fan and a recent graduate of Simpson College, where he was a 3-year letterwinner on the offensive line and graduated with a degree in multimedia communications. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gunnar57Davis.