After the surviving the two-month long will he or won’t he fest, you’re probably ready to move on to the next part of the Packers offseason. Who gets cut? Who gets re-signed? Who gets restructured? Who threatens to hold out because they don’t want to play on the franchise tag that underpays them by 8 figures?
Let’s start with the most depressing portion of the off-season. The Packers will almost certainly cut franchise mainstays like Za’Darius Smith and Randall Cobb. And may even need to release players like Mason Crosby, Marcedes Lewis, and Dean Lowry to make the salary cap work.
With Smith, the move has been in the cards for a year now and it seems like everyone knows it. Of course, everyone knew Preston Smith would be release last year and then he had the best season of his career. We’ll see what happens, but I doubt it’s anything other than a straight-out release (there’s basically no way with the cap situation to trade him unfortunately).
Cobb and Crosby may be released and then re-signed on more team-friendly deals if they want to stay with the team but they both have pretty hefty cap hits for this stage of their career. They’re both also friends of Aaron Rodgers so that changes everything. Marcedes Lewis is also a friend of Rodgers but, I’d guess he’s here to stay on his current contract.
The first extension to get done will likely be Jaire Alexander. He’s a top five corner on his rookie contract. He deserves to get a deal where he makes at least $20mm per year. He will.
Preston Smith and Adrian Amos will likely be next. Both have high cap hits this season and both are core veteran members of the defense. It simply doesn’t make sense for the team to move forward without them on the team and it doesn’t make sense to not try to reduce their cap hits.
Davante Adams is the elephant in the room. He wants guaranteed money in multiple years of the deal and wants to reset the market based on Deandre Hopkins bogus extension average per year. The Packers have set precedent that they’ll pay more than the bogus average per year (they did it when they paid David Bakhtiari more than Laremy Tunsil).
The real question is whether they’re willing to guarantee more than the signing bonus. There’s precedent in the NFL for this contractual evolution. Like the Packers, the Steelers never guaranteed more than the signing bonus… until they caved last year and did it for TJ Watt, a likely future hall of fame player. Davante Adams is one of those as well.
With MVS set to reportedly make $10mm per year, he’s as good as gone. The same is likely true for Rasul Douglas who recently tweeted about wanting to make everything he’s worth.
Allen Lazard and Bob Tonyan who both likely be tendered, but I doubt the team matches a good contract offer if either of them can pull one off.
That leaves DeVondre Campbell. History says the team will let him move on. He played like a top 5 linebacker last season and likely wants at least top 10 linebacker money. I’m not certain the Packers have ever paid top 30 linebacker money.
If he leaves, look for Joe Barry to coach up another random veteran free agent. But don’t be surprised if Campbell changes the model for Green Bay. Gutekunst has shown flexibility that Ted Thompson didn’t have by re-signing Aaron Jones and drafting Jaire Alexander in the first round. Maybe he likes Campbell, and his locker room presence, enough to pay up to keep him around.
I wrote about this last week. To summarize, the Packers probably have enough salary cap trick in the bag to pull off one surprising signing. More likely, they’ll sign a few veterans who will outperform the contract next year. They call that the Gutey special.
Gutekunst drafts have been anything but predictable. To date he’s drafted a short corner and a short safety, an edge with no college production, a corner projected to go in the third round, and a QB who has barely seen in the field in the first round.
Even if you just say the QB pick was worth it because it lit a fire under Aaron Rodgers’ ass, everyone of those picks have been at least good so far. Gary and Alexander look like legitimate superstars. Savage and Stokes have work to do but are athletic marvels who make plenty of plays.
I think this is the year that the team drafts a wide receiver in the first round. They’ve already made a ton of changes to appease Aaron Rodgers and the next step is to get him more weapons. If they lose MVS, which seems to be a certainty, they’ll need another burner to make the offense work.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.