Brian Gutekunst appeared on CheeseheadTV’s Packer Transplants on Tuesday to recap the offseason. He started the interview by stating this is a good time of year. The Packers are at minicamp with one more practice on Wednesday (12). “It’s been a good spring, and I’m really excited about this team. The hardest part is waiting for the next 4-5 weeks to get to training camp.”

Aaron Nagler asked Gutekunst how the 2024 rookie class compares to the veterans. Gutekunst said he looks at how they fit in and learn at the pro level. “We have to be careful with the evaluation because everything is so new to them. However, we always check if they meet our expectations. Everyone is fitting well, both athletically and in meeting coaches’ demands. Culturally, there’s a lot of buy-in, thanks to our coaching staff and players embracing the rookies.”

Nagler observed that 2024 marks a difference for Green Bay in signing undrafted rookies, with only 8 compared to 14 and 12 in past years. Under Gutekunst’s tenure, at least one undrafted rookie has made the final 53-man roster every year. Nagler then asked if Gutekunst is worried about this or if it’s just the natural course of the numbers.

“Undrafted free agency is a big part of our roster building. We’ve had a lot of success in past years, with significant players coming from that group. Our numbers were higher going into this year’s draft. It’s a good problem because we have many guys we want to keep and continue to develop. This year’s overall volume, including undrafted free agents, was a bit less than other years. This may be due to the COVID years and the transfer portal. However, I like the guys we acquired and expect them to give their best to the team,” said Gutekunst.

Nagler observed that the Packers had a youth movement on offense last year and seem to be following a similar path on defense, especially at safety and linebacker. He asked if this was Gutekunst’s plan or just how the draft board fell, and whether he expects the defense to face the same growing pains the offense had last year.

“It was partly how the draft fell, but Matt LaFleur and I work together to create opportunities for these young guys to get early action. They have to play at the professional level, and those pains are inevitable. We have to live through them to get the best out of these players,” said Gutekunst.

During the discussion, they brought up Aaron Jones’ contract situation early in the year. Gutekunst stated he ‘absolutely expected Jones to be back.’ Many seemed to misunderstand Gutekunst’s position, prompting the question if anything unexpected happened during contract negotiations.

“Nothing happened. Jones and his agent are as first-class as it gets, and I have great relationships with both of those guys. I had that expectation at the time, and we had every intention of bringing him back. We knew there were some things to go through, and as we did, some things became harder than expected for me. The NFL landscape is always changing, and as it happens, we need to adapt to it. The landscape changed, and we weren’t able to come to an agreement with Aaron. Then, some opportunities that we didn’t expect opened up for us. In the end, it always comes down to doing what’s right for the Green Bay Packers,” Gutekunst shared.

Corey Behnke asked Gutekunst about drafting specialists, and Brian was very honest about it: “It always comes down to the player, whether they excel or not. There have been a great number of kickers that have come from the undrafted route. I believe kickers and punters take a while to get used to kicking in the NFL. We’ve seen a pretty good number of specialists who took a while to get things going their way. It comes down to whether you believe a specific player can help your football team, and I’m not afraid to target those guys.”

When asked about Jordan Love’s contract extension, Gutekunst stated, “We want to reach a deal that benefits both the organization and the team. I’m optimistic because both parties—Jordan and the Packers—want him to be here, and there’s a desire on both sides to get something done. I would love to get it done before training camp, but we will see how that goes. These things take time, so I’m not overly concerned. We have an opportunity to get our quarterback situation stabilized for the foreseeable future, and that’s exciting.”

When asked about the possibility of Kenny Clark getting a third contract, especially considering David Bakhtiari’s situation, Gutekunst responded, “We’d love to have Kenny back. We are going to see how that goes. It’s crazy to think he’s only 28 years old considering the amount of time he has been in the league. Clark is younger than most third-contract guys, and that plays a factor. He has been very durable for us. It all has to fit, but Kenny is playing at a high level, and we would love to have him back for the years to come.”

In the media, Gutekunst has consistently been transparent about his approach as a general manager. He doesn’t mislead the press about his plans. When he says he’ll do something, he typically follows through, or at least makes a sincere effort to do so. We have reason to believe that he is doing everything in his power to make the Green Bay Packers a better team.