Don’t expect general manager Brian Gutekunst to apologize to anyone for the way the Green Bay Packers navigated free agency this spring.
While some have criticized the Packers for making a long snapper their only outside free-agent signing thus far in the 2021 offseason, Gutekunst made clear on Monday how much he believes in the moves they were able to make, which included re-signing nose tackle Kenny Clark (Aug. 15), All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari (Nov. 14) and running back Aaron Jones (March 14).
“The way I look at it, we were able to sign the No. 1 running back on the market, the No. 1 left tackle on the market and the No. 1 defensive tackle on the market,” Gutekunst told reporters Monday afternoon during in his pre-draft press conference. “They just all happen to play for us. Kudos to Ted Thompson there.”
The Packers have also been able to keep together much of their 2020 squad that won 14 games and reached the NFC Championship Game. They limited their cap casualties to Christian Kirksey (injury risk) and Rick Wagner (now retired) and managed to move around enough money to bring back Kevin King, Robert Tonyan, Chandon Sullivan, Marcedes Lewis, Tyler Lancaster and Will Redmond for 2021.
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Packers Planning More for Post-Draft
The Packers have not only found ways to re-sign key free agents over the past few months but have also already created enough cap space to sign their entire 10-man draft class assuming they use all of their selection in this week’s 2021 NFL draft. Even still, more cap work will be required before the start of next season.
According to salary-cap specialist Ken Ingalls, the Packers will need to clear between $5-10 million more to put themselves in a stable place for 2021, citing their needs to sign next year’s practice squad (estimated at $3.168 million) and to set aside funds for in-season spending. There are numerous ways for the Packers to go about freeing up space, but some of the more obvious routes include restructuring/extending Aaron Rodgers, extending Davante Adams (free agent in 2022) and cutting Dean Lowry ($4.8 million in savings as post-June 1 cut).
“We’re going to have to do probably a few things with different contracts as we head toward the season and through the season and make sure our salary-cap situation not only this year but in 2022 is square,” Gutekunst said Monday. “We’re not done yet, (and) we’ve done a lot to get here. We’ve kind of been doing things as we go and we will continue to do that as we go.”
Which Moves Will Packers Still Make?
How the Packers come away from the 2021 draft could go a long way in projecting what else they will do this offseason. For instance, Lowry’s departure becomes much more likely if the Packers use a first- or second-round pick on a defensive end. In the same way, adding more cornerbacks to the roster could impact the standing of some of the deeper-depth guys, such as 2018 second-round pick Josh Jackson.
One potential move that doesn’t get discussed enough is the possibility of the Packers adding another quarterback. While the departure of Tim Boyle has cleared the way for Jordan Love to become Rodgers’ primary backup, it would make sense for the Packers to draft a third quarterback in the later rounds or, more likely, sign one from the undrafted rookie pool. There is no chance whoever he is would beat out Rodgers or Love for roster spots, but a practice-squad passer has been a habit for Green Bay in the past.