Packers XLV

It's a New Era in Titletown and That's a Good Thing.

Posted March 14th, 2018 @ 03:03pm

The dawning of free agency has ushered in the dawning of a new era in Green Bay. And while there will be some difficult realities to digest, the reality of a seven year Super Bowl drought has amped up the urgency meter.

Brian Gutekunst has already demonstrated that he will work the roster harder in March than we ever saw under Ted Thompson. We've gotten used to watching teams spend gobs of money in March, while the Pack waited for the Marshall's counter to open a couple of weeks later to peruse the discount bins.

The Pack's draft and develop philosophy will always hold center court, but with salary caps  in the stratosphere and a five year window to return to the top with Aaron Rodgers, Gutey understands he can do some considerable tinkering before he turns his attention to his 12 draft picks.

If you would have told me the Pack would sign two free agents before the official window opens, I would have assumed one, if not both, would be cornerbacks. Obviously, that was not the case. There was a run on corners Tuesday, but the Pack sat on the sidelines.

The first signing was the most un-Thompsonest signing ever. Would Ted have ever considered a 31 year old skill player, giving him the richest deal at his position? Um, no. But Jimmy Graham is now a Packer, taking care of the biggest hole on the offensive side of the roster. Graham was never the playmaker in Seattle that he was in New Orleans, but he remained one of the most dangerous red zone targets in the league.

The Packers will count on him to be more than a red zone magnet, envisioning that he will draw plenty of attention in the middle of the field, providing favorable matchups for Davante Adams and the running game. It's a three-year deal, but essentially two years, with the 22 million guaranteed over the first 24 months. It's been reported that Rodgers lobbied for this signing--I wonder if he knew it would cost him his favorite receiver.

It's disappointing, and a bit surprising, to learn that Rodgers didn't hear about Nelson's release until after the fact. Their production and chemistry were better than any in the NFL over the past seven or eight seasons. Packer nation will need some time to get over this divorce, but it's one of those bitter realities. Most receivers, when they get to be 33, slow down and aren't worth seven-figure contracts. With all the money committed to Adams, Nelson and Cobb (north of $30 million on the cap)--plus Graham, there was no way that was going to work. When he was unwilling to play for substantially less, he became a cap casualty. Nelson has been considerably underpaid for years--I don't blame him for wanting to get paid one more time.

Now the Pack has a hole at outside receiver opposite Adams. Geronimo Allison and Michael Clark will be in the mix, but the Pack will keep their eyes open for good value there, and will likely add another or two in the draft.

The move that most excited me was the signing of Mo Wilkerson, on a one-year prove it deal. He was at his most productive in '14 and '15 with the Jets, when Mike Pettine was his coordinator--that's undoubtedly why he made the Pack a priority. We all know that a stout pass rush can make up for deficiencies in the back end, and suddenly the Pack has a three man line that will rank among the league's best. Adding Wilkerson alongside Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark could be scary.

Obviously, there is still plenty of work be done at edge rusher and cornerback, along with figuring out what's going on on the right side of their offensive line. Bryan Bulaga's status is one of the big pieces to be sorted out, as well as whether they bring back Jahri Evans or go younger there. They'll also likely face the prospect of losing Morgan Burnett, who will likely be looking for a big money deal that the Pack will feel they can't afford. With Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice waiting in the wings, they may swallow hard and let Burnett walk away.

It's a brave new world in Green Bay. In the nine years I've been writing this blog, I've never worried that one of my posts could get outdated quickly in March. But Gutey has already demonstrated that he will look to improve his roster wherever he can in free agency. And he's proven he won't be blinded by sentimentality. Two positive developments in Titletown.

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Comments (12):

I'm down with Davenport.

on April 5th, 2018 at 11:44am

The pick up of Graham and Wilkerson are solid. Like any free agent, they do come with some red flags, but that is normal. Graham was never used right in Seattle and looked back to health last season. He will be played as a big WR. Wilkerson signs a one year deal to bounce back after underachieving and will play along two DL that will make sure he doesn't loaf. I am not impressed with what, or in this case didn't, do. Cornerbacks are a huge weakness and he has still done nothing.

on March 14th, 2018 at 09:55pm

well I/m back for the new year. Even though M. Zimmer seemed to say a lot of things I would have said last year. good to see the Voice being open minded, But I/m so with you on Graham. I hate the signing. disagree with THC on this very much. You think Jordy has lost a step, watch him, sure he will get 6-8 td's in red zone, but will be lucky to have 50 catches for 400 yds, at 10 ml a year, not worth it. they could have got Burton te., who bears got, for 8 ml a year. that guy is 26 and can run. that is what we need from a te. we already have Rodgers that is slow. I sure hope they get Melvin from colts, 6-2 cb that is 26 and coming on. fyi, to THC, the Packers did talk to cb's breeland and colvin, but got better deals elsewhere. I would love to see them get Mathieu if we lose burnett, but will be to much. Preston brown, tackling lb from bills is out there, would take a look at him, . if we don't get cb in free agency, Pack will take, Derwin James, ss. from F.S. or Fitzpatrick from Ala, he can play cb and FS. Go Packers.

on March 15th, 2018 at 01:24pm

Looks like this ain't your average ordinary free agent season in Green Bay. There's a new sheriff in town, and we're first witnesses to the new way of doing things. OSSG will probably give me crap about this, but I'm still an open-minded guy, and we'll wait to see how things shape up. I'm good on signing Wilkerson, "wait and see" regarding Graham (I'll believe it when I see if he's anywhere near the same guy he was in NOLA), and as much as we all liked Jordy, I'm in the camp of "it's nothing personal; it's just business." Besides that, I also believe it's better to let a guy go a year early than a year late (i.e.: Donald Driver). It'll be an interesting time between now and the draft, for certain.

on March 15th, 2018 at 11:27am

Welcome back, Larry! I've always enjoyed your takes, so keep 'em coming!!

on March 16th, 2018 at 11:57am

A year ago at this time the Philadelphia Eagles were a 7-9 team, same as the Packers last season, Today they are World Champions. They filled in the missing pieces in just one off-season by active free agency and getting several immediate hits in their draft. The Packers are starting from a more advanced position than Philly was in at this point last year. But the NFL being a "copy cat" league when it comes to seeing success the new administration in Green Bay seems to have seen the way back in a short time reload. Stay tuned; more to come.

on March 17th, 2018 at 06:20am

They should be singing in Minisota that song with the interminable number of verses about Henry the Eighth: Next verse same as the first. Jim McMahon. Warren Moon. Randall Cunningham. Jeff George. Brad Johnson. Donovan McNabb. Brett Favre. Matt Cassel. Sam Bradford. Case Keenum. Not to mention the "homegrowns" Culpepper and Bridgewater. Now Kirk Cousins. A dozen qb's in a quarter century while in Green Bay there's been two. And not a single trip to the Super Bowl despite lofty promises for most of them. Looks like Lucy teeing up the football for Charlie Brown once again.

on March 17th, 2018 at 09:04pm

I know this will shock some of you, but I was listening to the homers morning show with Trent this morning. The shocking thing is that he loves the packer signings, but is being very cautious with the viking signings. LMAO

on March 17th, 2018 at 12:03pm

Voice....Welcome to the new sports analytical world. While we hated to see Jordy let go it's all about finding cap space to sign productive players. Graham and Wilkerson were solid pickups in areas we need production. Edge rusher and obviously Dback still need to be filled. Looks like Morgan Burnett is next to go. The quality guys are gone in free agency but Gutey can play TT for a while and shift thru the bargain bins and maybe get find someone. With 12 draft picks in the upcoming draft look for Gutey to swing some trades probably going up. Long readers of this site know I study and love the draft so watch for my posts and mock draft. Voice...I love seeing you come into the new sports world and out of your old sports cave. GO PACK GO !!

on March 20th, 2018 at 08:21am

Man, I was so sad to see the great Ted Thompson go, but I am loving Gutey. He is a wizard GM and is playing chess while all other owners are playing checkers. The Graham signing is one of the most underrated signing in the league in decades. He will catch 20 plus tds this season I guarantee it. Now that Aaron is back to full strength, he will embarrass the league and take back the MVP. I suspect some karma coming to the dirty vikings next year, and they deserve it for ruining what was going to be a super bowl season. When the sun shines off Aarons gold helmet come September in title town, chills will run down my spine and a tear down my cheek. We're back baby! Go pack go.

on March 20th, 2018 at 12:23am

Good to see Larry's name back here. I get tired of weeding through all the pretenders. My dream here would be that maybe this year we go for quality over quantity this draft. I know that means you've got to hit and stay healthy, but we need real talent at least 3 positions. DB, EDGE, Wide out. Knowing that, I'm going to shake my head and assume they draft offensive line.

on March 26th, 2018 at 09:38pm

The line will be fine as long as they can find someone (or teach someone) to hold the "Packer way".

on March 28th, 2018 at 08:52am

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