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Packers Tradition of Low-Balling Reportedly Continues

We’ve long talked about the fact that the Green Bay Packers low-ball free agents. Not only (and especially) outside players, but also their own. That is, when they even offer a contract at all.

It was a tenet of the Ted Thompson era. Apparently, little has changed under new general manager Brian Gutekunst.

Pete Dougherty explains that, despite the Packers being interested in more free agents under Gutekunst, the modus operandi hasn’t really changed when it comes to making competitive offers.

I talked with two agents this week who said the Packers’ recruiting pitch is still pushing for discounts because of (Aaron) Rodgers and the team’s rich history, only — unlike under Thompson — more agents are hearing it this year. All that’s done is create a lot more smoke without more fire, at least so far.

The pitch is pretty simple. Aaron Rodgers gives you a chance at winning a Super Bowl every year. Plus, we’re the Green Bay Packers — home of 13 championships — not, say, the Cleveland Browns or Jacksonville Jaguars.

And as we all know at this point, that pitch is bullshit. Rodgers’ greatness and ability to lift the Packers is surely attractive. However, money is typically more attractive. The Packers’ recent history with free agents tells us exactly that.

As Dougherty points out, the Packers are essentially taking the New England Patriots’ approach. Come play with a great quarterback in Tom Brady and have a shot at winning a Super Bowl every year. The difference is, the Patriots actually have a legit shot at winning the Super Bowl every year. They’ve won five and been to eight with Brady. They’ve been in eight consecutive AFC Championship games. The AFC is much easier to navigate than the NFC.

The Packers can’t lay claim to a record anything like that.

In fact, in recent years, they have continued to ignore roster holes for their draft-and-develop philosophy.

We will give Gutekunst credit for being aggressive and outbidding other suitors for free agent tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason. Gutekunst was on Graham as soon as free agency began and did more to sign him than his former team, the New Orleans Saints. Most thought Graham to the Saints was a done deal. So it isn’t as if nothing has changed.

However, the only other free agent Gutekunst has signed is defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, on an incentive-laden one-year deal. And the main reason for that signing was because Wilkerson wants to try to revive his career with his former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Meanwhile, the Packers sit with a gaping hole (or holes) at cornerback. Despite being connected to any number of guys and signing Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller to an ill-advised offer sheet, the Packers have yet to shore up that position.

Perhaps they still will be able to with a stop-gap veteran signing that might work out for one year. Or perhaps they’ll just have to go to the draft for that position again.

This isn’t all on Gutekunst, either. Now vice president of football operations Russ Ball holds the purse strings. And instead of reporting to the general manger, brilliant team president Mark Murphy now has Ball, Gutekunst and coach Mike McCarthy all reporting directly to him. It’s an idiotic power structure that will fail, if it isn’t already.

This isn’t to say the Packers should start spending like drunken sailors on shore leave. However, there are reasonable things they could have done to fix their weakest positions. There still are, but now you’re looking at the second- and third-tier guys to do so.

Is that going to make you a legitimate Super Bowl contender? Probably not.

The Packers aren’t flush with salary cap space, with around $20 million available. That said, if you can sign Kyle Fuller to an offer sheet that was going to pay him $14 million in 2018, you can surely go out and get some other guys you need without low-balling them.

Do I believe Brian Gutekunst had a plan coming into this offseason?

I do.

But either he didn’t execute it very well or someone else stopped him from executing as he really wanted. And that latter scenario is what you probably get when you have four guys — one with no experience — meddling in the management of football operations.

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Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

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17 Comments

  1. Larry March 22, 2018

    Murphy is a joke as president. The BOD is filled with morons……….

  2. Cheese March 22, 2018

    “The pitch is pretty simple. Aaron Rodgers gives you a chance at winning a Super Bowl every year. Plus, we’re the Green Bay Packers — home of 13 championships.”

    Figures. This doesn’t surprise me at all. “Hey, why don’t you come and play for the Packers at a discount because we have 13 championships. 12 of which this current regime had nothing to do with, and most of the people involved with the one championship we did win are long gone.” “And we have Aaron Rodgers. He’s going to magically take us to the Super Bowl all by himself year after year because he’s never going to age or see a drop in skill, even though he gets sacked more than most of the other QB’s in the league and just spent the majority of last season on IR.” “This is why YOU should take less money. If you don’t then YOU’RE the one missing out. Deal?”

    This team is run by a pack of buffoons who are stuck living in the past. It’s really becoming comical, especially with Alfred E. Neuman running the show.

  3. Adam March 22, 2018

    Shot show, for sure. Can you imagine if Russ Ball HAD gotten the GM position to boot?

  4. Deepsky March 22, 2018

    I don’t think Murphy gave a lot of thought to a successor for Thompson and just thought Ball could do it. The executive committee is on McCarthy’s and Rodgers side and they wanted Thompson out to give Rodgers a chance at a Super Bowl. Murphy was about to name Ball as football GM, but McCarthy and Rodgers didn’t like that either. At that point Murphy didn’t have a plan to keep the front office intact as much as possible. It was apparent that over the years he had talked very little with the football operations guys, probably spending the vast majority of his time approving carpeting and bathroom fixtures for the new Titletown District.

    Murphy should have known what all the football operations guys were thinking well before Thompson was put in a new position. His fundamental goal should have been to keep as many football operations guys as possible. He should have been ready to move on from Thompson and bring in a guy like John Dorsey the moment Dorsey was available, someone who had the ability to retain Wolf and Highsmith and bring in Scot McGloughan.

    This is all just one big cluster now.

    1. PF4L March 22, 2018

      I agree with everything Deep wrote.

      Also, i think after Murphy realized that he couldn’t give Ball the GM job, he then…changed the power structure to appease Ball, while giving him a “promotion” and no doubt, a raise. I believe that’s the ONLY reason why the power structure was changed, because of Ball.

      We all remember how happy we were to learn Ted was being replaced, my joy turned into “are you fucking kidding me” when Murphy “reassigned Ted” with a new made up job title. Ted need’s to be out of the building. I mean…what he he doing, watching tape? Well, Ted watching player tape hasn’t helped out our drafts much since 2011. Show him respect, in a classy manner…i get that. But show him the door and lets move on.

  5. FTS March 22, 2018

    The top highest paid QBs, Tom Brady ranks 19th and Aaron Rodgers ranks 5th. Hard to sign free agents when everybody wants to get paid and not take any sort of pay cut. Rodgers was sad when Jordy got cut and yet didn’t offer to give some of his money to keep the man. This is business, you cant keep everyone.

    1. FTS March 22, 2018

      Correction Brady is 15th and Rodgers is 9th. Still a difference in cap earnings.

      1. PF4L March 22, 2018

        So why doesn’t Cobb take a pay cut? Why didn’t Perry take less money? Why doesn’t Clay take a pay cut? Why doesn’t Daniels take pay cut? Why is the burden on Rodgers to take a pay cut and no one else? I lose brain cells when i read stupid shit like this.

        Here’s the difference between Rodgers and Brady….

        In New England, the team drafts well, trades well, signs the right free agents. Almost always keeping the Patriots competitive, with a realistic chance of winning the Super Bowl.

        In Green Bay……ahhh, well, ummmm, you get the picture.

        1. FTS March 23, 2018

          Cobb and Clay are in the last year of their contracts. Perry just started his. Daniels deserves every bit of it. I didn’t say Rodgers should take a pay, I just stated that Tom wants to WIN more than get paid. Rodgers wants to get PAID rather than win. All in all its Rodgers choice and that’s fine. Just like the fans on this site, don’t start crying when the organization can’t sign quality players. The Patriots don’t draft as well you might think, THEY HAVE TOM BRADY. Once Tom Brady is gone that organization will go back to the Baseball sport city it always was.

          1. Cheese March 23, 2018

            Bullshit. The Packers have been able to sign quality players for years, they just never did. When they finally did and picked up Cook, they quickly reverted to their bargain bin ways, gave Cook the cold shoulder, and signed the virus that is Martellus Bennett instead. Smooth move. I remember hearing about a few quality free agents that made comments about WANTING to go to Green Bay, but they said that the Packers never even reached out to them for a work out or anything.

            How does Cobb and Matthews being in the last year of their contract justify overpaying them? Get with the program, restructure your deal, or GTFO. Rodgers is in the second to last year of his contract. Does that justify paying him less than ten other QB’s that are no where near as good as him? Oh it’s ok, Rodgers won’t go anywhere. He’s a Packer guy. He wouldn’t do that to the team. Maybe they can try to convince Aaron Rodgers to a pay cut because he’ll have the opportunity to play with Aaron Rodgers and win a Super Bowl.

            Obviously no one needs $30 million a year. It’s not about that. It’s about respect, something management has shown very little of over the past few years. Maybe if the Packers made an effort to bring in or keep quality players around Rodgers he might be more apt to take less money to improve the team. But when you see the bloated contracts for underperforming players, the unwillingness to keep around quality veterans like TJ Lang and Jordy Nelson, and the overall lack of urgency to improve this team, that’s when you start to feel taken advantage of. Especially when you’re getting paid no where near your market worth.

            The Patriots haven’t missed a beat when without Tom Brady. It’s Bill Belichick that they need to worry about losing.

  6. PF4L March 22, 2018

    That picture is Russ Ball mean mugging McCarthy after he didn’t get the GM job.

  7. PF4L March 22, 2018

    I should probably read the article before i write comments…lol.

    Regardless, this article was spot on, no fluff. Kudos Monty.

    The problem with writing, or commenting about this team, is we all tend to be so negative most of the time. But it isn’t our fault as we call it as we see it.

    I would love to see that change someday, but i just don’t see it before Rodgers is done. Maybe i’m wrong and we win another Super Bowl.

    We’ll see.

  8. cz March 22, 2018

    As usual, I agree the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh, and find his analogies entertaining, like when he said,

    “This isn’t to say the Packers should start spending like drunken sailors on shore leave. ”

    The most important thing to remember from this article is the comment,

    “Russ Ball holds the purse strings”

  9. cz March 22, 2018

    I will add that while I usually disagree wih the typical harsh views of CHEESE, I do agree with him/her wholeheartedly when he wrote,

    “Hey, why don’t you come and play for the Packers at a discount because we have 13 championships. 12 of which this current regime had nothing to do with.”

    Spot On.

    2nd, I wonder what the dynamic is between Ball and Gute. Is it respect abd cooperation, or is there resentment from either side by having to split the power Ted had, while he only cared about draft picks and not coaches developing his draft picks

    1. PF4L March 22, 2018

      You can disagree with Cheese most of the time, but that doesn’t mean he is wrong. Don’t confuse harshness with passion. From what i’ve seen he has a better read on this team than most.

      1. Empacador March 22, 2018

        I’ll second that. Maybe people don’t like the way the message comes across, but that’s why Packers.com was invented, to pretend everything is alright.

  10. KILLER March 22, 2018

    Scathing.

    But shouldn’t players be willing to take a lot less money to play in frigid GB, the smallest market in the NFL, and to wear those ugly uniforms in the special shade of cheese mold?