As I’ve previously shown, the Green Bay Packers have been very inactive when it comes to signing people during the free agency period. Even now, on the cusp of April, Green Bay has only brought four new players aboard. While DeShone Kizer is a backup quarterback and was acquired via trade, the other three, Jimmy Graham, Muhammad Wilkerson and Tramon Williams are all meant to either start or get lots of playing time.
In contrast, most other NFL teams have signed two or three times as many new players as have the Packers. Five teams have made from eight to 11 moves and four more have made 12 moves. The latest numbers for the top three teams on this list are the Raiders (18), the Jets (17) and the Bears (15). These teams are loading up on low-rated players who can provide depth to their rosters.
Green Bay Roster Numbers
I think the answer to my question lies in the numbers.
The Packers’ web site currently lists 56 players on its roster (including the four new signings).
The list does not include former players who are now unrestricted free agents. They have no current ties with the team. The free agents are Ahmad Brooks, Quinton Dial, Jahri Evans, Brett Goode, Davon House, Jeff Janis, Ulrick John and Richard Rodgers. Maybe three of these players will re-sign with the team, so let’s move the projected final roster up to 59.
Next, let’s omit guys that are under some kind of contract, but have no real history with the team – you’ve probably never heard of these longshots: Joel Bouagnon (RB), Emanuel Berg (TE), Dillon Day (C), Jake Kumerow (WR), Colby Pearson (WR), David Talley (LB), Ahmad Thomas (LB), Robert Tonyan (TE) and Zach Triner (LS). Whether or not any make the opening-day roster, these guys will have little if any impact on the team’s record in 2018. Subtract nine, leaving us at 50.
The team website lists nine players as exclusive rights free agents. I’ll consider Geronimo Allison, Justin McCray, Lucas Patrick and Jermaine Whitehead as likely final roster guys, but not Donatello Brown, Joe Callahan, Michael Clark, Joe Kerridge or Adam Pankey. So add four to the projected roster and we’re at 54.
The Magic Number: 53
Fifty-three happens to be the number of players who will make the final roster – only 46 of them can be suited up for each game.
Should the Packers maintain the custom of keeping their draft choices around for at least a year – and they currently have a bumper crop of 12 picks – they’ll have to part ways with 13 players on the above projected roster. That’s pretty severe.
It would require letting a bunch of Ted Thompson’s projects go, such as: Kofi Amichia, Chris Odom, DeAngelo Yancey, Michael Clark, Reggie Gilbert and Kyle Murphy. Among the defensive backs, I’d contemplate keeping no more than three out of the eight-man group of Donatello Brown, Marwin Evans, Demetri Goodson, Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pipkins, Quinten Rollins, Herb Waters and Jermaine Whitehead.
I’m guessing that Brian Gutekunst and his front office mates have done this math and have based their draft strategy accordingly.
What the numbers tell me is that the Packers need to pare down the potential roster players, not add to them. I think that answers the question of why Gutekunst has refrained from signing up any low-cost free agents.
The second strategy that jumps out is: don’t draft 12 new prospects. There’s no room at the inn. Instead, trade those lower round picks away to move up in the middle rounds. I’m hoping that on April 27 (rounds two and three) and April 28 (rounds four through seven) Gutekunst will be engaged in a frenzy of draft pick trades. His goal should be to wind up with maybe eight selections – at least seven of them in the first four rounds. Currently there are five such picks – it’s very doable.
The Packers’ guideline for next month’s draft should be: quality, not quantity.