Now that it’s all over and behind us, the 2018 season is one that won’t linger long in the minds of Green Bay Packers fans. It was a time of low achievement, constant behind-the-scenes turmoil, and the potential end of Mike McCarthy’s coaching career (although the man himself says he still has more to do in the football world). While it’s sad to see a man who gave so much of his life to the Packers and brought us a Super Bowl kicked out of the door, virtually the entire fanbase can agree that his time had come, and changes had to be made for the team to move forward.
Those changes need to come in more places than just the coaching department, though. Another season finishing so far off the mark would make history for all the wrong reasons, and for the Packers to make strides back towards where we belong, the team has to take a pro-active and radical approach to the opportunities that come along with free agency. March 2019 is going to be one of the most critical months in our recent history.
Room On The Menu
The good news is that we don’t have an issue with cap room. Based on the accuracy of the figures available to Over The Cap, there’s already over $36m available to renovate the playing squad. That figure may even be increased if, as per rumors, Nick Perry is at the end of his Packers journey. Stories about the potential release of Perry have dogged the player for the entire season, but it’s never seemed a more likely prospect than it is right now; especially because we’re going to be competing in a buyer’s market. Going back to the Over The Cap website, it appears that the Colts have more than $100m in idle funds waiting to be spent. There are going to be bidding wars that we won’t be able to win. We don’t only have to work fast to get the right players in; we have to work smart.
The usual rules apply. We can target the areas most in need of attention as soon as the market opens on March 13. Then we head into the official draft with ten total selections, two of which we can take in the first round. So what should we hope for, and what do we really need?
Fix the tight end for the long term
For the past three seasons in a row, the Packers have brought in a tight end during free agency. It looks like we’re going to have to do it again this year. Neither Marcedes Lewis nor Lance Kendricks are likely to have long term futures with the Packers, and they’ve never been entirely convincing in their roles. Jimmy Graham didn’t live up to his billing in his debut season, and short of a dramatic improvement in form, he shouldn’t be looked at as the man for the next few seasons either. We’ll surely still have Robert Tonyan, but he can’t be relied upon to do all the work on his own.
We’re paying the price for short-sighted recruitment policy in this position. For too many consecutive seasons, we’ve taken a roulette approach to bringing a tight end in and hoped their number would come up. If we’re going to gamble, we’d rather take an online slot approach instead; spin the reels and make the deal for sure, but aim to have players line up in a way that results in winnings being paid out. A slot game rewards you for skilled play. A roulette machine does not. We’d rather make a cautious bet that could pay dividends than lump everything we have on red or black. Lewis and Kendricks were ‘all or nothing’ bets, and it looks like we came up short.
We’d ideally like to see this addressed on the first night of the draft, and our star pick would be a return to Lambeau Field for Jared Cook, who we’ve missed ever since he walked out of the door. He’s likely to attract a high price given his form for the Raiders last year, but we’re allowed to dream.
Bring in Earl Thomas. If Earl Thomas becomes available, we have the cap room, and we have the need. He’s got the experience and the pedigree to solve a positional problem that we’ve been struggling with for a long time. We won’t be the only team interested in him if he does appear on the market, but we should go all out to make him feel wanted and needed at the Packers.
We need a reliable safety more than we need anything else right now. We’ve seen and discarded Randall, Clinton-Dix, and Burnett and left ourselves without a well-established safety at all, and Thomas is a man who could not only outperform all three of them, but bring a healthy morale boost and the surety of his experience to the locker room.
New life in offense
You’ll see many experts say that the Packers need a new edge rusher more than they need anything else, but we’re inclined to disagree. We’ve been overlooking the offensive line for too long now, and some new blood is required to freshen things up.
It’s not that we’re terrible in this department; most teams would love to have David Bakhtiari to call upon, and Linsley would be a coveted pick for the majority of NFL teams if he became available, but it’s been a while since we focused on the offensive line during free agency or draft and last year we looked a little stale.
Matt LaFleur once worked with Rodger Saffold at the Rams, during his time as offensive coordinator. It’s possible that the Rams will look to re-sign him, but it’s not out of the question that he’ll become available. Factor Saffold in with the options we already have, including (fingers crossed) an injury-free Bryan Beluga, and you’re talking about an offensive line that has the potential to carry a team to major honors.
That’s all we think needs to happen. Three areas of need that could be addressed quickly and effectively, along with a coach bringing a new philosophy to a team that looked fractured and lost at times in 2018. Agree? Disagree? Spotted a potential free agent that could make 2019 a great year to be a Packer? Let us know in the comments!
A healthy Bulaga…that’s funny.
Lol, I was going to write the same thing until I scrolled down and saw that you wrote it.
Might as well get it out.
A healthy Brian Bulaga… that’s funny.
Enough with blowing money on mediocre/?good TEs who are 30+ years old- been there, done that. Be proactive, draft someone high with a first or second round pick. I like Hockenson, who seems Gronkian with his blocking ability, hands, and route running. He would look very good at #30. Thomas is aging, damaged goods, and I would guess he will take a discount to be in Dallas. Again, don’t spend on aging, declining players. If it’s free agency target players coming off their first contract.
I’d use FA to sign 1-2 guards and 1-2 safeties, as those positions shouldn’t break the bank. Pass rushers will be cost prohibitive so that’s where pick #12 goes. TE with #30, then OL/DL in the second.
I am kicking ass in Fanspeak Mock draft simulator, so maybe Gute will want to bring me on board…there’s still time.
Hockenson got better as the season went along.
Why waste cash on Cook? That deal was blown two years ago. If you need a veteran plug-in guard look to DJ Fluker. Get two TEs in the draft. Procure one out of Hockenson, Williams or Fant, then grab a guy with the five pick. Gentry or Oliver. If we’re talking Casino, taking a shot at Cook doesn’t help us long term. Gutedkunst sounds like he’s paying Graham. I would focus on second tier pass rusher also in the free agent mix or two of them. Try to trade for a backup QB.
I am kicking ass in my own personal opinion. But that’s just me, i’ve been wrong before.
Which is why i want to offer my suggestion concerning the draft and free agency. This may get extremely complex and complicated. I studied the problems on this team for months, ok years. Sometimes putting in 27 hour days, then finally coming out with a solution. (nobody outworks me). So take a seat, get comfortable with your favorite beverage and soak in all my hard work. this is a two part complicated plan, so please follow along carefully. Here is what my long and arduous work has told me this team needs to do.
A) Acquire playmakers
B) Try improving the team from the previous year
Thanks for your time and reading this post. Hopefully it was helpful and enlightening, which would justify all the time and hard work i put into all my research. If i’ve helped in anyway, that is my only gratification needed, no need to thank me, i’m above that.
I thought i’d simple it up….(shrugs)
Last season I called for the pack to trade hhcd and a 2nd for earl Thomas. The next week he broke his leg…
Now would Seattle been dumb enuff to take on hhcd? Who knows but Thomas is the exact type of player GB needs.
I’m convinced that most teams strategy needs to involve collecting as many star level players as they can, especially at key positions like free safety, left tackle, corner and QB. The NFL is moving away from deep verticals and 7 step drops to quick hitting all purpose guys who can create in space. So, you can get all the pass rushers you want but if the ball comes out in 3 seconds, they can’t get home. Finding the best “chess piece” cover men via draft or free agency becomes paramount to limiting these short to intermediate route concepts.
All that being said, the Packers have no doubt self scouted themselves with precision this offseason and will find a new cast of characters to play with and hopefully, with a revitalized #12, the results will be what we all hope for and expect.
I have my reservations about that but I’m eager to see what we can and will do.
Ice cold kool aid here!!…..get your kool aid!!!
Star players are nice, but you have to eventually pay them once they reach a second contract, which can put you in a bind as far as money goes.
Stating the obvious, but you have to draft well consistently. You can’t pay everyone, you have to have depth and players that meet your scheme. New England has few star players (Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Stephon Gilmore, Julian Edelman is a stretch). Besides those guys, mostly a bunch of average players that play within the system that are well coached. They trade away stars they don’t want to pay (Brandon Cooks, Chandler Jones). They make it work with the guys they have. Look at the team the Rams tried to buy/trade for. Suh, Peters, Talib, Cooks. It did get them to a super bowl, and they arguably had a better team on paper across the entire roster. They just got outcoached.
I mostly agree with you, however, I firmly believe that the Rams QB had most everything to do with how that game ended. Goff is over-rated. I told many people that the Rams would hold down the Patriots offense, but that Goff would choke under the Pat’s defensive scheming and for that alone, the Rams would lose. McVay had a decent game plan. Goff was the reason that they lost. If the Rams had a better QB1, they would have won by at least one score. The Rams defense was gassed because of their offense not giving them anytime to rest. Great coaching by Belichick and Brian Flores.