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Is Green Bay Becoming an Unattractive Place to Play?

Green Bay Packers in snow

Brian Gutekunst (and his recruiting team) has got a more difficult challenge at free agency time than do most other GMs. Why? Because Green Bay is not a very attractive venue – right now – for NFL players.

The negatives are fairly obvious. It has a cold climate, and an outdoor stadium. It lacks the attractions – social, cultural, etc. – that most large metropolitan areas offer. It’s a long way from home for many players from the East, West, or South. It’s a bit foreign for Blacks, who make up maybe three-fourths of the NFL player population.

Especially for highly-paid players, it’s also financially undesirable. Bloomberg ran a comparison in 2017 between the Raiders’ Derek Carr and the Colts’ Andrew Luck. Carr had an annual salary of $25 million, and Luck’s was $400,000 less. These two are in high income brackets, so they are subject to the federal tax of 39.6%. Carr plays in California, which has a 13.3 state income tax. Luck plays in Indiana, whose state tax rate is only 3.23 percent. I believe anyone earning more than $244,750 in Wisconsin in 2017 was subject to a 7.65% state tax rate.

Carr’s theoretical state income tax assessment was $3.33 million. Luck’s was just under $800,000. Carr’s net salary, as charted by Bloomberg, came to $10.9 million. Luck’s worked out to $13.2 million. I assume this doesn’t take into account strategies by which rich people can get some tax exemptions, and I think Bloomberg was basing things on being a single filer.

Green Bay’s Positives

There have been two pretty obvious advantages for players considering signing up with the Packers. One, they have the best fan base in the league – loyal and adoring (generally). The other positive is probably the decisive one for many free agents.

For about the last eight years, free agents considering Green Bay could feel confident that they would be going to the playoffs and getting a decent shot at playing in, and maybe winning, the Super Bowl game. I doubt that Gutey can make an effective sales pitch on this basis in March of 2019.

The conventional wisdom used to be that as long as Aaron Rodgers is playing, the Packers will be a contender for the Lombardi Trophy. Last season proved that’s no longer the case. While almost no one is ready to predict team records for 2019 at this early stage, I did find one guy who’s predicting “Vegas win totals” for all 32 teams. He has the Packers at 8.5 wins, which would almost certainly result in a third straight Packers’ season without a post-season.

While the shakeup in the front office and the coaching staff almost has to be viewed as a positive, from a free agent player’s point of view, Green Bay is at an unknown point in its history. Matt LaFleur and his staff might be about to restore the team to its past glory, or they might be continuing on the downhill slide of the last half-dozen years.

No one can say with any level of certainty whether this team is going to be highly successful in the next couple of years. Some free agents might want to sign on with a more stable and predictable operation.

It’s incumbent that the new coaches and front office guys work wonders, and do it quickly. In Green Bay more than almost any other NFL city, winning begets winning. And vice versa.


The Packers’ actions on Tuesday were like those self-guided missiles we used to watch on TV land on Afghani jihadists. I strongly suspect that Brian Gutekunst and his fellow tacticians planned all four free agent signings as part of one integrated plan, and that they indicated to the four players that Green Bay has an aggressive new leadership group – one which is going to instantly reverse the direction the team has been going in for the last half-decade at least.

When the facts someday emerge about the blitzkrieg that Gutekunst just commanded, I’ll bet we’ll see an artful job of salesmanship – one that was as much about a return to greatness as it was about dollars.

To complete the turnaround, now all the Packers have to do, this season, is take the Pack deep into the postseason. Maybe the best thing about the concept of the team’s free agent plan was it’s not a one-year all-or-nothing push. These four young acquisitions should each play at a high level at least through 2022, when all four contracts finally expire. The Packers blueprint has elements of both a short-term and long-term strategy.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. TyKo Steamboat March 14, 2019

    One of the most adoring fan bases in the league?
    Really, because you’re talking about a fan base that really piles-on players regularly & takes to social media & message boards. My point is, players don’t care about the fans….

    I’ve been saying for 20 years that the Packers are a draft & develop team because young, black men from Texas, Florida, New Jersey & California just don’t want to play football in North Wisconsin. The weather sucks, theres no night life & theres not a lot of chicks. You want guys you gotta over-pay if you’re Green Bay

    Florida & Texas have no state tax, nice weather & tons of chicks. My decision would be easy

    As far as these 4 players lasting through 2022, I see maybe 2 of these 4 deals lasting through to the end. Look at NFL contracts in the last week…. They’re made to be traded, dumped or bought out

  2. PF4L March 14, 2019

    “It’s incumbent that the new coaches and front office guys work wonders, and do it quickly.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

    If this team doesn’t lift itself back up, we are witnessing the very end of what Bob Harlan and Ron Wolf started in 1991.

    The cause can be traced directly to Mark Murphy. Under his watchful eye he prioritized developing the amusement park around the stadium over the winning tradition of this team. Letting the team regress and blatantly refusing to act to correct the regression that was happening right under his nose for years.

    In a last minute attempt to stop the bleeding Murphy then put himself in full power, re-writing the bylaws of the power structure that reflects the structure pre-1991 to facilitate this change. In the first year under his new umbrella of power, things did not improve, they got worse.

    Myself and a handful of others have been pointing out and predicting the impending downhill slide for years. We weren’t trying to piss off the loyalist, we were simply voicing what we saw.

    As a Packer fan, what’s happened the last 5 years is a damn shame. But as Packer fans, it’s the world we live in.

    1. Cheese March 14, 2019

      Under Mark Murphy, the Packers have been on a continuous “downhill slide” ever since the Super Bowl. We even have an obnoxious landmark to remind us of this every time we drive down Lombardi avenue. Thanks, Mark.

  3. PF4L March 14, 2019

    Lol…They should name it “MURPHY’S SLIDE”.

    Then starting with the SB, they should mark the years on side of the slide, with a synopsis of the season for that year.

    So it would start with the SB, then progress down to the bottom…2016 “built slide”…2017 Missed playoffs….2018 missed playoffs…..2019 Terminated.

    1. Cheese March 14, 2019

      I agree, good idea.

      Murphy’s Slide sounds like it should be it’s own theory, similar to Murphy Law which means anything that can go wrong will go wrong. That is exactly how I would describe the 2014 NFCCG in Seattle.

      With the combination of everything that has gone wrong over the years I would certainly define that period as a Murphy Slide.

      Murphy’s Slide (noun)- 1). Focusing on one task while ignoring all other tasks to the point where they can no longer be repaired. 2.) The decline from success to irrelevance. 3.) Getting paid a full wage to do 50% of your responsibilities. 4.) The downfall of complacency. 5.) The extended recurrence of Murphy’s Law to the point where damages are no longer rectifiable under the time given.

      Suggestions are welcome. When we refine the definition well enough we can then submit it to Webster’s Dictionary.

      At the bottom of the slide where it says 2019 there should be a message saying “Ride is over. Please exit on your left.”

  4. Deepsky March 14, 2019

    Lots of folks say that when Reggie White came to Green Bay, he immediately changed the perception of Green Bay among NFL players. Green Bay HAD a bad reputation. Guys like Bruce Clark, the 4th pick in the draft, refused to play for the Packers. Reggie White commanded a lot of respect around the league. He was a preacher in the locker room.

    In 1993 the Packers were in a great salary cap position as the newly enacted salary cap left nearly every successful team having to shed good players because they were over the cap. 14 teams were over the salary cap. While everyone expected Reggie White to go the 49ers or the Redskins, neither of these teams nor many others were in position to offer White a lot of money.

    Reggie White claimed God told him to go to Green Bay. Simply put, the Packers offered White the most money and they had a QB who could take them to the Super Bowl.

    My point is, money really comes first.

    1. PF4L March 14, 2019

      Yep….i was thinking what you wrote about Reggie before i read it. Spot on.

      I will say Reggie helped…legitimize playing in Green Bay, But without them winning, i don’t know if it would have had the effect it did.I don’t know about anyone else, but the early and mid 90’s was a great time to be a Packer fan.

      Before the White signing, no one wanted anything to do with the Packers, but money talks, and Reggie was listening. Poor teams have to overpay free agents to get them to even consider coming to their team.

      I think were once again at that point where we have to overpay. But then again, it’s also my view where we are just about full circle to the 70’s and 80’s, especially without QB#1.

      And Deep is right…(aside from a handful of guys) cash will always rule the day in the NFL. They need that respect YO, no what i’m sayin?.

  5. KILLER March 14, 2019

    Tyko Tugboat and Deepsky make very good points.

    The point I’ll make is that players live in town for training camp and the season during which they are supposed to be focused on football anyway and not partying. The other 6-7 months they can go anywhere. With their money they can fly in friends and girlfriends or a harem from Saudi Arabia.

    You could say GB weather or stadium is a disadvantage but you could also say the lack of distractions is a gigantic advantage. Probably balance each other out.

  6. Ferris March 14, 2019

    The Woodson signing was almost as important. White and Woodson owned the locker room. Nobody owns it now. Rodgers doesn’t, Favre didn’t. They need somebody.