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Do the Packers Dare to Undergo a Second Rebuilding Year?

 

Nick Perry sacks Bradford at Lambeau

Nick Perry (53) hits Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford as he throws in the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

 

Last year around this time, I ventured this assessment:

The Packers are not positioning themselves for a deep run in the playoffs. They’ve instead launched an effort to rebuild the team for a run in 2019. The turnover in players, coaches, and front office personnel has been massive. Face it, you can’t realistically give up all that continuity, and deal with so much change, without a considerable adjustment period.

The Pack’s 6-9-1 record last season suggests I was on to something. The above words seem to apply equally to this season. So, will the team’s rebuilding plans extend through a second season? The corollary question is: will the fans tolerate a third straight year of missed playoffs, and a second straight year with a losing record – as Aaron Rodgers’ window slowly (rapidly?) closes?

We’ll have a pretty good idea of what the Packers’ management plans are in a matter of weeks, and maybe even by March 15 – by which time several of the team’s veterans might have been released or already have signed up elsewhere..

The clearest evidence of a rebuilding strategy would be ridding the roster of highly paid but fading veterans. On the other hand, if those monetary savings are poured right back into free agent signings, that might or might not indicate a rebuilding effort. If a bunch of veterans, who are still in their prime, join the team, that would suggest Green Bay wants to contend in 2019. However, if the incoming free agents are players who are still young and developing, that would signify the team is aiming at contending in 2020, or later, but not in the upcoming season.

Some doubters look at the current roster and think the Packers should concede they can’t be a contender in 2019, so they ought to discard their aging veterans and load up on promising young players by all means possible: free agency, trades, and the draft.

Here are some of the players (and their cap numbers for 2019) in the crosshairs should Green Bay commit to phase two of a rebuild:

Players Under Contract and their Cap Hits

Nick Perry, $14.4M

Jimmy Graham, $12.7M

Mike Daniels, $10.7M

Bryan Bulaga, $8.35M

Corey Linsley, $8.15M

Tramon Williams, $6.4M

Lane Taylor, $5.5M

Mason Crosby, $4.85M

Players who will become free agents in 2019 (and their 2018 cap hits)

Randall Cobb, $12.5M

Clay Matthews, $11.4M

Muhammad Wilkerson, $4.5M

I’m allowing that Aaron Rodgers ($26.5M), David Bakhtiari ($14.2M), and Davante Adams ($10.85M) are untouchable. After Crosby, the cap numbers all drop below $3 million, and these are mostly players under age 26.

Other Players on the Cusp

Most “experts” seem to agree that Matthews, Cobb, and Perry, whose ages at the start of the season will be 33, 29, and 29, are dead ducks. The rumors continue to be that Jimmy Graham will be retained at least for the second year of his 3-year deal.

There hasn’t been as much talk about releasing additional guys who are under contract, but don’t be surprised to see a few others gone in a matter of weeks.

Tramon Williams

Tramon Williams, who’s both old and has a fairly substantial cap hit, is a likely suspect. On the other hand he took over 99.5% of the defensive snaps last year (at two positions) – where would we have been without him?

Also on the cusp might be Mike Daniels. He’s got quadruple issues: almost 30, a cap hit over $10 million, stats are down, and missed games are up (8 in the last two years).

Though Mason Crosby isn’t old for a kicker and doesn’t have a real high cap hit, he also hasn’t been performing as reliably as when he was younger.

A fourth veteran in some jeopardy is Bryan Bulaga. He’s almost 30, has a considerable cap hit of over $8 million, and has completely missed four, zero, eleven, and two games from 2015-18. There’s also talk that the zone blocking scheme that coach La Fleur plans to use requires speedy linemen, which Bryan isn’t.

Final Comments

Last season I concluded it was a rebuilding season when both Jordy Nelson and Morgan Burnett were let go in March. We should again know, by the end of this month, if the team’s front office has determined that the rebuild effort is a multi-year project. Oh, and I see that last year at this time many were opining that the Pack was “reloading,” not rebuilding. I’m not hearing much of that wishful thinking this time around.

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Rob Born

Someone else said it first but I popularized it: “Athleticism is important in athletic pursuits.” It took three years, but the Packers finally listened. My new mantra: “Trading down is fine, but never trade up.”

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14 Comments

  1. Larry March 10, 2019

    As long as Murphy is in charge, things do look bleak. With the right moves in FA and a solid draft, GB could contend but does anyone seriously believe Gute will make all the right moves? Thompson left a roster riddled with holes and was rewarded with cash for doing nothing. The only improvement so far is I won’t have to see that dumb ass McCarthy this season.

  2. Chungo March 10, 2019

    Too many holes. Rebuilding this year and next.

  3. PF4L March 10, 2019

    DO THE PACKERS DARE TO UNDERGO A SECOND REBUILDING YEAR?

    That’s even a question?

    They are knee deep in it, and it probably continues into next season depending.

    Last year we had a new GM and Def Coordinator.

    This year we have a new head coach and Off. coordinator with just as many (if not more) needs than last year.

    Silly question.

    What part of broken, do people not understand? That includes the B.O.D. and Executive Committee.

    The 70’s and 80’s teams were broken, but not to this extent. Mainly because those teams back then weren’t “pretending” they were a Championship caliber organization.

    I could give everyone a boatload of examples, but i think i’ve covered them over the years.

    I don’t even really look at this team in terms of rebuilding. I view it as more of a “waiting period” until the disease is eradicated.

  4. Howard March 10, 2019

    It is hard not to believe you are rebuilding when you have a new head coach and almost an entire new coaching staff. That is one of the reasons the NFL gives new coaching staffs an extra mini camp.

    The new coaches may try to adapt their system to fit the players. There is no doubt the new Head coach will want to change out some players to better fit his schemes/system. If not entirely this year over the next couple of years.

    Where would the Packers have been without Tramon last year? Probably 6-9-1, maybe 8-8. I don’t recall Tramon making a positive game changing play or tackle, but I do recall a few negative plays from Tramon that resulted in opponent TDs. Tramon may have been a positive influence on the new DBs as far as learning Pettine’s system, but that is a lot of money for a position coach.

  5. Ferris March 10, 2019

    OK here is the rebuild plan…..Step 1. Sign Le’veon Bell. Step 2 let Cobb walk and sign Beasley. Step 3 let Matthews walk and draft a good OLB/Edge. Step 4 cut Bulaga and sign a FA RT and draft one. Step 4 sign Landon Collins or Earl Thomas (preferably Thomas on a 3 year deal.) Step 5 cut Jimmy Graham and draft a TE and play Tonyan more. Step 6 resign Breeland. We all know King will never play more than 3 games. Step 7 draft a Offensive Guard worth a damn. Maybe Madison will come back….or maybe not.
    Rebuild over…easy peasy. Wait I forgot….bring in 3 kickers to compete with Crosby…he needs a fire lit under him or he needs to go.

    1. PF4L March 10, 2019

      Lol…yea, Madison…..good one.

  6. TyKo Steamboat March 10, 2019

    Same topic, different team. AT LEAST WE’RE NOT THE VIQUEENS!

    Packers have the 13th “best” cap space in the NFL at $35.3 Million

    Meanwhile, the ViQueens literally loaded-up for a Superbowl run last season, signed the highly coveted Kirk Cousins, were mostly injury-free, have a top-3 defense & completely missed the playoffs.

    The ViQueens currently have the 31st “best” cap space in the NFL, next to last at $4.4 million. In addition to that, they’ll be losing Anthony Barr & Sheldon Richardson to free agency. Say “bye-bye” to ole one eye’s stifling defense & hello to Kirk Cousins’ mediocrity

    1. Ferris March 11, 2019

      Well you see the Vikings wanted to be in salary cap hell because Speilman is a genius, and that Cousins move was never about winning a Superbowl. Cousins is better than Rodgers because Rodgers is selfish and got the coach fired and is not a team player and is gay. Cousins guaranteed contract is worth is because WE are a great team and WE beat the Packers last year and WE have a great defense and WE don’t need a title of any kind because WE have a great defense and did I mention WE have a great defense. WE were better than Green Bay last year and WE will beat them this year too.
      Now nobody else has to say the obvious.
      You’re welcome.

      1. KILLER March 12, 2019

        What’s your mixture of jealousy and envy of the Vikings? Is it 50/50 or more like 60/40 or 40/60?

        Your first line is wrong but most of the rest is correct. It is an interesting debate method you utilize, not often seen, wherein you write/speak the truth mostly but try to do it in a sarcastic way so that the truth comes across as persuasive to not being the actual truth.

        Yes, Vikings are better than the Packers on so many levels (not least of which is fan educational and intelligence levels). Better management, better coaching, better players, better state, better fans, better location, better stadium, better colors, better team name. Better ownership of course since the Packers are theoretically (but not actually) owned by the fans. Unlike the Packers the Vikings do not scam their own fans to get poor and middle class to give hard earned money to rich in exchange for nothing at all.
        Yes, the Vikings did beat Green Bay at home last year and tied them in GB and beat them both games the year before. Yes, what you claim about Rodgers all seems likely true. Yes, the Cousins contract was a great move, a clear upgrade over Keenum and a better performer than Rodgers. Yes, we do have a great defense. Thank you for noticing.

      2. PF4L March 12, 2019

        Lol Ferris

  7. Thomas E Lind March 11, 2019

    Another rebuilding season would be tolerable if the team seems to be trending in the right direction. Kind of like the feeling we all had in the early 90s, you just knew they were going to keep getting better. We should know by the end of next year if things are headed in the right direction.

  8. TyKo Steamboat March 11, 2019

    In terms or “rebuilding” … The Browns were 0-16 2 seasons ago & are now favored to win the AFC North

    We have AR … R-E-L-A-X

    1. KILLER March 12, 2019

      {Insert high pitched giggling}

      1. KILLER March 12, 2019

        Followed by a long deep chuckle of course…..