Gutekunst's 2021 Plan for the Packers was a Year in the Making

Gutey's recent moves have likely been planned for quite some time.

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Mark Oldacres, one of our Patreon members, and a die-hard Packers fan from Birmingham, England. You can find Mark on twitter at @Marko7LW

When Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst spoke to the media after the passing of Ted Thompson, they reminisced about how Ted would bury prospects way down the draft board to hide the fact that he loved them, and how Gutekunst and his colleagues would try to guess who these players were.

The NFL offseason is a lot like this, as front office figures league-wide serve up vague statements – or flat out lies – that leave fans and journalists alike guessing what they really mean and what moves they will make.

However, Brian Gutekunst made his intentions for this spring abundantly clear… and no-one noticed.

Debate raged over the last year about whether the Packers would bring Aaron Jones back on a second contract. After all, Green Bay selected A.J. Dillon in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft and anyone who is part of the football cognoscenti will tell you (over and over again) that it’s not an effective use of resources to pay running backs big money.

But the Packers made re-signing Jones a priority all along.

Reports of negotiations between Jones and the Pack started ten months ago and continued all the way up until Sunday, when the former UTEP back signed a 4-year extension.

Gutekunst was clearly determined to get a deal done, and fortunately for him, Jones was equally eager to remain in green and gold, so much so that Jones’ agent claims he passed up more money on the open market.

It takes two to tango, but from as early as last May, the Packers showed no intention of letting Jones get away.

The same cannot be said for Jones’ partner in crime, Jamaal Williams.

Many pundits suggested the Packers may bring Williams back as a cheaper alternative to Jones, helping to keep some continuity in the running back room. But this wasn’t rooted in any demonstrable interest from the Packers and frankly, they never showed any intent to keep Swagdaddy in town.

The Packers essentially drafted Williams’ replacement last year and we now know that A.J. Dillon will be the new thunder to Aaron Jones’ lightning.

ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported that the Packers never offered Williams a contract throughout the 2020 season, and that should have been the definitive signal that he was gone. That’s known as the Micah Hyde treatment.

It’s also the treatment Corey Linsley received, as one of the NFL’s premier offensive linemen departed for the sunnier climate of Los Angeles, with the Chargers giving him a contract to match his talent.

For Packers fans, it’s hard to stomach letting one of the best Centers in the game walk out the door, but the writing was on the wall when Gutekunst drafted three interior offensive linemen in last year’s draft.

Brian Bulaga, who Linsley will now link up with in California, was a perfect case study for what played out here. A great offensive lineman, around age 30, with legitimate injury concerns. Most importantly, the offense still functioned efficiently when they were missing.

Like Williams, Linsley seemingly never received a serious offer from the Packers. He confirmed as much, saying that conversations between him and the team were nothing of substance.

A large section of the media and the fanbase assumed Preston Smith would be cut, due to his underwhelming second season in Green Bay and the potential cap savings that parting ways would create.

So, there was a degree of confusion when Smith was not released alongside Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner in mid-February. Even more bemusement followed when Gutekunst said he expected Preston to be back for the 2021 season.

But still, skeptics were inclined not to believe it, hypothesizing that Gutekunst must be simply trying to drum up trade value for his pass rusher.

Well, as it turned out, Gute wasn’t lying. The Packers restructured Smith’s deal to keep him in Green Bay, just the latest piece of salary cap escapology negotiated by Russ Ball.

If Green Bay had cut ties with Smith, they’d be paying him $8 million this year to not play for them, and would also have to find a third edge rusher to spell Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary. With the restructure, Smith is still on the roster at a cost of just $750,000 more in 2020 than if he’d been cut.

It’s for similar reasons that Dean Lowry looks set to remain in Green Bay.

Lowry is an unspectacular player and it’s understandable that Packers fans might have wanted to see the back of him, but there have been no reports to suggest this would happen and it’s not difficult to see why.

Yes, the Packers need to get under the cap, but punching another hole in an already paper-thin defensive line depth chart, just to save $3 million, in a year when the draft is believed to be weak at the position, is not a smart play.

Lying season in the NFL is in full swing, as decision makers everywhere are left with bruises from holding their cards so tightly to their chests, but if anyone wanted to know the secrets of Brian Gutekunst’s plan for the 2021 offseason, all they needed to do was pay attention.

 

 

__________________________

"Jersey Al" Bracco is the Editor-In-Chief, part owner and wearer of many hats for CheeseheadTV.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a recovering Mason Crosby truther.  Follow Al on twitter at @JerseyalGBP

NFL Categories: 
19 points

Comments (48)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
EricinGB's picture

March 18, 2021 at 10:00 am

Agree: Signing AAron Jones was always a priority...M. Lombardi on the Pat McAfee (internet) clarified that Jones is more valuable than a runing back as he affects the passing game similar to a receiver... Jones' contract reflects his value...the Packers are not overpaying.

4 points
7
3
Stroh's picture

March 18, 2021 at 11:55 pm

Jones' contract is essentially a 2yr 20M deal. You can toss yrs 3 and 4 out. Jones has a 7M bonus due before yr 3 and a cap hit of 19M. There is no chance he'll see yrs 3 and 4. They would have to tear up the rest of the contract and negotiate another yr or 2 at that point. Alot of RB are now entering the NFL with receiving skills similar to Jones. He's very good but not as unique as you make him out to be. 2 yrs 20 M isn't overpaying but 4 yrs 48M is!

I said all along the Packers wanted to pair Dillon and Jones, but wasn't sure they could make it happen

0 points
1
1
dobber's picture

March 18, 2021 at 10:06 am

"Lying season in the NFL is in full swing"

I'm imagining Elmer Fudd and Daffy pulling pages off a tree...
"LYING SEASON"
"FREE AGENT SEASON"
...

3 points
6
3
BradHTX's picture

March 18, 2021 at 10:14 am

Great reference, Dobber. You win the internet today.

1 points
3
2
Tundraboy's picture

March 20, 2021 at 10:39 pm

Love it. Sad that kids today have no clue about Looney Tunes classics. To me they were essential in raising my Sons.

0 points
0
0
Leatherhead's picture

March 18, 2021 at 10:07 am

Are you saying the Packer brass has a plan? They don't just react to whatever shiny object is dangled in front of them? They know what they're doing? That these 26-6 seasons haven't been an accident?

Clearly, you haven't been paying attention to the comments on this site.

22 points
26
4
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

March 18, 2021 at 02:05 pm

Leatherhead,
I know...right? Sheeeshhh.....Gute isn't all in and has zero plan on how to improve the Packers. He doesn't want to win a SB.

3 points
6
3
JohnnyLogan's picture

March 18, 2021 at 10:32 am

Hope you're wrong about Lowry though. As predictable as you say there were signs of Gute's intentions, so too, was it predictable there would be no pass rush against Brady. We all knew Kenny Clark would be double-teamed and that Lowry would be on his back half the game. This is one I hope doesn't play out as you predict.

8 points
10
2
Leatherhead's picture

March 18, 2021 at 11:48 am

With no pass rush against Brady, we held him under 300 yards passing and intercepted him three times.

We love to praise Tampa's defense, and smear crap on our own, but the reality is that we had more yards on the ground, more yards in the air, and more takeaways.

6 points
11
5
Coldworld's picture

March 18, 2021 at 05:22 pm

We intercepted him when we did pressure him ... in the second half, after giving him a comfortable pocket to put up enough to beat us.

Lowry isn’t all to blame, most of it should be in Pettine and his usage of personnel generally and over use of Lowry in particular. I’d have been happy to see Lowry gone, not because he is awful, he isn’t, he’s just not worth what we paid him. Moreover, being willing to let him go would have clearly signaled a change in approach with respect to the D Line composition and usage.

It could still be that Lowry goes if we find ( and want) replacements. At this point, keeping him could be simply as protection as we are so thin.

6 points
6
0
PF4L's picture

March 18, 2021 at 11:18 am

"But still, skeptics were inclined not to believe it, hypothesizing that Gutekunst must be simply trying to drum up trade value for his pass rusher."

So....they didn't try to trade him?

The Packers didn't have to eat 8 million in dead cap in one year.....but ok, i'll go along with the fiction.

I will say this, i was surprised by the team friendly contract with Jones, essentially a 2 year deal. With almost the very same payout as 2 franchise tag would have cost.
A nice change of pace from pissing away tens of millions on foolish contracts like Nick Perry, Mike Daniels, Jimmy Graham, M. Bennett, and a plethora of smaller ill advised contracts.
Congrats Russ Ball, you didn't screw the Jones deal up.

Keeping Jones is more proof Dillon was a wasted pick. That second round pick should have been used on a skill player.
Williams could have been signed on the cheap and kept him and Jones together.

Jones is still the featured back, and Dillon is still a bench player.
Who else is a bench player?
Preston Smith or the 12th pick of the 2019 draft, for the 3rd season in a row?
.
"The Packers restructured Smith’s deal to keep him in Green Bay, just the latest piece of salary cap escapology negotiated by Russ Ball." - (?)
TRUTH: The Packers restructured Smith's deal because they couldn't trade him.
Or did Demovsky and Rappaport and the others, all lie to us about the Packers trying to trade Smith?

Now...for those who can think.....
Have the Packers improved their team, or are they just scrambling in trying to keep what they had?

Lets speak briefly about how all these extensions and restructures effect the Packers. When they clear all this salary cap money, where does that money go?
Does it just disappear? Ummmm...kind of...in a way. Ok, no it doesn't.
But...where does it go PF4L?
Good question....Go to OTC.com and look up the Packers salary cap space.
For 2022.
.
For those of you who have your own thoughts, and can calmly discuss facts and opinions on their merit...feel free to comment.
For those who may find thinking and formulating opinions to discuss, a burden. Simply feel free to just click the thumbs down.
We'll understand.

-15 points
5
20
Jlofton83's picture

March 18, 2021 at 11:26 am

You really are a cock PF4L...hopefully it means the same in the US as it does in the UK. GPG

2 points
6
4
PF4L's picture

March 18, 2021 at 11:45 am

No.....i said....click the thumbs down.

-3 points
2
5
PF4L's picture

March 18, 2021 at 02:02 pm

See...these guys got it.

-3 points
0
3
Since'61's picture

March 19, 2021 at 09:34 am

Those of us from NYC use "putz" or "schmuck", especially in public where most people don't have their Yiddish dictionary handy. Thanks, Since '61

1 points
2
1
Somedumbname's picture

March 18, 2021 at 03:55 pm

Your comment offered nothing but complaining. I saw no alternative solutions that you provided. I am happy with the resigning of jones. He is a very good runningback and I believe gives us a better chance to win a superbowl while aaron rodgers is still our qb. I like preston smith, but not at his price for the roll he will probably play. Next time you don't have to be so conceited in your comment.

3 points
4
1
JerseyAl's picture

March 18, 2021 at 04:45 pm

You got me rolling on the floor with this one: "Keeping Jones is more proof Dillon was a wasted pick. That second round pick should have been used on a skill player."

What's Dillon, a linebacker? Well, he might be built like one. Come back to me during the season when Jones gets hurt and DIllion is ripping through teams. We'll see how "wasted" he was.

9 points
10
1
Coldworld's picture

March 18, 2021 at 05:28 pm

On paper, Dillon and Jones are the perfect tandem. Williams was never “thunder”, just more so than Jones. Williams was an excellent all around back but excelled at no single thing. He would have been a nice number 2 to either, but wasn’t really a complimentary style to Jones or Dillon.

Surprised the Packers did it, but it makes a great deal of sense to pair these two in this offense.

4 points
4
0
Since'61's picture

March 19, 2021 at 09:36 am

Truth to power, as usual Al. I'm looking forward to both Dillon and Jones running behind Deguara.
Thanks, Since '61

1 points
1
0
Tundraboy's picture

March 20, 2021 at 10:54 pm

Thanks Al for immediately addressing this idiocy .Loved Williams but Dillon is exactly what we need.

0 points
0
0
splitpea1's picture

March 18, 2021 at 11:23 am

While I support most of the moves regarding offensive personnel (although it seems we're a little overloaded here), it's a shame the defense is always relegated to the back burner. So Lowry is entering his sixth season and we're still hoping to see a meaningful contribution once in a while? The one bright spot is that he's usually available. Whatever....I'm still hoping the Packers will be able to land a decent DL prospect by the third round--one that we'll be able to see in action during the course of the season.

It's time Gute started on a new plan in the making for the defense; win now and win later!

8 points
8
0
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

March 18, 2021 at 02:13 pm

Split,
While I agree about the need for a quality DL (I'd actually prefer two more) I would disagree about the defense always being relegated to the back burner. In fact, if you look for the past 10-years or so it has been the defense that has gotten most of the resources to the detriment to the offense. Even in FA a couple of years ago the Packers brought aboard 3 well known defensive players to one offensive player.

4 points
4
0
splitpea1's picture

March 18, 2021 at 03:13 pm

I hear what you're saying.They definitely put forth the draft capital, but until recently it hadn't paid off--no need to rehash the sorry history. They almost had to sign those free agents in 2019 because of a lack of consistent pass rush and abysmal safety play.

During the course of the last draft, last season, and this off-season, they had some choices to make. Most of the 2020 draft went to offense. Once again, they almost had to re-sign Kenny Clark because of lack of quality depth on the line. ILB has always been an afterthought. They chose to bring back a couple of very expensive offensive players ( I was definitely happy A. Jones was one of them). I'm not saying these moves were wrong, but we did have a choice.

So let's hope Gute is on the money with most of the defensive picks he'll be making this time around. And let's hope he can find a bargain or two that will help us out short-term in this department.

0 points
1
1
Coldworld's picture

March 18, 2021 at 05:31 pm

To me, this is about making a team in the image Pettine wanted. I hope Barry wants different things with respect to the DL, but Pettine was clearly enamored of what Lowry did. Will Barry be?

2 points
2
0
LambeauPlain's picture

March 18, 2021 at 11:26 am

Making Jones a priority was important and I am certain Matt reinforced this early and often with Gutey. AJ stresses a defense in so many ways. A sublime one cut slasher with great vision and balance who gets yards after contact...a great receiver on screens and over the middle....and can line up wide to create coverage match ups.

He is worth so more than other top NFL 1,000 yard runners. Which is why the contract he took to stay in Green Bay was a real surprise. His teammates seemed very impressed by his leadership to "win now".

With AJD to get more snaps, Deguara adding some more firepower, hopefully Sternberger stepping up to go with Big Bob....the middle of the offense will be exciting as long as we get some more OL troops.

4 points
5
1
stockholder's picture

March 18, 2021 at 12:17 pm

If this is so. Trade Rodgers now while we can get the most for him. Lphill is correct.

-7 points
3
10
Leatherhead's picture

March 18, 2021 at 01:56 pm

No. We don't have anybody to replace him this year, and we have a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl with him. But results count in this league, even for Rodgers. He's not going to get unlimited opportunities to lead this team to a Super Bowl.

3 points
3
0
Fabio's picture

March 18, 2021 at 04:34 pm

1st Prediction: Gute extends Rodgers and creates space in the Cap
2nd Prediction: Gute does not extend Rodgers, but extends Adams
Final prediction: in both cases there will be no significant additions in AF
Question: Who has the most talent on the team between Green Bay, Tampa and KC?
Answer: Also for this season definitely not Green Bay ...... and we will blame Rodgers again
Greetings from Italy
Go Pack GO

-3 points
0
3
Coldworld's picture

March 18, 2021 at 05:36 pm

I do not think our roster was inferior to Tampa’s. I’d argue our coaching: planning, preparation and calling was.

This team has removed one major cause in Pettine, but LaFleur has to grow as a coach and Barry has to be better tactically and with personnel choices than Pettine.

3 points
4
1
Fabio's picture

March 19, 2021 at 09:18 am

Hello Coldworld
I state that in my opinion we lost due to the referees .....
Question:
Apart from the two teams Brady and Rodgers, do you think Green Bay is superior to Tampa?
I saw a team (Tampa) that was very clear what the other's gaps were (GB with OL, Sullivan and King) and that there was no remedy for this.
I just wonder what we would have said if the three interceptions that Brady threw (not by number but by type of execution) had thrown Rodgers ....
Greetings to all from Italy
Go Pack Go

0 points
0
0
BuckyBadger's picture

March 18, 2021 at 12:28 pm

As far as I can tell there is no plan. There top two picks of last year are back ups to highly paid starters. It was time to let someone else over pay for Jones and get the 3rd round comp pick for him. He won't keep producing like he did last year. If history is any indication he will give us one year and be an average back after that. Paying big for backs is folly and a fans move. Now after 2021 the Packers will be old at their skilled positions and cap strapped.

-2 points
7
9
calabasa's picture

March 18, 2021 at 05:28 pm

Yeah when I read we’d get a third for Jones I was sure he was gone.

1 points
1
0
dobber's picture

March 18, 2021 at 01:55 pm

A rare example where a GM "lays his cards on the table" for all to see and mostly sticks to it.

2 points
3
1
Leatherhead's picture

March 18, 2021 at 01:59 pm

dobber, it's apparent that a lot of people here don't understand that Gutekunst has the greatest job in the world....for which he gets paid millions...and he'd like to hang onto it as long as he can. That means preparing this team to win without Rodgers at QB. They don't want to hear that, but it's true.

We've got a great shot at the Super Bowl this year, which would get Gutekunst an extension. And if we don't, he could cut a bunch of salaries, get some new FAs in here, and put a good team on the field with our QB of the future. Either way, he gets to keep his job and that's his primary goal.

2 points
4
2
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

March 18, 2021 at 02:20 pm

LH,
Don't get on here as much as I'd like but I can see you you have a good head on your shoulders. I like the way you think! Obviously your comments are well thought out and not the knee jerk irrational type!

0 points
2
2
PeteK's picture

March 18, 2021 at 02:46 pm

Give him a compliment and he'll repeat for you.

2 points
2
0
Leatherhead's picture

March 18, 2021 at 05:43 pm

Yeah, you’re gonna get downvoted for that.

1 points
1
0
Coldworld's picture

March 18, 2021 at 05:39 pm

Thank goodness. The alternative is a return to the 80s or the last 30 years in Chicago ...

1 points
1
0
Leatherhead's picture

March 18, 2021 at 01:59 pm

dobber, it's apparent that a lot of people here don't understand that Gutekunst has the greatest job in the world....for which he gets paid millions...and he'd like to hang onto it as long as he can. That means preparing this team to win without Rodgers at QB. They don't want to hear that, but it's true.

We've got a great shot at the Super Bowl this year, which would get Gutekunst an extension. And if we don't, he could cut a bunch of salaries, get some new FAs in here, and put a good team on the field with our QB of the future. Either way, he gets to keep his job and that's his primary goal.

-2 points
1
3
PeteK's picture

March 19, 2021 at 08:24 am

Well, not quite that easy. We moved a small country's budget into the future. In 2022 getting rid of most high priced players could be a big hit to the cap for 2 yrs, ex: Bak released in 2022 would a 21 mill in 2022 and 17 the following year. Forget about trading high priced old vets. No cap space for FAs. WE better hope that our high priced players play well into 2023. That's why this upcoming draft is so important to not only this upcoming season but the future. Also, it's imperative that at least two of our last year drafted linemen develop because we all know a good line can help make a QB look very good.

4 points
4
0
Ferrari-Driver's picture

March 18, 2021 at 02:15 pm

Lying season is in full swing and I would be lying if I thought the Packers were going to resign Aaron during free agency. Once again, I am delighted I am wrong and think the duo of Jones and Dillion will be a terror in the NFL this season. As a die hard Packers fan, I'm mighty glad Gute and Ball are making the decisions and not me.

4 points
5
1
Gman1976's picture

March 18, 2021 at 02:26 pm

I love what Gute has done. I may not have always agreed, 13-3 speaks for itself. Boy, have we Packer fans been blessed with the last 3 GMs and the last 2 QBs! (or will it be 3 QBs? Stay tuned. The drama never ends.)

8 points
9
1
dobber's picture

March 18, 2021 at 06:10 pm

How about 3 of the last 4 GMs?

2 points
2
0
Since'61's picture

March 19, 2021 at 09:45 am

The reality is that we should have already had 3 HOF QBs. We should have had Montana to Favre to Rodgers. Now that's a HOF trifecta. The Packers took Eddie Lee Ivery and Steve Atkins while Montana was still on the board. Ivery was a nice RB but Atkins, meh. What could have been. Thanks, Since '61

1 points
1
0
Hematite's picture

March 19, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Quite honestly, when Montana was playing for Notre Dame, I never thought he'd make it in the NFL.

0 points
0
0
nostradanus's picture

March 18, 2021 at 03:44 pm

A crafty one is he....

0 points
1
1
Fabio's picture

March 18, 2021 at 04:35 pm

1st Prediction: Gute extends Rodgers and creates space in the Cap
2nd Prediction: Gute does not extend Rodgers, but extends Adams
Final prediction: in both cases there will be no significant additions in AF
Question: Who has the most talent on the team between Green Bay, Tampa and KC?
Answer: Also for this season definitely not Green Bay ...... and we will blame Rodgers again
Greetings from Italy
Go Pack GO

1 points
1
0
CheesyTex's picture

March 18, 2021 at 09:06 pm

Many thanks to Mark Oldacres -- love the insight and perspective, and from overseas at that.

1 points
1
0