A new coach will mean a new roster in 2019

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Bob McGinn

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Mike Holmgren inherited 57 players from Lindy Infante’s 4-12 last squad, but by the first game of the 1992 season 26 of them had been shown the door.

Holmgren’s 45.6% chop rate was light compared to Mike McCarthy, who had whacked 33 of the 66 players that he inherited from Mike Sherman’s 4-12 outfit by opening day 2006.

Every new coach wants his people in place. As grim as the current 69-man roster assembled by Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst most assuredly is, you can expect Mark Murphy’s new man to be near 50% when the opener rolls around in nine months.

A few weeks from now, Murphy will talk confidently about winning Super Bowls – he prefers the plural – and McCarthy’s successor will set forth his vision on how to turn the Green Bay Packers’ lousy present into a bright tomorrow.

When the lights are turned off, Gutekunst and the head coach will spend weeks doing what any losing franchise must: find better players.

Usually at this time of year, the Packers’ primary areas of need for the next season can be boiled down to two or three. This is different. The Packers need everything.

Draft currency, and the NFL system that promotes parity, give the Packers at least a fighting chance to regain respectability and more in 2019.

On draft day, the Packers lost the chance to draft safety Derwin James and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch by trading down 13 slots in the first round with New Orleans. They went back up nine slots to draft Jaire Alexander in a trade with Seattle, but the cost was a third-round draft choice.

Those moves made it more difficult for the Packers to win this season. The payoff – an additional first-round choice in April – has greatly diminished in value because of the Saints’ league-best record of 12-2 with a pair of home games remaining.

Possibly the best decision Gutekunst made in his first season as general manager was dealing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington at the trading deadline for a fourth-round pick. The Packers also will receive a sixth-round choice from Seattle for Brett Hundley.

For the first time in years, the Packers probably won’t receive any extra selections as compensation for losses in unrestricted free agency. The loss of Morgan Burnett and Richard Rodgers was more than matched by the signing of Jimmy Graham and Tramon Williams.

The Packers presently rank 12th in room beneath the salary cap at $8.18 million. Barring a contract extension in the next week, the Packers presumably will roll that amount over into 2019.

Thus, management will have 10 draft choices and plenty of cap space to make amends for Green Bay’s first successive losing seasons in almost 30 years.

Among the myriad personnel decisions awaiting the brain trust are the roster bonuses due four players on March 15, which is the third day of the new league year.

The largest, $5 million, is on the books for Graham, the 32-year-old tight end and centerpiece of Gutekunst’s first foray in free agency.

If the Packers elect not to pay the $5 million roster bonus, Graham and his base salaries of $3.45 million in 2019 and $7.45 million in 2020 also would go away. On the downside, they’d have to eat the remaining $7.3 million portion of his $11 million signing bonus.

Graham isn’t going to get any faster, that’s for sure. Maybe the Packers think another season working with Aaron Rodgers would increase Graham’s impact. Besides, the only other option on the roster is Robert Tonyan.

Gutekunst must have signed Graham for $30 million over three years for a reason. Also, what happens if Graham is set free and produces for another team?

“He’s no threat anymore but they may have to pay it to save face,” an NFL personnel director said. “They f—– up when they let Jared Cook go. Look what it cost them? Martellus Bennett and Jimmy Graham.”

Also in mid-March, linebacker Nick Perry is due a $4.8 million roster bonus as part of the five-year, $60 million contract that he signed on the eve of free agency in March 2017.

Perry already has collected about $27 million for two seasons’ work in which he has been available for 21 of 30 games and produced 8 ½ sacks. After watching Perry fail to play 16 games even once in his seven seasons, the next play has to be termination. His base salaries of $24.2 million from 2019-’21 plus the $4.8 million roster would be scrubbed but the Packers still would have to eat $11.1 million in salary-cap proration.

With or without Perry, the outside-linebacker position needs assistance. Clay Matthews has had another pedestrian season, turns 33 in May and probably won’t be back unless he can’t get a legitimate offer on the unrestricted market.

Matthews’ cap salary of $11.34 million in 2018 can be applied to the number of younger veterans that Gutekunst almost has to add in free agency or by trade.

Venerable Tramon Williams has a $1 million roster bonus due March 15. At 35, he has played all but four snaps on defense as a cornerback-nickel back early and as a free safety since Clinton-Dix’s departure.

Let’s be honest. Safety has become a wasteland with Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice demonstrating they’re not the answer. The best safeties were Williams, who should return, and Jermaine Whitehead, who for unexplained reason was released Nov. 6.

The fourth veteran with a roster bonus due is guard Lane Taylor. His is $750,000, and even though his career took a downturn this season that’s a tolerable amount because he’s under contract through the 2020 season and there’s an acute shortage of serviceable offensive linemen.

Another financial decision must be made with Bryan Bulaga, the capable right tackle with a snake-bit career.

The Packers have had their fingers crossed ever since making the call to give Bulaga a five-year, $33.75 million contract in March 2015. Injuries have limited him to one full season in the last four. At least now, the Packers could cut him without taking a financial bath.

At issue is Bulaga’s $5.8 million base salary for 2019. He’d be gone in a heartbeat if Jason Spriggs, a second-round pick in 2016, had turned into a player.

The next staff actually might think they can win with Spriggs. Perhaps Bulaga would accept a paycut. Or maybe they just move on from Bulaga and Spriggs ($1.13 million base in 2019) and sign a veteran, although a solid right tackle might cost double Bulaga’s base salary.

A fifth veteran, Aaron Rodgers, is due a roster bonus of $13.4 million on March 15 as his cap number rises from $20.9 million this year to $26.5 million in 2019.

Rodgers used the occasion of the loss a week ago in Chicago to advocate for the return of wide receiver Randall Cobb. Rodgers’ point seemed to be that Cobb was the only pure slot on the roster, and as such he retained value. Rodgers pushed for Jordy Nelson, too.

Several personnel people, however, have commented that Cobb has lost acceleration not to mention his succession of injuries since 2016. His $8.6 million base salary might not be palatable for the new staff.

“(Rodgers) would like to keep him but I don’t know if that’s in line with what Brian wants to do,” said another personnel man. “I could see it going either way. He’s been hurt by the way he plays. He played with his heart on his shoulder pads.”

Offering another view of Cobb, one executive said, “He’s done. He’s got no legs, no juice. He can’t run.”

Other than Davante Adams, the remainder of the wide-receiver corps is adequate at best. The Packers shouldn’t feel good about backup quarterback. Aaron Jones is a dynamic back but hasn’t been able to finish either of his first two seasons even though McCarthy did what he could to minimize his workload.

Despite the selection of five cornerbacks in the first two rounds of the past four drafts, the next defensive coordinator probably won’t feel confident about the position. Jake Ryan could return at inside linebacker but his contract is expiring and the torn ACL that he suffered in August won’t help his range.

Defensive line is far and away the best position in this draft. Like everywhere else the Packers need a defensive lineman, but with Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, Dean Lowry, Tyler Lancaster and even newcomer Fadol Brown it might be the best position on the roster.

Muhammad Wilkerson, another of Gutekunst’s major veteran acquisitions, probably will be allowed to take his lazy ways to another team as an unrestricted free agent.

If this were a few years ago and the Packers had a roster reflective of a contending team, there would be speculation about whether it was time to draft Mason Crosby’s successor. Gutekunst gambled last spring by drafting a punter and long snapper, but with voids galore he has to pray now that Crosby can go on forever.

The 100th season in Packers history was a colossal dud. Soon the road to recovery shall start.




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TW

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1,961
Great read. Insightful. Asks and answers some interesting questions. A patch work quilt of little issues that create the entire situation surrounding the Packers, including questions about finances, and what could or should be done to create cap room for moves needed to improve the team.

I totally agree that a new coach is going to mean a major overhaul of our roster, not just tweaks.
 

GBP4EVER

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2,421
You have already seen that Gutekunst has plan to start purging roster of TT's players and start building a roster of what he likes. Give it another 2-3 seasons you might see less than 10 players left who have Ted connections.
 

57packer

Draft Guru
2018 Draft Guru
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1,583
Yup, whether it's needed or not, a new coach and essentially a new GM will mean a pretty big roster turnover. We can call it what we want, and lots of us don't like the word "rebuild", but in effect that's what will happen.

I would guess that at the beginning of the 2020 season GBP's estimate above won't we far off. I actually went through the roster and as of today I think there are only 22 or so guys on the 53-man that were Ted's guys. Now, there are 8 of them on IR, so in theory there are about 30, but even with that you've already had a fair bit of turnover by Gute.

I couldn't come up with 15 guys that I felt pretty strongly would be around for 2020. It was more like 12 or so, with a few borderline types. Now, it's possible there will be a few more, but it might just be because they didn't have time to come up with better guys.
 

GBP4EVER

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Member
Messages
2,421
Yup, whether it's needed or not, a new coach and essentially a new GM will mean a pretty big roster turnover. We can call it what we want, and lots of us don't like the word "rebuild", but in effect that's what will happen.

I would guess that at the beginning of the 2020 season GBP's estimate above won't we far off. I actually went through the roster and as of today I think there are only 22 or so guys on the 53-man that were Ted's guys. Now, there are 8 of them on IR, so in theory there are about 30, but even with that you've already had a fair bit of turnover by Gute.

I couldn't come up with 15 guys that I felt pretty strongly would be around for 2020. It was more like 12 or so, with a few borderline types. Now, it's possible there will be a few more, but it might just be because they didn't have time to come up with better guys.
I think you could be down to 15 guys left with Ted connetion by start of next season.
 

Cheesedog

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2,792
Excellent read. And he's spot on. GB has one, only one, position that the team can honestly say is ok, and that's DL...

Boy did the TT era end with big fart or what..
 
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