How the Packers’ Offseason Affects the Immediate Future
The Packers’ offseason was not the most exciting offseason, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good one. This team was not a bad team heading into the offseason, but there were some departures that became a cause for concern. In this article I will break down my favorite free agency moves, and I will give my take on the Packer draft selections.
From Bulaga to Wagner
When he was on the field Bryan Bulaga was one of the better tackles in the league, but injuries had taken their toll on him during his time at Green Bay. Since 2010 Bulaga has missed 45 games in his 10-year career but has only missed 2 in the past two seasons. Rick Wagner has missed 10 games in his 7-year career, 5 of which came in the last two seasons. Bulaga signed a 3-year $30 million deal with the Chargers this offseason. Wagner on the other hand signed a 2-year deal with a total value of $11 million. Both Bulaga and Wagner will be 31 this upcoming season. When comparing the two it is important to consider various factors. In terms of ability Bulaga has the edge, but in terms of overall health I’d give the edge to Wagner. Both of them are 31 but Wagner comes at a discounted price compared to Bulaga. Overall, I like the signing for the Packers, but I don’t expect the transition from Bulaga to Wagner to be a seamless one.
Martinez out, Kirksey in
Blake Martinez had a solid career in Green Bay where he totaled 140+ tackles in 3 of his 4 seasons, and he only missed 3 games in that time. Martinez signed a 3-year $30 million deal with the Giants this offseason. Christian Kirksey has had more than 140 tackles once in his career and has missed 23 games in his career, which includes 14 games last season. The Packers signed Kirksey to a 2 year $16 million deal this offseason. Overall, I would rather see the Packers keep Martinez over Kirksey.
All in Funchess
The career of Devin Funchess has been anything but excellent, however at age 25 his career is far from over. Funchess has the size and athleticism that you love to see at the position but lacks the production. He is now paired with the best Quarterback that he has had so far so it will be interesting to see how this impacts his play. Funchess has had issues dropping in the past which could be concerning going forward. If Funchess can put everything together in his most recent 1-year deal, he could turn his career around. Funchess was one of the few additions to a position which many considered the biggest need heading into the offseason. Overall, I like this pickup as a low risk, potentially high reward situation. The Packers receivers looked mediocre when Adams went down, and if the Packers can get production out of Funchess, they could be scary on offense.
The Packers traded up to pick 26 from pick 30 to acquire Jordan Love which is a move that I don’t hate, and I think that puts me in the minority in this debate. This is not a win now move which is likely what upsets most of those who hated the pick. There are some similarities between the Favre-Rodgers situation and the Rodgers-Love situation, but they aren’t 1-1. Love is a rough diamond that will require some time before he can shine, which isn’t bad because he won’t be expected to start any time soon. At the earliest we could see Love step into the starting role in two year, but that would mean that Rodgers would be out of the picture with years left on his contract. In terms of immediate impact (this year) I don’t see Love having any impact whatsoever.
Matt LaFleur’s new Derrick Henry
At the end of the second round the Packers selected one of my favorite backs in the entire draft, AJ Dillon. Dillon has similar traits to a former Matt LaFleur back, Derrick Henry who had a spectacular year in 2019. Both Henry and Dillon are big, fast and are hard runners, so it isn’t strange to see the allure of bringing Dillon into the fold. I should clarify that I only compare Henry and Dillon due to style, not expected production. Immediately I expect Dillon to become the goal line back for the Packers, which should help an already effective red zone team (67.8 red zone % in 2019). The interesting part about this is that both Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams are on contract year. It would shock me if the Packers simply let Aaron Jones walk after the production, he had last season, but I do expect the Packers to let Jamal Williams walk. However, looking at their recent signing trends the Packers seem to enjoy finding value at key positions. Avoiding a big running back contract could fit that value trend. Dillon is my favorite immediate impact selection of the draft.
The Packers third selection was Josiah Deguara who will play a mix of FB/TE for the Packers. Matt LaFleur has said that he wants to use Deguara the same way that the 49ers use Kyle Juszczyk. I do like Josiah Deguara, and if Matt LaFleur’s plan was to find a guy to play the “Juice” role he did just that with Deguara. His immediate impact could be great if he can be effective in this type of role.
The Packers selected Kamal Martin in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Martin has good size for the position and should be a solid special teams’ player. He and Preston Smith share some traits especially in their tenacity when attacking blockers on the edge. I think that Martin has the ability and versatility to play inside or out. The Packers selected Jonathan Garvin in the 7th round. Garvin has good size for an edge defender, and if he makes the team, he should provide solid depth and good special teams play. Both of these players have the chance to have an immediate impact on special teams, but Martin has a better chance to get defensive reps sooner than Garvin in my opinion.
Trench Stimulus Package
Three offensive linemen were selected by the Packers in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Jon Runyan, Jake Hanson, and Simon Stepaniak. The Packers have been plagued by a lack of depth along the offensive line in recent years, and these selections help with depth if nothing else. As far as immediate impact goes, I don’t expect any of these offensive linemen to start any time soon. The position that is most likely available would be at guard, and that is if any of these offensive linemen can supplant Billy Turner. Whether or not any of these offensive linemen start this year, the fact that the Packers have more line depth is a solid impact on its own.
Safety in the 7th Round
The Packers selected Vernon Scott in the seventh round. Scott is a raw trait-based player and if he makes the roster could provide meaningful snaps on special teams. He has good size and length for safety and has shown the versatility to play in the box in the nickel. I do not expect a great impact from Scott any time soon.
I can see why there are many who hated this draft; there weren’t a lot of “sexy” picks in this draft. I do think that the Packers walked away with some good players when all is said and done. The free agency moves were 50/50 for me, decent value but I think the Packers could’ve kept Bulaga or Martinez and they would’ve been better off. At this point I’d like to see the Packers dip into free agency to add some depth at WR, DL and DB. Overall, I wasn’t blown away by the Packers offseason, but I liked at least half of the moves.