GREEN BAY – In the aftermath of the trading deadline, a new contract for a core player and the team's current four-game losing streak, Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst spoke with the media Wednesday.
Here are five things we learned:
- Rasul Douglas wasn't actively being shopped.
Gutekunst said he wasn't looking to move any players at the trading deadline and was thinking about possibly adding a veteran on offense, but the pickings were slim on the trade market.
The Bills initiated the discussion regarding the veteran corner Douglas, and Gutekunst wasn't initially interested until Buffalo was willing to surrender a third-round draft pick. The Packers had to surrender a fifth-round pick in return for that third-rounder.
With Douglas under contract for one more season in '24, the salary cap savings next year also factored into the decision. As did the opportunity to see rookie seventh-round pick Carrington Valentine play more at cornerback, as well as 2021 first-rounder Eric Stokes when he returns from injured reserve.
But it was the draft pick rising to a third-rounder that prompted the move.
"Obviously in the short term, you lose a good player, that's tough," Gutekunst said. "But at the same time, looking kind of long term, it's going to be in our best interests.
"Anytime you get a third-round pick that's going to be within the top-100, probably going to be in the top-50 players you have on your board. That's something that was too good for us to pass up."
- The Packers are thrilled Rashan Gary will be around for several more years.
Gutekunst confirmed Gary's new contract extends four additional seasons, and the fifth-year edge rusher is viewed as both a core member of the defense and a leader in the locker room moving forward.
"Not many guys match kind of the intensity he brings," Gutekunst said. "He's really grown I think as a leader, as well. His play speaks for itself. I mean, he's on fire when he's out there and I think his best football is still ahead of him.
"He's just got so much out there for himself and I think he's going to reach whatever goals he sets."
- Nobody's happy with where the team is, but there's a dedication to staying the course of learning and improving.
At 2-5 with four straight losses and a tougher schedule ahead, the Packers are not where anybody wants them to be.
But Gutekunst expressed confidence in getting things turned around. Even though there isn't visible improvement evident in the games and the losses are starting to pile up, he believes the team is staying together and working through it the right way.
"Everybody's frustrated and they should be," he said. "We expected to perform better and the frustration level, I think throughout the building, is there. But at the same time, we believe in the process that we're doing.
"I think everybody's really got to focus in on doing their job and doing their job just a little bit better and we'll get to where we need to go. It's no fun to be in the situation we're in, but again, the belief in the people in that room – the locker room, the coaching staff and everybody in this building – is there.
- QB Jordan Love's up-and-down play isn't much different than the uneven play across the board on offense.
While Gutekunst said the next 10 games will provide ample time to evaluate Love and his future prospects as a franchise QB, he admitted the evaluation is difficult right now because the first halves of games have been such a struggle, and there are issues well beyond any QB's control.
"When we're not clicking, it's tough to evaluate anything," he said.
He likes the way he's seen Love respond to the tough times and lead the team, helping keep it together to forge ahead. This is a major stretch of adversity, and he sees a quarterback as well as an entire locker room fighting to turn the tide.
"Every day in practice, seeing how these guys work … how they're leaning on each other, that will give this group an ability to move forward and have success in the future," Gutekunst said. "They've got to do it. It's easy to talk about it; they've got to do it. But the expectation is that they will."
- The message being emphasized is youth is not a crutch to excuse poor play, and the remaining 10 games are crucial.
The vast majority of the Packers' receivers and tight ends are rookies or second-year players, and only one starter on the offensive line is not on his initial contract. But the group should be playing better than it is.
"I know everybody talks a little bit about our team being young. We're seven games in," Gutekunst said. "That whole young thing's out the window, right? They're professional football players, there's expectations and we're not shying away from that."
The defense has some, though not as many, spots being manned by young players as well, and disappointingly that side of the ball remains just as inconsistent as it was last year.
The expectations were for better results to this point. Gutekunst said that several times. Young or old players, the team simply needs to improve fundamentally to achieve positive outcomes, and the only way to do that is for everyone to keep plugging away and focus on themselves.
"We've got to become more efficient and we have to become more sound on both sides of the ball; special teams, as well," he said. "I think when we do that, as that thing grows, then the results – not only wins and losses but offensively and defensively – will come.
"I don't think there's any one specific thing. I think it's just everybody getting a little bit better at what they're doing and not worrying about what everybody else is doing."