Inbox: Roster building is ongoing

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Matt from Waunakee, WI

What’s new at 1265 today?

I came back to work from a long weekend. Otherwise? Oh, right. All that. Well, nothing will be official until 3 p.m. CT today, at the earliest, but I will do my best to comment where I can.

Derrick from Rockaway, NJ

So where were you this time?

I was actually here. Can you believe it? As I said earlier this winter, it truly is a new era.

Scott from New Orleans, LA

You have to love that Gutekunst has been true to his word about free agency! Hopefully these moves work out and the Packers can add depth and quality in the draft. After addressing what was perceived as their biggest needs, where does he head from here?

Having reportedly plugged holes at edge rusher (x2), safety and offensive line, he’s put himself back in a spot where he can honestly approach the draft with a BAP mentality, to build for the future, and the only immediate need that would strongly swing a tiebreaker might be tight end. He’s also back in a spot where if he covets a player in the draft’s top 10, he could package pick 12 with either 30 or 44 and secure that player. I’m not advocating for it or saying he will, but it seems like a more viable option now if he feels strongly enough about a certain guy. You mentioned Gutekunst being true to his word. There’s a reason the first story I wrote from the combine two weeks ago, after we heard from Gutekunst, focused on what he said regarding free agency. He said many of the same things he said a year ago, and sounded even more enthusiastic about it. I took him at his word. He had a plan whose wheels were already fully in motion.

Graham from Dartford, UK

Good morning. With the amount of signings we (apparently, at time of writing this) have I was wondering if this affects the plan BG has for the draft? Does it take the pressure off of finding a pass rusher (or two) and help possibly take someone to help on the offensive side of the ball? Personally, the two players I would like to see drop are Metcalf or Devin White. I doubt they will but the draft is full of surprises. Happy Wednesday guys.

After processing the flurry of moves, my mind for the draft went immediately to LSU’s Devin White. Not sure why or how, it just did.

Steve from Wabasha, MN

Kudos to Cyler for calling the signing of Za'Darius Smith, but can he channel Gute in the draft?

Cyler might want to buy a lottery ticket or put down a bet for April 25. Spanish Fork, UT, isn’t too far from Vegas, right?

Take a look at photos of Packers K Mason Crosby from the 2018 season.

Joe from Asbury, IA

I was hoping they'd get Preston Smith before the craze started, wasn't expecting all that happened though. I know contracts aren't signed yet, but looking at the reported deals what might the cap look like now?

No way to know until the full structure of the deals is available. The Packers will need to save a chunk for the draft class, so it’s difficult to envision much being left for 2019, but there could be some. Often the cap hits are bigger in the second year than the first, per the structure.

David from Minneapolis, MN

Hi Spoff, was super excited when I heard the news about signing Amos and the two Smiths...and then I saw the price tag and am super nervous. We handed out an average annual salary north of $16 million (fifth highest for an edge rusher) to someone who has never had a nine-sack year. Fackrell has more sacks than him. Tell me we didn’t just destroy our cap for years to come.

The cap isn’t destroyed if the players perform. But they have to perform. I’m seeing a lot of questions about the money being shelled out for the edge rushers. As soon as the signings are official, we’ll have some “Five things to know” postings on these guys, but I’ll give you a little statistical research in advance. I don’t take Pro Football Focus as the bible, but it can provide valid comparisons. PFF combines sacks, hits and hurries into one category – pressures. For 2018, PFF had Za’Darius Smith with 60 pressures in 691 snaps, most of any player in the league playing less than 700 snaps. Preston Smith was credited with 53. The Packers’ leaders in pressures last year were both on the interior, Clark (46) and Daniels (32), and they missed a combined nine games. Matthews led the Packers on the edge with 30.

Jon from Green Bay, WI

What are the positives and negatives of releasing Nick Perry without a post-June 1 designation?

The positive and negative are the same – the dead money accelerates and all counts against the cap this year. That means less cap room now, but it gets done and over with and doesn’t affect next year.

Scot from West Palm Beach, FL

Talk about making a splash in FA. Do they have any money left to sign Breeland, Allison and Wilkerson?

The Packers only need to tender Allison, a restricted free agent, a one-year offer to maintain right of first refusal should he get an offer elsewhere, but a robust market for him seems unlikely given the injuries he’s coming back from. Breeland and Wilkerson, both unrestricted, are much harder to gauge now. You can’t afford everybody.

Luc from St. Thomas, Canada

Holy reported signings, Batman! Obviously no guarantee they pan out, but so far I'm even more excited for next year than I was before!

Dick Grayson makes his Inbox debut, and I couldn’t be prouder. I use that line all the time, even though no one I ever talk to seems to get it.

Doug from Freedom, WI

So will the complaints regarding lack of activity in free agency now stop?

This is what you can do when in a given year you don’t have any of your own as major re-signing priorities. The 2015 draft, which is the class hitting free agency this year, is the first one in a long while for the Packers that did not include at least one player getting a significant second contract.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

I don't envy you guys today. I hope you don't get whiplash going from all the "Green Bay isn't doing enough to win right now!" takes to all the "Green Bay is spending too much money!" takes.

No one is complaining, but these signings have to pay off for the Packers, plain and simple. No different than when re-signing your own to a pricey deal, the player has to live up to it or you’re right back in the same spot again.

David from Minneapolis, MN

Let's say hypothetically all of the Packers’ perceived needs are met through free agency; for example, two edge rushers, one free safety and one O-lineman. Which can't-miss BAP might still be available at pick 12 that can't be passed on, meaning no trading out of it?

I just don’t kneaux.

Gene from Anderson, IN

Hey guys, so the hunt has started and it's reported the Pack will sign four free agents out of the box. Don't know if the fans will consider that aggressive enough but it's a lot more than in previous seasons. Here's my question; which team(s) in the last several years have made the biggest splash in free agency that also vaulted them into the playoffs or to a Super Bowl victory? Just asking...

You saw what the Rams did last year, right? Yes, they still came up short, because there are no guarantees in this league. But the Packers’ aggression in free agency speaks to the amount of work this roster needed when the season ended. I don’t think I ever equivocated on that, and the draft is yet to come. This level of early activity is still surprising to me, because it’s practically historic for Green Bay. It also speaks to something else – that last year’s approach to free agency wasn’t going to cut it again. Look at the ages of the free agents being signed this year compared to those from last year (Graham, Lewis, Wilkerson, Williams, Bell). This year’s aren’t late-career players filling a gap. They’re being signed for the present and future, if they work out.

Michael from Pewaukee, WI

Vic always seemed cautious of expensive free agents. I wonder if he stopped his mower because he sensed a disturbance in the universe.

Vic never covered a Packers team whose roster was in this sort of offseason shape. He covered five teams that all went to the playoffs.

Scott from Milwaukee, WI

Wes, I just found out you went to Bay Port and graduated in 2006. I went to Xavier and got thrown out of a basketball tournament in 2005 for fighting a kid from Bay Port. WAS IT YOU ALL THIS TIME WES?!?!

The image of Wes throwin’ down in a high school gym to defend his turf is too good. Way too good.

Jared from Evanston, IL

That's a lot of money we are reportedly giving some players in the first 2 years of their contracts. What is a positive to front-loading a contract, and what is a negative?

It’s all about spacing out the cap charges in a palatable way, and giving yourself an opportunity to move on without crippling the cap with dead money if things don’t work out. A potential second contract soon for a player like Kenny Clark is factored in as well. The only downside to absorbing so much under the cap early is if injury strikes, and then the amount of guaranteed money beyond the signing bonus and first year are what matter.

Dean from Orlando, FL

Busy day? Guess Pack fans shouldn’t expect any comp picks next year.

Uh, no.

Richard from Greenwich, NY

Hi guys, just wondering if the three FAs picked up, the Smiths and Amos, have any history with the Packers’ coaching staff.

Preston Smith’s position coach in Washington was Kirk Olivadotti, who will coach inside linebackers in Green Bay but can obviously fill in Mike Smith with some background. Wow, just realized there will be three guys with the same last name in one meeting room. That’s a first.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

I can't wait for the first time next season the Smith brothers meet at the QB and make him cough up the football. Get it?

You can see yourself out.

The free community event, focused on getting kids out of the house to enjoy non-strenuous physical activity, took place Saturday, Feb. 23, on the Lambeau Field Atrium's main floor and fourth floor.

Kelly from Kimballton, IA

So, what is the greatest position of need now?

I still see the primary needs as the same – edge rusher, tight end, offensive line, safety – but their immediacy has changed, so they’re prioritized differently now. I still maintain tight end must be addressed for the future, because of the development the position requires. Another safety is needed, but there haven’t appeared to be first-rounders at that spot anyway. Right tackles don’t grow on trees, and Bulaga is entering the final year of his contract. The best defenses can rotate several effective pass rushers. Another running back and receiver are still on the radar. Roster building is ongoing. Overall, the benefit is hopefully the Packers won’t have to ask their draft picks to step in and be three-down, high-impact players right away. It would be a bonus, of course, but when it’s not an absolute necessity, it helps.

Bob from Springfield, IL

In response to Dale from Prescott, WI...you should never put your wiper blades up. I am a mechanic and I have seen multiple times people put their wiper blades up and the wind blows hard enough to blow them back down and crack the windshield. Thanks Insiders. Keep up the great work.

Duly noted.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Just whoa. I hope there’s enough money still left to pay both Spoff and Wes!

Seniority has its privileges.

Reid from Woodbury, MN

How comical to read overreactions about Gute's inactivity while now knowing how Tuesday morning played out. As Wes said, he may have been walking quietly, but he was indeed walking!

Cue Dustin Hoffman. Make it a great Wednesday, everyone.

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