Confident at the Combine

“I think there’s a lot of great people here, and I think that  you win with people. And we’ve got to continue to bring great people in here.  ”
   That statement was made by Matt LaFleur at his introductory press conference when he became head coach of the Green Bay Packers on January 8th.  And the process of finding those employees that can improve your football product starts with evaluating college game film, continues through the scouting combine, and culminates with the draft.   Brian Gutekunst made it clear in 2018, that he was going to make as many moves as necessary to maximize the amount of picks the Packers would have over the three day festivities.  By trading down four spots with New Orleans, Green Bay not only took the Saints 1st rounder for 2019  (#30 overall)  Gutekunst was still able to select one of the top cover corners in the class with Jaire Alexander. 
   Through free agency the team brought back veteran defensive back Tramon Williams for his stability and savvy play, while bringing in Muhammad Wilkerson to bolster an already stout front on the defensive line.   Unfortunately that transaction never lived up to the hype with Wilkerson being put on injured reserve after breaking his ankle against Washington in week 3.  The biggest acquisition in terms of talent and salary, was the signing of Jimmy Graham and while he had 55 receptions for 636 yards in 2018, the 5-time Pro Bowler also tallied just 2 TD’s with several untimely drops.  Last year he signed a contract that was reportedly worth $30 million dollars over 3 years, and according to the Packers GM at the combine, it would appear he is still part of the plan moving forward.
Brian Gutekunst –  on Jimmy Graham:
“Jimmy had a productive year for us last year. He fought through a lot of things. His professionalism was on display each and every day and look forward to see what he can do for us this year.”
   Last week both LaFleur and his offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett reiterated the idea that their offense will be a little different than the system that Mike McCarthy ran, but the kind of personnel that are needed to execute it, doesn’t change much.
Gutekunst on evaluating personnel:
“No I don’t think so,” Gutekunst said. “There’s some differences in their offense and some minor things that we’ll adjust to. But we’re looking for good football players and that hasn’t changed.”
   Two of the longest tenured players on the team are free agents this season, but Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb seem to be in different positions when it comes to there football future in Green Bay.
Gutekunst on Randall Cobb: “He is one of the Packers “all-time players”. 
But the Packers GM didn’t quite expand on his status for the upcoming season 2019. Unfortunately this says volumes about Cobb not being back on the roster. Unless it’s at the league minimum salary of $930,000 plus incentives.
Gutekunst on Clay Matthews:  “He’s still playing at a very high level, and we’ll get to (a decision) over the next few weeks.”
The deadline for NFL teams to designate Franchise or Transition Players is March 5, prior to 3:00 p.m. (CT)

March 11: 11:00 a.m. (CT) clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents. 
March 13: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must exercise options,  submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents, or submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2018 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.  All 2018 player contracts will expire at 3 p.m. (CT) and the 2019 league year and free agency period begin at 3 p.m. (CT).

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