Green Bay Packers: GM Gutekunst Looking Like a Genius for Letting Free Agents Leave
While free agency can be a quick fix for NFL teams, sometimes knowing who not to sign can be just as effective. This includes a team's own players, even when there is fan protest. Green Bay Packers' General Manager Brian Gutekunst did a lot of that this off season, due in no small part to limited cap space. However, based on the way those lost free agents are performing with their new teams, that decision seems to be one of genius despite opinions that were expressed at the time.
Here's a look at their biggest losses from the off season.
Allen Lazard - This was arguably Gutekunst's biggest roll of the dice this off season because Lazard was the team's number one guy in 2022 and the remaining receivers lacked experience. Lazard would sign a 4-year, $44 million contract with the New York Jets, hoping to continue playing with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers, of course, got hurt in the first game of the season and Lazard's numbers suffered to the point he was a healthy inactive for the Jets' most recent game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Meanwhile, the Packers' young receivers are beginning to develop into playmakers. It's worth noting the entire Packers' receiving corps is being paid less this year combined than what Lazard is being paid.
Dean Lowry - While a popular player, the decision not to sign Lowry was as much about depth on the defensive line as it was money. That said, it's unlikely the Packers even considered paying him close to the 2-year, $8.5 million contract he received from the Minnesota Vikings. After recording 14 tackles and no sacks in 9 games, he was placed on injured reserve following the Vikings' loss to the Denver Broncos last week.
Jarran Reed - Much like Lowry, the Packers' depth on the defensive line contributed to letting Reed walk away after just one season and sign with the Seattle Seahawks for 2 years and $9 million. He's been relatively successful compared to the previous two on this list, playing in all 11 games and recording 34 tackles and 4 sacks.
Robert Tonyan - This was another risky move by Gutekunst because, like receiver, the Packers didn't have a lot of experience at tight end without him, though you could also argue his time in Green Bay was also inconsistent and he likely would have ended up buried on the depth chart this year. Tonyan also seems to be failing to live up to the 1-year, $2.65 million contract the Chicago Bears gave him, catching just seven passes in 11 games and only being targeted nine times.
Adrian Amos - Green Bay didn't have a lot of depth at safety and Amos had been a consistent playmaker for them. However, his age (30) and recent decline were likely a factor. He was signed by the New York Jets to a 1-year deal worth up to $4 million and his 23 tackles through 11 games are far below the stats he had when he was a Packers player last season.
Randall Cobb - At one point, Cobb was the go-to guy for Green Bay, but age and injury caught up to him. However, after parting ways with him a few years ago, the Packers brought him back mostly to keep Rodgers happy and, with Rodgers no longer in Green Bay, letting him leave in free agency was expected. Like others on this list, the aging veteran signed a 1-year, $3 million contract with the Jets, reuniting him with Rodgers. He has played in seven games and recorded 3 receptions for 20 yards.
Marcedes Lewis - Once again, we have a guy who was arguably only still with the Packers in 2022 because of Rodgers and despite rumors he would follow Rodgers to New York, he signed a 1-year, $2 million contract with the Bears instead. While an argument could be made regarding his blocking ability and experience, Lewis was never a major offensive weapon for Green Bay and the quick development of Tucker Kraft and Luke Musgrave have made both Lewis and Tonyan's losses a moot point. It's also worth noting he only has two catches for three yards with the Bears this season, despite playing in all 11 games so far.
Mason Crosby - To be honest, I was shocked no other team was interested in the Packers' long-time kicker. The decision to move on from Crosby was solely a salary cap thing, I think, because his accuracy didn't seem to be in decline, though his leg wasn't as strong as it used to be. The jury is still out on Packers' draft pick Anders Carlson, but the fact Crosby remains unsigned by any other team as well is a good indication the Packers decision wasn't wrong.