The Green Bay Packers loss to the Buffalo Bills yesterday, as well as their struggles this season are a culmination of the state of this roster due to Brian Gutekunst’s roster management. He has easily made a name for himself as one of the worst general managers in the league and as such it is time for him to be fired and a new person to take over as General Manager for the Green Bay Packers.
Brian Gutekunst started his front office career with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1998, serving as a scouting assistant for them. After 1998 he got a job with the Packers as a college scout, with a focus on the east coast of the country. He served in this position until 2012 when he was promoted to Director of college scouting. In 2016 and ‘17 Gutekunst served as the Packers Director of player personnel. Following this stint he was chosen as the internal candidate to replace the long time General Manager Ted Thompson. As such Gutekunst has served as General Manager for the Packers since 2018.
His first two years as General Manager felt different for fans at first. Gone was the ultra conservative, no free agency approach of Ted Thompson. In 2018 Gute spent actual money on free agents like TE Jimmy Graham and DT Muhammad Wilkerson. Gute was also very aggressive in the draft, trading down and then back up to secure CB Jaire Alexander. These additions did very little to help the 2018 Packers as Mike McCarthy was still head coach. Towards the end of the season McCarthy was fired. Following the abysmal 6-9-1 finish the Packers entered the offseason with picks 12 and 30 in the NFL Draft. After hiring offensive guru Matt LaFleur, the Offensive Coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, the team went into a partial rebuild, maintaining its high caliber quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers spent big money in free agency, targeting edge rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, as well as safety Adrian Amos and versatile offensive lineman Billy Turner. Entering the draft Brian Gutekunst spent the 12th pick in the draft on another edge rusher to develop behind the Smith brothers in Rashan Gary. A polarizing prospect in the draft, Gary had the tape of a top end prospect but not the production. Following this Gute was very aggressive in trading up to pick 21, giving up two fourths in order to secure safety Darnell Savage Jr. Entering day two of the draft Gute drafted another versatile offensive lineman in Elgton Jenkins as well as TE Jace Sternberger to sit behind TE’s Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis. While these first two years for the Packers were not perfect, this team was entering a partial rebuild, so they needed to address many issues. 2020 is when major problems started to shine through with Brian Gutekunst.
In the Packers first year under Matt LaFleur the team made the NFC Championship game after winning 13 games. They got absolutely slaughtered in this game and with Aaron Rodgers and the team being so close, the expectation is Brian Gutekunst would address the major problems that held this team back, notably at linebacker and wide receiver. The Packers held very little cap space entering free agency. They eventually signed a veteran tackle in Rick Wagner, a phenomenal move to secure depth along the offensive line. They also signed veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey, a stopgap for a much larger issue at the center of the defense. They had one other signing as well. Following 2019 the Packers needed major help at wide receiver opp;osite of Adams. Most notably they needed somebody that could actually catch footballs and separate. Instead they signed Devin Funchess, somebody who was just moved to tight end!!! Funchess signed a one year 2.2 million dollar deal with incentives that could boost it up to six million. You know who could have filled that role in the way the Packers needed who also signed similar deals? Demarcus Robinson, Damire Byrd and Nelson Agholor. Free agent receivers were thin in 2020, but the team could have at least pursued someone who filled the role they needed. Then enter the 2020 draft. The team drafts its next potential quarterback in Jordan Love. A move that was baffling after just making the championship game, but as the most valuable position in the league, securing a future is always important. Enter day two. The team still needed linebackers, receivers, and defensive lineman. Instead they drafted a backup running back and a glorified fullback. These two picks specifically, have played a major part in the role of this team not being very good today. An absolutely fireable offense as in the year 2020 the team felt going back to ‘80’s style roster management was a good idea. The team eventually added a linebacker, but no defensive lineman or wide receivers. Never wide receivers with Gute.
The 2020 season finished with the Packers so close to a superbowl appearance. Hampering the team throughout the season was its porous secondary and again, lack of a real number two wide receiver. The team had virtually no money, its biggest addition being veteran tackle Dennis Kelly. They also signed lineback De’Vondre Campbell to a one year deal to be another stop gap at linebacker (this was prior to his breakout in which he was not very good.) But you want to know why they had no money? They chose to re-sign corner Kevin King and re-sign RB Aaron Jones to a big deal. They chose to pay money to a RB. In the year 2021. After spending a premium pick on one in 2020. Fire Brian Gutekunst. This was HORRIBLE management. That Jones money could have been used to help resign C Corey Linsley. Jones had a cap hit of 4.4 million in 2021. That money could have secured the team Tyrell Williams, John Brown, Josh Reynolds, OBJ, Damire Byrd, Kalif Raymond or if they tried a bit hard enough to be flexible, Emmanuel Sanders or Marvin Jones. Any of these players would have provided a real boost to the passing game. Entering the draft the team took a flier on a fast corner in Erik Stokes the first night of the draft. Entering day two the team needed receiver help and a starting center. They picked Josh Meyers,when unanimously considered better prospect Creed Humphry was taken one pick later. Humphrey by the way has been elite since being drafted by the Chiefs. The team then traded up for a receiver finally in Amari Rodgers. Too little too late, but they did at least land somebody. He was the only receiver they took that draft though.
2022 offseason. Gutekunst commits major money to QB Aaron Rodgers, this potentially shutting the window on Jordan Love. Why? Why spend a first round pick on someone you will not commit to? This right here is another example of a fireable offensive. Then the team traded away it’s one good receiver in Davante Adams and also lost their only speed in Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Entering the draft the team had two firsts and two seconds. Perfect to land a starting receiver corp plus add to the rest of the team. Instead Gute spent his first round picks on a third round linebacker and a 24 year old defensive tackle who cannot see the field. They then packaged both of their seconds to move up and secure a raw athlete at receiver in Christoan Watson. That’s fine if you at least have someone else but they didn’t! The team also spent fourth and seventh round picks on receivers in addition to assigning veteran Sammy Watkins. Not exactly a super bowl caliber crew, and most definitely not one that gives Jordan Love help if he will ever take over.
In summation, Brian Gutekunst has mismanaged free agency, ignored one of the most valuable positions in the league at wide receiver, wasted premium picks on non valuable positions and drafted a quarterback in the first who he has since not committed to. It is time for Brian Gutekunst to go. This team’s championship window is shut, entirely due to his roster management the last few years. Also, something that I feel deserves mentioning. This team saw the conservative management of Ted Thompson and decided that they wanted his understudy? This also lies on the shoulders of Mark Murphy.
Potential Replacement Candidates:
Malik Boyd – Senior Director of Pro Personnel for the Buffalo Bills
Brandon Hunt – Director of Scouting for the Philadelphia Eagles
Mike Borgonzi – Assistant General Manager for the Kansas City Chiefs
Trey Brown – Senior Personnel Executive for the Cincinnati Bengals
Adam Peters – Assistant General Manager for the San Francisco 49ers