In the present, the move has obvious ramifications for player and team: Douglas goes from a sinking 2-5 team to one of the top contenders in the AFC, while the struggling Packers lose a valuable player and leader at a premium position on defense.
General manager Brian Gutekunst completed the trade Tuesday to help build for the future. The Packers are going nowhere fast in 2023, and Douglas, who turned 29 years old in August, probably wasn’t going to be a part of the franchise’s next winning window. Gutekunst sold off a piece now, when the Packers are down but Douglas’ value is still high, in hopes of bettering his position down the road.
The trade improved Green Bay’s existing draft capital in 2024 and will provide some salary cap relief now and next year.
Per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers traded Douglas and a fifth-round pick to the Bills for a third-round pick. In other words, the Packers improved their fifth-round pick to a third-round pick. Given the trajectory of the two teams, the pick in the third round will likely be late in the round; the pick in the fifth round will likely be early in the round. While the Packers turned a Day 3 pick into a Day 2 pick, it’s possible the trade will net the team nothing more than 40-50 spots in the draft order next year.
By next April, the Packers will have a first-round pick (possibly top 10 or higher), two second-round picks (one as a result of the Aaron Rodgers trade) and two third-round picks, plus whatever the team is awarded in compensatory picks (see: Allen Lazard).
The salary cap is also a factor.
Per Ken Ingalls, trading Douglas now will save the Packers almost $900,000 on the salary cap this year and another $6.5 million in savings on the 2024 cap, even if the trade will also result in a $5.1 million dead money cap hit.
In the present, players still in Matt LaFleur’s locker room must accept the reality. The Packers, losers of four straight games, are admitting defeat in 2023 and beginning the recalibration for 2024. But there are still 10 games to play, including a difficult four-game stretch after hosting the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and jobs are on the line for players and coaches. Can LaFleur keep the team together? Trading Douglas weakens the defense, which has underperformed but was still considered a strength of the roster. Things could get even more ugly in Green Bay in November and December.