Packers have flexibility this offseason to add impact players if opportunity strikes

With impressive draft capital and an improving salary cap situation, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst will have added flexibility this offseason when it comes to adding to the roster.

Cap-wise, the Packers aren’t in a great position by any means, but it is much improved compared to last offseason with Aaron Rodgers’ contract now completely off the books.

Over the Cap currently projects that the Packers are $2.8 million over the projected 2024 salary cap. According to Ken Ingalls, who independently tracks the Packers salary cap situation, the team will need to create roughly $30 million in additional cap space to cover normal operating expenses, such as signing the draft class, forming the practice squad, along with having in-season reserves available, among other expenses.

That $30 million figure doesn’t include any outside free agent additions either. It’s not as if the Packers can go on a spending spree, but they have the means to create this space that doesn’t completely involve spending future cap space through contract restructures.

“I think we’re getting to a little bit better spot than we have been in the past,” said Gutekunst on Thursday about spending in free agency. “It’s never perfect, but I do feel that whatever opportunities are out there to improve our team in free agency, that we’ll be able to do that, so I feel good about that.”

Restructure candidates include Rashan Gary, Elgton Jenkins, Aaron Jones, and Jaire Alexander. The team could also create cap space by extending Clark and releasing David Bakhtiari, De’Vondre Campbell, or Royce Newman.

Some of the major positions of need for the Packers this offseason include cornerback, safety, linebacker, running back, and bolstering the offensive line depth. Adding talent to the defensive front is never a bad idea either.

The Packers roster, as currently constructed, is already very well put together. However, with how strong the Packers finished the 2023 season, coupled with what will be lofty expectations in 2024, the Packers cap situation doesn’t limit them from adding an impact player in free agency if Gutekunst feels it puts them in a position to maximize the opportunity they have in front of them.

“I think it just depends on the player,” said Gutekunst about making a splash free agent addition. “It depends on who that is and how he can impact our football team. I don’t think we’ll shy away from adding impact players if we have to push things down the road. We’d prefer not to do that, but at the same time, this is about winning and trying to win a championship, so if that’s something that makes sense, we’ll do it.”

Along with some added flexibility in free agency, the Packers also are expected to hold 11 draft picks, including compensatory selections, with five in the top 100.

Not only the quantity of draft picks but also having several within the first two days gives the Packers the resources to move around or, as Gutekunst mentioned, even inquiring about a veteran who could be acquired via trade for some draft capital.

“I think we’ll have 11, we’re expecting around 11 total,” said Gutekunst about the total number of draft picks, “and there’s never enough for me as you guys know. We’ll probably have a little more volume at the top than we’ve had in years past. So yeah, it gives us flexibility, it allows us, whether it’s just staying and picking, trading, moving around, maybe trading those picks for other players outside, veteran players, who knows.

“It just gives us a little more flexibility. I think that along with just being in a little better cap situation and have a little more flexibility there, just gives us an ability to help the football team more. It would be nice to have five in the top three every year.”

The Packers laid a strong foundation in 2023, giving them a jumping off point into 2024 where, make no mistake about it, the expectation is to win the Super Bowl.

Step one to achieving that, as Matt LaFleur told the team, is to “attack the offseason” and know that nothing is guaranteed. But when it comes to continuing to build out an already well put together roster, whether it be through the draft, free agency or both, the flexibility and means are available for the Packers to do so, hopefully putting them in a better position to succeed.

“I think it always has been (the expectation),” said Gutekunst on winning a Super Bowl. “I don’t think it ever left. You know, with 5 minutes to go in that game, I think we were squarely thinking that’s where we were headed. So, I don’t think that’ll ever change here. I mean, that’s really the only goal. We’re not interested in much else.

“But, every year’s a different year, and the expectation, again, like I said, I don’t try to put many of them on them, but that will always be there and as we start the season, that’s what it’ll be. And it’ll take work and process and all the things that go into that to get there, but I don’t think it ever left, I don’t think  …  I know outside expectations are what they are but they’re really of no concern to us.”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire