Packers GM has rebuttal for concerns about free agency inactivity

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Zach Kruse
·2 min read
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Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst used the re-signings of several elite players as the primary reason for the team’s inactivity during free agency.

The Packers have made just one outside addition, signing long snapper Joe Fortunato, but Gutekunst was mostly hand-cuffed financially in free agency after agreeing to new deals for running back Aaron Jones, left tackle David Bakhtiari and defensive tackle Kenny Clark – all players that would have been unrestricted free agents following the 2020 season – over the last year.

“This year, the way I look at is we were able to sign the No. 1 running back on the market, the No. 1 left tackle on the market, and the No. 1 defensive tackle on the market. They just happened to all play for us, which is great. Kudos to Ted Thompson there. I thought we were very active,” Gutekunst said.

Gutekunst referenced Thompson, the late Packers general manager who drafted all three future Pro Bowlers during his time running the team. Instead of letting Jones, Bakhtiari or Clark reach free agency and potentially leave Green Bay, Gutekunst signed all three to lucrative multi-year deals worth $210 million total.

Jones agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal on the day before the legal tampering period. Bakhtiari signed a record-breaking $92 million extension during the 2020 season, and Clark agreed to a $70 million extension during training camp last summer.

This offseason, the Packers focused all available cap resources on maintaining last year’s roster. In addition to re-signing Jones, the Packers also brought back cornerback Kevin King, tight end Marcedes Lewis, defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster and safety Will Redmond after the start of the new league year.

Fortunato, who will battle Hunter Bradley for the long-snapping job, is the only free agent signed from outside the organization so far. The Packers could dip into the free-agent pool after the draft and once the team creates more cap space with expected contract restructures.

Gutekunst already restructured the contracts of seven veteran players this offseason, pushing cap dollars to future years in exchange for the financial flexibility to re-sign in-house free agents.

“We certainly did a lot, maybe outside what we normally do as far as pushing money forward to keep this team together and make another run,” Gutekunst said.

List

All the moves the Packers made to get under the salary cap to start 2021