Why Packers didn’t make a deal before NFL trade deadline

The Green Bay Packers, despite a few potential roster needs, did not make a deal before the NFL’s trade deadline arrived on Tuesday afternoon. Matt LaFleur’s team wasn’t the only one; the lead up to the deadline was mostly quiet around the league.

Why weren’t the Packers willing to make a splash? Likely a number of reasons.

Here’s a few potential reasons for why the Packers were willing to stand pat at Tuesday’s trade deadline:

Happy with the roster

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Packers are 7-1 and have won seven straight games, including a dramatic win over the previously unbeaten Arizona Cardinals last Thursday night. Is this a perfect football team? No, but the roster is deep and battle-tested, and a few important veteran acquisitions made over the last six months or so have filled in holes at key spots. Plus, injuries scattered over the roster have provided unexpected experience for others, bolstering the depth and quality at positions like offensive line, receiver and cornerback. There’s a good chance the Packers were happy with the current state of the roster and couldn’t find a reasonable trade that would have moved the needle. This team is in a good spot after eight games, and general manager Brian Gutekunst was clearly content unless a great deal fell into his lap.

Salary cap space

(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Aaron Rodgers made this argument during Tuesday’s appearance on the “Pat McAfee Show.” The Packers just don’t have the cap space to take on a big new contract, and the team has precious few avenues for creating more cap space immediately, outside of cutting players or extending Davante Adams’ contract. This was a big reason why the Packers couldn’t land Stephon Gilmore last month. Over the Cap has the Packers at about $5 million in cap space, but the functional number is less due to the team needing money to operate over the rest of the season. Any trade acquiring a veteran player with even a mid-level deal would have required the other team to eat salary for the Packers, and getting teams to agree often requires better draft pick compensation. The cap was a substantial roadblock. As much as the Packers probably wanted to make a splash, the financials of the situation were likely hard to get around. This team is somewhat maxed out for 2021.

Players returning

(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

The Rams might have made the biggest acquisition by dealing for All-Pro edge rusher Von Miller, but the Packers will return more individual talent over the next few weeks and months than any team in football. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and All-Pro receiver Davante Adams could both return this week, and there’s growing optimism that All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander and All-Pro edge rusher Za’Darius Smith will play again this season. Starters Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kevin King should also be back soon. This is a football team trending in the right direction in the health department, even if recent injuries have punched a few smaller holes in the roster overall. The return of major firepower is on the horizon.

Looking ahead

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The Packers probably could have used another pass-catching option at tight end after losing Robert Tonyan to a torn ACL, and Kylin Hill’s season-ending knee injury opened up a role as the No. 3 running back and kick returner. It will be interesting to see how the offense deals with the loss of Tonyan, who caught 13 touchdown passes and was the only real pass-catching threat at the position. Would the Packers entertain bringing back Jace Sternberger, who was cut by Washington on Thursday? Help along the defensive line or at linebacker or cornerback could have also made an impact down the stretch. The defensive line could use another disruptor and better depth, and the players behind De’Vondre Campbell at linebacker are struggling to start 2021. Will any of these potential roster holes turn out to be fatal flaws? We’ll see. Gutekunst believes his team is Super Bowl-caliber right now.