If anything, Brian Gutekunst has put his stamp on the Green Bay Packers this offseason. Whether he succeeds or fails is still anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t get much bolder than trading away the best receiver in the NFL, Davante Adams, in the same offseason in which you offer your four-time MVP quarterback a record-setting extension.
Those were blockbuster moves by Gutekunst and the Packers, and they’re worthy of the headlines. The man they call “Gutey” has done some excellent work within the margins and on deals with some less-than-big-name players this offseason as well, though.
These four moves, in no particular order, have been significant for Green Bay although they haven’t caught as many headlines.
Tight end Robert Tonyan Jr. is back with the Green Bay Packers
Robert Tonyan Jr. is back on a “prove-it” deal, and he certainly has much to prove.
Is he the player who took the NFL by storm in 2020 by catching 11 touchdown passes? Or is he the underwhelming yet athletic tight end who averaged 1.3 touchdown passes caught in his other four seasons?
At the very least, he is now a veteran tight end who knows Matt LaFleur’s system and has the trust of Rodgers, and that’s extremely valuable for the Pack.
Tonyan first has to prove that he can come back from a significant ACL tear he suffered in November of 2021. He then has to prove he can once again be a double-digit touchdown tight end.
He’ll be back on a one-year deal that includes a voidable second year, which will help Green Bay’s salary cap situation this offseason.
Bringing back Rasul Douglas is huge for the Packers
Rasul Douglas came out of nowhere in 2021 to become Green Bay’s biggest playmaker on defense. It was quite a surprise given the fact that the Packers picked him up off the Arizona Cardinals practice squad midway through the year.
However the magic happened; Douglas quickly gelled with the Packers as he stepped into the role vacated by an injured Jaire Alexander. He notched five interceptions, including two pick-sixes, in just 12 games.
With Alexander coming back from injury and soon to be second-year cornerback Eric Stokes coming off an impressive rookie campaign, Douglas appeared to be destined to leave in free agency where he would be able to parlay his great season for the biggest payday of his career.
Somehow and someway, Gutekunst was able to finagle a contract that worked for Douglas (three years, $21 million) and now the Packers should have one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL next season.
Douglas’ last contract was worth less than a million before he was released by the Las Vegas Raiders, so good on him for showing out with the Packers and getting paid.
It’s a win-win for both parties.
Randall Cobb accepting a smaller salary is a big win for the Packers
This seems like such a small contract move because it was. With that said, the fact that Randall Cobb took a $5.375 million pay-cut this offseason is huge.
For the Packers, it freed up some valuable money. For Cobb, it gives him one more chance to try to end his career with a Super Bowl win with his good buddy, Aaron Rodgers.
Having Cobb is even more important now that Adams is gone, though, because he’ll now be the veteran statesman of the wide receiver room. With a few talented rookie wideouts likely to join the Packers through the draft, having a crafty veteran like Cobb who knows the ropes in Green Bay will prove to be invaluable for the Pack.
Brian Gutekunst and the Packers were able to re-sign De’Vondre Campbell
Re-signing De’Vondre Campbell was easily the biggest thing the Packers have accomplished this offseason outside of getting the 2022 first and second-round picks in from the Las Vegas Raiders in return for Adams.
Had Campbell been allowed to walk out the door, Green Bay would have been basically restarting at middle linebacker, which would have been a huge loss for a defense that was borderline elite in 2021.
Campbell was the leader of that unit as he vastly exceeded the expectations en route to an All-Pro season. Not only did he make big plays when the Packers needed him to, but he also called plays for the defense with first-year defensive coordinator Joe Barry in his ear.
It seems like a small detail, but the continuity of having Campbell back with the green dot could end up being huge for the Packers in 2022 and beyond.
Campbell had a season worthy of a significant contract and for a while it seemed as if Green Bay wasn’t going to be able to afford him. The fact that Gutekunst was able to bring him back on a five-year, $50 million contract extension is nothing short of magic.
Campbell deserved $10 million a year, and he got it from the team he proved right when they took a chance on him.
It’s a feel-good story if there ever was one.