Last month, Acme Packing Company writers ranked the Green Bay Packers roster from 90-1. Those individual Packers selected in the top 10 undoubtedly carry a great deal of importance to the team’s overall success. But what would their value be to teams outside of the Packers’ organization?
If each of the players ranked 10-6 were to be traded on the open market, what would the Packers receive in return? Would their current value to the team outweigh the future incentive of auctioning them off in the first place?
In the first section of a two-part series, let’s take a look at the possible trade return value for each of these players in terms of draft picks.
10. Clay Matthews
Matthews, who has recorded the third-most career sacks in Packers history, has been an incredible asset to the franchise since joining the team in 2009. Although he has posted double-digit sack totals in four seasons during his career and was a key cog in Green Bay’s Super Bowl run, Matthews has only accumulated 11.5 sacks over the past two seasons. With age (31) and a slip in production adding concern to a troublesome history of injuries, it’s difficult to assess Matthews’ open market value. Yet, his motor and tireless work ethic have always put Matthews among the game’s best and most respected pass rushers.
While there haven’t been many trades of pass rushers to compare, the New England Patriots traded Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 after Jones reached the Pro Bowl and was entering the final season of his contract. The Patriots received a former first round pick in guard Jonathan Cooper and a future second round pick in return for the then-26 year old. Just two drafts ago, the Chicago Bears also moved up two spots in the first round to grab Leonard Floyd, giving up a fourth round pick in the process. True pass rushers are a premium in today’s NFL and Matthews still meets that title.
Final Thought: 3rd and 7th round picks
9. Martellus Bennett
As substantial an addition as he appears on paper, it’s still unknown how much of a difference Bennett will bring to the Packers’ offense. MartysaurusRex, as his Twitter handle boasts, recently turned 30 but has been a reliable all-around tight end and dynamic third down and red zone option. The three-year, $21 million contract he signed in March proved Bennett to be a higher value on the open market than Jared Cook, another respected receiving weapon. Still, Bennett has only three seasons of more than 700 receiving yards in his nine-year career.
There have been a few tight ends traded in recent history to gauge. In 2008, right around the time receiving tight ends were rising in popularity, Jeremy Shockey was dealt from the New York Giants to the New Orleans Saints for second and fifth round picks after six excellent seasons. The following season, Kellen Winslow Jr. was traded for second and fifth round picks after four up and down years. Two years later, the Bears traded fourth-year pro Greg Olsen for a third round pick despite never posting a season of more than 612 receiving yards. In more recent memory, the Patriots acquired Dwayne Allen and a sixth round pick from the Indianapolis Colts for a fourth rounder.
Of course, Bennett himself was traded just two years ago from Chicago to New England for a fourth round pick and his value remains about the same.
Final Thought: 4th round pick
8. Bryan Bulaga
Entering his eighth season, Bulaga has been a consistent, arguably top five, right tackle for the Packers when healthy. In an offense featuring a top quarterback, Bulaga’s ability to pass protect at a high level is significant to the team’s success. While left tackles receive hefty salaries and notoriety in the NFL, more and more teams are beginning to invest in the right side as well. Although Green Bay has Jason Spriggs in waiting, Bulaga still is a critical piece of the offensive line.
With a torn ACL and hip injury in his past, Bulaga is a difficult 28-year old tackle to assess. Ryan Clady was traded by the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets around the same age with labrum and foot injuries in his medical history, as well as a torn ACL in the season prior to the trade. Although Clady had received four Pro Bowl nods by that time and Bulaga has not yet been to one, there may be some similarity in value. In the trade, the Broncos sent Clady and a seventh round pick to the Jets for a fifth rounder. One could argue that Bulaga, having demonstrated he was able to bounce back from the knee injury, could hold higher value, especially in light of Greg Robinson recently being traded from the Los Angeles Rams to the Detroit Lions for a sixth round pick. The established Bulaga is much more valuable than that to the Packers and other teams around the league.
Final Thought: 4th and 6th round picks
7. Morgan Burnett
Burnett has truly become an integral member of the Packers’ secondary with the stability and experience he brings at safety, not to mention his leadership. Burnett, who has covered tight ends and the slot in a pinch, leaves big shoes for the Packers’ backup safeties to fill when injured and has formed a great partnership with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the back end.
In 2014, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shipped Mark Barron to the Rams for fourth and sixth round picks. Barron, just three years into the league and under the age of 25, had only intercepted three passes in 37 starts prior to the trade. Burnett, now 28, has nine interceptions and seven forced fumbles over 90 starts. Barron shifted to a rangy linebacker/safety hybrid role with the Rams and another team may be able to see the ability for Burnett to do the same while still being a competent safety in the short-term.
The Buccaneers also traded Dashon Goldson to the Washington Redskins in 2015 as Goldson hit the age-30 mark and his production slipped from the massive contract he had signed two years prior. The Bucs received a sixth round pick, much like the Kansas City Chiefs received a fifth round pick for special teams ace and backup safety Kelcie McCray a few months later. Burnett holds much more league value than both of those players.
Final Thought: 4th and 5th round picks
6. Nick Perry
While Perry received a jump in pay this offseason for his ability to get to the quarterback when healthy, health remains a significant concern. Although he’s totaled 23.5 sacks over his five seasons in the league, 11 came last season alone. Still, a 27-year old that has seemingly made the complete transition from college defensive end to stand-up edge rusher, Perry’s strength and athleticism is enticing when looking toward the future.
The high end of a trade for a pass rusher at Perry’s age is the deal the Minnesota Vikings made for Jared Allen, sending a first round pick and two third round picks to the Chiefs. Allen, who had 43 sacks over four seasons for the Chiefs, held significantly more value back then than Perry holds right now.
Perry’s value probably lies between Allen and edge rusher Kony Ealy. Ealy was traded along with a third round pick (pick 72) from Carolina to the Patriots for a second round pick (pick 64) this offseason. That trade would appear to give Ealy a standalone fourth round trade value. Ealy had 14 sacks in three seasons with Carolina and may have had incredible value after his three-sack performance in Super Bowl 50 that is comparable to Perry’s standout season a year ago. Yet, after just five sacks a season ago, Ealy’s stock has fallen. Right now, the blossoming former first round pick Perry has a sky-high stock and plays a highly desired position.
Final Thought: 3rd and 4th round picks