On the heels of team president Mark Murphy’s comments that the Packers and the two-time MVP have been making progress on an extension, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst addressed the elephant in the room during his press conference on Wednesday.
“I think we certainly would like to try to get it done sooner rather than later,” Gutekunst said when asked about the timing of the deal. The quarterback pay scale seems to be reset each time a top signal-caller signs a contract, but the impending free agency of Kirk Cousins does not seem to be a concern for Gutekunst. “I don’t know if there’s pressure,” he said, “not necessarily for those reasons. When you have the best player in the National Football League, it’s not going to be inexpensive.”
“Obviously, Aaron is a high priority. He’s a great player. I think that should take care of itself at some point.” That time frame is indeed in the short term, however; when asked about whether the contract should be done this offseason, Gutekunst replied “we would like it to, yes.”
Of course, the Packers have just $16.5 million in expected cap space for 2018, so freeing up some wiggle room would be important to getting that deal done. It’s important for other reasons as well, particularly the “really aggressive” approach to free agency that Gutekunst also discussed on Wednesday.
One of the means at the Packers’ disposal to free up cap room would be to do something about the contracts of Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, or Clay Matthews, all of whom have cap hits over $11 million in 2018. “It’s a big puzzle,” Gutekunst said of the veterans’ deals in relation to the cap. “As information comes in and as we get closer to the free agent time period and get through the Combine and kind of get a better feel for the draft, some of those kinds of things will come into play.”
Like his predecessor, Ted Thompson, Gutekunst isn’t giving away any of the secrets of the kingdom. “I’ll say this: we have some really good players and we don’t want to let them walk out of the door.” It would certainly appear that he feels that Nelson, Cobb, and Matthews are part of that group. However, he is realistic about the challenges facing the team: “There’s restraints, and every decision kind of affects something else.”
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst speaks live at the Scouting Combine:Posted by Acme Packing Company on Wednesday, February 28, 2018