With cornerbacks flying around this week, Packers fans didn’t expect Green Bay to be sellers in the market.
Sending Damarious Randall to Cleveland for DeShone Kizer, though, was as much about Randall’s standing in the locker room with fellow players and coaches as it was his talent. ESPN reported a number of veterans wanted Randall cut last season and this trade was the culmination of an early career marred by inconsistency and a lack of discipline from a player undeniably possessing talent.
The 28-year-old Johnson played on the franchise tag in 2017 after a breakout 2015 campaign when he snagged 7 interceptions.
That said, Johnson didn’t play up to that deal and will be looking for a major contract this offseason, somewhere in the $13-15 million range. Are the Packers willing to eat up their entire free agent allotment (at current count) to bring a talented, but inconsistent player?
Green Bay could structure the deal with more money coming in 2019 and 2020 when the Packers should have much more cap space, and restructured contracts could be coming for Randall Cobb and/or Jordy Nelson.
Johnson is the kind of big, physical corner Mike Pettine loves at 6’2 213 pounds, but he ran just 4.61 at the combine and falls under the preferred draft pick threshold for the 3-cone. In fact, his 3-cone time is in just the fifth percentile of corners.
That said, he’s one of the biggest and longest corners in the draft and his ability to lock on and redirect receivers mitigates some of the concerns with his speed. You want someone who has the size and physicality to go toe-to-toe with the Julio Joneses and Alshon Jefferys of the world, it’s someone like Johnson.
If the reports are true and the Packers are in fact interested in Johnson, his athletic profile from the combine may not matter, an insight in itself when it comes to the thinking of this new front office.
Once the Rodgers contract gets done—they’re just waiting on Kirk Cousins—Green Bay could create more space, as could moves with Cobb and Nelson, so inking a deal for Johnson doesn’t have to blow the entire budget. It wouldn’t be that difficult to create enough space to also add another impact defensive player like Muhammad Wilkerson.
Given what Gutekunst said about wanting to be in on every free agent, to be in position to sign them if they so choose, his apparent interest in three of the biggest fishes on the offseason market suggests he’s a man of his word.
The next step will be putting those words on paper with a signature at the bottom.