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Tuesday Cheese Curds: Packers shoot for the stars in free agency

Time will tell if it was a successful launch or if they will fail to achieve orbit

Wild Card Round - San Diego Chargers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In NFL free agency, sometimes the surprise isn’t how much you’re spending but rather how and when you’re spending it.

That’s what Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst did this year and it was a shock to many observers. Green Bay first usually doesn’t spend big in free agency, but many figured that was at least a possibility given how many holes were on the roster.

The fact Gutekunst jumped in and signed not one but multiple players so early in free agency is what caught people off guard. It’s a drastic change for the way the Packers operated forever under previous GM Ted Thompson and sent a clear signal Gutekunst was his own man.

He also signed players on the younger side and paid both Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith the second and third-highest salaries at edge rusher in this free agency class behind Detroit’s Trey Flowers. That is a risk but given their age (both are 26), the ceiling for both players is much higher.

Time will tell how all the free agents will pan out, but Gutekunst took a gamble and it was one he absolutely had to take. Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting any younger and thanks to his predecessor’s weak final few drafts, there was a deficit of talent on defense.

The dice have been rolled. We’ll have to wait until December to see if Gutekunst hit the jackpot or crapped out.

There’s more on the risks Gutekunst took in free agency plus what Rob Gronkowski’s retirement could mean for Green Bay in today’s cheese curds.

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst surprises with high-risk, boom-or-bust signings—

The good news is if by some chance these signings lean more “bust” than “boom,” Green Bay can get out of the deals with relatively minor damage to the salary cap. Russ Ball strikes again.

Five things learned at the NFL Annual Meetings – Day 1–

Rules changes may be coming including changes to the onside kick and how Tramon Williams may still see time at cornerback.

Gronk’s retirement could impact Packers’ draft strategy—ESPN

If the New England Patriots end up with one of the Iowa tight ends, particularly T.J. Hockenson, I swear to God….

New personnel exec helped lead Packers to OLB Za’Darius Smith—Packers Wire

Milt Hendrickson made his presence known in Green Bay’s front office by campaigning successfully for the signing of Za’Darius Smith, a player Hendrickson helped scout in college with the Baltimore Ravens.

Turkey vulture smashes through Stephen A Smith’s ESPN office window—UPI

No word if the turkey was seeking an autograph from one of its own kind or not.