Gerald McCoy has his walking papers in Tampa Bay, but he’s hardly going to be alone in just a few short months. Come late summer, plenty of veteran players will be looking for new opportunities. A few of those players could be current Green Bay Packers, and this week we’re taking a stab at playing the role of GM. Here is who we’d cut or trade among the current Packers veterans.
Matub - Jimmy Graham
This has to be the obvious answer, right? Jimmy Graham is a TEINO: Tight End In Name Only. He’s a big target who used to be a burner and a matchup problem for the secondary. Even as a young man he couldn’t block a doorway. Now Jimmy Graham is just an old man who couldn’t beat Brandon Spikes in a foot race and is only a goal line fade target (don’t even get me started on that). The fact that he hasn’t already been cut absolutely astonishes me.
Also, he wore SHORTS to the Kentucky Derby. SHORTS! He should be suspended and fined for that infraction alone.
Cut Jimmy. It’s Tonyan Time. Big Bob SZN. Let’s go.
Shawn Wagner - Mike Daniels
Daniels has given the Packers seven solid to fantastic years in Green Bay. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and probably should have been in at least a couple more as a former fourth-round pick that outperformed his draft slot. He still gives Green Bay the energy and veteran voice when on the field.
But Daniels has battled injuries the past two seasons and was limited to 10 games in 2018. The Packers’ depth on the defensive line is relatively high after Daniels’ health last season opened doors for players like Tyler Lancaster and Fadol Brown to receive additional playing time. The drafting of Kingsley Keke also gives Green Bay another player figuring to factor heavily into the rotation in 2019. Meanwhile, Daniels is heading into the final year of his contract and, based on the team’s history of re-signing internal free agents, probably will not be in Green Bay much longer as a 29-year old lineman. In a youth movement under a new coaching staff, why not trade Daniels while he still has some value and continue looking ahead to the future?
Evan “Tex” Western - Lane Taylor
This is a long shot, but consider Taylor’s fit as a not-very-good athlete in Matt LaFleur’s zone-blocking system, which requires guards to be much more nimble on their feet. Taylor’s 2018 season was largely a struggle, due at least in part to nagging injuries, but if he does struggle in the new scheme, the Packers could look to move him.
Of course, this plan is contingent on having a replacement ready, as Taylor was when the team surprisingly cut Josh Sitton before the 2016 campaign began. To make this a reasonable possibility, a few other things need to happen, however. Billy Turner would need to take hold of the right guard job, Elgton Jenkins must demonstrate starter-level ability at guard, and the team needs at least one (maybe two) of Cole Madison, Lucas Patrick, and Justin McCray to demonstrate that they will be useful backups.
Still, if those things do happen, it’s not crazy to imagine Taylor leaving, particularly via trade late in training camp. A trade like that would free up about $3.1 million in cap space for 2019 (since the Packers would have already paid out Taylor’s roster and workout bonuses), and another $4.55 million for 2020. That money could be helpful for the inevitable Kenny Clark contract extension or new deals for the likes of Blake Martinez, Geronimo Allison, and Dean Lowry.
Jon Meerdink - Mason Crosby
Here are a couple of numbers to consider.
The first is 2. It is both Mason Crosby’s jersey number and where he ranks in 2019 among NFL kickers in terms of cap hits. Crosby counts $4.85 million against the Packers’ cap this year, which falls behind only San Francisco’s Robbie Gould on the league-wide scale.
The second is 19. That is where Crosby ranks in terms of accuracy among the 20 kickers in the NFL who have attempted at least 50 field goals over the past two seasons. Crosby has converted just a hair over 80% of his kicks, ahead of only Denver’s Brandon McManus.
Now, there are certainly some mitigating factors when it comes to Crosby’s performance. He attempts a lot of long-range field goals, he frequently kicks in poor conditions, and two of the three parts of the snapper-holder-kicker battery have been in essentially continuous flux over the last two years.
But Crosby just hasn’t delivered, and even accounting for those mitigating factors, his performance doesn’t justify his current price tag. Should Sam Ficken prove to be semi-formidable competition for Crosby, the Packers shouldn’t hesitate to cut him and put the nearly $4 million in cap space the move would generate to better use.
Paul Noonan - Aaron Jones
I would always be trading my running backs. Don’t get me wrong, Aaron Jones is awesome, but that’s exactly why you move him. You can shoot him to a team that doesn’t properly value running backs, and use the return capital to acquire someone who plays a more important position.
Jones hasn’t even been much of a receiver yet, and unless he’s developed over the last year, Jamaal Williams is better as a blocker and receiver at this point, which is what I really care about. I think the LaFleur scheme will get you some easy yards on the ground, and set up RBs in the pass. Williams, as a tough inside runner with good hands, is a natural in this scheme. The Packers can just keep cycling Aaron Joneses through the system.
Sell high on this one.