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Cheese Curds, 2/4: What will Brian Gutekunst do for an encore in 2020?

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The Packers hit it big with last year’s personnel additions. They’ll need to follow it up with another successful offseason to maintain their positive direction.

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NFL: JUL 24 Green Bay Packers Shareholders Meeting Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers’ acquisitions in 2019 largely made general manager Brian Gutekunst look like a genius. While the top draft pick selection of Rashan Gary has yet to pay dividends, Gutekunst’s next two picks — safety Darnell Savage and guard Elgton Jenkins — were full-time starters and were almost unquestionably the best rookies at their positions this season.

And then, of course, there were the free agents. Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith made Gary a luxury rather than a critical piece on the defense, as the veteran duo each set a career-high with double-digit sacks. Adrian Amos made for the second part of a solid safety pair with Savage, while Billy Turner played nearly every snap on offense at right guard.

Now the challenge for Gutekunst and his staff is to repeat the success of 2019 in 2020. The team has a lower draft slot, meaning the talent pool will diminish somewhat, and there is less salary cap space to throw around in free agency. This team needs an infusion of talent at a few critical positions, and how Gutey addresses those areas will go a long way to determining the Packers’ success in the fall.

Gutekunst deserves a standing ovation for his performance last year. Here’s hoping the encore is even better.Pragmatic approach to free agency molded Packers’ turnaround | Packers.com
Brian Gutekunst's big moves last spring paid off instantly in the fall, driving the team's turnaround on defense and helping provide stability on the offensive line.

Kwiatkoski, Perriman make sense as free agent targets for Packers | Packers Wire
If Gutekunst dips into the free agent market again, this pair of players could make sense. Both Nick Kwiatkoski, the Bears linebacker, and Breshad Perriman, the Buccaneers wideout, looked good in limited action when filling in for injured starters. They could be low-risk, high-reward signings in March.

2020 Packers mock draft 1.0: An early forecast of Green Bay’s 10 selections – The Athletic (subscription required)
Meanwhile, this first Packers-centric mock from The Athletic finds an interesting group of players for Gutekunst's third draft. From a good coverage linebacker in Patrick Queen (who we just profiled this week) to a small-school receiver to a developmental quarterback (Jalen Hurts) in round three, this class would be fascinating to cover. Getting Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus all the way down in the sixth round seems like a pipe dream, however.

Packers pay up -- to the tune of $5.28M -- for their good health - ESPN
Green Bay also had great health in 2019, and they'll gladly pay the bills that come with having most of their key players on the active roster for each game.

Green Bay Packers: Matt LaFleur's offense holds key to Aaron Rodgers' improvement | Packersnews.com (subscription required)
Like us at APC, the Gannett media squad is reviewing the Packers' roster, and they started with the quarterbacks on Monday. Aaron Rodgers was great in the first quarters of games -- with a passer rating of 123.5 -- but that dropped to under 90 once the first 15 minutes had expired.

Kansas City man dies after lighting celebratory Super Bowl fireworks | ksdk.com
Maybe just toast to your team's win with another beer instead of a mortar shell.