In his end-of-the-year press conference, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst — fresh off of a scouting trip to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama — spoke in absolutes about certain veterans’ situations going into the 2024 season. When speaking on other players, though, he muddled his words.
The best example of his absolutes came when Gutekunst was asked if the team could possibly look to trade cornerback Jaire Alexander this offseason, following his one-game suspension following the coin-toss antics versus the Carolina Panthers last year. Gutekunst’s response? Simple: “No. No.”
He also spoke confidently about running back Aaron Jones’ return to Green Bay next season. Jones, who is 29 years old, is heading into the final year of his contract and carries a $17.5 million cap hit next season. He did end his 2023 campaign on a five-game 100-yard rushing streak, though, which is hard to move off of. Here’s what Gutekunst had to say when asked if he expects that Jones will be back in 2024:
“Yeah. Absolutely. I think we’d love to have Aaron back. We’re still kinda putting all those things together, as far as how we’re going to move forward, but I mean he was such a difference-maker when he was out there this year.”
And then there was tackle David Bakhtiari, who has played just nine full games since his 2020 ACL tear. Bakhtiari recently had surgery to fix the cartilage injury that has plagued him, and the franchise, for years. Where he’s at in his career, as a 33-year-old who hasn’t played much football as of lately, on top of where the team is at, following the breakout of Rasheed Walker, makes his $40 million cap charge in 2024 — which would be the highest ever for a non-quarterback in NFL history — a major question mark.
Here’s how Gutekunst addressed the elephant in the room on Thursday:
“We’re still at the very beginning stages of looking at, you know, how we’re going to move forward with all that. Obviously, David’s been through a really rough stretch with the injuries stuff. He’s going through a really major surgery, trying to get back to be able to play. We’re monitoring that. I know he’s working his tail off. Once we get down the road and see where he’s at, health-wise, we’ll kinda make those decisions.”
If the Packers can figure out how to shed some cap space, don’t be surprised if they take some swings in free agency this offseason, though. Gutekunst stated, “I don’t think we’ll shy away from adding any impact players if we’ll have to push things down the road.” It seems that he understands that the Packers’ title window is already opening, following the hot end to Green Bay’s 2023 season. With Bakhtiari’s $40 million cap hit still on the books, though, it will be tough to get anything done in the free agent market this March.
If you’d like to listen to the full, 30-minute press conference, you can find the video linked below: