The Green Bay Packers threw the moneybags around at the start of free agency this season, picking up four key players, including three sure-fire starters on defense, in the early days of the legal tampering period. Since then, activities have quieted down, with the only significant action being the re-signing of a couple of notable players like tight end Marcedes Lewis and Geronimo Allison.
However, as fans’ attention shifts over to the 2019 NFL Draft, general manager Brian Gutekunst and company are still looking into free agents. On Wednesday, the Packers are hosting defensive tackle and unrestricted free agent Rodney Gunter on a visit, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This will be Gunter’s third time visiting Green Bay; he was most recently in town as a member of the Arizona Cardinals when they played at Lambeau Field in December, and he took an official pre-draft visit with the Packers before the 2015 Draft.
Arizona selected Gunter, who played college football at Delaware State, in the fourth round of that year’s selection meeting. Since then, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Gunter has played in every game. However, after starting 11 games at nose tackle as a rookie while filling in for an injured teammate, he was largely reduced to a rotational role in 2016 and 2017. Last fall was his breakout year, though, as he returned to the starting lineup for ten games and set career highs in every category. Gunter racked up 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 44 total tackles, while adding nine quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss.
Based on his size and build, Gunter appears to be an ideal fit for the Packers at the five-technique defensive end position, while also pitching in as an interior rusher on passing downs. His experience playing on the nose and the 3-technique position also indicate the versatility to line up in a variety of spots. At just 27 years of age, Gunter fits the trend of the Packers’ signings this offseason — relatively young players seeking their second NFL contracts who appear to be trending upward.
If the Packers do elect to sign Gunter, that probably will signal the end of the road for Muhammad Wilkerson in Green Bay. The Packers have around $14 million in salary cap space, and with their 2019 NFL Draft class left to sign and a few more million earmarked as a cushion for the regular season, there is not much left over to work with. Still, a good player like Gunter is always worth investigating, particularly if his asking price is relatively low. If he were to sign with the Packers, Gunter would at worst provide the team with another talented player on the defensive line who can rotate in with Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and Dean Lowry.