We certainly cannot say that the Green Bay Packers are afraid to make big moves in free agency any more.
The Green Bay Packers signed tight end Jimmy Graham, an unrestricted free agent, to a three-year, $30 million contract shortly after the recent opening of free agency, and the team signed defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson to a one-year, $5 million deal as well. In addition, the Packers have been heavily involved in negotiations for several free agent cornerbacks, incuding Trumaine Johnson, Bashaud Breeland, and others. Although the team did not sign one until landing veteran Tramon Williams last week, the reported serious interest is a sign that new general manager Brian Gutekunst is serious about his pledge to use every avenue available to him.
However, a bit of news over the weekend is just the latest example of the validity of his promise to “leave no stone unturned” in player acquisition. Over the weekend, former Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson discussed his free agency experience with First Coast News in Jacksonville, Robinson mentioned getting early interest from the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, and New York Jets, three teams with substantial cap space.
However, there was a surprise team who jumped into the fray: the Packers, who according to Robinson ended up being one of his final two choices.
Ultimately, Robinson signed with the Bears for three years and $42 million, a number that was probably a little bit too high for the Packers’ liking. Instead, after losing out on Robinson, Gutekunst shifted his focus to Graham.
Still, the fact that the Packers were in at all on Robinson — and that they were one of the final two teams he was considering — is a sign that they were willing to offer up a lot of cash for a boundary receiver to pair with Davante Adams. Had they indeed landed Robinson, it is highly unlikely that they would have afforded both him Graham, unless they had released both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Still, this is a sign that the Packers probably were prepared to move on from Nelson regardless with the intent of revamping Aaron Rodgers’ receiving weapons. The Graham contract shows that Gutekunst is willing to invest further in that area, but this Robinson report is an indication of just how serious that desire is and was. His cap hit with the Bears for 2018 is about $11 million, which would have meant he would have been an effective replacement for Nelson both on the field and on the books.
Of course, we can’t say with any certainty what sort of contract or structure the Packers offered Robinson, but it’s clear that Gutekunst remains serious about acquiring high-level free agents at various positions across the roster. With the team’s recent interest in wideout Jordan Matthews and cornerback Delvin Breaux, interest in bolstering the roster with free agent signings seems to be continuing even through into the latter stages of free agency.