The Green Bay Packers are in a less-than-favorable situation against the salary cap for 2020, holding around $23 million in expected cap space. Contract extensions for some big-name players await, including Kenny Clark and David Bakhtiari, while the team will also likely look to spend some money in free agency this summer.
One of the most obvious options to free up more cap space would be for the team to release tight end Jimmy Graham. That move would free up $8 million against the cap for the coming year, which sees him scheduled to cost the team $11.67 million in cap space. He hardly lived up to his cap value of $12.67 million in 2019, racking up fewer than 500 receiving yards for the first time since his rookie year, despite playing in every game.
However, if the Packers do make the decision to move on from Graham, do not expect it to happen for another few weeks. When speaking with local media reporters this week, general manager Brian Gutekunst discussed the plans for Graham and that he and his staff intend to take their time on their decision.
Gutekunst told ESPN’s Rob Demovsky that he will not make a decision before the Scouting Combine next week. “After we get through free-agency meetings, after we get through draft meetings, and then we get back from the combine, the picture starts to get a little clearer,” Gutekunst said via Demovsky.
Still, that is hardly a vote of confidence for Graham. Gutekunst did address one of the team’s other tight ends, third-round draft pick Jace Sternberger, and was willing to heap some praise on the 2019 rookie. Gutekunst said that he thinks Sternberger could become “a mismatch for us” and that the Texas A&M product has “some dynamic ability.”
Those comments about Sternberger certainly illustrate faith in his development — faith that could help make the decision about Graham in a few weeks.
The Scouting Combine concludes next Sunday, March 1st. Free agency officially begins with the new league year on Tuesday, March 17th.