The winds of change are blowing through Green Bay, Wisconsin stronger than they ever have in the past 10 years. Former general manager Ted Thompson was supplanted last year in favor of the younger, newer Brian Gutekunst. And now, the Packers have parted ways with one of the winningest coaches in the NFL, Mike McCarthy.
There will be a new sheriff in town come 2019. What does that mean for the players currently on the Packers’ roster?
There always seems to be some spring cleaning when a new coach, or even a general manager, takes over. Green Bay fans got a quick glimpse of what that could look like this past offseason when Gutekunst released fan favorite Jordy Nelson.
The departure of Nelson was a bitter sweet moment for many fans, as was the firing of the 13-year head coach, McCarthy. However, schemes had become stale and the organization was wrought with an overwhelming propensity to live in a nostalgic dream state of how things used to be.
Change was necessary and change is what fans are going to get.
Fans should expect there to be even more roster turnover this offseason. Gutekunst has now had an entire season to evaluate the talent on his roster and there will be a new head coach. It would be very unusual for there to be little turnover.
All of that being said, which five players should the Packers move on from this coming offseason?
5. Wide Receiver Randall Cobb
Randall Cobb has been a vital staple of the Packers’ offenses since he entered the league as a second round pick in 2011. However, the injury bug seems to find Cobb more often than not.
In the past 3 seasons alone, Cobb has only played in 34 games out of a possible 44. Considering the rate the Packers re-signed Cobb to back in 2014, the return on investment is hardly viable.
Couple Cobb’s injuries with the new coaching staff and general manager, and this would be one of the least surprising moves that the Packers could make. Cobb still impacts this Packers offense as a dynamic playmaker, however, he can’t make plays if he’s not on the field.
Either way, fans should be more surprised to see Cobb in a Packers’ uniform in 2019 than not.
4. Linebacker Clay Matthews
Once upon a time, Matthews was one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the league. While you can’t tell by looking at his long, flowing blond hair, father time has caught up to Matthews. You could begin to see the decline in play last year and it has just become more and more evident as this year has progressed.
These players, as you will notice, are going to follow the same trend. There are many Packers that are beloved by the fan base and fans are grateful for their services to Green Bay. However, their time with the team has simply come to an end.
Like Cobb, Matthews’ injury history and performance are no longer worth the current value of his contract. His contract is also expiring this offseason and he may be approached to take a “home town” discount if he wants to stay in Green Bay.
3. Linebacker Nick Perry
Nick Perry, like Matthews and Cobb, is no longer performing up the level of his current contract. Unlike Cobb and Matthews, Perry is under contract after this season (through 2021). The problem is that Perry encompasses a $14.7 million cap hit next year and then a $14.3 million hit in 2020 followed by a $14.1 million hit in 2021, according to Spotrac.
The key date to keep in mind here is March 15. Perry is due another $4.8 million in the form of a roster bonus. If the Packers did decide to simply cut their losses with Perry, it would most likely be before that date. It is possible that the Packers’ front office will explore a simple contract restructuring in order to mitigate some of the cap hit damage.
When Perry is healthy, he has shown to be a very disruptive and a productive EDGE defender for Green Bay. But, that is a big if. Perry has played in only 75 percent of the team’s possible games since signing his current contract prior to the 2017 season.
The Packers might be willing to give Perry another shot, but it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if he was playing elsewhere in 2019.
2. Wide Receiver Geronimo Allison
Allison has been a remarkable story. Undrafted out of Illinois, Green Bay signed Allison following the 2016 draft. Allison has done nothing but shuck criticism and knock fans’ expectations out of the park. Sadly, Allison could very easily become a product of the business that is the NFL.
Allison will be a restricted free agent this upcoming offseason. His 2018 season is over due to a sustained core-muscle injury. However, prior to the injury, Allison was showing everyone why he was given the opportunity as the Packers number three receiver.
The emergence of rookie receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown might make Allison expendable. Even if Green Bay tenders an offer to Allison, there is a good chance that another team will make him a better offer with Green Bay refusing to match. The strength of the upcoming rookie wide receiver class could also push Allison to another team for the 2019 season.
1. Tight End Jimmy Graham
This one might not be the most unpopular decision. But, sometimes teams take risks, try new things, and those things don’t work out. Graham signed a three-year deal in 2018. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Gutekunst determine that trial to be a failure.
Age seems to have caught up to Graham. He has lost a step. He is still a behemoth of an athlete and can be used to exploit mismatches within a defense, but he isn’t the athletic freak he used to be. Green Bay might decide to simply turn their time and interest towards a younger stud at the tight end position, of which there are plenty in this upcoming draft class.
On the flip side, Green Bay could decide that they want to give Graham another shot with Rodgers plus another head coach to be named later. Graham is the most likely option to be released, with the addition of a tight end via the draft.
Green Bay will have tough decisions to make and regarding Graham. It won’t be an easy one.