Brian Gutekunst was named GM of the Packers on January 8, 2018. He has made over 100 personnel moves since that time – some good and some bad. I’ll be listing his best moves over the course of the next couple of weeks. Here’s No. 8:
In his first big splash as GM, Gutekunst signed former All-Pro Jimmy Graham to a $30 million contract on March 16, 2018. Five weeks later, after pretty much every available free agent had found a home, Marcedes Lewis inked a $2 million deal with the Packers. Two years later, Graham is in Chicago while Lewis gets ready for another season in Green Bay. And with coach Matt LaFleur determined to run the ball more, that could mean a bigger role in the offense for a 36-year-old tight end who came thisclose to retiring last spring.
While Lewis isn’t the dominant blocker he was in Jacksonville, he’s still pretty good. But that’s not what earned him another 1-year contract in March. Gutekunst could’ve easily found a much younger and cheaper blocking tight end in free agency. What brought Lewis back is the maturity he brings to a roster with only a handful of players over the age of 30. And nobody appreciates that particular trait more than Aaron Rodgers. “I’m always happy throwing a touchdown pass but it was a little something special with Marcedes, just because the kind of guy that he is, kind of player that he is, what he’s meant to our team this year from a leadership standpoint,” the star quarterback said after a game against the Giants last December.
Any GM can spend $150M in free agency and find players that can make a team better, but the good GMs can find players that can make the team better without putting a huge dent in the salary cap. Gutekunst hasn’t done that enough in his brief tenure, but he did it with Lewis. And that’s why this signing made the list.