Lowry Regressed After Payday

Brian Gutekunst was named general manager of the Green Bay Packers on January 8, 2018. He’s made over 100 personnel moves since that time – some good and some not so good. I listed his 12 best moves earlier this month, and now I’ll spend the next couple of weeks counting down his worst moves. Here’s No. 8:

Former GM Ted Thompson rarely participated in free agency; instead, he made it a priority to keep as many of his own quality players as possible. This often meant identifying core players and extending them well before they could hit the open market. He did this with, among others, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Jordy Nelson, left tackle David Bakhtiari, guard T.J. Lang, and linebacker Clay Matthews. Gutekunst’s first attempt at employing the same strategy came last summer with defensive end Dean Lowry. The early returns aren’t encouraging.

Lowry signed a 3-year extension worth $20 million last August – seven months before he was scheduled to become a free agent. Gutekunst made the move after the former fifth-round pick played better than expected as a replacement for Muhammad Wilkerson in 2018. Unfortunately, Lowry failed to improve last season. In fact, he regressed. His sacks and hurries dropped from 4 and 24 to 0 and 18, respectively. Even worse, his run defense – which had been a strength since his days at Northwestern – was mediocre at best.

Perhaps Lowry will bounce back this season, but even if he doesn’t, this won’t go down as a terrible mistake. A $20 million contract isn’t going to cripple any team’s salary cap, and to be honest, the going rate for average defensive linemen is approximately $5 million a year. What makes this problematic is that Gutekunst appears to have missed in his first attempt at identifying and locking up a core player. He’ll get plenty more chances in the future, and how he does will likely play a big part in determining his fate in Green Bay.

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  1. I’m shocked that after SF nothing changed on the defensive line. Again, it seems like Gutekunst is relying on a late-round pick (Keke) to step up. We saw how well that worked out at WR.

  2. If signing Dean Lowry to a modest three year 20 million deal is one of Gutekunst’s worst moves, I’ll take it. It’s not like he gave the money away to Montravious Adams. That would be a big problem.

  3. The problem isn’t the money as much as it’s Gutey thinking Lowry is good enough to be a starter on a top-10 defense. I also blame Pettine because I just like to blame Pettine.


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Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.
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