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One Trade Filled Two Holes

Brian Gutekunst was named GM of the Packers on January 8, 2018. He’s made over 100 personnel moves since that time – some good and some bad. I’ve been listing his best moves over the course of the last few weeks. Here’s No. 4:

The Packers ended the 2017 season with Lenzy Pipkins, Josh Hawkins, and Davon House playing cornerback and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett starting at safety, so the secondary clearly had to be rebuilt. Gutekunst sped up the process on April 26, 2018, when he traded his first-round pick (No. 14) to the New Orleans Saints for their first-round pick (No. 27) and another first-round pick in 2019. Those two picks ultimately turned into Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage, a pair of young starters with unlimited potential.

Alexander didn’t play quite as well as expected in his second season. He got beat more than he should by being overly aggressive jumping routes and taking chances, but he was still one of the top-15 corners in the National Football League. The former Louisville star possesses explosive athleticism and surprising toughness for somebody his size (5-10, 195). And best of all, he just turned 23. Savage looked like a contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year until an ankle injury in week 5 slowed his progress. He wasn’t quite the same after missing a couple of games, but he still provided the finest play at free safety for the Packers since Clinton-Dix in 2015. Like Alexander, he’s also 23 and blessed with all the physical ability in the world.

The only reason this trade isn’t even higher on the list is because of the player Gutekunst didn’t draft at 14. He passed on Derwin James, who’s already arguably the best safety in the league. So while it’ll take a few more years to properly assess this move, as of today, it’s hard to imagine the Packers having any second thoughts.

#12 – Sullivan Surpised In Secondary
#11 – Veldheer Saved The Days
#10 – Ervin Provided Positive Returns
#9 – Greene’s Injury Hurt Defense
#8 – Lewis Starred Off The Field
#7 – Amos Delivered As Expected
#6 – Lazard Leapt To Starting Job
#5 – Preston Smith Enjoyed Career Year

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3 Responses “One Trade Filled Two Holes”

  1. Bryan Johnson
    07/08/2020 at 2:02 pm

    This is the never ending debate, do you pass on a stud player to take a “money ball” approach? I love Jaire – he’s awesome. And Savage also looks to be the real deal.

    Derwin was one of the best defensive players in the league from day 1, and looks destined to be a Charles Woodson type player. Those guys don’t come around often and that’s what makes this so difficult.

    Time will tell. At the very least, two years into the trade, you can’t criticize Gute for making the deal and passing on an All-Pro. That has to be considered a win for Gute.

  2. MikeC
    07/08/2020 at 2:13 pm

    I wanted the Packers to draft James back then and I still think that would’ve been the best choice, but like Michael wrote, it all depends on Jaire and Darnell. If they become Pro Bowl type players, it won’t really matter how James does in LA.

  3. Tom Moshier
    07/09/2020 at 10:50 am

    It’s a two for one proposition really. Would you rather have Derwin James or Jarie Alexander AND Darnell Savage. The back end of our defense was so atrocious we had to have both. I didn’t like the Alexander pick at the time and wanted Leighton Vander Esch. And while both players have been very good. Alexander was absolutely the right call. In Alexander, I was afraid we were getting Ahmad Carroll all over again. Thankfully I was wrong.

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About Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for close to 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2006. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.