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. 6:
Billy Turner was among four expensive free agents acquired by Gutekunst on March 13, 2019, but his signing was the only one that had fans asking the same thing – who? That’s a reaction you never expect when a player receives a $29 million contract, but it was understandable based on Turner’s career up to that point. The former North Dakota State star was released by the Miami Dolphins in November 2016 and spent the next two seasons as an undistinguished member of the Denver Broncos. While blessed with outstanding size and above-average athletic ability, Turner’s game tape had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. So what exactly did Gutekunst see that eluded the other 31 GMs in the league? That’s still the question 16 months later.
While Turner started all 16 games at right guard last season, he was far and away the weak link on the offensive line. His run blocking was inconsistent, and he gave up a whopping 10 sacks. To put that number into proper context, the other four starters allowed a combined total of 11 sacks. For even more context, T.J. Lang was charged with 9 sacks in his final four seasons in Green Bay. Despite playing nearly 3,000 snaps in the NFL, Turner is still pretty raw in protection. He too often tends to lunge and overextend and does not keep his cleats in the ground. This makes him especially vulnerable to quick interior pass rushers.
Turner played right guard for the Packers in 2019 the way he played left guard for the Broncos in 2018. He just did it more expensively. He’s not a bad player; he’s just not worth over $7 million a year. Gutekunst would’ve been better off spending that money on a proven slot receiver like Jamison Crowder, who signed a three-year deal worth $28 million with the Jets a few days after Turner agreed to terms. In that scenario, Lucas Patrick probably would’ve started at right guard and provided similar results at a fraction of the cost. Just as importantly, Packers fans wouldn’t have been subjected to months of watching Geronimo Allison.