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10/25/2020

Kizer Trade Was A Dud


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’ve spent the past few weeks counting down his worst moves. Here’s No. 1:

In his first big move as GM, Brian Gutekunst traded starting corner Damarious Randall to the Browns for quarterback DeShone Kizer on March 9, 2018. The teams also swapped late-round picks. To be fair, Gutekunst had to get rid of the former first-rounder after he clashed with then-head coach Mike McCarthy during the 2017 season. That said, he didn’t have to trade him for Kizer, who was coming off an awful rookie year and who new Browns GM John Dorsey couldn’t wait to unload. But Gutekunst had been a fan of Kizer’s since his days at Notre Dame and viewed him as a quality backup to Aaron Rodgers and perhaps the team’s quarterback of the future.

Kizer very quickly proved Dorsey right and Gutekunst wrong. He was terrible in his first summer with the Packers and was clearly outplayed by journeyman Brett Hundley and undrafted rookie Tim Boyle. In an effort to save face, Gutekunst opened up a roster spot for his prized offseason acquisition by trading Hundley to Seattle at the end of training camp. Unfortunately, that move backfired right away when Kizer was forced to briefly replace Rodgers in the second quarter of the opener against the Bears. He was brutal in that cameo, and he was equally bad in another relief appearance in the season finale. In 42 attempts, Kizer compiled a passer rating of 40.5. His career in Green Bay ended last summer when he was released. Meanwhile, Randall enjoyed two solid seasons in Cleveland before leaving for Vegas in March.


Looking back, I’m still not sure why Gutekunst was so high on Kizer going into the 2017 draft. Yes, he has size, athleticism, and a strong arm, but he showed little accuracy at Notre Dame and made one really poor decision after another. But what made this trade so bad is that Gutekunst also had the benefit of seeing Kizer play in the NFL. It concerns me that a person who’s paid a lot of money to judge talent could be so wrong about a player. It also concerns me because that same person decided in April that another college quarterback with a penchant for being inaccurate and making poor decisions would be the next face of the franchise. Here’s hoping that trading up for Jordan Love doesn’t top this list three or four years from now.


#8 – Lowry Regressed After Payday
#7 – Moore Was Less Than Expected
#6 – Turner Needs To Be Better

#5 – Graham Added Little To Offense
#4 – Jackson Faces Make-Or-Break Season

#3 – Cobb Was Never Replaced
#2 – Burks Looks Like A Bust

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5 Responses “Kizer Trade Was A Dud”

  1. Tom Moshier
    08/07/2020 at 11:54 am

    Wow! You must have really struggled ranking one and two. Missing on a late third with Burks or taking a flier on Kizer.

    Here’s what I remember. Cleveland coming to Lambeau in December 2017 and the 21 year old rookie, who left ND early, DeShone Kizer clearly outplaying clueless veteran Brett Hundley. Giving the Packers all they could handle. And had it not been for an ill advised INT in OT would have won the game for the Browns giving them their only win of the season.

    I wouldn’t brag on John Dorsey too much. He may have been right about Kizer. But he was dead wrong about Baker Mayfield over Sam Darnold. One of the many reasons he’s now unemployed.

  2. Michael Rodney
    08/07/2020 at 1:17 pm

    Gutekunst didn’t take a “flier” on Kizer. He traded a pretty good starting corner for him. And that “ill-advised INT” vs. the Packers epitomized Kizer, and it’s why I knew he would never be a successful pro. As for John Dorsey, it’s way too soon to write off Baker Mayfield. Dorsey also played a major role in building the Chiefs’ roster.

    We’ll see about Gutekunst in a few years. If I were a betting man, I’d make a pretty big wager that I’m right.

  3. JP
    08/07/2020 at 5:46 pm

    Gutey has upgraded at outside linebacker and the secondary by using two first-round picks and about $160 million. Every other position is basically the same as it was when Ted left, including the weaknesses at wide receiver, tight end and inside linebacker.

    I have my doubts about Gutey as a GM, but I think we’ll learn a lot more after this season, if there is a season.

  4. Tom Moshier
    08/07/2020 at 11:15 pm

    So you knew by one INT he’d never be a good pro? Impressive. All I knew at the time was this 21 year old kid should be starting for ND and not 15 games in the NFL as a rookie. On that Sunday he gave the Packers all they could handle.

    I guess we have differing views on the value of Damarious Randall. Who was always a safety not a corner. I saw him worth no more that a 5th round pick. I base this on what we got for Clinton HaHa Dix which was a 4th rounder. Dix is a better safety and not a malcontent. And with Randall’s impending release, even a 5th rounder seemed unlikely. After 2 years, even the fast and lose Cleveland Browns had had enough and released him.

    I think Baker Mayfield will be OK. As long as you’ve got lots and lots of talent around him. But I was never a fan. I think Sam Darnold will be elite. And he’ll be able to carry a team. Even the Jets. And that’s saying something. I think if you polled 32 GM’s on which QB they’d rather have, I’m guessing 31 would take Darnold.

    At any rate you were right about Kizer and I was wrong. I tip my hat to you sir…..

  5. Tom Moshier
    08/09/2020 at 9:10 am

    One last thought here. Ryan Pace, GM of the Chicago Bears, drafted Mitch Tribisky. Not only that but he traded up one spot to get him because he was seeing ghosts thinking someone else wanted him. In reality the only QB’s anyone was trading up for in that draft were Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Had Ryan Pace drafted Mahomes, the Bears would have won their second SB by now with that defense. And the Bears may had gotten one with Jackson already had Pace drafted the very raw QB. This is the kind of blunder that costs GM’s their jobs. And it will ultimately be Ryan Pace’s undoing as well. And rightfully so.

    With the Kizer/Randall trade two things were apparent. We were done with Randall. And Cleveland was done with Kizer. So basically we exchanged players neither team wanted. Randall played two solid, if unspectacular seasons at safety for the Browns. And Kizer was the most talented QB we’d had in camp since we drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005. Unfortunately Kizer couldn’t put all that talent together. Much like Jason Spriggs. He should be our starting RT but he isn’t because he couldn’t put it all together either. That’s life in the NFL.

    If Patrick Queen becomes the next Ray Lewis. If Tee Higgins the next Jerry Rice. If Denzel Mims Is the next Randy Moss. And Jordan Love the next DeShone Kizer. Then Brian Gutekunst will go the way of a Ryan Pace and get run out of town. It’ll have absolutely nothing to do with missing on Kizer. Ted Thompson wasted a second round pick on Brian Brohm. No one remembers and no one cares. Because he hit on Rodgers. No one will remember Kizer if Gutekunst hits on Love. It’s all high stakes. It’ll be fun to watch.

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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.